Friday, November 30, 2007

The Army-Navy Game

I don't hold out too much hope of an Army victory over Navy tomorrow, so I thought it might be fun to tell you about my first Army-Navy game, in 1983.

My first Army-Navy game was in the Rose Bowl.

It was quite an undertaking. 4000 cadets and 4000 midshipmen were flown across the US to Southern California, where we were (voluntarily) quartered amongst the populace. I don't know if they were just rumors or not, but I recall hearing that both Hugh Hefner and Lynda Carter had offered to house some cadets and midshipmen, but West Point denied both requests--I don't know if Navy did or not. Disneyland had us for a night--only cadets, midshipmen, and their guests were allowed in; I don't think we paid, but I might be mistaken.

Our sponsors, the folks who housed us over the Thanksgiving weekend, got us to the appropriate location on time, and we marched about 2 miles through Pasadena to the Rose Bowl. Both sides of the street were lined several people thick with cheering fans, which was a great feeling for a beanhead (plebe/freshman). When we got to the stadium I was a designated usher, and I was brought into the stadium to help people find their seats in the stands.

At one point, standing alone in my section of the stands, I saw an NCO not too far from me. When he got closer I saw a baby blue ribbon around his neck. I may not have known much as a beanhead, but I knew to snap to attention and salute a Medal of Honor winner--Roy Benevides. He returned my salute with his left hand--then, with his salute still raised, turned his head towards his hand, noticed it was the wrong hand, said something like "oops", and then returned my salute with the correct hand. His was the first MOH I ever saw; I think I've seen another, but I don't remember for sure. I remember the news when Benevides died.

I may be wrong on the details, but as I recall, Napolean McCallum of Navy (and later of the Raiders) either ran the opening kickoff in for a touchdown or took the first play from scrimmage in for a touchdown. The omen was correct, as Navy scored more points in the first few minutes than Army did all game. The final score was 42-13. However, we went 2-9 that season so we were used to losing. Pizza with the sponsors afterward helped a lot.

And then we flew back to Stewart on chartered ATA aircraft. Senator William Proxmire gave the game his Golden Fleece Award as a waste of taxpayer money. My sponsor's son showed up as a new cadet in '86, but resigned during plebe year. And my Beat Navy kazoo--sans rose sticker, which fell off years ago--is still in my cadet lockbox, which sits atop the safe in my bedroom closet.

Beat 'em.

Update, 12/1/07: Unfortunately, the results of today's game were somewhat less than desired.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Number Watch

What do you think of this site? I view it as an opportunity to wile away hours at a time....

This site is devoted to the monitoring of the misleading numbers that rain down on us via the media. Whether they are generated by Single Issue Fanatics (SIFs), politicians, bureaucrats, quasi-scientists (junk, pseudo- or just bad), such numbers swamp the media, generating unnecessary alarm and panic. They are seized upon by media, hungry for eye-catching stories. There is a growing band of people whose livelihoods depend on creating and maintaining panic. There are also some who are trying to keep numbers away from your notice and others who hope that you will not make comparisons. Their stock in trade is the gratuitous lie. The aim here is to nail just a few of them.

Nerdy Pick-up Lines

This is a family blog, and normally I wouldn't link to ribald humor, but this list of nerdy pick-up lines was hilarious--and not all of them are off-color. View at your own risk.

Hatred of the President

I've mocked and ridiculed those with Bush Derangement Syndrome, but here's a post wherein the author uses intellect, reason, and common sense to explain its lack of value--and how it harms the person who suffers under it.

Media Bias

Here are a few snips from Instapundit this morning:

JUST HEARD A LENGTHY NPR STORY ON THE YOUTUBE DEBATE, with a live followup from Mara Liasson -- and it omitted any mention of the planted question issue. Hmm. If Fox hosted a Democratic debate and many of the most pointed questions turned out to come from Republican activists, but Fox didn't disclose that, do you think it would pass unremarked?

