Utterly Meaningless » 2007 » October

    Filed on October 31, 2007 at 9:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    I wish I still lived in SC so I could vote for him.


    Filed on at 6:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    Happy Halloween.


    Filed on at 5:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    Chris found a much better version of the lateral video. The view from the end zone is just terrific.


    Filed on at 5:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    Valerie notes that there’s a follow-up to the MI article from the other day. If you’re interested in following this one, I’d suggest first reading the comments on the original piece, then the update, and finally the comments on the update.


    Filed on October 30, 2007 at 6:06 am under by dcobranchi

    Life in Fayetteville.


    Filed on October 28, 2007 at 5:51 pm under by dcobranchi


    Filed on at 3:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    “If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.” — William Tecumseh Sherman


    Filed on at 12:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    John Edwards’ campaign pulls off the gloves:

    Edwards spokesperson Teresa Wells also ribbed Colbert for his ties to the snack food industry. Colbert has said his campaign will be sponsored by Doritos.

    “What is more troubling than his quest for a status his own mother won’t grant him (favorite son) are his ties to the salty food industry,” Wells said. “As the candidate of Doritos, his hands are stained by corporate corruption and nacho cheese. John Edwards has never taken a dime from taco chip lobbyists and America deserves a President who isn’t in the pocket of the snack food special interests.”


    Filed on October 27, 2007 at 9:32 am under by dcobranchi

    Not too shabby.

    Friday, October 26, 2007 8:10 PM US/Western

    Not all home schooled families are alike

    To the Editor:

    I would like to respond to Darla Sautter’s letter about home schooling and the school district’s Parent Partnership Program. First of all, in fairness to Mr. Glenewinkel, I do believe that his aim is honestly the success of all students in this school district, and that is why he has expanded the district’s focus to be more inclusive of those children who fall outside of the mainstream in whatever capacity. Secondly, when Mr. Glenewinkel asked me to start the Parent Partnership Program, he was indeed interested in learning from the home-school movement, and putting some of those practices into public school. My instructions were to go to the families in the district who were home schooling their children; find out what their wants, needs, and interests were; and construct a program based on that information. (By the way, contacting home schoolers is not always a simple and easy task, especially if one is trying to respect their privacy, as I am.) As Ms. Sautter stated in her letter, there are clearly some home-schooling families who are quite happy with their situation, and who don’t feel they want or need anything from the school district. That’s great, and I mean that sincerely.

    However, in the 19 months that I have been working in this position, I have found one thing to be true: It is extremely difficult to lump home schoolers into one group and represent them as if they all shared the same characteristics. The families I have come into contact with are as diverse as they can possibly be (which is one of the reasons I find my job so attractive and rewarding). As a result, there are some families who greatly appreciate and benefit from the free materials, fun activities, social interaction, academic support, and moral support the Parent Partnership Program has to offer. Those are the families this program is aimed at and serves, and there are enough of them in this valley to justify the district’s financing of this position. For parents interested in or even curious about the Parent Partnership Program, I look forward to speaking with you and welcome your phone calls, questions, and input.

    Sarah N. Bicchieri
    coordinator of the Parent Partnership Program

    NEW (OLD) AD —–>

    Filed on at 8:16 am under by dcobranchi

    A rare repeat supporter. Show ’em some love.


    Filed on October 26, 2007 at 7:00 am under by dcobranchi

    Doc should have fun ripping this guy a new one. At the end of the anti-gay diatribe he warns that the gay agenda will now be heading east.

    Those parents who can afford to pull their children from public schools and place them in private schools or homeschool them will probably do so. But most families cannot afford to do so. They will be forced to send their children to schools which expressly contradict their values. Multiple studies have shown the disastrous effect the breakdown of marriage has had on the poor—e.g., it keeps them in a vicious cycle of poverty. Now the Government of California plans to do more harm to the poor.

    …The Capitol Resource Institute in California has launched a referendum campaign to overturn SB 777. The group will need to secure 433,971 valid voter signatures within 90 days to qualify for the June 2008 ballot.

