Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sounds Like Someone Needed To

Someone needs to "discipline" the student involved, but this teacher is probably not the right person to do so:

The student, who has not been identified, was reportedly in Hajosy's classroom during her study hall period. The incident was sparked when she put her feet on a desk, prompting Hajosy to say, "You know, you're not too big for me to put over my knee and spank," the Hartford Courant reported, citing the arrest affidavit.

The student picked up a bottle of spray glue and sprayed it into the air, at which time Hajosy put his hands on her shoulders, authorities say. A brief scuffle ensued, during which the girl attempted to kick Hajosy; police say he responded by spanking her four times.

After a school resource officer launched an internal investigation, Hajosy was questioned by police. He said, "I screwed up; I need to make it right," the court documents allege.

Hajosy was subsequently arrested and ordered not to have any contact with the student. He was also been suspended from his job, pending the outcome of the investigation.

link

He definitely lost his cool and now is going to pay a penalty for doing so. That doesn't make the student involved a victim or an angel, though.

More Screwed Up Government

Who owns EdFund--the state of California, or the feds? There seems to be some controversy about this.

In these dismal economic times, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has likened selling state assets to holding a garage sale to pay bills.

But in the case of EdFund, a student-loan guarantor once expected to raise $1 billion, his administration may have been trying to unload someone else's car.

In letters obtained by The Bee, the U.S. Department of Education earlier this year expressed concerns that the state was trying to sell EdFund's student-loan portfolio despite the fact that it belongs to the federal government, not California.

Last week, the Department of Education said it would block such a transaction by the state. It then went one step further, saying it would close Rancho Cordova-based EdFund by the end of October and choose a replacement guarantor on its own.

In a five-page letter, William J. Taggart, chief operating officer for the Department of Education's Office of Student Aid, cited fights between EdFund and the California Student Aid Commission, as well as attempts by the state to sell something it does not own.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/07/31/2927246/us-vows-to-block-californias-sale.html#ixzz0vJ3Pr2hJ
And people wonder why we conservatives believe in a limited government with enumerated powers. I don't see anything in the US Constitution pertaining to education in general or to student loans in particular.

This Could Cause Me To Give Up Watching My Weight

lamb burgers

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Robert Kiyosaki.

Today's question, the last before US State Flags Week, is:
What are the lowest and highest frequencies on the FM radio band?

Howard Zinn Was A Communist

Prior to now I've mentioned Howard Zinn only three times on this blog, and in none of those posts was I favorably inclined towards him. With good reason, too--it turns out Zinn was a communist.

And perennial useful idiot Matt Damon will probably still make a movie of Zinn's book.

Airing Dirty Laundry

Are you a teacher who's having trouble in your classes? Then you, too, can be the star of a new Supernanny-type so-called reality show.

Update, 8/3/10: This was thankfully a hoax.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Israeli Defense Forces.

Today's question is:
What author wrote the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books?

This Sunday we get a new Theme Week here at RotLC Trivia Command. The theme: US State Flags!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Neither had one.

Today's question is:
In a military context, what do the initials IDF stand for?

It's Official. Gross.

I've long refused to step on a scale for fear of what I might find. My clothes get tighter and tighter, and at some point enough has to be enough.

I'm committing to weighing 170 pounds by the end of this school year. I've bought a scale and I'm going to track this daily in a spreadsheet--which I've also set to calculate my body mass index. Yes, I know there are arguments over whether or not BMI is a good measure, but it's better than the nothing I have right now. And whether or not it's accurate for everyone, it told me today what I already feared--I'm within 1/4" in height of being considered obese.

I joked a few weeks ago about being a beluga--a big white whale. I don't want to be a beluga anymore. Please offer periodic encouragement, as I'm known to "fall off the wagon" when I try to do this.

Update: My diet, for lack of a better term, will rest on 4 main points:
1. Eat better
2. Move more
3. Track and document
4. Moderation
I'm not going on bread and water here, I'm going to try moderate changes and see how that works out.

Now, some of you may be interested in what a beluga looks like. Much like the beluga, I, too, have a very cute face :-) The rest of us, though, is white-colored blubber.

Check out BelugaCam! (I'm having trouble connecting right now but have contacted the aquarium webmaster for details)

Hold The Presses, I Agree With The President!

I'm not a supporter of Race To The Top, and I didn't like the way he threw the DC voucher kids under the bus, but he at least talks the talk when it comes to education:

So, I want teachers to have higher salaries. I want them to have more support. I want them to be trained like the professionals they are – with rigorous residencies like the ones doctors go through. I want to give them career ladders so they have opportunities to advance, and earn real financial security. I want them to have a fulfilling and supportive workplace environment, and the resources – from basic supplies to reasonable class sizes – to help them succeed. Instead of a culture where we’re always idolizing sports stars or celebrities, I want us to build a culture where we idolize the people who shape our children’s future.

All I’m asking in return – as a president, and as a parent – is a measure of accountability. Surely we can agree that even as we applaud teachers for their hard work, we need to make sure they’re delivering results in the classroom. If they’re not, let’s work with them to help them be more effective. And if that fails, let’s find the right teacher for that classroom. As Arne says, our kids get only one chance at an education, and we need to get it right.

Update: Here's a little more, from the New York Times.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bias, Or Policy?

A private university in Chicago that refuses to host former senior Bush adviser Karl Rove, arguing that welcoming a "political" speaker ahead of the midterm elections could threaten its tax-exempt status, has added an Obama administration appointee to address the student body.

Loyola University Chicago is hosting Eboo Patel, an Obama appointee to the White House interfaith council, next month, calling into question the school's rationale for rejecting Rove's appearance.

"The news that Eboo Patel, an appointee of the Obama administration, will be allowed to speak at Loyola University Chicago, while Karl Rove was essentially barred, is further proof that the (university) administration either has zero understanding of tax law or is unabashedly biased," said Evan Gassman, a spokesman for Young America's Foundation, a conservative outreach group that was sponsoring the Rove speech.

University spokesman Steve Christensen told FoxNews.com that the topic of Patel's speech does not have a political motive, which would violate current speaker policy.

FoxNews link

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Theodore Roosevelt.

Today's question is:
What is the same about George Washington's and Abraham Lincoln's middle names?

Saving Trees

For years I've received a notice with my electric bill--if you want free shade trees, contact such-and-such organization and they'll send a "community forester" out to your house to help determine the best type and placement of tree for your property. The front of my house faces northwest, the direction of the afternoon and setting sun in the summer. I should probably get a shade tree out there.

I have a fruitless mulberry in my backyard. It's an awesome shade tree, but it has some serious drawbacks. Its roots are all over my backyard, and my neighbors complain that it shades all their plants in their backyard and the plants don't grow well. Anyone who knows anything about fruitless mulberries knows they're just glorified weeds. I'm considering having the entire tree removed this fall--we'll see what the community forester says about that.

I like the idea of a crepe myrtle in both my front and back yards. Nice canopy, nice shade, nice appearance, not too big.

So I finally made the call today to schedule an appointment, which will be next week. I put the appointment on my calendar, and they'll send me an email message to remind me. They also want to snail mail me a reminder!

I told them to save a tree, don't mail me a reminder :-)

Another Victory For FIRE

Nature or Nurture?