A ROUNDUP ON LAST NIGHT'S DEBATE from Stephen Green. Excerpt: "What we really saw tonight was CNN playing out its own agenda in front of a couple million viewers and seven or eight candidates, without anyone calling them on it." Planted questions and all . . . .

HORTICULTURE JOURNALISM 101 -- a gallery of CNN/YouTube plants. "Abortion questioner is declared Edwards supporter . . . Log Cabin Republican questioner is declared Obama supporter; lead toy questioner is a prominent union activist for the Edwards-endorsing United Steelworkers."

Other than that, they were just "ordinary Americans."

JEFFREY TOOBIN JUST MADE A FOOL OF HIMSELF by saying that Huckabee needed to explain what he meant by abolishing the IRS. Actually, as Toobin should know if he's going to opine on this stuff on CNN, this isn't some wild idea of Huckabee's but the subject of a bestselling book and a national grassroots movement. That's not to say that it's necessarily a good idea, but it's certainly not something new that Huckabee just made up. The audience knew this. And if this was like earlier debates, there were probably hundreds of Fair Tax demonstrators outside. Toobin should have known it, too.

An on-air apology from Anderson Cooper, saying that CNN didn't know that Gen. Kerr was on Hillary's steering committee: "If we had known that we would have disclosed it before using the question, if we used the question at all."

Suckered by Hillary, again. Try Google, next time. It's not that hard!

The Most Trusted Name In News? Maybe in Moonbatlandia.

Update, 11/30/07: This morning's Instapundit contains this gem:

SO I LOOKED AT EDITOR AND PUBLISHER and there's nothing about the CNN planted-question scandal. There's one story on the debate, but it's a puff piece about a cartoonist getting his video in. Then I looked at Poynter and all I could find was this piece on covering the debates. But I'm not seeing anything about the planted-question scandal. I'm not seeing anything at the Columbia Journalism Review site, either. Journalism, cover thyself!

Well, actually I think they are covering . . . .

There's also this:

Now it appears that an amazing number of partisan figures posed many of the 30 questions at the GOP debate all the while pretending to be CNN’s advertised “undecided voters.” Yasmin from Huntsville, Alabama turns out to be a former intern with the Council on American Islamic Relations, a group highly critical of Republicans. Blogger Michelle Malkin has identified other plants, including declared Obama supporter David Cercone, who asked a question about the pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans. A questioner who asked a hostile question about the pro-life views of GOP candidates turned out to be a diehard John Edwards supporter (and a slobbering online fan of Mr. Cooper). Yet another “plant” was LeeAnn Anderson, an activist with a union that has endorsed Mr. Edwards.

It seems more “plants” are being uprooted with each passing day. Almost a third of the questioners seem to have some ties to Democratic causes or candidates. Another questioner worked with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin’s staff. A former intern with Democratic Rep. Jane Harman asked a question about farm subsidies. A questioner who purported to be a Ron Paul supporter turns out to be a Bill Richardson volunteer. David McMillan, a TV writer from Los Angeles, turns out to have several paens to John Edwards on his YouTube page and has attended Barack Obama fundraisers.

Given CNN’s professed goal to have “ordinary Americans” ask questions at their GOP debate, how likely is that it was purely by accident that so many of the videos CNN selected for use were not just from partisans, but people actively hostile to the GOP’s messages and candidates?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tea Club

At my school we have a 15 minute break between 2nd and 3rd hours, and two ladies and I have teamed up to form a tea club. Each Wednesday one of us will bring tea and another will bring snackies, and that's how we'll spend our 15 minutes. I have prep 2nd period, so I've taken it upon myself to have the water nuked and the teabags simmering when the bell rings.

Last week I brought cranberry-pomegranate tea and my fellow math teacher brought cranberry rolls. Today I brought those delicious soft cookies with the frosting on top, and the counselor among our troika brought pina colada flavored tea that she'd purchased in the US Virgin Islands.

We're exclusive but we don't exclude; membership is open to any staff member--but you have to enjoy a cup of tea.

Update, 12/2/07: George Orwell had some thoughts on tea.

President Clinton Supported The War Before He Was Against It

Do these types of lies even surprise us anymore? Unfortunately, probably not.

