Utterly Meaningless » 2007 » March

    Filed on March 31, 2007 at 3:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    HE&OS is up for an award. In the “Homemaking and Recipes” category.

    Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.

    UPDATE: I’ve been moved to the “current events” category. Damn! I was really looking forward to posing in my denim jumper.


    Filed on at 1:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    As I expected (and predicted at edspresso) the SC legislature once again killed the remnants of Mark Sanford’s voucher/tax credit plan. I’m not particularly crushed. The GOP tried to get a voucher plan without any kind of debate (and without revealing the details of the plan). It was bad politics, and it deserved its fate.


    Filed on March 30, 2007 at 4:22 pm under by dcobranchi

    who is keeping track of these perverts.

    First, a sort-of local one:

    LAURENS, South Carolina (AP) — A former middle school teacher accused of having sex with five boys was indicted Friday by a grand jury, the Laurens County prosecutor said.

    Allenna Ward, 24, is due in court Monday on five counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and six counts of lewd acts on a minor, prosecutor Jerry Peace said.

    The married teacher is accused of having sexual encounters with the 14- and 15-year-old boys at the school, a motel, a park and behind a restaurant, according to arrest warrants.

    She is one of two Laurens County teachers facing sex charges; an elementary school teacher is charged with having sex with an 11-year old boy.

    And then a really local (and completely f’ed up) one:

    LUMBERTON — A 14-year-old girl stood before the congregation of St. Matthews Missionary Baptist Church during a Christmas program in 2004 and told the members how the pastor had sexually assaulted her and what he made her do.

    It was an accusation that would rock the small church in Rennert to its core.

    Some members wanted to believe their pastor, Ronald Lee Simpson, was incapable of what the girl had alleged…

    The truth came out this week when Simpson pleaded guilty to first-degree statutory rape. He was sentenced Tuesday to up to 18 years in prison for raping the 12-year-old girl, who later had his baby.

    Simpson, 42, of Parkton, was accused of assaulting the girls at his former church on Morgan J. Road.

    Simpson resigned in January 2005 after the allegations surfaced. He had started working at the church in February 2004.

    When Simpson resigned, many of the church members left with him. There would be Sundays with only one person in a pew, Moore recalled. But once the results of the DNA test reached the community, the people started to come back, she said.

    So we have adults having sex with 11, 12, 14, and 15 year olds.

    Hanging’s too good for ’em.


    Filed on at 4:16 am under by dcobranchi

    Ryan Boots takes down Greg Laden.


    Filed on March 29, 2007 at 2:31 pm under by dcobranchi

    GSK just filed with the FDA for approval of its HPV vax.


    Filed on at 11:17 am under by dcobranchi

    This plugin blocks all Flash ads. Flash is not only annoying; it forces your processor to work at 100% capacity, generating a lot of heat.


    Filed on at 9:22 am under by dcobranchi

    Thanks, guys. Keep up the good work.


    Filed on at 5:09 am under by dcobranchi

    Of course that doesn’t stop WorldNutDaily from wasting 1,028 words on the non-events. (Scroll down to “As WND recently reported…”)


    Filed on March 28, 2007 at 6:08 pm under by dcobranchi



    Filed on March 27, 2007 at 5:46 am under by dcobranchi

    This is a terrific [/snark] way to “sell” home education. How many mistakes can you spot?

    The same survey also stated that the income and education level of homeschool parents did not have an effect to the success of their children.

    However, there was a direct correlation between public school children’s’ scores with parents education and income (students with well educated and wealthier parents achieved higher scores than children of poorly educated, low-income parents.)

    Let’s hope the copy writer and copy editor were g-schoolers.


    Filed on at 5:39 am under by dcobranchi

    SC’s The State does a decent job presenting the “anti” position. Attaching a voucher proposal as an amendment with no time for public discussion is really poor.


    Filed on at 5:32 am under by dcobranchi

    There are many correct usages of the word “homeschool.” This ain’t one of them:

    The budget also includes a homeschool liaison for non-English speaking students.


    Filed on March 26, 2007 at 8:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    They’re recruiting homeschoolers (again). This time they want a family who are spelling bee devotees. They’d have to pay me a whole lot more than the $20,000 they’re offering.


    Filed on at 5:59 am under by dcobranchi

    We toured a backyard hobbyist’s orchid greenhouse yesterday.