    If the referendum is unsuccessful, be prepared for some momentum to spread east because California’s resources and population make California enormously influential. Textbook publishers will take note of this new legislation and amend their books accordingly in order to stay in business in the State.


    Filed on at 5:46 am under by dcobranchi

    A crusading g-school teacher is aghast that the State isn’t looking over your shoulder:

    “It’s insane,” Head gasped. “Apparently, nobody ever checks up on these kids once they leave school. I assumed there was accountability. This causes me to question the whole system. I just really want to know; can it really be true that there is no follow-up?”

    …Head remained baffled by the state’s hands-off approach.

    “They’re usually so rigid about standards,” she said. “This is a big loophole.”

    Cavernous, you might say.

    …Sharon Ganssley of the Shiawassee Regional Education Service District, which covers Perry Middle School, said that as far as she knows her district has never pursued charges against a home-schooler.

    That, despite the fact that they sometimes see kids pulled from schools who shouldn’t be.

    “It’s a very, very difficult thing to do,” Ganssley said. “The state offers us no guidelines.”

    She said she has talked to truant officers in neighboring counties who are inhibited by the constant threat of legal action against school officials who are perceived to interfere with the rights of home-schoolers.

    “I’m not sure where I stand, legally” Ganssley said. “It’s a sad situation.”


    Filed on at 5:36 am under by dcobranchi

    discussing health insurance, does anyone care to comment on Charlie Rangel’s tax reform proposal? At first glance, it seems like a winner to me. It kills the dreaded AMT and makes the code slightly more progressive.

    The Republicans are (predictably) screaming that it’s the “Mother of all tax hikes.” I just don’t see it. It’s revenue neutral. Will some folks pay more? Sure. Every change in the tax code has winners and losers.

    $3 SHORT

    Filed on at 4:49 am under by dcobranchi

    Oops, I forgot to post the link to the CoH. And, no, it’s not a HSB site. It just plays one on the internets. 🙂


    Filed on October 25, 2007 at 8:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    Doing my civic duty.


    Filed on October 24, 2007 at 3:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Global warming is true. The Bible tells me so:

    A hot topic and religion

    If anyone believes God’s word, the Bible, there has been and will continue to be global warming and no one can do anything to stop it.

    As we are told in the Bible, there will be global warming. As it says, before the end of time you will not be able to tell the seasons except by the changing of the leaves.

    Now, if you just look back, there was the Ice Age as recorded. Then in the past 70 years, I personally have seen the world warm to where we no longer have the severe winters that we have had in the South.

    Bobbie Duke
    Hope Mills


    Filed on October 23, 2007 at 6:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Yeah, it’s an anecdote. But they’re real people. They played by the rules. And now she’s dying. Is it right to bankrupt the family, too?

    The health insurance/health care market is completely broken. Market failures do not fix themselves. It’s time for national health care.


    Filed on at 5:19 am under by dcobranchi

    Just another skirmish in the GWOR.*

    What NASA knows about airline safety in America may be hazardous to our health. But we don’t know for sure, because NASA has decided that the airlines’ financial health is more important than disclosing what it learned in a study funded with our money.

    More than a year ago, The Associated Press learned about NASA’s $8.5 million air-safety study, which was based on interviews with about 24,000 commercial and general-aviation pilots over nearly four years. According to NASA officials who were familiar with the study but not authorized to comment publicly on it, some safety problems — like near-collisions and runway interference — are at least twice as common as previous studies had found.

    …For more than 14 months, NASA has rejected AP requests, made under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, to see the survey results. NASA’s associate administrator, Thomas S. Luedtke, told the AP that revealing the study’s findings could damage the public’s confidence in airlines and cut the airlines’ profits.

    Yes, because corporate profits should always be the government’s GOP’s primary concern.

    *GOP War on Reality.


    Filed on October 21, 2007 at 6:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    The AP discovers that there’s a lot of them. Shocking, I know.


