Utterly Meaningless » 2008 » February

    Filed on February 28, 2008 at 5:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    OK, I know that George I didn’t really express amazement at a grocery store scanner. But George Junior really did say this:

    Bush appeared surprised at just how high some analysts are predicting gasoline prices will rise. “Wait a minute. What did you just say? You’re predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline… That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that.”

    George Junior, a proud graduate of the Alicia Silverstone School of Presidenting.


    Filed on at 4:43 am under by dcobranchi


    Voting should not be a popularity contest

    I am in agreement with Esther Holcombe’s Feb. 15 letter (“Hillary Clinton can straighten out country”) that the race for president should not be based on popularity. I agree we need someone with experience and the right qualifications.

    I am not sure that person is Hillary Clinton. What are her qualifications and experience? She is a senator and used to be the first lady.

    We do need to do some serious thinking.

    Don’t vote for Hillary just because she is a woman or Obama just because he is black.

    Don’t vote for Huckabee just because he is a Baptist preacher, or McCain just because he has the most experience in defense.

    After much research, and prayer, vote for the person who you feel is truly the most qualified in all areas. Someone who is not looking for popularity, or making promises that we know he or she can’t keep.

    We need a leader who is not afraid to stand up for God and stand against the enemies that try to attack our country.

    Margaret McCaskill


    Filed on February 27, 2008 at 6:23 am under by dcobranchi

    This guy seems to think we should torture American soldiers:

    Torture label hurts American interests

    So the Observer’s editorial staff thinks waterboarding is torture (“Die a little: It’s water torture, not an ‘enhanced technique,’” Feb. 12). I wonder if Daniel Pearl would rather have been waterboarded or beaten and decapitated on video at the hands of his merciless killers? I wonder if a line a mile or longer would form with the more than 3,000 who were burned, crushed or whatever other grisly form of death they suffered through on 9/11, if given the choice to have been waterboarded instead? Does the Observer really think that the discomfort faced by these ruthless animals outweighs information that helps prevent a repeat 9/11 and is key to tracking these terrorists down?

    I wish we never heard the term waterboarding. I wish we didn’t know a lot of things our military does to protect us. Why should we, and thus our enemies, know about our high-tech weapons, sophisticated intelligence-gathering techniques or other capabilities?

    I have to wonder what the person at the Observer who penned this editorial would choose if his son or daughter was captured either here or in battle, either by an American or by al-Qaida, and a member of the responsible party was caught. Would he choose to waterboard them to get information or play loud music all night? I am willing to guarantee he would personally bring the water and the board if one wasn’t available.

    Ray Witiak

    Is there any other paper in the country where the evil is so regularly displayed on the Letters page?


    Filed on at 5:29 am under by dcobranchi

    The feds are sending out 20 laminated posters (2′ x 3′) of historical American art to schools. Gratis. “Homeschool consortia” are eligible to apply. Fittingly, perhaps, the deadline is April 15th.

    UPDATE: If you decide to apply, don’t bother choosing “homeschool consortia,” even if you are trying to get the materials for a support group. The software won’t let you. Instead, I’d recommend you choose “private school.”


    Filed on February 26, 2008 at 6:57 am under by dcobranchi

    Calling a spade a spade:

    Bill would hinder homeschooled students


    Filed on at 6:55 am under by dcobranchi

    From Tim’s neck of the woods:

    Diverse opinions heard in schools

    I read the Story Chat on homeschooling (“Lessons best learned at home,” Feb. 8). Not one person mentioned that in a school setting the child would have the opportunity to hear other children’s opinions.

    For example, in a class on causes of the American Revolution, the teacher could say that eight months after his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech, Patrick Henry organized a posse to round up runaway slaves. The teacher could then go around the room and ask the students if this changes their opinion of Henry. Many different ideas would come out and the children could mull them over.

    This setting is not available in homeschooling.