    Filed on March 25, 2007 at 7:53 am under by dcobranchi

    Yesterday Gene Smith, Fayetteville Observer senior editorial writer, was pretty clear that he was not opposed to building an ethanol plant off Ramsey St. Yet today’s lead editorial goes in exactly the opposite direction:

    This would be E85’s and North Carolina’s first ethanol plant. The company has no experience operating the giant distilleries it plans to build. The state has no experience regulating them. Both are confident they’re up to the job, and that all the necessary regulations are in place.

    Maybe they’re right. But maybe they aren’t. Does Cumberland County want to gamble on that for 40 new jobs and a small jolt in the tax base (initially, about $1 million a year, but declining as plant facilities are depreciated)?

    We think not. The county and E85 should find a more suitable site or the deal should stop, right now.


    Filed on March 24, 2007 at 7:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    Trademark violation? Not even close.

    The Mormon church has no sense of humor. And they don’t understand trademark law, either.


    Filed on at 5:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    The AZ state chess team champions were prevented from defending their title because they’re HEKs.

    The kids proved to be champions last year.

    But a team of homeschooled students from the Southeast Valley, called the Chevalier Noir (Black Knight) Academy, was shut out last weekend from competing in the Arizona Scholastic State Chess Championship in Tucson.

    State chess officials had allowed the homeschooled students to play as teams for two years because of changing or unclear national rules on the subject. This year, they ruled team members must come from the same school.


    Filed on at 8:15 am under by dcobranchi

    Carlotta pointed to an AOL poll on whether home education is a good idea.


    Filed on at 7:04 am under by dcobranchi

    Well, I’m mentioned in the paper anyway. 🙂

    More on ethanol, but hold on a sec. Gotta jab myself with this needle first. OW!

    Daryl Cobranchi, who identifies himself as a “pedantic chemist,” says I erred in calling ethanol “gasoline with some alcohol in it — or, depending on the grade, alcohol with a little gasoline in it.”

    Ethanol, Daryl writes, “is a type of alcohol, specifically one with the chemical formula CH3CH2OH. Ethanol is blended with gasoline in percentages ranging from 10 percent to 85 percent. Ethanol is not a fossil fuel. It is an alternative to fossil fuels.”

    Daryl, in my lexicon that doesn’t qualify as pedantry. It qualifies as being right. I used “ethanol” as a synonym for the blends — in that column, E85. Will try to be less sloppy hereafter.

    The rest of the column is worth a read, BTW.


    Filed on at 1:27 am under by dcobranchi

    A psychology grad students opines on home education. And it really is an (uninformed) opinion. No data. No facts. No evidence. His advisor ought to be seriously cringing at this point.

    Think back on your public (or private) school experience, from elementary all the way through high school. Many of us, at one time or another, were teased. Many of us, at one time or another, were popular. Many of us, at one time or another, saw a fight or were involved in one. Many of us dealt with racism, anti-Semitism or other unpleasant or offensive behavior. And of course, we also saw incredible acts of kindness, goodwill, sportsmanship and teamwork. Attending school in a social setting taught me the ways in which the real world works.

    What the hell does a grad student know of the “real world”? Been there. Done that. It ain’t real by any stretch of the imagination.

    Yeah, I was in a few fights in school. Even had a knife pulled on me once. And I saw lots of examples of all of the negative behaviors he lists. Buy, you know, since I graduated in 1980 I haven’t gotten into a fight and I haven’t associated with racists, anti-Semites, or other unpleasant or offensive people. I guess I’m just not living in the “real world.”

    [Tip credit: Laura]


    Filed on March 23, 2007 at 6:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    The current issue of Fortune magazine has a very upbeat piece on the greening of my employer. Except for a few technical details, they hit the high points dead on. The company really is serious about cutting waste and reducing energy use. It’s good business, of course, but it’s also good for the environment.

    And, BTW, I have a feeling (no inside knowledge– different division) that bio-butanol is going to be big. The energy content is significantly higher than for ethanol, and it’s easier on the engine and exhaust than the relatively caustic 2-carbon grain alcohol.


    Filed on at 6:00 am under by dcobranchi

    The hysteria continues.

    5 ‘well-educated’ kids put in state custody
    Ruling that sent homeschooler to psych ward expanded to 2nd family

    No, the kids were not removed from their home. It appears that the authorities are using the court as leverage to get the kids into school. Homeschooling is illegal in Germany. If parents feel a need to homeschool they need to go sub rosa. And if (or when) caught the kids ought to go to school while you lobby for legislative relief. Putting your family at risk is just plain stupid.