You've Gotta Fight--For Your Right--To, What? Have No Rights?

There's more fighting in the streets by Venezuela's university students in the run-up to the election to solidify Chavez' dictator-for-life status.

Carnival of Education

I hadn't heard of Matt-a-matical Thinking before, but he's hosting this week's Carnival of Education. My post about the charter school radio ad is included.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Internet Traffic Jams

Too much data, not enough infrastructure?

A flood of new video and other Web content could overwhelm the Internet by 2010 unless backbone providers invest up to $137 billion in new capacity, more than double what service providers plan to invest, according to thestudy, by Nemertes Research Group, an independent analysis firm. In North America alone, backbone investments of $42 billion to $55 billion will be needed in the next three to five years to keep up with demand, Nemertes said.

Secret Snowman

At our school the PTSA has a Secret Pal program, wherein a parent "adopts" a teacher (or teachers) and provides gifts to that teacher all year long. It's a very generous thing to do, and I know all of us teachers enjoy getting gifts from our pals.

For the upcoming Christmas season, we teachers can participate in a "Secret Snowman" program with a fellow teacher. Those who wanted to participate filled out forms with likes/dislikes and these forms were distributed to other teachers who chose to participate. It's another great program.

You know what bothered me about it? The teacher who is running "Secret Snowman" chose that term instead of the more common "Secret Santa" because "Secret Snowman" is a non-sectarian term.

PC nonsense. Can anyone explain in which holy book a fat man with flying reindeer appears? And in which holy book we're commanded by the deity to cut down trees--the givers of oxygen!--to decorate?

This kind of foolishness is brought to us by the same people who don't want to acknowledge Christmas Break (even though Christmas is the name of the federal holiday) and don't want us to decorate our classrooms, even with trees or snowmen. I can understand having issues with displaying a creche, but not with non-sectarian decorations of the season--and Santa is certainly non-sectarian. Anyone who claims that Santa is religious because his name derives from St. Nicholaus should also complain about the word holiday itself, which is derived from holy day.

And then they should work on those "holy days", like Veterans Day, and Labor Day, and the 4th of July. Let them live up to their PC values.

And in doing so, they should not participate in the Secret Snowman activity--because the idea of giving gifts during this season derives from the gifts of the three wise men to the Christ child.

Is Your City Growing Or Shrinking?

Go here to find out.

Co-op Schooling

Want to homeschool your kids but don't know enough about certain subjects to do so? Then consider a homeschool co-op.

What A Deal At Wal*Mart

As the world's largest private employer, Wal-Mart is used to being greeted by large numbers of applicants almost every time it opens a new store.

But the 6,000-plus people who applied for jobs at the new Supercenter in Cleveland's Steelyard Commons took everyone, even Wal-Mart, by surprise...

Those 6,000 people were competing for some 300 positions. That means for every one person hired, 19 people walked away empty-handed.

Then there was this point:

But these were regular retail jobs with low-to-average wages and benefits, not the sort of positions typically in high demand.

But, but, but...the lefties always tell me that Wal*Mart doesn't offer any benefits to its employees! Who am I gonna believe in this case, shouting lefties or the Cleveland Plain Dealer?

Why Some Teachers Are Such Rabid Union Fans

This blog post had nothing to do with teachers or unions, but there were 2 sentences in it that just screamed out to be applied to teachers and unions.

It's always the weakest, least members of a group that are the most passionate about their membership in the group. The group gives them what they do not have of their own merits: a somewhat undeserved sense of personal value.
Watch some lib cry out about how wrong I am.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Big Bang Theory

In part because of my new relationship with the elliptical trainer, I just finished watching, for the first time, The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 7:30 PST).

Whoever wrote that show is a comic genius.

First Day Back At School

After having 9 days off, going back to work today was more difficult than usual for a Monday. Still, I persevered!

Not a bad day overall.

Democratic Honesty

I'll send you over to my friend and fellow blogger Mr. Chanman, who links to a YouTube video showing that Wolf Blitzer's "undecided" voters--those undecideds who asked questions of the Democratic candidates--were plants.

