Utterly Meaningless » 2007 » August

    Filed on August 31, 2007 at 10:07 pm under by dcobranchi

    Four high school football coaches have been suspended for having a couple of beers on the field. There were no kids around but zero tolerance means they’ve got to go. Overall, stupidity on both sides. What caught my eye, though, was the fact that the (suspended) head coach is also apparently a Bible scholar:

    “The Bible says what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and we’re not dead yet,” Fouch said.


    Filed on at 4:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Inky has an unbelievably positive article on homeschooling. Minor quibble– they have fundy home educators as the polar opposite of unschoolers.


    Filed on August 29, 2007 at 8:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    Chris explains what it all means.


    Filed on at 12:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    I caught a few minutes of the Today show yesterday. On a segment about how Edwards and Obama were juggling their young kids and campaigning, Edwards said (paraphrase): “The campaign is a great way for the kids to be socialized.” Yeah, he really used the “S” word.


    Filed on August 28, 2007 at 7:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Carnivale is here.


    Filed on August 27, 2007 at 9:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    Relatively good news for MN home educators:

    Saving receipts from school supply purchases made now may help parents save when they file their state income taxes. The Minnesota Department of Revenue reminds parents that their school supply purchases may qualify for tax credits or subtractions on their 2007 state income tax return.

    “We want Minnesota families who invest in school expenses to get the tax credits and subtractions that they deserve,” said Minnesota Revenue Commissioner Ward Einess. “Parents should know that their school supply purchases may help them to qualify for a reduction to their taxes.”

    Minnesota has two programs — the K-12 education subtraction and the K-12 education credit — to help families pay expenses related to their child’s kindergarten through 12th grade education. The subtraction and credit are based on actual educational expenses for the year. To qualify, your child must be attending kindergarten through 12th grade at a public, private or home school, and you must have purchased educational services or required material during the year to assist your child’s education.

    If your household income — your federal adjusted gross income plus most nontaxable income — is $37,500 or less, you may qualify for the credit and subtraction. If your household income is more than $37,500, you may qualify for the subtraction only.

    Generally, most expenses paid for educational instruction or materials qualify. Some examples include purchases of paper, pens and notebooks; textbooks; rental or purchases of educational equipment such as musical instruments; computer hardware and educational software; after-school education, enrichment programs and summer school; and tutor fees.

    For more information, visit the Minnesota Department of Revenue website at http://www.taxes.state.mn.us/ or by calling (651)296-3781 from the Twin Cities metropolitan area or 1-800-652-9094 from elsewhere in Minnesota.

    I’m not sure what a “subtraction” is. Is that what everyone else refers to as a deduction? Regardless, it sounds like just about everything one could conceivably spend money on would qualify.


    Filed on August 26, 2007 at 9:00 am under by dcobranchi

    The Faytteville Observer, hometown paper of the 82nd Airborne, finally (almost) sees the light.

    We’re caught between Iraq and a hard place, the latest National Intelligence Estimate tells us. It’s a deadly dilemma… We see both sides. Sen. Warner is right. So is Gen. Lynch. Does this mean we’re stuck there forever in the War Without End? That we continue to bury our dead for years to come, in service to a nation that refuses unity, as it has throughout most of its history?

    Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, will be in Washington in a few weeks to deliver his report. It should — and it must — include a resolution, an endgame strategy.

    We cannot accept, or tolerate, an endless war.

    I’ve been harassing the editors for months, emailing them a copy of every article detailing when yet another local soldier gets killed in Iraq. This is the first time they’ve actually called for withdrawal, however timid the call.

    I’m going to keep on until the paper endorses a proposal to end the war.


    Filed on August 25, 2007 at 5:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    Interesting comment in the Tivo thread.


    Filed on at 5:23 am under by dcobranchi

    Life among the fearful:

    Revolving door courts do not deliver justice

    Where do we start? Do we have a justice system or an illegal fiasco owned and operated by a group of bleeding hearts? (“What is wrong with our justice system?,” letter to the editor by Thomas Barnes, Aug. 9). My motto is “may the prosecution never lose.” With video cameras, DNA testing, etc., we don’t need “innocent until proven guilty.” What better proof than a picture?

    Far too many of these cases today are only job security so these lawyers can get those people off so the crimes can be repeated, offering more job security. To me, in a way this is aiding and abetting crime.

    Judges do not make subjective decisions, only objective. We need about four relatives of the victim to be part of the sentencing. When it’s your folks who were murdered, raped or robbed or had their car or ID stolen, etc., the sentencing will be different.

    What this country needs is legal reform.