    UPDATE: Valerie Moon has a nice rundown. Definitely worth a read.


    Filed on at 5:51 am under by dcobranchi

    An editorial in the Joplin Globe has pretty much nothing to say about home education. Seriously. Other than a recitation of some history, this is their entire “opinion.”

    We suspect that the deadly rampage in 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado and subsequent school shootings also may have raised safety concerns about children for many parents over the past few years and encouraged them to make a choice for schooling their sons and daughters in the security of the home. Furthermore, there are many informational home-schooling sites, including data on curricula, available on the Internet, making it easier to prepare the groundwork for a home school.

    The biggest advantage for home-schoolers, we believe, is that they appear to be self-starters and they have developed their own study habits. Both factors are likely to be helpful achieving success in higher education and in careers. But home-schoolers remain a small segment of the public and private education student body and, for that matter, probably will be well into the future.

    But it would appear that home schooling has made inroads that higher education is just beginning to recognize and appreciate.


    Filed on March 22, 2007 at 4:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    From the Wilmington News-Journal:

    Even the chaste can benefit from HPV vaccinations

    Because of the human-papilloma virus my beautiful 36-year-old niece died following a long and excruciating illness.

    She left a loving husband and two young teenage children. Two years later, also because of HPV, her cousin had radical surgery, which saved her life but ended her childbearing years.

    A woman may be chaste when she marries, but if her husband carries HPV she may catch it from him. Where is the morality in not having the protection of the HPV vaccine?

    Alice J. Hazell, Wilmington


    Filed on at 3:18 am under by dcobranchi

    Kill this bill.

    SB 171 would increase the compulsory attendance age to 17 in 2009 and 18 in 2011. There is an out for HEKs, though– declare them graduated:

    Every parent, guardian or other person in this State having charge or control of a child between the ages of seven and 16 17 years shall cause such child to attend school continuously for a period equal to the time which the public school to which the child is assigned shall be in session. session, until the child graduates from high school.

    Maybe the General Assembly should just raise the CA age to 100. No more dropouts.


    Filed on March 21, 2007 at 5:53 am under by dcobranchi

    Idiot of the Day:

    SISTERS — It was Kris Helphinstine’s first week teaching at Sisters High School, and he was hoping to encourage some critical thinking in his biology class.

    So while discussing evolution, he handed out an essay written by a prominent creationist and put together a PowerPoint presentation linking evolution to eugenics experiments practiced in Nazi Germany. That decision cost Helphinstine his job this week.

    “Critical thinking” is fundy crypto-speak for “Since we keep losing in the courts let’s try to sneak creationism into the biology classes.”

    Helphinstine won’t elaborate about his own beliefs, saying only that the goal of teachers is to present the facts while concealing their own biases… But when asked, the student said, Helphinstine “said he believed in parts of evolution, but that on the whole it was just ridiculous. There wasn’t enough proof, he said.”

    He claims not to have taught creationism, and he’s possibly even telling the truth. He just disparaged the only accepted scientific theory for the origin of species as “ridiculous,” cited Ken Ham as an authority, and linked evolutionary theory with Nazism.

    I’d say that’s evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.


    Filed on at 3:31 am under by dcobranchi

    will I look askance at my kids’ (relatively) dirty tennis shoes.


    Filed on March 20, 2007 at 7:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    So I’m forced to break precedent and post a link to the CoH on the actual day it’s published. 🙂


    Filed on at 2:48 am under by dcobranchi

    So classy— stealing from the parents of some of the poorest kids in the country.

    TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) — A former Camden elementary school principal and his top aide were indicted Monday on charges that they tricked parents and students in the nation’s poorest city into paying for outings that were financed by the school district, then kept the thousands of dollars they collected.

    They were also indicted, along with another former elementary school principal and her schoolteacher daughter, in a suspected scheme to overbill the district for leadership meetings authorities say never occurred.

    Authorities say the ex-principal of H.B. Wilson Elementary School and the top staffer pocketed more than $14,000 — collected in increments as small as $5 — to fund trips to such destinations as the Philadelphia Zoo, Storybook Land and an American Indian reservation.

    At least he hasn’t been on paid leave the whole time.


    Filed on March 19, 2007 at 6:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    No, I’m not soliciting funds for myself. 🙂 An HEK in CA got accepted to a good summer intensive and can’t afford the fare.


    Filed on at 5:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    [Republican presidential candidate Sam] Brownback instead sought to emphasize his fiscal conservatism and his support for a flat federal income tax, with no deductions or credits. He said taxpayers could choose to stay in the current system or shift to the new one.