My favorite was the "unknown", completely "random", "undecided" voter who asked Senator Obama a question, and he replied, "Thank you for the work you do for the culinary workers." She didn't mention the culinary workers in her question, but she is a member of the Culinary Workers Union. Doh!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Attending A "Military" High School

One in 10 public high school students in Chicago wears a military uniform to school and takes classes -- including how to shoot a gun properly -- from retired veterans.

That number is expected to rise as junior military reserve programs expand across the country now that a congressional cap of 3,500 units has been lifted from the nearly century-old scheme.

Proponents talk about discipline and pride. Opponents talk about the "militarization" of children or some similar complaint. Neither side talks about student performance.

I did enjoy this section of the quoted article:

"Here there's discipline, but there's freedom as well. Everybody just respects each other and we get respect from the teachers."

Standing with her hands clasped firmly behind her back, Coleman wrinkles her nose at the thought of enlisting and explains that she wants to be a mathematician. She enrolled in the Marine academy because she thought it would help her get into college.

Yes, they're really brainwashing that young lady. Riiiiiight.

Which Temperature Is Lower, -6 or -8 Degrees?

It's not just Americans who are innumerate.

The Cool Cash game - launched on Monday - was taken out of shops yesterday after some players failed to grasp whether or not they had won.

To qualify for a prize, users had to scratch away a window to reveal a temperature lower than the figure displayed on each card. As the game had a winter theme, the temperature was usually below freezing.

But the concept of comparing negative numbers proved too difficult for some. Camelot received dozens of complaints on the first day from players who could not understand how, for example, -5 is higher than -6.

Tina Farrell, from Levenshulme, called Camelot after failing to win with several cards.

The 23-year-old, who said she had left school without a maths GCSE, said: "On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn't.

"I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher - not lower - than -8 but I'm not having it...

A Camelot spokeswoman said the game was withdrawn after reports that some players had not understood the concept.


Class Sizes

Apparently, the issue of class sizes isn't just one for the K-12 set.

In all, there are 33 courses at Colorado with 400 students or more. Three have more than 1,200. Most are broken into sections, but even those may have hundreds of students. One chemistry course is so big that the only place on campus where everyone can take the final exam at once is the Coors Event Center, Colorado's basketball arena.

Such arrangements are here to stay on U.S. campuses.

1200 students? Even "only" 400? At that point, why not just conduct the classes online?

Eagles Fly High--At Wal*Mart

I haven't done a Wal*Mart story in awhile, so allow me to correct that by linking to this article.

One of the most popular rock bands of all time has finally managed to offend--not for its songs, but for how it sells them. There's a lesson here in technology, new business models, and hidebound "progressives."

I'm sensing the "progressives" here aren't going to like "progress".

The first new album from the Eagles in over a decade, "Long Road Out of Eden," has already sold more than a million copies, hitting Billboard's #1 in its first week. It's the kind of blockbuster that used to pay Christmas bonuses at the big record companies, only this album wasn't produced by a big record company. The Eagles released it themselves and are selling it exclusively through Wal-Mart.

This isn't going down well in certain elite precincts.

Now I'm the first to recognize that change isn't necessarily progress, but let's see what Don Henley has to say:

"You would have thought we did a deal with the devil," Mr. Henley says. "People have been crying out for a new paradigm. So we did something new."

Fair enough. I support capitalism.

So let's applaud Mr. Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and the other Eagles for some creative capitalism, however politically incorrect.

Diversity and the Republican Party

Gotta love Mark Steyn.

[A]s National Review's Jonah Goldberg pointed out, the mainstream media are always demanding the GOP demonstrate its commitment to "big tent" Republicanism, and here we are with the biggest of big tents in history, and what credit do they get? You want an anti-war Republican? A pro-abortion Republican? An anti-gun Republican? A pro-illegal immigration Republican? You got 'em! Short of drafting Fidel Castro and Mullah Omar, it's hard to see how the tent could get much bigger. As the new GOP bumper sticker says, "Celebrate Diversity."

