Sunday, April 29, 2007

Surrender-crats Weren't Always On The Enemy's Side

Just watch the video. You can argue with me all day, but I'm not the one in the video saying why Saddam had to go.

One Coach's View Of High School Sports

Basketball coach and social studies teacher Coach Brown (he's on the blogroll) has this to say about coaching:

Parents: They feel way too empowered, and are screwing up high school athletics.

Which leads me to the idea of going the European route. Drop high school athletics and let the parents get a club together, all the while letting them create this oh-so-impressive program that they feel they can whip out of the air. That way they get complete control and can hire and fire anyone they want at will. Sure, the real students that need the sports won't really get exposed to them since the club will cost a fee (what, you think the district is going to fund you? They won't be funding us this year!), and you will have to drop over half the programs because you really can't find qualified coaches (the high school can't keep coaches), but you'll find some way to figure it out. Don't forget Title IX type laws, ADA laws, or the fact that athletics isn't just about "The Big Three" (baseball, basketball, football). You need to offer those sports that don't make any money as well. You know, golf, diving, tennis, freshmen sports.

But sadly, I'd vote on something like this because coaches are not treated like teachers, yet are held to the same standard. Unfortunately, parents are less irate about Johnny failing Government, than Johnny not getting at least 5 minutes a game on the basketball court. Until schools take, and I mean take, back control of athletics, it just isn't worth it.

He has plenty more to say on the topic here.

Standardized Test Scores, and Paying Students For Good Grades

"Do these tests matter?"

"Do these scores go on my transcript?"

"I don't care about these. I have to study for my AP tests."

How weary I grow of such self-centered whining.

My usual response to the "does this matter, why do we have to take these" cries is to give a few facts and then to say, "You still may not think these are important, but I do. If you trust me and respect what I say, then do your best on these because I think it's important."

Perhaps now I have an even better response, although the response still, in my mind, reinforces narcissism. Here's the closing:

If intrinsic motivation matters in career success--and I think it clearly does--then what is the impact of not-so-subtly teaching kids that they need not do anything for which they are not explicitly rewarded?

You might say that that closing isn't earth-shattering, but it takes on much more importance after you've read the whole thing. It isn't long, and it's very worth your while.

Student-centered Classrooms


Global Cooling On Its Way Back?

William Gray, the Colorado State researcher best-known for his hurricane forecasts, today predicted the Return of Global Cooling.

Gray said warming and cooling trends cannot go on indefinitely and that he believes temperatures are beginning to level out after a very warm year in 1998.

“We’re going to begin to see some cooling,” he said.


I'm sure the Goracle will find some way to spin this so that he can continue to believe he's relevant on the world stage.

Update, 4/30/07: Uh oh! The polar ice caps are melting! That's proof of man-caused global warming!

Except that there are no men, no SUV's, no burning of fossil fuels, on Mars.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

GPA and Teenage Sex

Take from this post what you will.

The Daily Show and Saving the Planet

"Advice for saving the planet Earth from a bunch of people who couldn't even save Planet Hollywood."

And let's face it, The Daily Show isn't known for its conservative bent!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Allowing Students To Use The Restroom During Class

I always start off the year telling students that I can't leave the classroom during class time, so neither can they. It's not too much to expect of them, given the following facts:

1. We have 5 minutes between 1st/2nd periods and 5th/6th periods, and 10 minutes between 2nd and 3rd periods. Lunch is between 4th and 5th, and school is over after 6th.

2. If 5 minutes isn't enough--if there's a line at the restroom, for example--check with me before the 1-minute bell and then go hit the bathroom. I won't mark you tardy.

Extreme emergencies? Sure. But no one has more than one extreme emergency a year. Sick? Just let me know quietly before class starts, and then you don't even need to ask--just get up and run out the door if you need to.

Expecting a student to be in class for 50-some minutes isn't unreasonable. I teach most of the period, and expect students to take advantage of my instruction.

I consider myself exceedingly reasonable on this subject. But could anyone be this unreasonable? Really?

Update, 5/1/07: Here's a little more detail, as well as the aftermath.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — School officials on Monday suspended a 14-year-old boy who said he had to urinate in a bottle after his science teacher refused to let him use the restroom. The teacher was being transferred to another school.

"I can't believe they don't believe me," student Michael Patterson said in
a telephone interview after he was given the five-day suspension. "I have no reason to lie. What I said happened, happened."

If the kid lied, why is the teacher being transferred? If the kid didn't lie--well, I'm not sure what to make of that. He should know not to pee in a bottle in class, even if told to do so.

Update #2, 5/4/07: And then there's this:

MAGNOLIA, Ohio (AP) -- A sixth-grader who was denied permission to use the restroom while taking a state achievement test this week had an accident in class, and a school administrator blamed an overzealous teacher.

The shame brought to the student, who had to urinate, was an unfortunate outcome of efforts to prevent cheating, said Sandy Valley Local Schools Superintendent David Janofa.

Update #3, 6/18/14:  I've modified my rules a bit in the years since I wrote this post.  Now my requirement is "not while I'm teaching".  Students can still check with me before the 1-minute bell and not be marked late to class.  Once I'm done with my direct instruction and they have time to work independently, I'm not going to stop a kid who says they need to use the restroom.