    Michael I. Frischberg


    Are we really supposed to believe that schools are these bastions of free thought and debate? Riiiiight. From what I remember, it was all pretty much seeing who could best parrot back what the teacher thought. The nonconformists, the real free thinkers, the “different” were bullied and ostracized. Given the many tales I’ve blogged the last 6 years, I don’t think things have changed a whole lot.


    Filed on February 25, 2008 at 5:50 am under by dcobranchi

    Call your state senator?

    NASHVILLE — As high school seniors weigh their final college decisions, Tennessee legislators are starting to re-write the rules that will govern the state’s lottery-funded scholarships this fall — and probably for years to come… This year’s work on the scholarship follows an 11th-hour failure in the 2007 legislature of a compromise bill for the most substantial revision of the scholarship program since it began in 2004. Most of the elements in the 2007 bill, which passed the House but was never called up for a Senate vote, are under review again this year. They also include increasing the income ceiling for the $1,500 need-based Hope supplement to $40,000, allowing students to receive grants for five years instead of four, granting eligibility to non-degree students 23 and older who have never been to college or who have been away from college for two years, and broadening eligibility for home schoolers, foster children and children of Tennessee missionaries living abroad.

    Perhaps Kay can chime in here– Are HEKs currently eligible? What kind of “broadening” is the community seeking?


    Filed on at 4:48 am under by dcobranchi

    PZ has a whole collection of them that my SBC neighbors would not understand.


    Filed on February 24, 2008 at 7:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    Ahhh– never mind:

    State Sen. DiAnna Schimek of Lincoln has proposed a bill to recast Nebraska’s generally loose regulations over home-school students.

    Her bill would require home-school students to take state-mandated tests or have their schoolwork assessed by an outside evaluator. If students’ progress falls short academically, they would be sent to public or private schools.


    Nebraska’s home-school families have mobilized against Legislative Bill 1141, which will have a public hearing Tuesday before the Education Committee.

    For all the debate spawned by the bill, it stands little chance of becoming law. By Tuesday, the Legislature will be halfway into its short session. The bill also lacks the priority tag that gives bills the best chance of being debated by the full Legislature.

    If it does pass, Gov. Dave Heineman has said he will veto the measure.


    Filed on at 11:21 am under by dcobranchi

    I guarantee that there’ll be all sorts of LttE in the paper this week about how Moretti is a hero and that McLeod got what he deserved.

    As he’s done regularly for the past two years, Stan Moretti stopped into Primo Pizza on Yadkin Road with his wife Friday night, hoping to get some food.

    Robbery suspect run over by SUV

    It was about 10 p.m. Almost closing time.

    Moretti’s wife waited outside, near the side entrance. He waited inside for the food.

    Then she started screaming. Moretti looked out and saw a man holding her with a knife, apparently trying to rob her.

    That’s when police say Moretti snapped into action.

    He pushed open the door and fired two warning shots with his handgun. Then, when the man fled, Moretti jumped into his GMC Yukon, chased the man down a nearby street, and ran over him three times — twice going forward, once in reverse — according to a warrant.

    Within minutes, Moretti, a 41-year-old tattoo parlor owner, had gone from ordering a pizza to being charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

    The man he ran over, Aaron Lazarus McLeod, was still in critical condition at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center on Saturday night.

    Firing the first (and possibly second shot) was warranted. Jumping in his vehicle and running the guy down (3 times!) goes just a bit beyond self-defense.

    PSA: NC

    Filed on at 7:10 am under by dcobranchi

    A 14-year-old homeschooler has run away from home.

    The family of a teen runaway last seen Thursday night is requesting information on the girl’s whereabouts.

    Leona “Lena” Abigail Stahl, 14, has been reported as a missing person to the Havelock Police Department. She is five feet, seven inches tall, weighs between 150 and 160 pounds and has dirty blonde hair and blue eyes.

    “She has a medical condition, she does require medicine and she’s past due for her medication,” said Leona’s mother, Jill Stahl. She added that the girl suffers from chronic migraines.