Three years after firing an adjunct professor for discussing whether sexual orientation is inherited in her Human Heredity class, San Jose-Evergreen Valley Community College District has paid June Sheldon $100,000 to drop her First Amendment lawsuit, reports the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

From Community College Spotlight.

This Is What We Call An "Activist Judge"

This is what we get when a judge does "what they think is right" rather than what the law says:

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona's immigration law from taking effect, delivering a last-minute victory to opponents of the crackdown...

The judge also put on hold parts of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places.
For the past 70+ years it's been federal law that resident aliens carry their green cards on them--how can that requirement suddenly become controversial in Arizona? And it's already illegal for so-called undocumented workers to work in this country according to federal law; how can it be controversial to prohibit them from soliciting work in public?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On Race Relations and the Obama Administration

Victor Davis Hanson pretty much sums up where we are.

Update, 7/28/10: Two writers at the Wall Street Journal say pretty much the same thing:
Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf.

Note the political orientation of the two writers.

I Like His Music, Respect His Independence of Thought

Who? Elton John, of course:

Elton John didn't mince words in slamming his fellow musicians for boycotting Arizona over the controversial SB 1070 immigration law. From the stage at his sold-out Tucson Arena concert Thursday night, John savored a few choice, not-so-family-friendly words:

"We are all very pleased to be playing in Arizona. I have read that some of the artists won't come here. They are (expletive)wits! Let's face it: I still play in California, and as a gay man I have no legal rights whatsoever. So what's the (expletive) with these people?"

John has never been one to cave into political pressure from his musical colleagues. He ignored an artist boycott of Israel in June over the flotilla fiasco and played a show in Tel Aviv. He also played Rush Limbaugh's latest wedding reception in early June, which drew the ire of gays and lesbians. Limbaugh is vehemently anti-gay marriage; John is married to his longtime partner David Furnish.

I don't understand his comment about having no rights in California as a gay man. Elton himself is against gay marriage, and while California doesn't recognize gay marriage, we have one of the strongest domestic partnership laws that can exist:

California Family Code Section 297.5. (a) Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.

Still, I regret not getting to see his show at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
MS Achille Lauro.

Today's question is:
Who is the only US President to have been awarded the Medal of Honor?

Socialism

While this entire article is enlightening, I found these paragraphs to be exceptionally clear:

By 1944, the social order had changed and grown enough for the statesman Roosevelt to explicitly redefine Americans’ rights to include jobs, housing, medical care, education — in short, a “Second Bill of Rights,” all of which “spell security.” That can’t be the last word, however; the prospect of future changes in the social order causes FDR to urge the recognition of “these and similar rights.” The governmental right to discover new rights could, for instance, someday lead to the development endorsed by FDR’s National Public Resources Board in 1943, when it called for recognizing the right to “rest, recreation and adventure.”

Who among us would disdain citizenship in that Club Med polity where safaris and sea cruises are guaranteed as a matter of right, where we might awaken any day to find that the changing social order has left us yet another shiny new entitlement in the driveway? The problem is that it turns out to be impossible to elevate every social-policy goal to a right without reducing every right to just one more policy goal. In 1994, the Clinton Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) enforcement of the Fair Housing Act was so zealous that it demanded that groups opposed to new homeless shelters or drug-treatment facilities in their neighborhoods turn over to federal investigators (who were seeking evidence of discriminatory motives or attitudes) every article, flier, or letter to the editor their leaders had written, as well as the minutes of every public meeting they addressed. The HUD assistant secretary called upon to defend this thuggery compressed six decades of liberal rhetoric into a single op-ed, which explained how the department had to “walk a tightrope between free speech and fair housing. We are ever mindful of the need to maintain the proper balance between these rights.”

(3) Finally, in saying that all this graduate-seminar mumbo-jumbo about natural rights and limited government is a sideshow, Lind is, again, being a good New Deal liberal. The practicalities are what matter, he says. Peter Beinart of The Daily Beast recently concurred: “FDR’s greatness stemmed from his indifference to ideology.” Beinart approvingly quoted Roosevelt’s reply to a question about how he would explain the political philosophy behind the Tennessee Valley Authority: “I’ll tell them it’s neither fish nor fowl, but, whatever it is, it will taste awfully good to the people of the Tennessee Valley.” By the same token, Beinart praised Barack Obama for discovering and giving voice to his inner New Dealer in time to salvage health-care reform by turning “a theoretical debate into a tactile one.”

This tactile aspect of liberalism is the one that causes so many conservatives to pound their heads on the table in frustration. I refer to the moist-eyed, quivering-voiced, morally preening affirmation of the tautology that when the government gives people stuff, the people it gives stuff to wind up with more stuff than they had before the government started giving them stuff. After they calm down, conservatives say, “Fine. Stipulated: Benefits are (or at least can be) beneficial. Now, can we please talk about how we’re going to pay for all these programs? And how we’re going to make sure that the Santa Clausification of American government does not transform us from a republic of free and equal citizens into a nursery of wardens and wards? And, finally, what will be the governing practices that allow us to overcome the correlation of political forces that makes it so much easier to expand failed programs than to euthanize them?”...

“America does not need to choose between James Madison and Woodrow Wilson,” writes Lind. “But it does need to choose between Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.” It needs, he is saying, to respond to modern challenges by rejecting a conservative government too hemmed in by rules and strictures to grapple with our problems. The alternative Lind endorses, however, is by-any-means-necessary liberalism, in which the consent of the governed is of far less political importance than the “vision” of the governors. (all boldface is mine--Darren)
Freedom is so much more than just another word for nothing left to lose. When you have freedom you have everything to lose, that's what makes it so precious. That's what makes it worth killing and dying for.

I'm not willing to kill and die for national socialist health care.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
A lower-case letter c.

Today's question is:
What was the name of the cruise ship hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in the Mediterranean in 1985?

University Student Must Change Beliefs on Homosexuality or Face Expulsion

An Augusta State University counseling student has filed a lawsuit against her school claiming it violated her First Amendment rights when it told her to change her traditionalist Christian views on homosexuality or get out.

The Alliance Defense Fund filed suit Wednesday on behalf of Jennifer Keeton, 24, seeking to stop the school from expelling her from her master’s degree program.

“They made a cascading series of presumptions about the kind of a counselor she would be and have consequently … tried to force her to change her beliefs,” David French, the ADF attorney representing Keeton in the case, told The Daily Caller. “It’s symbolic of an educational system that has lost its way.”

The suit alleges the university retaliated against Keeton for stating her belief that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and not a “state of being,” and that gender is not a social construct subject to individual change. According to the suit, the school wants her to undergo a “thought reform” program intended to change her religious beliefs. She faces expulsion unless she complies, and the suit seeks to block the university from throwing her out for noncompliance.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/07/26/university-to-student-accept-homosexuality-or-leave/#ixzz0uoUPJz2a


Let's just assume, for the sake of argument, that the facts as stated above are true. Is this acceptable at all?

OK, I know homosexuality can be a hotbutton issue because some view it with links to morality and character, but it's not just Christians who hold such beliefs. Were this student Muslim, do you think any US university would be telling her to change her beliefs?

To ask the question is to answer it.

But let's move on from homosexuality. Should a public university require students to hold certain political or religious beliefs?

Again, to ask the question is to answer it.