West Point Cadet To Play Pro Baseball?

We West Pointers howled when Napoleon McCallum got to play for the Raiders while still serving in the Navy, and when David Robinson was released early from his service commitment to play basketball. We saw honor when Chad Hennings served his time in the air force and then played for the Dallas Cowboys. How superior we felt to Navy.

Until now.

Is West Point to become just another farm team for the pros, with recruiting being the excuse given?

Time Capsule Yields Unexpected Trove

Apparently the time capsule wasn't sealed very well.

SEATTLE — There were a few surprises for the University of Washington's Class of 1957 when they opened a time capsule sealed 50 years ago.

Among audiotapes and copies of the yearbook and school newspaper were 1980s-era porn, a condom and some dirty underwear.

A time capsule containing some of today's rap music would be just as pornographic.

Catholic School Bars Same-Sex Couple From Prom

Why is this even news? Even the ACLUnatic who was quoted says the school is within its rights to do this.

High School Newspaper Advisor Goes Too Far?

I don't think so. But then again, I'm not an administrator in her district.

WOODBURN, Indiana (AP) -- A high school teacher who faced losing her job after a student newspaper published an editorial advocating tolerance of gays can continue teaching at another school.

Amy Sorrell, 30, reached an agreement that allows her to be transferred to another high school to teach English, said her attorney, Patrick Proctor.

"The school administration has said in no uncertain terms that she's not going to be given a journalism position," Proctor said.

Notice that she didn't write the editorial. No, she, as the advisor, only allowed it to be published without notifying the principal first.

This would not have happened in California, where administrators are not allowed prior restraint.

Wow, so tolerance--not acceptance, but mere tolerance--is controversial. That seems like a mighty backwards place to me.

I guess they don't celebrate diversity in Woodburn, Indiana.

Let Capitalism Save The Earth

Not much here I disagree with.

Obviously, A Degree Is Unnecessary For This Job

M.I.T. ADMISSIONS DEAN STEPS DOWN over resume-faking scandal. "Marilee Jones, the dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, became well known for urging stressed-out students competing for elite colleges to calm down and stop trying to be perfect. Yesterday she admitted that she had fabricated her own educational credentials, and resigned after nearly three decades at M.I.T. Officials of the institute said she did not have even an undergraduate degree."

If she could work there for 30 years without a degree, then a degree was unnecessary for the job.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

University Apologizes For Slavery

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (AP) -- The University of Virginia's board marked founder Thomas Jefferson's birthday with an apology for the school's use of slave labor between 1819 and 1865.

The school was built 180 years ago, and now the school apologizes for having been built by slaves?

Slavery was legally and socially acceptable then. It's not now, a fact for which I'm grateful, but I'm consistently struck by the liberals' hypocrisy on this matter. After all, aren't all cultures equally valid? Heck, today's liberals value cultures that practice misogyny, kill homosexuals, destroy the planet by providing global-warming-inducing fossil fuels like petroleum, and in some cases still practice slavery, but liberals howl like stuck pigs about something done 180 years ago.

Let's not forget, this country fought a long and bloody war over the issue of slavery. Our debt is paid. We mustn't forget the blot on our national character, but we must not practice a belief in original sin, either. No one alive today had anything to do with building that university, and no one alive today owned slaves, so the apology is meaningless.

What good came from that announcement? Who was helped by it? Whose life is better because of it? What is accomplished except the furthering of a culture of victimhood by people who aren't victims?

My last question identified the harm. My comment about original sin--blaming the children for the sins of the fathers--identified the harm. Who was helped, 180 years later?

A Puff Piece On My Alma Mater

Take a read, if such things interest you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Carnival of Education

I've been remiss lately in alerting you, my readers, to the Carnival of Education, but don't miss this week's installment.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Things That Only Happen In The Movies

I like #22.

Higher Order Thinking Skills At Yale

Apparently Yale students no longer have sufficient critical thinking skills to be able to distinguish dangerous weapons from theater props.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Peace Scholarship

A former student of mine, a soon-to-be-graduate who will attend a university in Europe, has applied for a "Peace Scholarship" from a local church organization. She listed me as a reference contact.

Think about that for a minute. She asked me, someone who spent the first several years of his adult life preparing for war, someone who still supports our current war against Islamofascists, to be a reference for a peace scholarship.

There's a compliment in there, and I'm grateful to receive it.

This morning I spoke to a member of the committee who will be deciding to whom to award the scholarship. I pointed out at least twice that I'm former military, and that I don't support the "peace at any cost" belief structure, but that I view this student as one who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. Even though I don't agree with her, I respect her beliefs and the logic (not emotionalism) that helps structure them. As I wrote in a letter of recommendation for her, she's destined to become an arbiter or an ambassador. I could gush on and on about her, but that isn't the point of this post.