    Jill Stahl said her daughter was last seen at 10 p.m. Thursday in the family’s Havelock home. She woke to find Leona missing and a note indicating that she had run away.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Joshua Tripp of the Havelock Police Department at 447-3212 or Mike and Jill Stahl at 447-1696. The Stahls can be reached via e-mail at jstahl@ec.rr.com.


    Filed on February 23, 2008 at 10:40 am under by dcobranchi

    HSLDA sent out an e-Lert on HB2795. This summary indicates that there is, indeed, cause for concern.


    Filed on at 8:42 am under by dcobranchi

    Same diff.

    Feministe has a fascinating post up on tansgendered kids in the schools and the right-wing’s response thereto. WND does not make an appearance, but their on-air counterpart plays a starring role.


    Filed on February 21, 2008 at 6:50 am under by dcobranchi

    All shot hand held as I couldn’t find my tripod. 🙂



    Filed on at 5:48 am under by dcobranchi

    Snark in my local rag. Cool.

    Secular constitution protects all

    The Founding Fathers insisted that our Constitution be secular in order to protect all believers and non-believers from each other and the government.

    Yet, Conrad Hall (Letters to the Observer, Jan. 30) is under the illusion that the Constitution’s foundation is the Bible.

    So, here is a proposed constitutional amendment to codify marriage on biblical principles:

    A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. Genesis 29:17-28; 11 Sam 3:2-5.

    B. Marriage shall not impede a man’s right to take concubines, in addition to his wife or wives. (II Samuel 5:13, I Kings 11:3-11, Chronicles 11:21)

    C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. Deuteronomy 22:13-21.

    D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. Genesis 24:3, Numbers 25:1-9, Ezra 9:12, Nehemiah 10:30.

    E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any state, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. Deuteronomy 22:19; Mark 10:9.

    F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother’s widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe. Genesis 38:6-10, Deuteronomy 25:5-10.

    Bill Clinard
    Little River, S.C.


    Filed on February 20, 2008 at 8:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    Don’t forget the eclipse tonight. It’s starting now!

    OH! MY! GOD!

    Filed on at 6:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    In the apparently neverending contest to see which fundy can go most over the top, we have a new leader:

    The hard, tight-fisted knock at the door came on a Thursday morning. When Katherina Plett opened the door of her home in Paderborn, Germany, she found herself staring into the face of an undercover police woman. Little did Katherina know when she opened the door that secretly lurking nearby were German officers who would arrest her and raid her home! Katherina’s crime? Homeschooling. Germany is presently reinforcing a 1938 Hitler-induced law which made homeschooling illegal. When this news came to my attention, I felt the shock, since my wife homeschools our three children. It stopped me in my tracks and forced me to ask, “Will the Anti-Christ be anti-homeschool, and enforce international laws, making home based education illegal?”

    Is there some satanic corollary to Godwin’s Law?


    Filed on at 6:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    84,000 references to homeschool and creationism.

    Now it’s 84,001.


    Filed on February 19, 2008 at 7:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    Too funny.


    Filed on at 5:42 am under by dcobranchi


    Homeless don’t want to change their plight

    Jeers to Councilman Bill Crisp and others who think that they can actually do something about the homeless problem.

    These people live on the streets and under bridges because they don’t want to work and have a home. Why do you think they don’t live in the country or under a bridge on Interstate 95? The reason they don’t is there is no one to beg from, no one to steal from, no free meals and no free blankets courtesy of Fayetteville tax-payers. They offer nothing to our society but higher taxes and higher insurance premiums. You’ve seen signs like “don’t feed the bears”; we should have signs that say “don’t feed the bums.”

    Tim Smith


    Filed on February 18, 2008 at 7:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    Too bad.

    Senate Bill 37 to allow home-schoolers to participate in public-school sports is silly and a waste of political resources. Home-school parents typically want to isolate their child from the public or think that public-school education is below par. Why would they then turn around and want their children to participate in public-school sports and with the public-school children?
    The outsider has no loyalty to that school and no real reason to play. The outsider has never earned the right to play by being part of the student body. If I were a public-school student I would seriously resent an outsider playing on my school’s team.
    If parents wants their kid to play high school football, then they should send them to that public school. Otherwise, too bad.