Update, 7/28/10: A court has upheld a similar but different expulsion, but there's a little more to that story:
A federal judge has ruled in favor of a public university that removed a Christian student from its graduate program in school counseling over her belief that homosexuality is morally wrong. Monday's ruling, according to Julea Ward's attorneys, could result in Christian students across the country being expelled from public university for similar views.

“It’s a very dangerous precedent,” Jeremy Tedesco, legal counsel for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, told FOX News Radio. “The ruling doesn’t say that explicitly, but that’s what is going to happen.”

U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh dismissed Ward’s lawsuit against Eastern Michigan University. She was removed from the school’s counseling program last year because she refused to counsel homosexual clients.
Refused to counsel homosexual clients? That's a little different from being removed because she doesn't approve of homosexuality. Remember when President Reagan joked, after being shot, that he hoped all the doctors were Republicans? It would have been more than a little unethical for the Democrat doctors to refuse to operate.

I still don't like the "reeducation" requirement the school is insisting on, though.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Not A Good Name For A Daycare Operation

FAIL Blog link

Oh. My. God.

I'll never understand anti-Semitism. I just won't.

Director Oliver Stone belittled the Holocaust during a shocking interview with the Sunday Times today, claiming that America's focus on the Jewish massacre was a product of the "Jewish domination of the media."

The director also defended Hitler and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and railed against the "powerful lobby" of Jews in America.

Stone said that his upcoming Showtime documentary series "Secret History of America," seeks to put Hitler and Communist dictator Joseph Stalin "in context."

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/alana-goodman/2010/07/25/oliver-stone-jewish-dominated-media-prevents-hitler-being-portrayed-c#ixzz0ulORCzkN

I don't need Oliver Stone to provide me with "context" regarding Hitler or Stalin. In fact, I don't need him for anything.

Update, 7/26/10: Why is it that Oliver Stone gets a pass (in the media and with lefties) on this sort of rant, but Mel Gibson gets dragged through the mud? When I read that question on another blog I was surprised--the bias is so clear.

Update #2, 7/27/10: He must have gotten burned a little, as Stone apologizes about his Holocaust statement. I'm still curious as to what "context" he will place Hitler and Stalin.

Update #3, 7/27/10: Then there's this observation:

What’s so funny, in a sick, sad way, is that, looking at the Journolist, it really does seem as if there is Jewish domination of the media — except that the Jews doing the so-called domination are completely in sync politically with Oliver Stone. They’re all left, left and more left. They’re just all too dumb to realize that, when you get as far Left as Stone, the antisemitism stops being coy little references to capitalism, Israeli imperialism and Palestinian victimhood. Instead, it becomes the active antisemitism that travels from Chavez’s attacks on Jewish businesses, to Stalin’s periodic kangaroo court purges and suppression of religion, to Hitler’s final solution. (And I mention those three Leftist antisemites here because Stone specifically speaks of them as either admirable or misunderstood, or both.)

"When you say that racism is the problem, you put the power for your future in someone else's hands."

"Tyranny is colorblind. White or black, it will control you."

YouTube

Update, 7/26/10: "But I think we should add another corollary to Godwins Law. I think that if you call your opponent a Racist, you have also lost the argument." link

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question, the last in the seemingly unpopular Academy Awards week, was:
"Sophie's Choice" (1982), Leading Actress.
"Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979), Supporting Actress.

The answer to yesterday's bonus question is:
8.5 pounds.

Today's question is:
What symbol is used in science to represent the speed of light?

Every Kid Deserves A Good Teacher

In the four CEAFU conferences I've attended I've heard talks by both Mike Miles of Colorado Springs and Michelle Rhee of Washington, DC, and both spoke about the need for highly qualified teachers and fair, effective, valid ways to measure their capabilities. Miles' program is probably the best I've ever heard of, but that isn't stopping Rhee from moving ahead with her program:

The District of Columbia public school system announced Friday that it is letting 226 employees go for poor performance under the education assessment system IMPACT.

Another 76 employees will be terminated because of licensing issues, schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee said in a news release. Of the 302 employees who are losing their jobs, 241 are teachers, she said.

"Every child in a District of Columbia public school has a right to a highly effective teacher -- in every classroom of every school, of every neighborhood or every ward, in this city," Rhee said.

Rhee said on CNN's "John King, USA" that she thought the cleanup was a long time coming.

"We want to get along with the union. We want to get along with this person or that person. We don't want to fire anyone," she said.

"But in the meantime, children have been done a disservice every single day. We have graduated a generation of Washingtonians who don't have the skills and knowledge that they need to be productive members of society because our schools have failed them."


You certainly can't fault her passion to ensure the students of the capital get educated.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

So How Cool Was Las Vegas?

High temps were somewhere north of 110 degrees--so not cool at all in that regard. But as for "style cool" we stayed downtown at the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street. Forbes Magazine has called the pool there one of the top ten hotel pools in the world--maybe it has something to do with this 3-story water slide which goes through a shark tank....
click on the pictures to enlarge
(This is an early evening view from our room, by the way!)


Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
"Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (1986). (aka The One With The Whales)

Today's question is:
Of her 16 nominations, the most for any woman, Meryl Streep has only won twice -- once each for Leading Actress and Supporting Actress. Name either of these two films.

Bonus question:
How much does an Oscar weigh?

Starve the Education Beast

I don't think Republicans are reflexively anti-tax; we all recognize that government needs money to carry out its designated functions. Republicans may come across as anti-tax, though, because they see no evidence that their tax money is currently being used wisely and hence don't want to throw good money after bad. Stories such as this one give credence to such a belief:

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Spending in California classrooms declined as a percentage of total education spending over a recent five-year period, even as total school funding increased, according to a Pepperdine University study released Wednesday.

More of the funding increase went to administrators, clerks and technical staff and less to teachers, textbooks, materials and teacher aides, the study found. It was partially funded by a California Chamber of Commerce foundation.

Total K-12 spending increased by $10 billion over the five-year period ending June 30, 2009, from $45.6 billion to $55.6 billion statewide. It rose at a rate greater than the increase in inflation or personal income, according to the study. Yet researchers found that classroom spending dipped from 59 percent of education funding to 57.8 percent over the five years.

No doubt some bureaucrat has a "program" somewhere that needs to be funded, no matter what.

Education Buzz (was: Carnival of Education)

Via Joanne I learn that someone else has picked up the mantle of Carnie and will be hosting Education Buzz, a replacement, if you will, for the old Carnival of Education that I've missed so much.

Having been on vacation so much the last two weeks, I don't really have an education-related post to contribute to the first installment, but have no doubt I'll be a contributor soon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
"Gone With the Wind" (1939).

Today's question is:
"Star Trek" (2009) received four nominations, tying it for most nominations with which other Star Trek film?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Walt Disney, with 26 awards.  4 of these were honorary.

Today's question is:
What was the first movie in color to win the Best Picture award?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday Trivia

The answers to yesterday's questions are:
Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, "It Happened One Night" (1934).
Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975).
Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway, "Network" (1976).
Jon Voight and Jane Fonda, "Coming Home" (1978).
Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn, "On Golden Pond" (1981).
Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991).
Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, "As Good As It Gets" (1997).

Today's question is:
What one individual has won the most Academy Awards?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Bob Hope, with 19 hostings.

Today's question is:
Seven films have won in both the Leading Actor and Leading Actress categories.  Name any two.