It's obvious that I have a significant amount of respect for this young woman, but that her views are almost the opposite of mine. Why, then, would I want to promote and help her earn a scholarship the foundations of which I don't accept? When I hear the peace advocates cry out, I see in my mind's eye an image of Neville Chamberlain, holding in his hand "a piece of paper signed by Herr Hitler himself", promising peace in our time--just before the most violent conflagration in human history. When my own belief is that the best way to obtain peace is to be strong enough and prepared enough that no one will attack you, why would I support such a naively idealistic scholarship? Why, when history is on my side, would I give such effusive praise for a student who is wrong?

Because some day, she might be right--and a war could be averted.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The World In 100 Years

I haven't confirmed that this really was in the Ladies Home Journal in 1900, but I find it plausible and entertaining.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

State An Opinion, Lose Official Recognition

I've often heard those of us on the political right described as "Nazis" and "fascists", when in actually those two groups are very left-leaning. Heck, "Nazi" is short for National Socialist Workers Party, and socialists don't consider themselves to be on the political right!

But what other description than "fascist" is there when a university officially "derecognizes" a student group because it refuses to apologize for making constitutionally-protected speech?

“Neither the Student Senate nor anyone else at URI has the power to force the College Republicans to say things against their will,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “As bad as it may be to tell people what they cannot say, it is still worse to tell them what they must say. The Supreme Court has long recognized that compelled speech is not compatible with free societies. It is stunning that URI’s student government would show such contempt for fundamental rights, especially after URI’s own president explained it to them.”

If you think this behavior is acceptable, then you'd agree that it would be acceptable for Brigham Young University (which is private, and thus held to a lower 1st Amendment standard than the public URI) to compel women to apologize for openly supporting abortion.

Bad Judicial Decision

You can't pin the homophobe label on me--I have the pink triangle "safe zone" sign posted on my front wall, and my post in last week's Carnival of Education was why I support gay-straight alliances in high schools.

But I don't approve of the "Day of Silence", and this judge ruled incorrectly. Tinker v. Des Moines ruled that neither students nor teachers shed their 1st Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate, and it seems more than a little arbitrary to say that "pro" slogans are acceptable but "anti" slogans are not. Many are (rightly) offended by "pro" slogans of views that offend them; why is their offense ignored while the other is not? A teacher at my school wears a shirt that has native Americans on the front with the slogan that says "fighting terrorists since 1492" or something similar. It's neither pro nor con, but it's definitely anti-American! That shirt, however, would seem to pass muster under the above judge's ruling.

Update, 4/20/07: Here's more "silencing":

A handful of students were suspended from Rio Linda High School on Wednesday for refusing to take off anti-gay T-shirts that administrators said were inappropriate.

The shirts, which the students wore in protest of the Day of Silence said "Sodomy is sin" and quoted a Bible passage about homosexuality...

Protestors say the Day of Silence promotes a gay agenda in the public schools. They say they should be entitled to counter it by promoting a Christian message. Peter Ganchenko of the Tree of Life church said scores of Sacramento-area students wore the "Sodomy is sin" T-shirts to school on Wednesday.

If you're going to allow one message in the school, you should allow the other.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It Takes A Hurricane...

...for some communities to accept the value of charter schools. And let's not forget, charter schools are still public schools. They're not private schools.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Global Warming

This excerpt from Instapundit (see blogroll at left) entirely describes my views on the topic.

Indeed, from my perspective we should be doing the same things -- working hard to reduce the use of fossil fuels -- regardless of what you think about global warming. But the self-righteousness and exaggeration of the global-warming advocates does set my teeth on edge, and encourage mockery. As I wrote here: "I don't know a lot about climatology. But I know a lot about media bulldozing operations, and I see one of those in action at the moment on this subject. . . . However, my own position is that it doesn't matter much in terms of policy. We should be trying to mimimize the burning of fossil fuels regardless of whether it's a cause of global warming or not. The rather patent hucksterism -- and outright bullying -- of some global warming advocates, though, will probably hurt that cause more than help it over the longer term."

And it is positively uncanny how cold weather tends to set in whenever there's a big global-warming event scheduled. They're talking about snow here in Knoxville tonight, on April 15th! You know that if this weekend had been unseasonably warm, all the press accounts would be stressing how this was proof of Al Gore's thesis, instead of meaningless noise, which is what any short-term weather fluctuation is.

Update, 4/20/07: Canada quits Kyoto?

Update #2, 4/24/07: Here's a scientist addressing Gore's movie and the concept of "consensus and settled science".

Update #3, 4/26/07: Tell me you're surprised to hear that companies are making money off of phoney carbon offset scams.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Making History Come Alive In A Most Unusual Way

I found this story, excerpted below, to be exceedingly interesting:

ROME — It's a rare chance to smell the scent of ancient history — typically a mix of natural spices and olive oil — thanks to an exhibit in Rome featuring fragrances from the world's oldest known perfume factory.

On display are four perfumes recreated by a team of archaeologists from 14 original fragrances dating from 4,000 years ago. Digging at the Pyrgos-Mavroraki site in Cyprus, they turned up a complex believed to have been used as a perfume lab.

The archaeologists used fragrances extracted from traces left in containers at the site to recreate ancient aromas with the same techniques used in the past, said Maria Rosaria Belgiorno, the leading archaeologist who discovered the factory in 2003.