    Phil Culver
    Layton [Utah]


    Filed on February 17, 2008 at 10:12 am under by dcobranchi

    Today’s pic is very cool.


    Filed on February 16, 2008 at 1:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    HD-DVD is dead. HD-DVD is dead. HD-DVD is dead.

    Hope you didn’t buy one of the $99 players that Wal-mart sold on Black Friday.


    Filed on at 12:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    There should be a really nice total lunar eclipse this Wednesday. It will be visible across the entire US and Canada.

    If you get any good shots, send them in and I’ll post them.


    Filed on February 15, 2008 at 4:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    Check out this Woot! product description.


    Filed on February 14, 2008 at 5:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    Either the 110th or 111th (there’s a bit of confusion) edition of the CoH is here.


    Filed on at 5:05 am under by dcobranchi

    Happy Valentine’s Day

    St. Valentine fought for marriage

    St. Valentine was a Christian priest in 3rd-century Rome when Christianity was an outlawed religion. He stressed the importance of marriage for men and women who desired to live together. Marriage, however, had been forbidden by Claudius II, who believed that family ties made soldiers less willing to fight. As a result of Valentine’s teachings, he was jailed, tried and convicted of promoting dogma contrary to government law. He was executed Feb. 14 for his direct violation of the emperor’s edict.

    Today we have 27 of 28 states which have voted, and then passed, the Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Clinton in 1996. The Washington state Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of their DOMA. Yet, we have a county judge, Robert Hanson in Iowa, who struck down that state’s DOMA as unconstitutional for his Polk County. We have three states that recognize civil unions. One, Massachusetts, did not allow a referendum by the people to vote their will on this matter, but instead passed a bill to allow civil unions by legislative decree without true representation. As a result, homosexual couples from 46 states now possess marriage licenses.

    What does that do to the Federal Full Faith and Credit Clause of the 14th Amendment? Currently, 11 states face court challenges to their marriage laws. We need more St. Valentines to champion once again the defense of marriage between one man and one woman as a constitutional amendment.

    Raymond N. Miller

    This is one very confused person. I love how the MA law (which permitted marriage, not civil unions) is a “legislative decree without true representation.” Isn’t that why we have legislatures?


    Filed on at 3:44 am under by dcobranchi

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ignorance, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas activities officials are investigating a religious school’s refusal to let a female referee call a boys’ high school basketball game.

    The Kansas State High School Activities Association said referees reported that Michelle Campbell was preparing to officiate at St. Mary’s Academy near Topeka on Feb. 2 when a school official insisted that Campbell could not call the game.

    The reason given, according to the referees: Campbell, as a woman, could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy’s beliefs.


    Filed on February 13, 2008 at 8:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    Damn perverts! 🙂

    Via Toni


    Filed on at 7:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    The spring peepers are out tonight.


    Filed on at 7:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    Chris found a couple of posts that aim to dispel myths about the Canadian health care system. Well worth a read.


    Filed on at 5:22 am under by dcobranchi

    In Fayetteville, this one would spark a barrage of LttE in response.

    Roy Sutton’s letter Feb. 3 says, “The goal for the public school should be to put Jesus Christ back in our schools.”

    Christ has no place in public schools other than in the hearts and minds of Christians inside them. Placing Christ in public schools would be discriminatory toward anyone Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, non-believing or a member of the hundreds of other religions. Those who feel religion should be intertwined with education should send their children to a private school or home school.

    A major assumption Mr. Sutton made in responding to a letter from Donna Park (Jan. 22) was that her grandchildren were being home-schooled for religious reasons. This may indeed be the case, but parents home school for many reasons, of which religion is only one.

    Making the decision to home school would be a tough one to make and even tougher to keep up with. I respect any parents who is willing to commit the time and energy to educating their children for whatever reason that may be.