    James H. Kahl

    And in a related story, a candidate for City Council here yesterday called for the abolition of bail for “every offender hauled in by our hard-working law enforcement officers.”

    She later tried to walk it back by “revising and extending” her comments, but I have a copy of the original. She really did assume that everyone arrested was an “offender” and she wants to lock them up without “unreasonably low” bail, which in this case must mean a bail that they can actually make.

    Who needs that stooopid 8th Amendment anyway?


    Filed on August 23, 2007 at 7:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    Or at least 4.25 billion years. Cool science.


    Filed on at 5:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    Part III of CNN’s documentary “God’s Warriors” airs tonight at 9 EDT. Home education gets a walk on:

    Other God’s warriors are fighting battles on a quieter, more personal front. In Virginia, Jennifer and Michael Nevarr are disturbed by what they perceive as the lack of God in public schools. Instead, they home school their five children, basing their education on a Christian world view.


    Filed on at 5:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    Marilyn Musgrave (R-HSLDA) is less than optimistic about the war in Iraq.

    Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a long-time supporter of President George Bush’s Iraq war agenda, said Wednesday she believes the war isn’t going well and is predicting a troop reduction will be announced next month.

    “I’m discouraged,” Musgrave said in a meeting with the Coloradoan editorial board. “I do hope we will hear good things from Gen. (David) Petraeus about the troop surge and what it has done, but I am discouraged.”


    Filed on at 6:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Fight illegal immigration by not watering your lawn:

    Businesses hurt chances of conserving water

    We see governments all over the area seeking methods to conserve water. This in light of governments, developers, home builders, homeowner associations and others continuing to plant grass and install underground irrigation systems, essentially doing anything they could possibly do to encourage excessive use of water just to keep the grass green.

    All the while, N.C. State University has a published list of more than 150 plants described as ground cover and not requiring daily irrigation, mowing or extensive application of fertilizer, herbicides, etc.

    Wow, imagine the silence of Saturday morning without every yard filled with the sound of lawn mowers. Imagine the money saved if the government did not have to mow the grass along the roads, around municipal buildings, schools, hospitals, etc. Consider the water, gasoline, labor, equipment and the environment saved.

    Wow, is there any downside? Why, this action could reduce the need for many of the undocumented visitors to sunny North Carolina. Why, the savings would expand to our hospitals, schools, highways and all the other facets of our economy impacted by our beloved visitors.

    There is one negative, and that is that the businesses who cater to our visitors would receive less business. Oh well, I guess it’s not such a good idea.

    I’m sorry!

    J.P. Lloyd
    Chapel Hill


    Filed on August 22, 2007 at 5:14 pm under by dcobranchi

    This is one of the dumber sciences pieces I’ve seen lately:

    CAIRO, Egypt (Reuters) — Egyptian archaeologists have found what they said could be the oldest human footprint in history in the country’s western desert, the Arab country’s antiquities’ chief said on Monday.

    “This could go back about two million years,” said Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. “It could be the most important discovery in Egypt,” he told Reuters.

    Archaeologists found the footprint, imprinted on mud and then hardened into rock, while exploring a prehistoric site in Siwa, a desert oasis.

    Scientists are using carbon tests on plants found in the rock to determine its exact age, Hawass said.

    Carbon dating cannot go back to anywhere close to 2 million years. The half-life of C-14 is ~5500 years. Ten half-lives is about the limit at which you can get reliable numbers. 55,000 is just slightly shy of 2,000,000.


    Filed on at 5:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    4+ years (and several hundred thousand lives) later, the US pines for a strongman in Iraq.

    Nightmarish political realities in Baghdad are prompting American officials to curb their vision for democracy in Iraq. Instead, the officials now say they are willing to settle for a government that functions and can bring security. A workable democratic and sovereign government in Iraq was one of the Bush administration’s stated goals of the war.

    But for the first time, exasperated front-line U.S. generals talk openly of non-democratic governmental alternatives… “Democratic institutions are not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future,” said Brig. Gen. John “Mick” Bednarek, part of Task Force Lightning in Diyala province, one of the war’s major battlegrounds.

    Worst! Fucking! President! Ever!


    Filed on at 6:21 am under by dcobranchi

    The home education community is relatively small. And probably less than half of them are conservative Republicans. So why do they keep making a fuss over “Homeschoolers for Huckabee”?

    Mike Huckabee has announced a slew of endorsements in the state.

    Former transportation commissioner Carol Murray endorsed the former Arkansas governor and will advise him on transportation issues.

    Former state senator Dave Wheeler will head up the New Hampshire “Homeschoolers for Huckabee Coalition” and serve on the “Second Amendment Advisory Committee.”