"Today, we are used to chemical and alcoholic scents, but these are fresher ones, smelling of herbs and spices, like almond, coriander, myrtle, conifer resin, bergamot — and not flowers," said Belgiorno, who is also the curator of the exhibit at Rome's Capitoline Museums.

This Can't Be True

Pre-Columbian natives of the Western Hemisphere were ideal people, living in harmony with nature and each other. Bourgeois concepts such as "force" and "taxes" were unknown to them until the white man arrived.

Those Sainted, Multi-Cultural Europeans, Our Cultural and Intellectual Betters

Yes, we should strive to be more like these people.


The Folly of Race: Who Is Hispanic?

I have a student who has a very Hispanic last name. If he added an accent mark to his first name (his middle name is already acceptable), he'd be about as Hispanic as one could get.

He's also about as white as one could be. And I don't just mean in skin color.

The discussion lately is: can he legitimately mark "Hispanic" on his college applications?

If you say no, then what about him is not "authentic" enough for you? What about my best friend from West Point, whose father was German (naturalized American after WWII) and whose mother was Mexican, who lived just across the border in Mexico but attended American schools each day, who speaks fluent Spanish--but has blond hair and blue eyes? Is there a skin darkness that determines who is, and who is not, Hispanic? If not, then what defines "Hispanic" beyond a Spanish-sounding name?

And what about my blond Venezuelan student? He, too, is fluent in Spanish--I'm quite sure that at least his father speaks English as a second language--and visited family in Venezuela earlier this school year.

What about the darker skinned Hispanic students I've had, whose only "ethnic" quality, by their own admission, is their last name?

When real-world situations like this arise, the absolute folly of considering race is arrayed in full view.

Company Makes Money Off Student Homework

Joanne (see blogroll at left) has the story. I addressed the story last September, as did Joanne, and I don't think either of our positions have changed.

Great Role Models For Children

A principal and a teacher are caught on film doing the nasty in the principal's office, and someone in the community gets ahold of the tape and sends DVD's of the contents to parents just before a school board election.

What the heck?

Where are the adults in that community?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Americans Voted For Change

If Congressional Republicans had acted more like actual Republicans and not like power-hungry idiots, if they had governed from the center right instead of from wherever the trough was, they wouldn't have had to create this.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Where's The Muse?

It's clear that I recently haven't posted as much as I used to--and, coincidentally or not, my daily page views have dropped off significantly from where they were a month ago.

However, right now I don't have much to say, and I don't see any reason to say something just to have something new to post. I'm not even finding significant enough stories in the news to link to!

So I haven't gone anywhere and nothing is amiss. I'm merely waiting until my muse returns so that I don't post rubbish.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

March 2007 Issue of California Educator

The cover reads: "Environmental Education, Safeguarding Our Future". Here we go.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I completely support environmentalism. The devil, however, is in the details, and those details get creepy when liberals (e.g., teachers union magazines) start identifying the details. I'll only highlight one of the stories on the topic, which comes, as you might expect, from my favorite (cough cough) city of San Francisco.

The title of that story is "JUSTICE motivates student activists". Do I need to read any further than this statement:

As the semester progressed, students quickly figured out that environmental injustice was rampant in their own backyard. In fact, they decided it could be considered a form of "environmental racism."

That doesn't mean that they consider cutting down a tree to be lynching. These teachers and their students complain that there's more pollution and toxicity in their poor neighborhood than in a "white neighborhood", which they identify as having more money. Which is a more plausible explanation: racism, or cost of disposal? If poorer people live in cheaper areas, and those poorer people are predominantly minorities, the color of their skin doesn't explain business practices--money does. Of course, it's more fun--and intellectually lighter lifting--just to play the race card and move on. These teachers aren't teaching their students about so-called social justice, they're teaching them to view life through the prism of race and class. They're setting these students up for the very failures they're lamenting.

I would have laughed at another article if I thought for a moment that the authors weren't dead serious. "The political divide can disrupt equilibrium in rural communties" was the lengthy title.

Another rural chapter member said that the Republicans vs. Democrats mindset was causing Republicans to drop out of her local association. She suggested that maybe it's time for members to seek common ground rather than to emphasize their differences.

"To me, it's not about Democratic or Republican issues," said lakeport Teachers Association member Paul Larrea. "To me, it's about kids. What No Child Left Behind has done to the education system is not a Republican or Democratic issue; it's an issue about kids."

Sounds like Paul and I wouldn't even agree on NCLB. How do you find common ground in such politicized areas? But let's continue:

Conference participants agreed that the best solution was not to "shut up and teach." Instead, they encouraged each other to reach out to community members--in good times and bad.

I'm curious--why does this only apply to rural schools? Why does the CTA not recognize and admit its starring role in creating this divide?

When the CTA stops being a reliable PAC for the Democrat Party, then they might have some credibility on this issue. My guess is the only reason they put that article in this issue is so they can convince their choir that they're "reaching out" to Republicans, when in fact the opposite is true.

I swear that if this magazine claimed there were 24 hours in a day, I'd be skeptical and would seek independent corroboration. That's how little trust I have in them.