    I agree wholeheartedly that parents have ultimate responsibility for their children’s education. All parents should take an active role in their children’s lives regarding both education and religion.

    The public education system works well for most, but teaching religion to children is a personal decision to be made by each set of parents and not one that should be dictated by the schools.

    The next time anyone feels the need to write a letter imposing their Christian views on others, replace the name “Christ” with the name “Allah” and re-read what you wrote. Freedom of religion applies to all, which is why Christ or any other god doesn’t belong in the schools.

    LEE TIBBETTS, Auburn

    ‘BYE, MIKE

    Filed on at 5:07 am under by dcobranchi

    The fat lady’s warming up right now.

    Darn! Couldn’t happen to a nicer dominionist. What will Mike Farris do? Will he go the Dobson route and refuse to support McCain? Or will he fall into line with all the other Establishment Republicans? My bet is that he caves and will be slavering at McCain’s feet by this time next week. In fact, I bet the e-Lert to all the sheeple that McCain is the new anointed one is already in the “Drafts” folder, just waiting for someone to push “Send.”

    As an aside– For 2012 the GOP really ought to drop the winner-take-all primaries. They’re allowing a candidate with only lukewarm support to wrack up an insurmountable delegate lead.


    Filed on February 12, 2008 at 9:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m so sick of these Exodus folks and their bullshit demagoguery on SB777.


    Filed on February 11, 2008 at 8:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    I never look for special treatment for homeschoolers. OTOH, I do like to see them at least not be discriminated against.

    PIERRE — An effort to allow home-schooled students to qualify for state college scholarships has failed in the South Dakota Legislature.

    The House killed a bill Monday that would have resulted in scholarship eligibility for home-schooled students who score at least 24 on the ACT college admission test and no lower than 22 in any of the subcategories.


    Filed on February 10, 2008 at 1:00 pm under by dcobranchi

    This Cal Thomas column appeared in my local paper today. It absolutely is the most ridiculous thing I’ve read this decade:

    “the war on terror” began, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reports $649.9 billion has been appropriated for Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). In the budget President Bush just submitted to Congress, there is a request for an additional $108.1 billion for 2008 and $70 billion for 2009.

    The cost of these wars has been largely borne by the American taxpayer, while the benefits of success in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach far beyond the borders of those countries to the world. If Islamic extremist can be quelled in Afghanistan and Iraq, people the world over will literally breathe freer. Since so many will benefit, isn’t it fair to ask them to help subsidize the effort?


    At a minimum, we should send Iraq and Afghanistan a bill for what we have done and are trying to do for them, or ask for price cuts on Iraqi oil. Thousands of American lives have been lost and the financial cost is enormous, as we seek to advance freedom for others.


    Filed on at 10:34 am under by dcobranchi

    The real Mt. Pilot (Pilot Mountain)


    The Andy Griffith Parkway (aka I-74) runs down by the foot of the mountain on the right.


    Filed on February 9, 2008 at 5:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    It knows all and sees all.


    Filed on at 3:14 pm under by dcobranchi

    Why does World Nut Daily hate 8-year-olds? Seriously, how else should the school district responded?

    UPDATE: It appears that WND may have plagiarized the original piece.

    UPDATE II: The Digg commenters are just evil.


    Filed on February 8, 2008 at 6:29 am under by dcobranchi

    From a homeschooling listserv:

    The government is trying to track every human being, see what they see, know their thoughts and emotions. All through implanted devices with names like “Soul Catcher.” Yeah, it’s utter nonsense. Just a taste:

    “When a 5-micromillimeter microchip (the diameter of a strand of hair is 50 micromillimeters) is placed into optical nerve of the eye”, Dr. Kilde indicates, “it draws neuro-impulses from the brain that embody the experiences, smells, sights, and voice of the implanted person. Once transferred and stored in a computer, these neuro-impulses can be projected back to the person’s brain via the microchip to be re-experienced. Using a RMS, a land-based computer operator can send electromagnetic messages (encoded as signals) to the nervous system, affecting the target’s performance. With RMS, healthy persons can be induced to see hallucinations and to hear voices in their heads.”