    Filed on October 20, 2007 at 4:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    I subscribe to the local weekly, The St. Pauls Review. Typical very small town paper, all the way down to the Police Blotter. This week’s lead item in the Blotter details how Tommy Chavis, 35, of Raeford was stopped for speeding.

    Small town, indeed.


    Filed on at 6:24 am under by dcobranchi

    The USDA has a really useful engine website up on essentially all of the plants that grow in the US. Included in the searchable database are thousands of photos.

    I’m thinking about putting in an asparagus bed, as Lydia and I are both addicts. If anyone has any hints & tips about growing these, particularly in the South, please drop a comment.


    Filed on October 19, 2007 at 9:18 pm under by dcobranchi


    I’m not sure why this photo strikes me like it does.

    This was shot today during a “field trip” to Gross Farms Corn Maze.


    Filed on at 9:15 pm under by dcobranchi


    Relatively high ground away from the dog.


    Filed on at 5:34 am under by dcobranchi

    The idiots at World Nut Daily are at it again. Now they’re pushing an amendment to the California Constitution to prevent the “mental molestation” that g-schoolers world endure by learning that gays are people.

    “A detailed, well-crafted constitutional amendment would wipe out SB 777 and prevent it from ever coming back again, no matter what the politicians or judges desired,” said an analysis by Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families.

    He also warned it would be best if parents would simply withdraw their children from public schools. “When you can no longer protect your children, you must remove them from a threatening environment,” he said. “Because the equivalent of mental molestation is coming to California public schools, CCF is recommending that California parents who love their children flee to home schools or church-operated private schools.”

    Yeah, it’s really that sick.

    Doc’s been following this for a while: here and here.


    Filed on at 5:08 am under by dcobranchi

    The wingnut WEBCommentary:

    On the afternoon of October 12 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger caved in to radical homosexuals and signed a bill that could force government run schools to accommodate children with “gender identity” issues by permitting them to use the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms, depending on which gender they choose to identify with at that time. Does this not make you want to homeschool your kids? If you live in Sodomfornia you’d better start now, before your child is robbed of his or her innocence.

    How many transgendered kids are going to shower in the “wrong” locker. Just not going to happen. And if a transgendered kid uses the bathroom, so what? Are the straight kids going to see something they shouldn’t? A female is still going to have to use the stalls even if he identifies as a male [Can someone please help me out here with the proper language? I’m trying NOT to be insulting.] And if a male goes in the girls’ bathroom, she won’t have any choice but to use a stall.

    There are lots of good reasons to home educate. Fear of transgendered kids using the “wrong” bathroom just isn’t one of them.


    Filed on at 4:30 am under by dcobranchi

    It’s not often that the NYT opines on my favorite malt beverage. This Op/Ed by a craft brewer is pretty good. I’d argue, though, with this sentence:

    If we truly want to restore the vibrant beer culture that flourished in this country before Prohibition, craft brewers need to retain the values and goals — creating beers that are flavorful, interesting to drink and made from proper beer ingredients — that put us on the map in the first place.

    If he means that craft brewers ought to stick to some American version of the German purity laws, bah! I don’t often go for fruit or spiced beers, but they are a significant chunk of the craft brew market. And they help to make that market so interesting.

    So, here’s to you, craft brewers. Bottom’s up!


    Filed on October 18, 2007 at 7:02 pm under by Tim Haas

    I rather doubt it, really, but I’m still gratified to see such a strong pro-home-ed editorial in a decent-sized paper:

    New Jersey is one of only 10 states that does not require parents to notify their local school district if they choose to home-school their children. Those parents would like to keep it that way.

    The government is right to butt out. Parents should be in charge of their children’s education, and home schooling is an option many in the state have chosen — up to 70,000 kids, according to a national home-schooling research group.

    In our Monday news story on home schooling, a spokeswoman from the New Jersey Education Association said that group is concerned because “there’s no oversight, there’s no way to ensure a child receives a quality education on a day-to-day basis.” Maybe not. But we agree with leaving home schooling as is. We support the public school system, but we also favor school choice. The more choices, the better.