Moral Idiots Redux

Ker-plunk has updated his post on moral idiots. Please go read the whole thing--and if you see yourself in there, don't come crying to me. Here are some classic statements:

The Left believes in, amongst other things, gay rights, women's rights and rehabilitation for thieves while also offering moral support to radical Islam, which hangs gays, stones errant women to death and chops the hands off thieves.

If you are so dozy, so hopelessly indoctrinated with University-educated ignorance that you equate a democratic (and extremely left wing!) Israel, a country that has had to defend itself from attack for all of its existence, in which a million Arabs live peacefully alongside Jews, in which Arabs have the highest standard of living (by miles) of any country in the Middle East, in which Arabs serve on the judiciary, in which Arabs stand for, and are voted into, the Knesset (their parliament) with the suicide bombing, fanatical, genocidal, death cults known as Hamas, Hezbollah or Fatah then you are definitely a Moral Idiot and there's no hope for you.

Here's a fact that people don't know - 80% of the United States oil supply comes from itself, Canada and Mexico. Hmmmm. Bet you didn't know that, did you? Now, here's a really big question. I want you to concentrate really hard. Put on your tin foil hat if you think it'll help. If the United States wanted Iraq's oil then...why didn't it just buy it? Would have been much cheaper. Because they're warmongers and wanted it for free, you cry, thus demonstrating the terrific double standard you have that also supports socialist confiscation of western companies' assets such as happened in Chile and Cuba, and is going on in Venezuela today particularly with foreign owned oil companies.

If you stay silent on totalitarian and socialist atrocities while advocating that for the good guys 'War is not the answer' then you're a Moral Idiot (and a bloody dangerous one at that).

If you believe in the troops then how can you support them if they tortured and killed at Abu Ghraib? If you believe in the troops then how can you support them if they wantonly kill Iraqi civilians? If you believe in the troops then how can you support them if they're really working for Halliburton and Big Oil? If you believe in the troops then how can you support them if the war is illegal in the first place? How can you support those troops that volunteered for service after the war started, after Abu Ghraib and in the 'knowledge' that it is a blood war fought for the profit of a few companies?

This guy's fantastic.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Justice *Should* Be Blind

Instead, this idiot wants justice to look at race, color, etc. Why else would judges need to look like certain people?

Honestly, if you believe that race, color, or sex influences your judgement, why can't you believe that those attributes also influence your intellect? or your honesty? or your value as a human?

Will Hispanic judges only judge fellow Hispanics? If not, then what does it matter if Hispanics are over-represented or under-represented in the judiciary?

Here's another example of liberals' looking at people as members of groups, and I as a conservative wanting to look at people as individuals. If you see me only as a white male, you know nothing about who and what I am. With those descriptors I'm no different from John Kerry or Jimmy Carter, and to Hell with anyone who thinks I have anything in common with those men.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

BBC Drops Story About Victoria Cross Recipient Because It's "Too Positive"

“Context is often the first victim of activism.”

"The notion that you can somehow defeat violence by submitting to it is simply a flight from fact. As I have said, it is only possible to people who have money and guns between themselves and reality."
--attributed to George Orwell

"A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."
--French writer Jean Francois Revel

“The future doesn’t belong to the faint-hearted. It belongs to the brave.”
--Ronald Reagan, speaking about the Challenger disaster

“The fastest way to achieve peace is to surrender.”

"People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them."
--Eric Hoffer

All of these quotes are from a list of favorites I keep. Each of them applies directly to this story:

Private Johnson Beharry's courage in rescuing an ambushed foot patrol then, in a second act, saving his vehicle's crew despite his own terrible injuries earned him a Victoria Cross.

For the BBC, however, his story is "too positive" about the conflict.

The corporation has cancelled the commission for a 90-minute drama about Britain's youngest surviving Victoria Cross hero because it feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq.

The BBC's retreat from the project, which had the working title Victoria Cross, has sparked accusations of cowardice and will reignite the debate about the broadcaster's alleged lack of patriotism.

Alleged? It seems to me that the accusation is demonstrably true.

So what was it that Private Beharry do to earn this award?

Pte Beharry, 27, who was awarded the VC in March 2005, was the first person to receive the country's highest award for valour since 1982 and the first living recipient since 1965. He was honoured for two acts of outstanding gallantry which occurred just over a month apart while he was serving with the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, in the Iraqi town of al-Amarah, in 2004.

He was cited for "valour of the highest order" after he drove a Warrior tracked armoured vehicle through heavy enemy fire in May 2004 to come to the rescue of a foot patrol that had been caught in a series of ambushes. The 30-ton Warrior was hit by multiple rocket-propelled grenades, causing damage and resulting in the loss of radio communications. Pte Beharry drove through the ambush, taking his own injured crew and leading five other Warriors to safety. He then extracted his wounded colleagues from the vehicle, all the time exposed to further enemy fire.

The following month, Pte Beharry was again driving the lead Warrior vehicle of his platoon through al-Amarah when his vehicle was ambushed. A rocket-propelled grenade hit the vehicle and Pte Beharry received serious head injuries. Other rockets hit the vehicle incapacitating his commander and injuring several of the crew.Despite his very serious injuries, Pte Beharry then took control of his vehicle and drove it out of the ambush area before losing consciousness. He required brain surgery for his head injuries and he was still recovering when he received the VC from the Queen in June last year.