Are They Serious, Or Is This A Really Bad Joke?

Blogging will be light again for the next few days, as my son and I are off to American Mecca (aka Las Vegas). I have a friend whose dad was in the atomic bomb tests in the 1950s and has donated items to the Atomic Testing Museum not far off-Strip, and I've long been interested in going to check it out.

Imagine my surprise at seeing the following:
click on picture to enlarge--seriously, do it

Am I missing something, or is that in very poor taste? Family Fun Day? Regarding Japan? At an atomic bomb museum? On the weekend between the anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima (August 6th) and Nagasaki (August 9th)?

Don't get me wrong, I completely support the nukings. This "family fun day" just seems a little, I don't know, insensitive or inappropriate or something. I guess it's funny in a dark humor sort of way. I certainly wouldn't be impressed, though, with a "family fun day" celebrating Hawaii, being held on a Japanese aircraft carrier, in early December.

Media Bias

With the archives of the now-defunct Journolist being made public, can you lefties still argue with a straight face that there is no media bias?

According to records obtained by The Daily Caller, at several points during the 2008 presidential campaign a group of liberal journalists took radical steps to protect their favored candidate. Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.

In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

Michael Tomasky, a writer for the Guardian, also tried to rally his fellow members of Journolist: “Listen folks–in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy in whatever venues we have. This isn’t about defending Obama. This is about how the [mainstream media] kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people.”

“Richard Kim got this right above: ‘a horrible glimpse of general election press strategy.’ He’s dead on,” Tomasky continued. “We need to throw chairs now, try as hard as we can to get the call next time. Otherwise the questions in October will be exactly like this. This is just a disease.”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/07/20/documents-show-media-plotting-to-kill-stories-about-rev-jeremiah-wright/#ixzz0uFPo9eoj


It goes on from there.

Thomas Schaller, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun as well as a political science professor, upped the ante from there. In a post with the subject header, “why don’t we use the power of this list to do something about the debate?” Schaller proposed coordinating a “smart statement expressing disgust” at the questions Gibson and Stephanopoulos had posed to Obama.

“It would create quite a stir, I bet, and be a warning against future behavior of the sort,” Schaller wrote.

Tomasky approved. “YES. A thousand times yes,” he exclaimed.


And how about this good patriot?

“Our country disappears people. It tortures people. It has the blood of as many as one million Iraqi civilians — men, women, children, the infirmed — on its hands. You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage over Barack Obama’s pastor,” Hayes wrote.


There's plenty more, and I recommend that you read it--the final six sentences will sock you between the eyes. And remember, these are the "the press" that hide behind the 1st Amendment, even though that in the spirit of that Amendment, I'm just as much "the press" as they are--the difference is, I don't sneak around to collude and lie, I'm up front with my readers.

Update: This commenter on another post really lays out the bias in a way that can't be denied--unless you're a leftie, in which case it's just racism, or something.

Update #2: I've decided to quote the final six lines here, just in case that link ever goes bad:
Kevin Drum, then of Washington Monthly, also disagreed with Ackerman’s strategy. “I think it’s worth keeping in mind that Obama is trying (or says he’s trying) to run a campaign that avoids precisely the kind of thing Spencer is talking about, and turning this into a gutter brawl would probably hurt the Obama brand pretty strongly. After all, why vote for him if it turns out he’s not going change the way politics works?”

But it was Ackerman who had the last word. “Kevin, I’m not saying OBAMA should do this. I’m saying WE should do this.”

"Professional journalists."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Who's Reading This?

About two months ago I posted screen shots from Stat Counter showing readers from two interesting places. How very interesting that today those very same locations are there again, along with a third one:
click on the pictures to enlarge


Teacher Lies About A Brain Tumor To Take Time Off

This is almost too painful to report:

Police believe Middletown educator Leslie Herneisey, 51, lied about tumors and cancer for more than a decade so she could skip work.

Herneisey began accruing sick leave by allegedly claiming she had a brain tumor, then asked for eight weeks off while she supposedly underwent chemotherapy for an inoperable form of brain cancer.


Oh yes, the zinger at the end is a classic:

The three-time nominee for Pennsylvania's teacher of the year resigned in May and was arrested last week, charged with 12 felony counts of forgery.

Let's repeat: three-time nominee for Pennsylvania's teacher of the year.

Raise Your Hand If You're Surprised

This is yet another installment in the long-running series, Government Should Do Only Those Things That Only Government Can Do (Or Can Do Most Efficiently), and should get out of the social engineering and progressive ideology businesses:

It seemed a perfect symmetry: California, the world's high-tech capital, would lead the way in recycling the debris of our digital revolution.

But five years after its launch, the state government-run electronic waste program stands out not as a model of the green innovation for which California is famous but as an example of good intentions gone awry.

By paying more than $320 million to collect and recycle computer monitors and televisions, the state has built a magnet for fraud totaling tens of millions of dollars, including illegal material smuggled in from out of state.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/07/18/2897609/californias-pioneering-e-waste.html#ixzz0uAxfO7PO


The classic line, showing complete liberal naivete?

"I don't think anybody could have forecast the greed that has poisoned the program," said Bob Erie, chief executive officer of E-World Recyclers north of San Diego and once an enthusiastic supporter of the state effort.

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Marlon Brando.

Today's question is:
Who has hosted the most Academy Award ceremonies?

Massachusetts Gives Us A Clear View Of Obamacare, If Only People Would Look

If you want a preview of President Obama's health-care "reform," take a look at Massachusetts. In 2006, it enacted a "reform" that became a model for Obama. What's happened since isn't encouraging. The state did the easy part: expanding state-subsidized insurance coverage. It evaded the hard part: controlling costs and ensuring that spending improves people's health. Unfortunately, Obama has done the same..

But much didn't change (in Massachusetts). Emergency rooms remain as crowded as ever; about a third of the non-elderly go at least once a year, and half their visits involve "non-emergency conditions." As for improvements in health, most probably lie in the future. "Many of the uninsured were young and healthy," writes Long. Their "expected gains in health status" would be mostly long-term. Finally -- and most important -- health costs continue to soar.

Aside from squeezing take-home pay (employers provide almost 70 percent of insurance), higher costs have automatically shifted government priorities toward health care and away from everything else -- schools, police, roads, prisons, lower taxes. In 1990, health spending represented about 16 percent of the state budget, says the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. By 2000, health's share was 22 percent. In 2010, it's 35 percent. About 90 percent of the health spending is Medicaid.

State leaders have proved powerless to control these costs.
Washington Post link

He who has eyes to see, let him see.

Update: When you flip-flop enough times on a topic, can we just say you're spinning?

Paying Attention To What Candidate Obama Was Saying

EIA posts this quote from Joe Williams:

You can look back at the president as a candidate speaking before the unions making it clear about his support for charter schools, his support for things like performance pay. It was not a closeted agenda. And for people to act right now like they feel betrayed by this president only suggests that they were not paying attention when he was speaking." - Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform. (July 7 National Public Radio's All Things Considered)


I heard Joe Williams speak earlier this summer. The statement above is in keeping with the speech he gave to us at the CEAFU conference. He doesn't go easy on his fellow Democrats when it comes to education reform, and with good reason.