    Is this a Generation Joshua thing?


    Filed on August 21, 2007 at 4:32 am under by dcobranchi

    Proof positive that the Fayetteville Observer is so desperate for LttE that they will print anything:

    Could homeless expertise find dangerous bridges?

    Who can tell us which bridges need to be repaired or replaced in North Carolina? Who can tell us which bridges need to be inspected first? Who knows the most about the conditions of our bridges? The answer to these questions is obvious — the homeless.

    Many homeless people reside under our bridges. At night they are looking up not at the stars but at the underside of the bridge.

    It is a known fact that homeless people will not sleep under a bridge that is about to collapse. That fact is easily substantiated … you never heard of a bridge collapsing and killing or injuring a homeless person that lived under it.

    If homeless people are not sleeping regularly under any bridge, that bridge needs to be inspected immediately by the bridge inspection team that was created by DOT Secretary Lyndo Tippett.

    This is just one example of how governmental problems can be solved by using citizen expertise.

    Benner Jones III

    If I subscribed I’d have to cancel. What an embarrassment!


    Filed on August 20, 2007 at 9:49 pm under by dcobranchi


    The ISS and Space Shuttle just passed directly overhead. I shot this 8 second exposure from our backyard. The ISS is the brighter one higher in the sky.


    Filed on August 19, 2007 at 4:59 pm under by dcobranchi

    Even the soldiers fighting the war in Iraq know that we’re just spinning our wheels and getting a bunch of people killed for no good reason. A must read.

    I think they’re local boys.

    To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day.


    Filed on August 18, 2007 at 7:10 am under by dcobranchi

    I don’t recall this blog being in Spanish.


    Filed on August 17, 2007 at 7:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    NCLB is working just as designed:

    Less than a third of public schools in Cumberland County achieved “adequate yearly progress” in 2006-07, according to preliminary scores released this morning.

    Twenty-seven schools out of 88 in the county met all of their target goals as part of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

    Last year, 30 schools in the county made adequate yearly progress.

    As a quick review, by 2014 the schools are supposed to achieve 100% pass rates for every sub-category of students. If one student doesn’t make the cut, the entire school fails. This is an impossible dream, of course. But when the law was written, states were allowed to pick their own interim goals as long as they met the 2014 target. So AFAIK every state backloaded the process, predicting slow gains in the first few years followed by ever increasing gains. Basically, an exponential curve. Those chickens are now coming home to roost in the 5+ year old law.

    Unless NCLB is dramatically re-written, you’ll see a larger percentage of schools failing to meet AYP targets every year until, in 2014 (or perhaps even before), every single school in the country will be labeled “failing.”

    Mission accomplished.


    Filed on at 5:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    What is the mysterious force that connects cats and laundry baskets?



    Filed on at 4:50 am under by dcobranchi

    The founder of USATodaythinks” that the g-schools teach kids to try out their wings and that home education clips their wings.

    My concern about our educational system is for those who aren’t part of it — these home-schooled:

    * An estimated 1.7 million to 2.5 million will be taught at home by a parent this year.

    * They are tied to their mother’s apron strings or father’s bootstraps.

    Not letting kids try out their own wings after we’ve provided the right roots will disadvantage them later in life.

    I actually agree with two-thirds of his statement. There are indeed approximately 2 million HEKs and, yes, kids need to gradually be given more independence as they prove they can handle it. But can 1st-graders fly? Does the mama bird push the babies out of the nest a few hours after hatching? So why should we?

    His second statement is a non sequitur, and he provides no support for it. None. Is there any evidence anywhere that home education turns kids into servile automatons? Because that’s what this is about. This Op/Ed is Rob Reich but written at a 1st-grade level. By a C-minus student. On a bad day. It’s hardly worth a response. Except that it appears on the editorial page of the paper most often thrown away unread in hotels across the nation.

    I think Laura Derrick’s excellent one-sentence response is really all that needs to be said:

    “Children can’t fly if they aren’t free, and they aren’t free if the conformity of a classroom is the only acceptable path to education.”

    — Laura Derrick, president, National Home Education Network

    One other thing– Reg Weaver is an idiot.

    UPDATE: My old boss 🙂 Helen Hegener chimes in here.


    Filed on August 16, 2007 at 5:13 am under by dcobranchi

    I really wish I had some background on the inspiration for this brief piece out of AZ, reproduced here in full:

    Nearly one percent of all Arizona students are now being home-schooled, but Candace Cochran from the county’s school’s office says there’s no way of knowing how well they’re doing because they aren’t required to be tested.