Stories about true heroes and true sacrifice are too much for lefties; such stories remind them of how pathetic they themselves are. It's much easier to stand up against Tony Blair or George Bush, to parade around in the street like an idiot, than to oppose true evil--after all, oppose Islamofascists and you might get your head cut off.

The BBC's decision to pull out will only confirm the fears of critics that television drama is only interested in telling bad news stories about the war.

Bad news about the war is the same as good news for our enemies. The people who make such decisions are contemptible.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Judge Says Gay-Straight Alliance Can Meet At School Pending Outcome of Lawsuit

For several years now I've given thought to school clubs and organizations that refer to gay students. Usually these clubs have a name similar to a Gay-Straight Alliance. I've waffled on this issue over the years but am now ready to state, categorically, my opinions on this topic.

But first, go read this story out of Florida. Highlights, if you don't like to follow links:

MIAMI — A high school club that promotes tolerance of gays must be allowed to meet while a lawsuit is pending, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore r
uled Friday that Okeechobee High School must grant the same privileges to the Gay Straight Alliance that it grants other clubs, as mandated by the federal Equal Access Act.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Okeechobee school board in November on behalf of the high school's Gay-Straight Alliance after school officials said the group was a "sex-based" organization that would violate its abstinence-only education policy...

In his ruling, the judge said the school showed no evidence to back its concern that the group would encourage students to share "obscene or sexual explicit material," and that the school had made that assumption based on the group's name.

My opinion: the judge is absolutely correct in this ruling.

I understand that people disagree on this topic; like I said, I've waffled on the topic in the past. But I've come to believe that homosexuality is not "what you do", it's "who you are". I understand the argument that the "who you are" can lead to "what you do", but I now view sexual identity as something akin to race--it's part of you, something you cannot change. You can change what you do, but you cannot change who you are. It's a fundamental part of your identity.

This does mean that I view effeminate guys, butchy women, lisps, flamboyance, and similar stereotypes as a fundamental part of identity. I believe that some (but not all) of those behaviors are learned or exaggerated. But the core of homosexuality, the type of people you're attracted to, is not something over which you have conscious control.

I also believe that homosexuality is "caused" neither entirely by nature or nurture, but by a combination. I don't view sexuality as binary--either gay or straight--but a continuum. Everyone falls somewhere on that continuum naturally, but environmental factors can certainly have an influence--certainly on those who are at neither extreme of the continuum.

While the science on this topic certainly isn't settled--heck, in my childhood, homosexuality was still classified as a mental disorder by the APA--the above seems a reasonable explanation to me.

So now on to GSA's, or Gay-Straight Alliances, at our public schools.

Students should not have to hide who they are at our schools. That doesn't mean that everyone needs to accept everyone, far from it. I subscribe to the concept of tolerance, which is very different from acceptance. But I don't think it's a very big secret that gay students are picked on in schools, and that the very language and vocabulary used by so many of our students today is particularly onerous to gay students. Yes, other students are picked on, too, and we in the education field need to be prepared to stop all forms of harassment. But let's be blunt: gays are singled out at least as harshly and as vigorously as other groups, and often more harshly and vigorously. And they're singled out for who they are, not what they do.

GSA's are not "meat markets". They don't exist as clubs where students can hit on each other and trade porn, as the school district in the above-linked story presented. Come on, the internet is a much more efficient medium for such activities. These clubs, by their very name--Gay-STRAIGHT Alliances--exist to help all students build bridges to each other. Again, by their very name if not by their activities, they promote tolerance. Some may cross the line into homosexual advocacy, something I would not condone, but the primary purpose of such clubs seems to be to help students learn to tolerate each other and to treat each other as individuals, not as members of labeled groups.

Speaking as a conservative, I see that as a good thing. We conservatives seek individual rights, not race-, ethnicity-, or class-based privileges for favored groups. We conservatives believe in treating individuals equally. In my not-so-humble opinion, that's part of what separates us from the liberals. So to my fellow conservatives who have religious or other objections to homosexuals, I say this: we must not seek out and discriminate against individuals because of who they are. Those who would attempt to ban GSA's only confirm the worst stereotypes about conservatives, and truly do nothing for the cause; in fact, it makes us appear hypocritical.

Should you opt to leave comments, please do not try to drag in pedophilia (which is at least as common in heterosexuals as it is in homosexuals), bestiality (animals cannot consent), polygamy, etc. They are not germane to this topic. I understand that some view homosexuality as a sexual perversion; as I said before, I view it as an identity, as part of who you are and not what you do. Let's not make this a place to rehash the time-worn arguments about homosexuality, religious morality, etc. Let's focus on what our political conservatism demands of us in this situation, and the best way to promote true tolerance for each of us as individuals.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

There's A Problem With This?

AMANDA, Ohio (AP) -- A substitute teacher's tool for silencing chatty kindergartners -- clothespins -- doesn't wash with school officials.