    It even makes a pitch for extracurriculars! — Tim Haas


    Filed on at 1:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    This one I don’t mind promoting at all.

    “Not the Homeschool Blog Awards” (not their official name) needs help designing a logo. The contest is open to HEKs with a 1st prize of $100. Details here.

    NEW AD —–>

    Filed on October 17, 2007 at 6:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Sponsored by TiVo. Interesting timing in that just this week they BlackArrow announced that they’re trying to find a way to put unskippable ads onto your DVR.


    Filed on at 6:22 am under by dcobranchi

    Me with this announcement. The CoH was right on time.


    Filed on at 6:04 am under by dcobranchi

    I really don’t get it. Do the schools take issues of harassment too seriously or not seriously enough? This article seems to argue “C) All of the above.”


    Filed on at 5:23 am under by dcobranchi

    A video contest for HEKs about “Why Homeschool is Cool.” First prize is $1000.


    Filed on October 16, 2007 at 8:02 pm under by Tim Haas

    After years of hands-on home-ed advocacy, I retired in 2006. As with all big life changes, there were various reasons for this decision, but foremost among them was what I perceived as the ever-increasing helplessness of newbies. Honestly, it was to the point where the instinctual response to every question I was asked was “F-ing Google it!” Even today, hearing about yet another family embarking on their own wondrous educational journey is more likely to fill me with dread than with the warm fuzzies.

    And then I go and luck into hearing a BBC podcast about life in Scotland that happens to include an interview with a young plumber — told years ago at school that he wasn’t bright enough to study languages — and his equally “uncredentialed” stay-at-home wife who are confidently unschooling their daughter in defiance of basically everything they’ve ever lived or known. And I remember what it’s all for.

    Grab it before Friday. —Tim Haas


    Filed on October 15, 2007 at 6:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m so proud:


    The University of California, Riverside is very proud of its association with the homeschooled community. In fact, UCR was the very first UC to actively recruit homeschooled and other non-traditionally educated students.

    “The new homeschool admissions program seems to have attracted outstanding students, as we’d hoped. It looks like we’ve tapped into a pipeline of great students.”
    – Frank Vahid (a professor Computer Science who helped establish the program)

    Let us help you help your students achieve their educational goals with a posting on your Web site about our program. The attached copy includes an information link about this program. If you need assistance to set the link up or need more information, please contact Steve Whitestone at steve.whitestone@ucr.edu or (951) 827-5979.

    Thank you very much for your help, and we hope that you and your viewers find this information useful. I look forward to working with you.

    Steve Whitestone

    Creative Copywriter/PR
    Enrollment Management Communications
    University of California, Riverside
    900 University Avenue
    Riverside, CA 92521
    FAX: 951.827.2884

    UC Riverside. We want to be your next home school.

    Don’t miss Preview Day at UC, Riverside — the very first UC to actively recruit home schooled and other non-traditionally educated students. Visit our beautiful campus, learn about our academic programs, and see some of our amazing new facilities. Plus, attend a special session devoted to home-schooled students and the issues you’ll face as you transition to a four-year school.

    Preview Day
    Saturday, October 27, 2007
    at UC Riverside
    Registration: 8:30 a.m.
    Please reserve in advance:

    I’m just having some fun at my “colleague’s” expense. UCR has been one of the more progressive schools when it comes to HEKs.


    Filed on at 4:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    This one makes no sense at all. “Illegal” students —> Some parents homeschooling —> Which is better, homeschooling or private schooling? Tinkers to Evers to Wonder Twins Power, Activate!


    Filed on October 14, 2007 at 9:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    Check out photo number 3 in this gallery. Amazingly natural-looking.


    Filed on October 13, 2007 at 5:36 am under by dcobranchi

    Hearts and minds, Baby. Hearts and minds.


    Filed on October 12, 2007 at 8:08 am under by dcobranchi

    When were school bus drivers given the power to enforce school dress codes?