A College Education and The Recent Graduate's Value in the Work Force

Via Joanne Jacobs I read a very interesting article about jobs, graduates, etc., and this section seems oh so important:

I learned an invaluable lesson, and it is a lesson that I hope you can internalize, even if it stings. Aside from some technical degrees, college does not train anyone for a job. Your college and the media will tell you that over a lifetime, individuals with a college degree earn more than individuals without a college degree. Unfortunately, none of those parties will ever tell you why that degree entitles you to that higher pay...

Higher education is designed to develop the mind, which in turn allows the graduate to bring that developed mind to the workforce. It does not, nor should it allow one to bypass the lower rungs of the corporate ladder. When I was your age, I would have sympathized with your situation (recent grad without a "good" job). Knowing what I know now, I need to ask why you think a political science major with minimal job experience qualifies you for a mid-level management position at a large corporation.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
President George H. W. Bush (#41), in 1990.

Today's question, the first in Academy Awards Week, is:
A "Streetcar Named Desire" (1951) is tied with "Network" (1976) for the most acting awards
won by a single motion picture (3 each).  Which actor from "Streetcar" did NOT win?
>  Marlon Brando (Actor in a Leading Role) 
>  Vivien Leigh (Actress in a Leading Role)
>  Karl Malden (Actor in a Supporting Role)
>  Kim Stanley (Actress in a Supporting Role)

Tea Party and Racism

Joe Biden says the Tea Parties aren't racist:
“I don’t believe, the president doesn’t believe that the Tea Party is — is a racist organization. I don’t believe that,” Biden said. “Very conservative. Very different views on government and a whole lot of things. But it is not a racist organization.”


Here's a clearly biased interviewer chatting with Cedra Crenshaw (look at her skin color! hear her words!) about racism in the Tea Party. The Tea Party is helping Crenshaw fight against the Democratic Party apparatus which is trying to keep her off the ballot in Illinois. The conversation meanders from the recent NAACP convention to the Tea Party itself to Mark Williams' satirical letter to "why wasn't there a Tea Party under President Bush". The reporter mentions that NAACP members might be "afraid" to attend a Tea Party event and notes that she doesn't see a lot of "people of color" at such events; Crenshaw adeptly notes that the Tea Party is focused on limited government and fiscal responsibility, not about skin color. Some people just can't get that through their heads. Some people are too fixated on skin color to be able to think any other way.

In the meantime, the US Department of Justice still refuses to pursue the voter intimidation charges (clear video even exists) against the New Black Panther Movement based on some of their documented actions in the 2008 election. Why isn't that in the news more?

It used to be said that "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel". I think an updated version of that adage might be "unfounded charges of racism are the first and last refuges of the scoundrel".

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
2007, on July 7th.

Today's question is:
The President of the United States has two modified 747's for use as Air Force One. During which presidential administration was the first 747 delivered and used as Air Force One?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Businesses Leaving California

From the Orange County Register:

A list of companies moving out of or expanding outside California has grown by 84 since the start of the year, says Joe Vranich, Irvine consultant who specializes in relocating companies...

The 84 in six months of 2010 compares to 44 in all of 2009 and 35 from 2006 through 2008, he says, adding that the moves represent $4.7 billion in capital shifted out of California.

“The exodus of capital and jobs has reached such an alarming point that California ought to declare a state of economic emergency just as we have emergencies resulting from floods, fires and earthquakes,” Vranich says. “Raising taxes or creating new regulations should be out of the question.”

He has long insisted that most of the moves are related to California’s “high taxes, undue regulations, excessive fines and fees, high workers’ comp (insurance) costs, a legal environment stacked against businesses and lengthy permitting requirements.”

But on the other hand, we have nice weather.

That's not enough of a silver lining to put bread on the table.

Are College-Bound Students Prepared To Write Research Papers?

Perhaps not.

Many high schools no longer teach students to write a research paper, history teacher Doris Burton told Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews, who believes college-bound students should have to write a 4,000-word paper (roughly 16 pages). In response, Kate Simpson, an English professor at Lord Fairfax Community College asked her first-year students, who’d just finished a three-week research writing project, to write about their preparation for writing long papers.

She said she discovered that 40 percent of her 115 students thought that their high schools had not prepared them for college-level writing. Only 23 percent thought they had those writing skills. Other responses were mixed.

Twenty-nine percent “felt that students should be taught to write lengthy papers in high school,” Simpson reported.


“Not once in my four years of high school was I required to turn in a paper of over 1,000 words,” one student wrote. Several others said their teachers didn’t assign long papers because they didn’t have time to grade them.
I like the "no excuse" approach taken by some teachers at San Jose's Downtown College Prep:

San Jose’s Downtown College Prep, the school in my book, Our School, sent all of its first graduating class to college. When students visited Sonoma State the following year, Javier complained that he hadn’t been prepared to write a footnoted research paper. In the bus on the way back to school, the teachers redesigned the curriculum to ensure that in future every student would write a college-style research paper before graduation. “Javier was right,” the history teacher told me. “Students need to learn this before they go to college.”
Good on them for taking responsibility and correcting what they were told was an inadequacy in their program.

(By the by, I met Joanne fours years ago and bought a copy of Our School out of the trunk of her car. It's the kind of book teachers like to read. And yes, she autographed it for me.)

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
The Columbine.

Today's question is:
In what year were the Great Wall of China, Petra, the Christ the Redeemer statue, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, the Roman Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal identified as the New Seven Wonders of the World?

I hope you're looking forward to Sunday, which will begin Academy Awards Week here at RotLC.

CTA Raises Dues In The Recession

Larry Sand, the President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, wrote an opinion piece for the (San Jose) Mercury News:

With the school year complete, and the political season in full swing, it's a good time to examine teachers' relationship with their union and its political spending. In California, some 325,000 teachers and other education professionals are represented by the California Teachers Association. While teachers across the state have voted to take pay cuts to save colleagues' jobs, one would figure the CTA might lower its dues. Well, it hasn't. In fact, CTA has raised dues $18 per teacher for 2010-2011.


It just gets better from there. Go read the whole thing.

More On Computers At Home vs. Achievement At School

Surprised? Anyone?

The research showed that low-income students who received home computers didn't use them to enhance their schooling, but rather, used them to play games. (Act surprised). Their scores in three academic subjects actually declined, but at least their proficiency in computers was measurably higher, so I guess the experiment wasn't a total loss if what you're looking for is a generation of low-income computer gamers.

The unvarnished truth is that the digital divide isn't what's holding back America's underprivileged children. The real problem is a discipline divide. Regardless of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity or religion, where there are strong, skilled, supervising parents, you will find successful students. And where there aren't, you'll find gamers.
OK, so the research is from Romania--but tell me your gut doesn't tell you it applies here, too.

But OK, "without data, all you have is an opinion." I accept and believe that. I also believe this statement:

It's time to stop throwing money, technology and excuses at poor children and calling it education. The only way to close any sort of gap is to stop selling kids short on competent teachers who are committed to imparting knowledge and skills rather than using the classroom to affect "social justice," and to hold their parents accountable for the privilege of a free public education.

Discrimination By Any Other Name

What is really meant by universities when they mention so-called diversity?