    Yes, let’s add another completely new tax system to the current one. And force every single taxpayer in the country to calculate their taxes three different ways (progressive system, AMT, and flat tax).

    Fortunately, Brownback has a zero percent chance of winning, so this trial balloon will die a timely death.

    BTW, he was preaching to the choir homeschoolers.


    Filed on March 18, 2007 at 7:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    Useless Airways still has 100,000 folks stranded. I called our travel agent within minutes of them canceling my original flight to re-book on the next plane out. If not for that call, I’d probably still be stuck in Philly.


    Filed on at 11:28 am under by dcobranchi

    I don’t get it. Why would Sylvan Dell organize a writing contest limited to HEKs?


    Filed on at 5:41 am under by dcobranchi

    The pro-death and destruction side, of course:

    Up on the hill, counter-protester Diane Fanning of conservative organization Free Republic was unimpressed.

    She used a megaphone to loudly yodel, “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!” into the amphitheater to disrupt Southworth’s speech and the others’ presentations.

    “There’s no use for them,” Fanning said later. “They’re against everything that this country stands for. They would have everybody roll over and play dead.”

    The counter-protesters used large speakers to project heavy metal music, country music, patriotic songs such as The Ballad of the Green Beret, and speeches by President Bush and Winston Churchill.

    Why did the counter-protesters try to drown out the peace activists?

    “Why not?” Fanning said. “They would do the same to us.”

    Southworth said later he thought the counter-protesters were rude and disrespectful, especially when they tried to interrupt the relatives of soldiers who died in Iraq.

    WE’RE #1

    Filed on at 5:29 am under by dcobranchi

    Another benefit of homeschooling– no stupid GPA tricks.

    NEW AD —–>

    Filed on at 5:20 am under by dcobranchi

    How can you not click on an ad that starts with “Sex, drugs,…”?

    OT: Shameless Self-Promotion

    Filed on March 17, 2007 at 1:29 pm under by Tim Haas

    So, I kinda have this day job, and I kinda get to do fun stuff once in a while.


    Filed on at 1:32 am under by dcobranchi

    (Someone was keeping track. I’m working on 2 hours of sleep and can’t remember who.)

    Good quote:

    Do you worry about Buck missing out on socialization because of home-schooling?

    I hate socialization. I’m anti-socialization, and it’s all horrible. The Paris Hilton-ization of our daughters is really grotesque and disgusting — and so’s the bullying. It’s just pimp culture. All of American culture is pimp culture.


    Filed on at 1:20 am under by dcobranchi

    Of course not:

    About 15 years ago, my family and I flew to Knoxville, Tenn., to attend a seminar for home-school parents and their children. There were about 15,000 in attendance in the Thompson-Boling Arena at the University of Tennessee. It was quite an impressive seminar with a choir of 5,000 high school teens.

    I decided to conduct my own survey to find out just who these people were. A lady told me she was from Texas and her husband, like Moses, had parted the Red Sea when the Air Force jet he was flying flamed out over the Red Sea. I had lunch with two doctors who had had excellent results from their use of prolotherapy. They were going to Minneapolis to set up a clinic for treating people with back pain. Then there was a dentist from Georgia who was explaining to me the problems dentists were having.

    One evening a young father and I were joining in the singing of hymns. We had a short break, so I told him I was from Astoria, and asked where he was from. He said he was from Huntsville, Ala. I said, “Isn’t that where they make the rockets for NASA?” He replied that he was a space engineer.

    I said, “You are obviously here because you are a home-school father. Does that mean you don’t believe in evolution?” His answer was three words. “Of course not.”

    I was totally impressed by all the people I met there from all over the U.S. and Canada. Reflecting on what I had seen and heard at Knoxville, I concluded that if the U.S.A. has hope of a great future, it lies in the children of parents who have not fallen for Darwin’s great lie called evolution.

    Bill Moberg

    Homeschooler ≠ creationist


    Filed on March 16, 2007 at 4:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    This has to be the dumbest, least-scientific survey ever conceived:

    ChristiaNet.com (http://www.christianet.com), the world’s largest Christian portal with twelve million monthly page loads, surveyed readers on the popularity of God’s Word by asking, “Is the Bible your favorite book?” An overwhelming majority of those polled said “yes.”

    Do you think that, perhaps, folks might have felt “pushed” to answer in the affirmative?