Four boys said spring-type clothespins were placed over their upper or lower lips for talking too much in class, Amanda-Clearcreek Primary School principal Mike Johnsen wrote in a letter to parents this week.

Ruth Ann Stoneburner, a retired school nurse who had worked as a substitute for several years, confirmed to Johnsen that she had used the clothespin discipline March 26, he said.

My question: was it effective? =)


Educational Technology

From today's Washington Post:

Educational software, a $2 billion-a-year industry that has become the darling of school systems across the country, has no significant impact on student performance, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education...

The study, released last night, is expected to further inflame the debate about education technology on Capitol Hill as lawmakers consider whether to renew No Child Left Behind this year...

Industry officials played down the study and attributed most of the problems to poor training and execution of the programs in classrooms. Mark Schneiderman, director of education policy at the Software and Information Industry Association, said that other research trials have proven that the technology works, although he said that those trials were not as large or rigorous as the federal government's...

Although some of the companies are now criticizing the report, many were initially eager to be studied and praised researchers.

This comes as a shock to anyone? Technology in any form is a tool, nothing more. It's not a silver bullet.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wal*Mart Is No Longer The Devil Incarnate

It's certainly not, now that it's giving money to, and doing favors for, Democrats.

How I've Spent My Spring Break Thus Far

My son and I took a 2-day trip to Reno and Carson City. Reno's not just for quick marriages and divorces anymore; there's quite a bit to do and see there. In the downtown area, very near the casinos, are very nice, in some cases older, neighborhoods. There are also new condo towers being built. Here's a very modern looking building right on the Truckee River. As always, to get a better view, left-click on the pictures.
It looks a lot nicer when you're not trying to take a picture into the sun:

The tower in the foreground used to be the Sundowner Casino. Now it's going to be the Belvedere condos. I suggested that the tower should go condo when the hotel closed down several years ago, and now my idea is coming to fruition, even though I had nothing to do with it. The tower on the right is the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino.

Then we drove over to Sparks, about 3 miles away, just so I could show my son the pool area of John Ascuaga's Nugget. In the winter, the glass panels are closed and the pool is indoors. On a nice day, the panels are opened and the pool is outdoors! Also, note the four grave-sized tubs on the far side of the pool. They're about 8" deep and filled with pool water. They're for reading!

Eventually we made it to our hotel, Atlantis. Here's one of the glass elevators going up inside the tower.

Here's the exterior. The glass structure in the center is the Skyway Terrace, which crosses South Virginia Blvd. On the left is the escalator going down to Atlantis' very large parking lot. There's a parking lot over by the main tower, but it's not big enough to hold a hotel's worth of people.

Off to Carson City, about a half hour away. The Nevada State Museum is housed in what used to be the US Mint Building in Carson City. This plaque gives a little history.

In front of the museum is a replica of the Liberty Bell, below which is this plaque. The words are inspiring:
"Dedicated to you, a free citizen in a free land...In standing before this symbol, you have the opportunity to dedicate yourself, as did our Founding Fathers, to the priniciples of the individual freedom for which our nation stands."

This is the old Mint Building with the Liberty Bell in front.

Pay close attention to the center sign. See how it jibes with the Liberty Bell plaque two pictures above. Where else but Nevada?! Well, maybe Texas....

There's a large display of old slot machines in the museum. This one from 1909 caught my eye because of the swastika on the wheel. This goes to show that the symbol itself isn't evil, as its use on this slot machine predates the Nazis by well over a decade. In fact, it was a good luck symbol in several cultures.

This mammoth is 11,000-15,000 years old. It got stuck in the mud in a water hole, and marks where it tried to dig/claw itself out are clearly visible. Way cool.

Here's one of the coin presses used in the mint.

I couldn't believe it, but this sign was located in the men's bathroom stall! What the heck?!

We took the approximately one mile long walking tour of old houses and mansions. There were probably 20 or so that are identified, including this B&B. The neighborhood starts within a block of the main street through Carson City, which (until the bypass is finally built) is still US 395.

This is the Governor's Mansion.

I liked this view of the cupula on the Capitol.

The old St. Charles Hotel is closed. I hope it's being renovated.

In Nevada they never forget that the state exists because of mining, especially of the Comstock Lode.

Nevada's legislature no longer meets in the Capitol; it's housed in a new building across the park from the Capitol. The chamber formerly used by the state Senate is now a mini-museum (even though it's just about across the street from the Nevada State Museum!) and has these two old pictures of the Capitol. Based on the 2nd and 4th pictures above, the trees have obviously grown since the pictures below were taken!

This plaque in front of the Capitol gives a little more history:

There was a little bit of a breeze that day, and the temperature was about 70.

This is, if you can believe it, the former post office building! Now it houses the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

This casino was closed for renovations. You don't see too many of these types of signs anymore so it was worth a picture.

All over Nevada you can see letters up on hillsides. I've learned that they represent a nearby high school. This one caught my eye because of the American flag above it.

This is probably the nicest picture I've taken of Atlantis.