When college presidents and academic administrators pay their usual obeisance to "diversity" you know they are talking first and foremost about race. More specifically, they are talking about blacks. A diverse college campus is understood as one that has a student body that -- at a minimum -- is 5 to 7 percent black (i.e., equivalent to roughly half the proportion of blacks in the general population). A college or university that is only one, two, or three percent black would not be considered "diverse" by college administrators regardless of how demographically diverse its student body might be in other ways. The blacks in question need not be African Americans -- indeed at many of the most competitive colleges today, including many Ivy League schools, an estimated 40-50 percent of those categorized as black are Afro-Caribbean or African immigrants, or the children of such immigrants.

As a secondary meaning "diversity" can also encompass Hispanics, who together with blacks are often subsumed by college administrators and admissions officers under the single race category "underrepresented minorities." Most colleges and universities seeking "diversity" seek a similar proportion of Hispanics in their student body as blacks (since blacks and Hispanics are about equal in number in the general population), though meeting the black diversity goal usually has a much higher priority than meeting the Hispanic one.

Asians, unlike blacks and Hispanics, receive no boost in admissions. Indeed, the opposite is often the case, as the quota-like mentality that leads college administrators to conclude they may have "too many" Asians...

While almost all college administrators and college admissions officers at the most elite institutions think in racial balancing and racial quota-like terms when they assemble their student body, they almost always deny this publically in a blizzard of rhetoric about a more far-flung "diversity." Indeed, there is probably no other area where college administrators are more likely to lie or conceal the truth of what they are doing than in the area of admissions and race.

Most elite universities seem to have little interest in diversifying their student bodies when it comes to the numbers of born-again Christians from the Bible belt, students from Appalachia and other rural and small-town areas, people who have served in the U.S. military, those who have grown up on farms or ranches, Mormons, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, lower-middle-class Catholics, working class "white ethnics," social and political conservatives, wheelchair users, married students, married students with children, or older students first starting out in college after raising children or spending several years in the workforce. Students in these categories are often very rare at the more competitive colleges, especially the Ivy League. While these kinds of people would surely add to the diverse viewpoints and life-experiences represented on college campuses, in practice "diversity" on campus is largely a code word for the presence of a substantial proportion of those in the "underrepresented" racial minority groups.


What do the schools really want their student bodies to look like? The article quotes studies in great detail, and the picture isn't pretty. You might even hope that low socio-economic status would count for more than skin color, but that certainly isn't the case with white applicants.

What counts against applicants?

In his Bakke ruling Lewis Powell was impressed by the argument Harvard College offered defending the educational value of a demographically diverse student body: "A farm boy from Idaho can bring something to Harvard College that a Bostonian cannot offer. Similarly, a black student can usually bring something that a white person cannot offer." The Espenshade/Radford study suggests that those farm boys from Idaho would do well to stay out of their local 4-H clubs or FFA organizations -- or if they do join, they had better not list their membership on their college application forms. This is especially true if they were officers in any of these organizations. Future farmers of America don't seem to count in the diversity-enhancement game played out at some of our more competitive private colleges, and are not only not recruited, but seem to be actually shunned. It is hard to explain this development other than as a case of ideological and cultural bias.

This same kind of bias seems to lurk behind the negative association found between acceptance odds and holding leadership positions in high school ROTC. This is most troubling because a divorce between the campus culture of its universities and its military is poisonous for any society, and doesn't do the military or the civilian society any good. The lack of comfort with many military commanders that our current president is said to have seems to be due not only to his own lack of military experience but to the fact of having spent so many of his formative years on university campuses like Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago, where people with military experience are largely absent and the campus culture is often hostile to military values and military personnel...

Many universities, including Princeton, are interested in enrolling foreign students, along with students from disparate regions of the U.S. But the more competitive private universities seem to have little interest in diversifying their student bodies when it comes to people who have served in the American military or people who intend to make a career out of military service. Even if they don't shun such people, or hold their military service or aspirations against them, they clearly don't seek them out or court them the way they do "underrepresented" racial minorities. And while many universities host college-level ROTC programs (often for financial reasons), the military/civilian relationship on campus is usually far from amicable.

Military veterans and aspiring military officers, like poor whites and future American farmers, are clearly not what most competitive private colleges have in mind when they speak of the need for "diversity". If nothing else the new Espenshade/Radford study helps to document what knowledgeable observers have long known: "diversity" at competitive colleges today involves a politically engineered stew of different groups. drawn from the ingredients selected by reigning campus ideology. Since that ideology is mainly dictated by the Left, it is no surprise that the diversity achieved is what the larger American landscape looks like when it is viewed through a leftist lens. I suggest a different approach: elite colleges should get out of the diversity business altogether and focus on enrolling students who are the most academically talented and the most eager to learn. These students should make up the bulk of their entering classes. Call it the Cal Tech Model since the California Institute of Technology seems to be the only elite institution that comes close to realizing such an ideal.

Until our universities have excess capacity, and admissions cease to be a zero-sum game, affirmative actions programs (as practiced today, not merely outreach programs) and other so-called diversity-enhancing programs are expensive, counter-productive, discriminatory programs that go against everything the Civil Rights Movement was supposed to be about.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Isaac Newton of England and Gottfried Leibniz of Hannover.

Today's question is:
What is the state flower of Colorado, shown here?

What A Difference A Day Makes!

Yesterday I was in Cancun; the temperature was in the high 80's, with similar humidity. As soon as you stepped outside you were instantly uncomfortable.

Today I'm in Sacramento; the temperature is 104 out but with low humidity. It feels beautiful out there!

Skycycle Video From the Cancun Trip

video

A higher quality version of the same video (with the same spelling mistake!) can be seen on YouTube.

Pictures From the Cancun Trip

As promised!
click on the pictures to enlarge
This is the front of our hotel, located at about Km 18.5 on the Kukulcan (for those of you who know what that means.)

Ruinas El Rey, at about Km 18. A small Mayan ruin on the south end of Cancun Island.

The view north up the beach from our hotel.

My favorite part of the hotel--the swim-up bar!

My son and I at SeƱor Frogs.

Snorkeling in a cenote at Hidden Worlds. Read about my experience here.

The entrance to the most famous of Mayan ruins, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

The temple at the north end of the Ball Court at Chichen Itza.

Proof that I was actually there. Yes, that's the Pyramid of Kukulcan; no, the public isn't allowed to climb it anymore. Can you believe that some idjits were chipping off pieces as souvenirs??? I say, do what the Maya did--cut out their hearts and throw their bodies down the pyramid.

Me at the El Maco ruins in Puerto Juarez, just outside of Cancun. We found these ruins quite by accident.

Iguanas are everywhere in that part of Mexico, and are quite common at all the ruins. I call this particular pose, with the head raised, "standing guard".

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
The War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, and World Wars I and II.

Today's question is:
Which two mathematicians are credited with independently developing calculus?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
The 20th Maine.

Today's question is:
What were the only five occasions for which the US Congress has declared war?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chichen Itza

As I wrote almost 2 years ago, renting a car is the way to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza if you want to keep your own schedule there--and that's how RotLC Jr. and I got there. Our hotel is at the south end of the Cancun Hotel Zone, and it took us about 2 hrs to get there. If you are going with 3 people or more, renting a car will be cheaper than a bus tour. And you definitely want to arrive just before the 10am opening, as that's when the fewest tourbuses are there.