    A mother and her 16-year-old daughter were arrested in September for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest — and they say it was all because someone didn’t like the daughter’s shirt.

    The daughter, LeSheema Boykin, was also suspended from Clinton High School for five days because of the incident. She and her mother, Lillian Boykin, went before an appeals committee of the Clinton Board of Education on Thursday evening to protest the suspension.

    The family said LeSheema’s school bus driver reported the shirt as a dress code violation the morning of Sept. 14.


    Filed on at 6:07 am under by dcobranchi

    Never try to sum up the homeschooling laws for 50 states in a sentence or two. You’ll only wind up looking ignorant. Like the Gannett New Service.

    RUN, AL, RUN

    Filed on at 5:18 am under by dcobranchi

    First, the Oscar(R).

    Then, the Nobel.

    Finally, the Presidency?



    Filed on at 1:52 am under by dcobranchi

    Perhaps someone should tip the police off to this homeschooler, too. Rumor has it that the home also harbors bows and arrows, a couple nasty blowguns, and a mean-looking shotgun. And the parents are even in on the plot.


    Filed on October 11, 2007 at 6:49 pm under by dcobranchi

    This one deserves some pub:

    Hello my new brethren! I, if you don’t recognize the name, am the mother of the little knife-blade wielding terrorist that has been expelled by those oh so wise administrators.

    The reporter that wrote the story has asked us to put her in contact with others who have been affected by zero tolerance or otherwise extreme and severe (and absolutely asinine) punishments.. So, if you or anyone that you know is willing to share their story we would be most appreciative to hear from you.

    In addition, we have a homepage, I won’t call it a website but we’re working on it, which has a link to an online petition if you would care to sign.

    Or you can go directly to the petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/de_child_rights_petoc/

    And please, feel free to contact us at petoc@comcast.net

    Marie Perkins


    Filed on October 10, 2007 at 12:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    Since when did freedom of religion mean you ought to pray at a flagpole? And I guess homeschoolers aren’t kids.

    I had the pleasure of dropping off my daughter early at school last week to participate in the “See you at the Pole” student initiative, in which kids were allowed to stand in silent prayer around the flag poles of every American public schools.

    It made me wonder how different our perspective is on freedom of religion today versus the past. I counted a scant six kids standing around the pole on a beautiful warm autumn morn and some visiting home-schoolers, with at least one teacher stopping for a short prayer before the 7:45 bell.

    I have heard that about 20 percent of this region attends some church. I would have expected at least that ratio at the middle school’s pole. Are we so mortified at being seen in praying in public? Was that the case in the 1940s or 50s? I don’t think it was.

    Did we all stop caring at some point and allow the religious intolerant to remove our school prayer and freedom of expression under the guise of “separation of church and state”? Do we secretly want God out of the picture until we need Him?

    I hope the “See You at the Pole” program continues. I pray that it becomes so popular that kids overflow into that big, new parking lot. I pray most of all that all these middle-schoolers find their way to our churches in Weare and become the new generation not ashamed to spread His message to everyone who will listen, maybe even their parents.



    Filed on at 12:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    Idiots run the Christina school district. They made a newbie homeschooler, so our team wins.

    Marie Perkins’ seventh-grade daughter had no history of school disciplinary problems.

    Generally an A and B student, she made the sixth-grade honor roll twice. She served as treasurer of the school’s chapter of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

    Teachers had noted her good behavior on report cards dating back to kindergarten. Even at home, her greatest offense was a messy room.

    Yet in April, Christina School Board members voted 5-1 to expel the then-12-year-old from Shue-Medill Middle School for one year.

    Her crime? Using a utility-knife blade from home to cut windows out of a paper house for a class project.

    …The Newark mother acknowledges her daughter shouldn’t have had the blade in school. Unbeknownst to her, the girl had stowed it in her book bag after a scrapbooking class, she said.

    Thinking of it as a crafts tool, not a weapon, she pulled it out when scissors weren’t working to make the detailed cuts on the class project.