    “When home-schooling first began, students were having to be tested every year to continue home-schooling. They’re no longer required to do that.”

    The only legal requirement for home schoolers is that they register with her county schools office.

    Achievement testing and even high school diplomas are optional.

    “A number of home-schooled students go on to be very successful. A number of home-schooled students don’t go on to be very successful. It just depends on how much the parents work with students, depends on how diligent the students are in their work.”


    Filed on at 5:06 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m not sure that this isn’t anything that homeschoolers haven’t been doing forever, but it’s still sounds pretty cool.

    Lake Oswego, OR–Like millions of other children around the country, 9-year-old Caroline Haroldson of Lake Oswego, Oregon will start school the day after Labor Day. But unlike most fourth graders, she won’t enter any school doors. Instead, Caroline will begin a six-week trek homeschooling (or “travelschooling”) across
    the contiguous United States in a quest to learn about our nation’s history, geography, and government.

    Amy Haroldson, Homeschool Across America’s founder, hopes the adventure will inspire families of the over one million homeschoolers in the United States to take advantage of the freedom to travel homeschooling offers. “I can’t imagine a more enriching way to learn than through travel to the actual places where history took place,” says Haroldson, who is also Caroline’s mother and travel companion for the journey. “Homeschoolers can travel anytime to learn. We avoid the holiday break crowds and long lines and can take advantage of off-season discounts.” In addition to tracking Caroline’s travels, the website, HomeschoolAcrossAmerica.com, highlights opportunities for homeschool families seeking educational experiences through travel.

    More info here.


    Filed on August 14, 2007 at 5:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    Woohoo! Homeschoolers are being credited with dragging Huck’s animated political corpse across the finish line ahead of all of the other “pygmies” save one.

    I’m really rooting for Huck to get the nomination. [via HSWatch]

    UPDATE: His support for the “Fair Tax” is just icing on the cake. Good call, HSLDA.


    Filed on at 5:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    Placing your infant in front of the TV, even to watch Baby Einstein videos, makes her dumber. Disney, owner of Baby Einstein, of course disputes the findings.


    Filed on August 12, 2007 at 11:00 am under by dcobranchi

    The Perseid meteor shower is tonight. Northeast around 2 a.m. should be prime viewing. NASA advises that if you can find Mars, you’re looking in the right spot.


    Filed on August 11, 2007 at 9:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    According to Zillow, my house has lost $1,908,117 in value in the last 12 months.

    UPDATE: It could have been worse. If I’d have purchased in late ’03, I’d be $16.7MM in the hole.


    Filed on at 8:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    Bulletproof backpacks? Yeah– let’s scare the kids to death.


    Filed on at 7:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    Who said this?

    “Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”

    Answer below the fold. Read more »


    Filed on at 1:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    What the hell is this supposed to mean?

    One reason we read to our kids is to entertain them. But just as important is teaching them life lessons. Even parents who shy away from the term “home school” will snap up board books that introduce their tots to the joys of the potty.


    Filed on at 9:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Bush’s “War Czar” yesterday said it makes sense to consider reinstating a draft. That’d be one way to drive Bush’s ratings down into single digits. I expect Lute to suddenly discover a need to spend more time with his family.


    Filed on at 7:41 am under by dcobranchi

    HLSDA’s favorite may drop out if he doesn’t do well in today’s Iowa Straw Poll.

    It’d be worth a quick trip to Iowa (and the $35 “poll tax”) to be able to support our anointed candidate.


    Filed on at 7:15 am under by dcobranchi

    Typical Fayetteville LOTD:

    Bush administration is hiding plans

    I am telling our senators to impeach. Impeach Cheney, Bush and Gonzales. We the people are the ones that are supposed to run this country and we pass our wishes to our congressmen and senators, and nothing is done.

    This country is on the verge of a revolution and our leaders are ignoring our wishes. If something isn’t done soon, it is sure to come within the next year.

    They know and hide the fact that the IRS is illegal. They know and hide the fact that the Bush administration is secretly trying to join Canada, the U.S. and Mexico into a North American Union, while taking land from ranchers to build a 12-lane highway from Mexico to Canada.

    We as the awakened American people see what is going on. This must be stopped.

    If they don’t start doing what the American people want, there will be a revolution.

    Marti Gordy


    Filed on August 10, 2007 at 5:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    Hell! I didn’t even vote for him on American Idol.


    Filed on at 4:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    What if this was real? Indeed.


    Filed on at 4:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    Only 102. In the shade.

    UPDATE: Never mind. 105.1 at 5 p.m.