Costs: everything I've read says to take the cuota, the toll road, and from what I've seen of local roads, that advice is correct. It was a well-maintained, almost empty road, the latter probably because of the 280 peso toll (US$22.50) each way. Entrance to Chichen Itza was 110 pesos each, less than US$10. There is an extra charge if you want to take video there (we both did on our pocket cameras without paying the charge), and tripods are not allowed. I'm paying US$120 for the rental car (a Dodge Atos, seemingly built by Hyundai) for 3 days, and over half of that cost is max insurance.

I saw much more of "park" this time than last, and got some new pictures that I think will look impressive. My son took some nicely framed shots, too. Last time I didn't even see "The Market", but this time the two of us had the whole Market to ourselves. It was most impressive.

I took a downloaded map and a Google Earth shot of the park with us so I knew where we were at all times. They were very helpful, ensuring we didn't miss anything. And not having to get back to a tourbus at a given time, we could spend our time wandering and wondering. I'm not sure of which we did more.

Last time I didn't even get to visit the "gift shop" or food stands at the entrance, but today we spent a little time there. An ice cold agua de horchata restored both our attitudes to pleasant, and we laughed at the name of the pizza place there. Can you guess the the name? I'll tell you at the end of the post :) I was surprised that the souvenir prices in the gift shop were at least as good as those of all the local vendors selling their wares inside the park, and those just outside the park entrance (all of 20 meters from the gift shop) were even better.

Given the internet situation here at the hotel I can't upload any pictures of one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, but rest assured I will when I get home to a high-quality connection. Until then, take a look at these pictures I took 2 years ago. The place hasn't changed too much since then!

Oh, and the name of the pizza place? Itza Pizza!

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
George Bush.

Today's question is:
Which regiment distinguished itself by holding the southern flank of the Union line against a Confederate attack at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Gene Wilder.

Today's question is:
What famous American's name is an anagram of “He bugs Gore”?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cancun So Far

So far the trip has been great--while there was a little rain the first couple days, the temperature and humidity have been relatively moderate. My son has spent more time in the pool than I have, and consequently he looks like a lobster while I still look like a beluga. ADVICE: I read this on the internet and have confirmed: ordinary bottles of suntan lotion cost US$20 here, not just at the hotels but also in the convenience stores and drug stores. Bring your own, and bring plenty!

Today we took our first big excursion, to Hidden Worlds, about a 90 min drive away. If only the web site could do it justice, but go look anyway. :-) Their van picked us up at our hotel, which was nice--certainly nicer than the so-called "jungle buggies", which were just hoopties that got us from one place to another in the park. The jungle buggies reminded me of a smaller version of an army deuce-and-a-half, and were about as comfortable. Getting from one location to the next was quite the ride, and I'm sure I left a kidney somewhere along the way!

The first thing we did is ride the skycycle, an adventure in itself. I took some video (great shots of my feet pedaling!) and can post it when I get home, if I remember to. The skycycle rides ends just inside a cenote, where we were supposed to be able to snorkel--but recent rains had flooded it too much, and there wouldn't be enough room to stick your head out of the water without bumping it on the ceiling! Since snorkeling in a cenote is a big part of the package, it had to come later in a different cenote, and we just skycycled back to "base".

There we did a jungle zipline, which was ordinary enough, but the 2nd zipline was called "Splashdown". Yes, we ziplined into a cenote and the ride ended with a splash in the water at the bottom. It was so refreshing! We skipped Avatar, the "zipline rollercoaster", as well as the rappelling.

Finally, as I was beginning to wonder if we'd get to swim, they put us in a jungle buggy and took us to a distant cenote. I was told that this particular one was shown in the BBC series Planet Earth as well as an IMAX movie about caves; in fact, the IMAX folks paid for the lighting down there so they could take their spectacular shots.

We all put on life jackets and got masks/snorkels above ground, then climbed down a steep ladder into the cenote. If you've ever been in a cave, you know how impressive they can be, and this one did not disappoint. What appeared above the water, though, was nothing compared to what we could see through our masks in the most crystal clear 74 degree water. Wow! What might appear to be a rock wall above water would turn into a beautiful formation underwater, and might reach down only a few feet or a dozen meters, and the "room" would go off into the distance! Stalagmites reached up from the depths. Sometimes we'd be paddling in shallow water over what appeared to be a floor, and then it would drop away like a cliff--and without a mask to see underwater, you'd have no idea. Small fish, only an inch or two long, swam near us the whole time. Roots from the trees above ground reached down from the ceiling and into the water, appearing to be ropes or nets. I was enthralled.

Our drive back to Cancun was yet another adventure for me. On the way to Hidden Worlds we detoured around the town of Playa del Carmen because of road construction, but on the way back we drove through it. What a difference 21 years makes! In 1989 a friend and I took a cruise, and on the shore excursion to the Mayan ruins at Tulum we were dropped off in Playa del Carmen to meet our tour bus. Back then, Playa del Carmen was a tiny little fishing village, a stereotypical Mexican town with dusty streets and no building over 2 stories. The road to Tulum, on which our bus barely seemed to fit, was a two-lane paved road with a a jungle canopy that seemed ready to devour it at any time. Today Playa is a booming place, full of luxury hotels and resorts and townhouses--and even a Sam's Club! That tiny road is now a nice freeway with 3 lanes in each direction, and the jungle is kept at bay :) I dare say that if I were to go back to that exact spot where we met our tour bus I almost certainly wouldn't recognize it; in fact, that "village" probably doesn't even exist anymore. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, or something like that.

Tomorrow will be another day at the pool, and tomorrow afternoon I go to pick up the rental car. Monday we take that car to Chichen Itza!

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
The Pitcairn Islands, where the Bounty mutineers settled.

Today's question is:
What is the stage name of the actor, at one time married to a Saturday Night Live alum, whose name at birth was Jerome Silberman?

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Paraguay and Bolivia.

Today's question is:
What is the only remaining British Overseas Territory in the Pacific Ocean?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
All Time High was sung by Rita Coolidge.

Today's question is:
Which South American countries are landlocked?

Made It To Cancun

It was a long and arduous journey (considering that I stayed up all Tuesday night) but we got to the hotel/resort around 9pm last night. Wireless internet only in the lobby, not in the room (grrrrr!) but I'll survive, if only barely, for a week.

We're off to go exploring now. Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Topeka, Kansas.

Today's question is:
What was the theme song for the James Bond movie Octopussy, and who performed it?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Cheating

If you have to go to these lengths to curb cheating, maybe it's time to throw in the towel and just shut the school down. Heck, even my alma mater has lightened up on its single sanction (expulsion) for honor code violations.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The frontier in the battle to defeat student cheating may be here at the testing center of the University of Central Florida.

No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student’s speaking into a hands-free cellphone to an accomplice outside.

The 228 computers that students use are recessed into desk tops so that anyone trying to photograph the screen — using, say, a pen with a hidden camera, in order to help a friend who will take the test later — is easy to spot.

Scratch paper is allowed — but it is stamped with the date and must be turned in later.

When a proctor sees something suspicious, he records the student’s real-time work at the computer and directs an overhead camera to zoom in, and both sets of images are burned onto a CD for evidence.

It's a very interesting article.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Steam.

Today's question is:
The board of education of which city was the defendant in the famous 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education?

The Internet Is Dead

Who says so? Prince.

“The Internet's like MTV,” he told the mirror. “At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."