This is the view out our 17th floor window. The Peppermill is the large casino on the left, and downtown is about 2-3 miles distant. Why do I stay in Atlantis, if it's so far from downtown? Because they gave me a couple free rooms a couple years ago, and still give me 2-for-1 offers! If someplace downtown did, I'd probably stay there. But I'm now familiar with Atlantis' layout, the hotel rooms are very nice, and they have the best buffet in Reno.

And now we're home. Nice trip :-)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cut and Run In Iraq

Will either get called on his blatant hypocrisy? Of course not. They're media darlings at the moment. They're anti-Bush.

Some People Are Rewarded By Angry Expressions

This could do so much to explain bullying and teasing--and it might finally put the lie to the belief that bullies really feel inadequate inside, when in fact quite the opposite is true.

Indoctrinate U

Sign up to request a local screening of this genuine (as opposed to Moore-on's or Goracle's) documentary.

Indoctrinate U, Evan Coyne Maloney's much anticipated documentary exposing the anti-intellectual, intolerant culture of our nation's campuses, is finally here. Early versions of the film won prizes and international critical acclaim. Maloney has been called "a Michael Moore, only with integrity." And the film has been dubbed "a call to action" that will "shock the conscience of Americans in the best sense, through exposure to truth and logic." Now, just in time for graduation, the film America needs to see has arrived. To watch the trailer click here.

Captured British Sailors

This story's well over a week old, and still those sailors are being paraded around on tv, gleefully announcing their apologies and confessions. Where is the so-called human rights community, up in arms over what is clearly, without doubt, a violation of the Geneva Conventions regarding people who are clearly, without a doubt, covered by those conventions?

Here are two links showing the hypocrisy that the silence of the so-called human rights community highlights.

Update, 4/4/07:

What is disturbing about the Iranian piracy is that it establishes a warning of what we can come to expect when Iran is nuclear, and how organizations like the UN, the EU, and NATO will react. If a few Iranian terrorists in boats can paralyze an entire nation and the above agencies, think what a half-dozen Iranian nukes will do. This was the hour of Europe to step forward and show the world what it can do with sanctions, embargoes, and boycotts, and how such soft power is as effective as gunboats—and it is passing.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

I Always Wondered What I'd Do If I Received One Of These Phone Calls

Much like everyone else on the planet, I've done some things of which I'm not very proud. I've also suffered some things that no one should have to suffer. There's a certain phone call a man can receive, one that brings those two types of dark memories to the forefront of his mind.

Tonight as the phone rang, I looked at the caller ID. I didn't recognize the area code or number, and usually in such circumstances I'd just let the answering machine take care of it, but tonight I answered it. The voice on the other end asked for me by name.

He was 18 years old, and looking for his father.

He gave me his mother's name and asked if I knew her; I didn't. He asked if I had a daughter; I don't. I asked how he got my name and number; he got the name from his mother, and the number from Google. He had many others with my name to call, he said.

I have a friend who was adopted. His parents never made a deep dark secret of it, but they told him nothing about his birth parents. I know he harbored a natural curiousity, and sometimes that need to know was overwhelming. He knew they were in college when the pregnancy occurred, and he once told me he spent hours in the Sac State library poring over yearbooks, hoping to find a picture of someone who looked even somewhat like him. It wasn't until many years later, and not more than a few years ago, that he asked his mother and she told him about his birth parents--who weren't even from California, so his library time was for naught. He loves his parents, but I understand his need to know. All that he's shared with me helps me understand what the boy who called tonight must be feeling.

I myself have given up no child for adoption. But it's possible, although not very probable, that I have a child I don't know about. I'm haunted by that possibility, one brought about by the indiscretions of youth. I've been told that I had a child who was aborted, and that knowledge, too, haunts me.

The boy who called--I hope he finds who and what he's looking for.

Getting An Education In Baghdad

It isn't as easy as we might like to think, and car bombs are not the only problem.

Rafi, an English-language lecturer, received a warning one day not to give low marks. He ignored the warning and continued to apply the usual standards to students' exam papers.

Rafi was shot dead getting into his car to go to work at the university...

One found a bullet on her desk with her name written on it.

Another came to work one morning to find a message scrawled on her office wall: "Warning - you risk the same fate as Rafi."

Students have been threatened too.

It would be one thing if it were random violence, but when individuals are specifically targeted, when lawlessness seems so close to home, it takes true courage just to go to school. If only the students at UC Santa Cruz and San Francisco State, those who hate our own government so much, had 1/10 as much courage.


Socialism and Privacy Cannot Coexist

Steve at NewsAlert is an Army of One fighting against socialized medicine and big government. Many of us spread the gospel, but not as often and as strongly as he does.

This post, though, should make every red-blooded American think. Quoting from the New York Sun:

In a paper to be presented this weekend, two researchers say an assassination threat against President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II prompted the Census Bureau to compile a list of every person of Japanese descent who lived in or near Washington, D.C...

A clear picture has emerged in the last decade that the Census Bureau aided the War Department in interning West Coast Japanese-Americans by providing information on the ethnic makeup of neighborhoods.

In closing, Steve gives his usual Cassandra-like warning:

Do you think if we ever get "universal health care", in America, your private information will not be shared? As we've said before, socialism and privacy can't both exist.