    There’s no such thing as a micromillimeter. The SI equivalent would be a nanometer. That’s literally microscopic. It’s smaller than the smallest microchip. In fact, it’s smaller than any single feature on the most advanced microprocessor ever built. Nonsense. She must mean 5 micron. A human hair is about 100 microns. So, ignoring the three orders of magnitude error, a chip that tiny would contain just a few bits of data. It certainly couldn’t do any of the functions ascribed to it above. Yeah, complete lunacy from a lunatic.

    But I hope the “Remote-Control Orgasm Implant” is real. That one sounds kind of fun. Think “When Harry Met Sally.”


    Filed on February 7, 2008 at 7:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    Jimmy Wales— libertarian, free thinker, Wikipedia founder and unschooler:

    Wales, whose wife Christine teaches their 5-year-old daughter Kira at home, says he is disappointed by the “factory nature” of American education: “There’s something significantly broken about the whole concept of school.” A longtime opponent of mandatory public school attendance, Wales says that part of the allure of Florida, where his Wikimedia Foundation is based, is its relatively laissez-faire attitude toward homeschoolers. This makes it easier for Wales and his wife to let Kira (a tiny genius in her father’s eyes) follow her own interests and travel with her parents when Wales gives one of his many speeches abroad.

    Kira has recently become interested in Ancient Egypt, and a few books on the subject lie on the kitchen counter of their sparse house. When she was younger, Kira was transfixed by digital clocks, staring at one minute after minute, trying to guess which number would be next. “She just needed time to do that,” says Wales. “Once she figured it out, she stopped. Christine and I were a little worried, but we let her do her thing, and it turned out fine.”

    It’s a long profile but a really good read. Highly recommended, especially for libertarian-leaning geeks.


    Filed on at 6:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    I just know I’m going to win. I quoted a famous Christian apologist:

    It means that Sinclair Lewis was right in saying, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.”


    Filed on February 6, 2008 at 8:00 pm under by dcobranchi

    Beverly has the Carnival of Home Education up.


    Filed on at 6:37 am under by dcobranchi

    My man Mike Huckabee managed to win a couple states. His kissee-face with McCain in WV was a thing of beauty. A McCain/Huckleberry ticket in November is probably a near certainty at this point.

    So– McCain wants a new Hundred Years War and Huck wants to hasten the Apocalypse. I like the Dems’ chances against that.


    Filed on at 6:03 am under by dcobranchi

    A suggestion for Hillary’s people– When phonebanking for GOTV, you might want to check this list to make sure that the area code you’re calling actually has a primary coming up.


    Filed on at 5:07 am under by dcobranchi

    CNN has a fairly scary article on the coming wave of biometric identification. They indicate that you may soon be fingerprinted when applying for a job or upon agreeing to coach a youth sports team. I think the Little League would have to muddle on without my help. No way am I ever voluntarily giving the FBI my fingerprints. Their record’s not so hot.


    Filed on February 5, 2008 at 7:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    Lawrence Kudlow, CNBC’s biggest cheerleader, actually said we’re probably in a recession. If he thinks “recession,” we’re probably headed for a major depression.


    Filed on at 5:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    Did I miss the addition of a star to the flag?

    The danger is not over yet, however. In the wake of the recent tragedy, Mayor Adrian Fenty has promised to establish a system to “better track” homeschooling families in D.C., and is following through on that promise by commissioning the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to develop policies on homeschool notification and attendance.

    Does D.C. really have a “State Superintendent”? Any HSLDA lawyers still hanging out here?


    Filed on at 5:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a really nice column from a soon-to-be newbie.


    Filed on February 4, 2008 at 5:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    The game yesterday was awesome. The ads? Meh. I wasn’t impressed with the whole lot of them. And neither were the folks at Miller.

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