Monday, July 05, 2010

Vacation Is Upon Us

Tuesday is my last full day at home, and I'll spend much of it participating in a CTEN board meeting. Then, very (way too) early Wednesday morning, my son and I are off to Cancun :-) Whenever we go on trips together I always try to have some educational component, and this year's will be a day at the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza (see the archives for August 2008 for some of the pictures I took there then).

As you might imagine, I'll spend less time working on my blog and more time working on my tan for the next several days--assuming the weather cooperates, of course. I'm not sure what the internet situation is at my hotel--different sites give different information--but I'll try to post something each day, perhaps even a picture. Trivia questions are already scheduled and will show up on the blog at 4pm PDT each day, so even if I post nothing else the trivia will go on.

The house/dog sitter is arranged; the flight, hotel, and rental car are booked; bags are packed; all systems are go!

Making Money With Math

You've got to know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to crunch the numbers:
Phil Hellmuth Jr. may be the world's most decorated gambler, and when it comes to what old-timers call the Cadillac of poker — Texas hold 'em — his record 11 World Series of Poker championship bracelets are tantamount to a royal flush. He won the game's biggest prize, the World Series Main Event, in 1989 and is among the top lifetime money winners, with more than $6 million in World Series event prizes. But last year it all began to fall apart. Hellmuth, 45, lost money and failed to make the final table of even one tournament for the first time in more than a decade.

Was it his cards? No, Hellmuth says, pacing the floor of his suite at New York City's Plaza Hotel. He blames the new breed of math nerd, those guys using a mountain of sortable data from the millions of hands played online to dominate the game. "The reason I won 11 bracelets is my ability to read opponents," he explains. "These new guys are focused on the math. And they are changing everything."

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Yuri Andropov.
The answer to yesterday's bonus question is:
Konstantin Chernenko.

Today's question is:
What band released the sporting event staple Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye?

What The CTA Wants From The NEA

Look at the New Business Items proposed by California at the NEA convention in New Orleans. Cell phone use in the car? Stop the "war of necessity" in Afghanistan?

Teachers, your dues money is being spent on this. What, exactly, do these have to do with your pay, benefits, and working conditions?

Turmoil in the Family

As I wrote in this post, the NEA wants President Obama to ditch Secretary of Education Duncan.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that no federal official is scheduled to speak at either the NEA or the AFT conventions this year:

NEW ORLEANS — For two years as a presidential candidate, Barack Obama addressed educators gathered for the summer conventions of the two national teachers’ unions, and last year both groups rolled out the welcome mat for Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

But in a sign of the Obama administration’s strained relations with two of its most powerful political allies, no federal official was scheduled to speak at either convention this month, partly because union officials feared that administration speakers would face heckling.

The June issue of California Educator, mouthpiece rag of the California Teachers Association, has the CTA president, Ole Si Se Puede himself, referring derisively to the "Obama-Duncan reform agenda".

I am not hearing the kumbayyah.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

One (Very Good) Reason To Support US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Via EIA, reporting on New Business Items at the 2010 National Education Association convention in New Orleans:

NBI 44 – “The NEA shall encourage President Obama to replace the Sect. of Educ. Arne Duncan with a person who is aligned with the interests of the NEA, its members, and especially the students it serves.”


In this case, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Gopher wood.

Today's question is:
Who replaced Leonid Brezhnev as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union?
Bonus: Who replaced Brezhnev's replacement?

On This Independence Day I Link To This 1964 Speech By Ronald Reagan


While the entire speech is, of course, exceptional, 3:30-4:00 explains why we celebrate today.

US Taxpayers Pay To Educate Mexican Citizens In US Schools

From Judicial Watch:

In a town famous for Pancho Villa’s ransacking, the purloining still occurs; this time horses and mules are not disappearing, but taxpayer money is. Columbus, New Mexico is just 3 miles north of Palomas, Mexico and is one of the many border towns mired in the border fence, illegal immigration, and drug smuggling. The culprit in this case, however, is not El Chapo or a coyote, but rather residents in Mexico expecting American taxpayer benefits.

Many families in Palomas, Mexico choose to send their children to Deming Public School District. Regardless of citizenship, these Palomas students are ineligible for Deming Public School education as they live out of the district and are not supporting the school through taxes. In 1996, The Albuquerque Journal noted that students residing in Mexico have been educated in the United States for free for over 40 years...

The amount of additional money is not insignificant especially given that New Mexico will receive $537,047,803 from President Obama’s stimulus plan to “lay the foundation for a generation of education reform and help save thousands of teaching jobs at risk due to state and local budget cuts.” That’s right, the stimulus money will indirectly be funding education for students whose families do not pay taxes.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Why I'm A Conservative and Support the Tea Party Movement

These quotes from the Founders are appropriate for more than just Independence Day nostalgia, they represent the principles I believe in and for which I was, when much younger, trained to fight and die for.

Conservatives still hold true to the values represented in these quotations. Liberals will find all sorts of reasons to claim that they're outdated.

Loco In Yokohama

Somehow I stumbled upon this blog of an American teaching in Yokohama, Japan. What an amazing glimpse into a different world. From the homepage:

Welcome to Loco in Yokohama, where content has priority. Loco in Yokohama was started two years ago out of my desire to do three things: share some of the things I have experienced living in Japan, to get back into writing regularly, and to showcase my writing. It remains true to that original vision. This is a blog for readers, written by a New Yorker living in Yokohama 7 years now. (Not much of a New Yorker anymore) So, sit back and settle in and check out some of my stories. You will be happy you did. Ask my readers if you don\'t believe me (-; Sincerely, Loco
Perhaps you'll find it as interesting as I do.

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Maori.

Today's question is:
According to the King James Version, of what material was Noah's Ark constructed?

No Strength Of Conviction

If you're going to boycott someplace (say, California for passing Prop 8, or Arizona for passing SB 1070), then do so. You look like a wuss if you just say you're going to boycott, then don't--kind of like the Baldwin who said he'd move to London if President Bush were reelected in 2004, then didn't.

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday granted itself an exemption to the city’s boycott of Arizona to keep a red light photo enforcement program operating. The program generates about $3.6 million in annual ticket revenue for the city. The day before, Oakland voted to approve a $1 million contract with a multinational advertising company with corporate offices in Phoenix.

San Jose, which has several contracts with Arizona companies cited potential economic harm in stopping short of a full boycott, voting instead for an official denunciation of SB 1070. The Arizona law allows police officers to question anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant, and makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally...

Kyser notes that a Los Angeles Police Department plan to send officers to Arizona for special terrorism training "was canceled due to the boycott,” but other actions have gone under the radar.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power awarded a contract for electric vehicle charging stations to a company in Arizona, Kyser says, “but nobody caught that"...

Others have gone scrambling to parse legal definitions – such as the difference between “corporate offices” and “corporate headquarters” – to rationalize which companies are subject to the intent of the boycott.

Learning Math By Rap

LOS ANGELES – The class of eighth graders at a Los Angeles middle school tap their rulers and nod their heads to the rhythm of the rap video projected on a screen. It’s not Snoop Dogg or Jay-Z.

It’s their math teacher, LaMar Queen, using rhyme to help them memorize seemingly complicated algebra and in the process improve their grades.

“It gets stuck in your head,” says Cindy Martinez, a 14-year-old whose math grade went from a C-average to a B. link

If it's stupid and it works, it isn't stupid.