    Perkins thinks a five-day suspension would have been a just punishment.

    “She wasn’t threatening anybody. She wasn’t causing physical harm,” she said. “They wouldn’t consider her intent.”

    District leaders, who can’t discuss individual cases because of student privacy laws, said they must enforce Christina’s Student Code of Conduct consistently.

    “If we did not have zero tolerance, how in the world would we make a determination of which student should be expelled and which student should not, which student it is OK for to bring BB guns and knives to school and which it is not?” asked Sharon Denney, who oversees the district’s school climate issues.

    Not having a zero-tolerance policy “leaves room for a lot of subjectivity, and we’re trying to be as consistent and fair as we can to all students,” she said. “If we opened that can of worms up and did not have the same expectations for all of our students, it would be a real mess.”

    Yeah because if they had to actually think about each case individually that would take a lot of time and effort and they might miss Monday Night Smackdown on teevee!


    Filed on October 8, 2007 at 6:56 pm under by dcobranchi

    on science. It’s actually a very strong statement, and I applaud her for it.

    Of course, any Democrat would be better on science issues than the Republicans. We are, after all, the reality-based party. [Tip credit: Chris]


    Filed on October 7, 2007 at 9:03 am under by Tim Haas

    Somebody popped into the morgue, dusted off a piece from 1997, threw in a couple of web references, and ran it:

    More families are taking their children’s academic destiny into their own hands. Literally.

    Consider the Orso family, who last month began home schooling their two children, ages 7 and 11.

    “I don’t want to say schools aren’t doing their job, because they are,” said Bernadette Orso of Hillsdale, who taught public school for 11 years. “But this is helping your kids as individuals.”

    Although New Jersey doesn’t regulate or even keep count of home schoolers, those teaching their own children describe a community growing in number and sophistication, with high-powered New Jersey families joining in.

    But one can’t complain too much — no quotes from grave-sounding “experts” warning people away.


    Filed on at 8:56 am under by dcobranchi

    A cool $1M/mile (after the inevitable overruns) for a 3 mile walking path! It’s part of the East Coast Greenway, but still…

    Maybe I should bid. I’m sure I could pave it for only $2M.


    Filed on at 8:02 am under by dcobranchi

    When the cat’s away, the mice will “play.”

    Some parents in Fort Bend County are outraged after their children said they witnessed a pair of eighth-graders engaged in a sex act, right in the middle of class…

    The principal reported that the students, a boy and a girl, made inappropriate sexual contact with each other while other students watched… The letter does not say where the teacher was at the time.

    However, some concerned parents told the station that their children said the sex act happened once the teacher stepped out of the classroom.

    But why should the kids need adult supervision? After all, we know that “schools are the safest place for students to be.”


    Filed on October 6, 2007 at 3:33 pm under by dcobranchi

    Anybody who took out an ARM in the last 2-3 years may be about to hit the jackpot:

    The heat on U.S. mortgage lenders and servicers was turned up a few degrees this week when the country’s chief bank regulator publicly proposed that they permanently freeze interest rates on subprime adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) for many homeowners.

    “Keep it at the starter rate. Convert it into a fixed rate. Make it permanent. And get on with it,” Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair said in prepared remarks at an investor’s conference.

    We took out a 30 year fixed 2.5 years ago. If I had known that the Fed was going to give away free money, I’d have taken that 1% ARM teaser rate and would be sitting pretty for the next 27.5 years.


    Filed on at 1:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    but this struck me as a little strange.

    I was in the local Lowes store the other day to purchase some blinds for the house. Like almost all of their signs, the Spanish word for “blinds” was included beneath the English. No problem. But the odd part was the sizing. Blinds are segregated by slat width: 1″, 1 1/2″ & 2″. Those sizes were translated, too: 2,5 cm; 3,8 cm & 5,0 cm. Yeah, they used the comma. I’ve never seen that in this country before. Are we the only country in the hemisphere that uses decimal points?

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