    Filed on August 9, 2007 at 5:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Dow sank nearly 400 points today as the equities market reacted to a French fund announcing that it was suspending trading due to the US credit market meltdown. Yeah– it’s getting bloody.


    Filed on at 4:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    Keep an eye on this one. Several new studies indicate it is toxic at levels that we are routinely exposed to.


    Filed on at 3:53 pm under by dcobranchi


    UPDATE: 105 at 3:53 p.m.


    Filed on August 8, 2007 at 5:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    This one appeared in my local paper today, under the horrible hed “State monitors home schooling”

    Q: What all would I have to do to home-school my child here in North Carolina? — B.M., Fayetteville

    The answer is mostly correct, but this bit at the end is a little presumptuous:

    You also may want to get involved with an active home-school support group in Fayetteville called Homes Offering Meaningful Education. You can learn more about its activities and contact it through its Web site, www.homepatriots.com.

    HOME is very Christian and very conservative. Lydia attended one of their meetings. The leader lectured for 45 minutes on Da Rulz, including how girls (and moms) had to dress demurely so that the boys wouldn’t be tempted to look.


    Filed on August 7, 2007 at 10:02 am under by dcobranchi

    This article, on the bursting of the private equity market, is just plain scary. If it bleeds over into equities in any significant manner, we might not see 14,000 on the Dow again for a very long time.


    Filed on at 7:02 am under by dcobranchi

    The damn brown people are threatening our way of life:

    Tax money shouldn’t be spent on Spanish

    I have to agree with Ron Robinson on his letter “Taxes need to be spent teaching kids English” July 31), regarding teaching Spanish to our children in schools. Schools keep complaining that they don’t have sufficient funding for the classes needed to educate our children. So let’s be smart. Stop all this teaching our children Spanish and start teaching the Spanish-speaking children our language, English.

    When they enter high school, allow an optional language course in Spanish for those who wish to be bilingual. If you have a Spanish-speaking-only class, then why not one for German, French, Greek, Italian, Polish, etc. After all, it’s only fair and equal for all.

    I would, however, go even further: Under no circumstances should our tax dollars be used to print any government forms, publications, road signs or any manuals in any language but English. We live in the United States, the spoken language has always been English and should not change just to appease those who do not want to assimilate into our way of life.

    Edward W. Gates
    Hope Mills

    I swear– The Fayetteville Observer will print absolutely anything.

    BTW, the Spanish class in question was not for native Spanish speakers. It was aimed at Anglophone children. Parents had to opt-in their children.


    Filed on August 6, 2007 at 5:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    The editor ought to be drawn and quartered for letting this one get by:

    Home school students is another group that is invited, Kerr said.


    Filed on at 4:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    It was six years ago today that George Bush decided to ignore the PDB titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US” with the famous words, “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.”

    Fucking moron.


    Filed on at 6:24 am under by dcobranchi

    How else to interpret this?

    Teachers who use gestures as they explain a concept — such as the hand sweeps that Cook uses to emphasize an equation’s symmetry — are more successful at getting their ideas across, research has shown. And students who spontaneously gesture as they work through new ideas tend to remember them longer than those who do not move their hands.

    Now Cook’s work with elementary schoolchildren is helping to find out whether the gesturing done spontaneously by many quick learners is simply a reflection of the fact that they are “getting it” or is actively helping them learn.

    Her findings, along with others in the emerging field, could open new vistas in neuroscience, cognitive psychology and education. They may even bring a modicum of science to such pressing questions as: What is it with those Italians?


    Filed on August 5, 2007 at 7:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    The best Bourne.


    Filed on at 11:33 am under by dcobranchi

    A singles group for Mormon former HEKs.


    Filed on at 8:18 am under by dcobranchi

    These “Christians” need to read their Bible a bit more closely.

    Frustrated with widespread drug abuse — especially of easily accessible prescription painkillers — a handful of mountain churches are moving away from their traditional role as a refuge for the poor and addicted. Now they’re more interested in law enforcement.

    The Community Church of Manchester is leading the way through “Court Watch,” a program in which volunteers attend court hearings to monitor judges overseeing drug-related cases…

    The Rev. Doug Abner, pastor at Community Church — whose slogan for a 2004 anti-drug march was “get saved or get busted” — said the presence of Court Watch volunteers puts “mild pressure” on judges “to do the right thing.” The volunteers collect information for a database and look for trends in drug crimes…

    Abner said his church hasn’t neglected its prison ministry or other counseling programs. Still, he added, “we believe in giving people chances, but how many chances do you give them?”

    *Or seventy-seven times. Both are accepted translations.

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