    Filed on at 4:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m “snowed” in (Thanks a lot, Useless Airways!) in Philly. The damn airline waited until the last minute to cancel the flight. I guess they’ve decided to give WND a run for their money in the contest for Best. Nickname. Evah!


    Filed on at 7:52 am under by dcobranchi

    Travel day. Back tomorrow.


    Filed on March 15, 2007 at 4:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Let’s try to narrow it down next time, eh?

    Home schooling is a definite culprit behind the mass brainwashing of America’s children. They pledge to the Christian flag, to the American flag and to the Bible before they sit down to learn. Parents teach their children the science of creation as opposed to the evolution. They laugh together at the concept of Darwin’s theories.

    But these children, the ones too young to know any better, are corrupted by these lies at such an early age that they lack opposition. Their minds are free and welcoming, willing to learn anything. And that’s exactly the point – long before they are able to think independently, their minds are structured thoroughly and they are indoctrinated with even more bogus theories than Darwin’s.

    Radical atheism can be every bit as obnoxious as radical Christianity.


    Filed on at 4:07 am under by dcobranchi

    Ask a stupid question

    GODWIN 1, WND -8,000,000

    Filed on at 4:03 am under by dcobranchi

    I didn’t even bother to read the latest WorldNutDaily screed about German homeschooling. The sub-hed tells me everything I need to know:

    Held in psych ward, foster care when accused of violating Hitler-type rule

    Are the sheeple who take that rag seriously so gullible that they can’t see how WND routinely plays the Nazi card to whip their followers into a frenzy? Probably.


    Filed on at 3:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Home educators [username & password: HEOS1234] helped to table Sen. Bill 85, which would have allowed HEKs and private schoolers to participate in g-school sports and other extra-curriculars. I don’t know the history of the bill or home educators’ reasons for opposition, but I can guess:

    b) A student who is pursuing a course of home study under Code Section 20-2-690 may participate in extracurricular activities sponsored by or engaged in by the public school which the student would otherwise attend if not pursuing the home study course. Such student shall pay any participation or activity fee in an amount equal to the fee paid by public school participants; the student shall adhere to the same standards of behavior, responsibility, performance, and code of conduct as other participants of the team or activity; and the student shall adhere to the same academic standards as other participants of the team or activity which shall be confirmed by appropriate documentation provided by the student to the public school providing the activity in which the student desires to participate or is participating. No public school shall discriminate against such students in the selection of teams or in accepting such students for participation in an extracurricular activity. [emphasis added]

    That academic standards wording is a Pandora’s box. It’s so broad that the schools could basically demand that HEKs follow the state curriculum, take the state accountability tests, maintain a GPA, etc.

    Better to kill this one and start over.


    Filed on at 3:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Another HEK heads to DC. Interestingly, Avon Grove, PA is in Chester Co. You might recall the bit of controversy surrounding HEK participation in the local bee a couple weeks ago.


    Filed on March 14, 2007 at 10:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    It appears that Merck is soon to have some competition.

    GlaxoSmithKline is getting closer to launching its challenge against Merck’s monopoly on cervical cancer vaccines.

    The British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (down $0.42 to $54.83, Charts) is just weeks away from filing an application for its experimental cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix to the Food and Drug Administration.


    Filed on at 8:06 am under by dcobranchi

    Fox News wants to know if you think spanking a child is harmful.


    Filed on at 5:29 am under by dcobranchi

    This Op/Ed, in the Wilmington News-Journal, wins the author the coveted HE&OS Idiot of the Day award. Seems he really hates the idea of nursing in public:

    It used to cost the publishers of National Geographic thousands to send photographers to far-off lands to get pictures of women breast-feeding their children.

    Now they need go no further than an airliner or the Charcoal Pit to get the same kind of copy.

    What used to be acceptable only in Papua, New Guinea or Botswana has now been adopted as the norm by a certain segment of our community.

    And it goes downhill from there.

    It really is kind of refreshing to hear a proud misogynist stand up for his (Neanderthal) beliefs.

    He got blasted to smithereens in the comments section.

    UPDATE: I wonder if this is the same Thomas Beach:

    Thomas Beach, III, a partner in the Baltimore office serves on the Advisory Board of the Dick Gelfman Ride Across Maryland that coordinates a motorcycle ride from various points to Ocean City, MD to raise money to support the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation.

    Right part of the state. But surely someone actively raising money for breast cancer work would know the negative correlation between nursing and breast cancer.

    Can’t be him. Can it?

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