Over on the Democratic side, meanwhile, they've got a woman, a black, a Hispanic, a preening metrosexual with an angled nape – and they all think exactly the same. They remind me of "The Johnny Mathis Christmas Album," which Columbia used to re-release every year in a different sleeve: same old songs, new cover.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Teachers In My District Say Teachers In My District Don't Care About Students

The district in which I teach has a charter school. Honestly, I'm not sure what it is about this school that makes it special or "charter", but it's a public charter school. There are commercials for this school on the radio. A teacher I work with sent the following email to his union president asking about said commercials, and gave me permission to reproduce it here:

I just heard the Choices charter school ad on the radio, again, and I'm annoyed enough to write.

A couple of things: is the district spending money advertising one school at the expense of others? Why shouldn't [our school] be afforded an advertising budget to promote enrollment? Couldn't we build on our academic success and music program?

Second, the ad that runs is offensive to every non-Choices teacher in the district. The first line is, "Teachers at Choices listen, pay attention, and don't ignore their students." How can [the district] sign off on that line even if the ads are legal? Do they believe that the majority of their teachers, district wide, don't listen, don't pay attention, and ignore their students?

He's asked questions that deserve answers.

Ayn Rand and Phil Donahue

I enjoyed Phil Donahue when I was a young teenager. Yes, I know he shares some political leanings that I don't share, but I thought he was a good host and interesting interviewer.

Here's the first of 5 clips of Phil and Ayn Rand.

Kids Today Know So Much

Photon Courier has an interesting take on that topic. See the post entitled Thanksgiving and Temporal Bigotry.

Wonder Woman

OK, we all have our secrets, and I'm going to share one of mine. When I was growing up, I had a crush on Lynda Carter.

Miss World USA 1972. And looked hot hot hot in her Wonder Woman attire. Everyone else could fawn over Farrah Fawcett and Bo Derek and whoever else were the pinups of the time, but Lynda Carter, and later Stevie Nicks, always did it for me. I wasn't fickle; my likes never changed.

So several years ago when Wonder Woman was made available on VHS, I bought it. The entire series. Two episodes at at time, on tape. Hundreds of dollars. Today I could have the entire series on a few DVDs for well under $100--probably with commentary and special features to boot. But at the time VHS was all that was available, and a couple dozen dollars a month for a tape of my childhood memories didn't seem too bad a deal.

I'm in the process of burning all those VHS tapes to DVD so that I can put the tapes up in the rafters, clearing room on the movie shelves. Tonight I'm burning the tape that has on it the episodes "The Murderous Missile" and "Time Bomb". A line from each got my attention--one made me laugh out loud, the other made me remember the fears of the late 70s.

In The Murderous Missile, Diana Prince gets stranded in a town out in the middle of the desert--a town inhabited by people we later find out are imposters, there to steal a missile from a nearby test range. The "sheriff" keeps Diana to file a report about an attempted carjacking, then the garage owner "luckily" finds the fuel pump on her car is leaking, and Flo, the town operator, isn't home for Diana to make an outbound call. When Diana finally does meet Flo, Flo (who's in on the missile theft) tells her there's a lot of static on the line and a call wouldn't be possible. Diana remarks that it seems like somebody is trying to cut communications with the town. Flo replies, with feigned seriousness, "You mean the Commies?"

Maybe you had to see it, but it killed me.

In the second episode, Time Bomb, a scientist from the 22nd century comes back to 1978 to stop a colleague from getting rich and altering the timeline. He mentions rules similar to Star Trek's Prime Directive, and when Diana asks when the rules were made, he said, "After the nuclear holocaust. 2007, I think."

Both quotes, in their own ways, are great windows to the world of 1978.

And did I mention that Lynda Carter looked good in both episodes?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Received My Agency Fee Rebate Today

It was only $395.60, but still more than enough to join the Association of American Educators.

Now I'll have better liability insurance than CTA members :-)

Here are the amounts that a biased arbiter accepted as not related to collective bargaining:

CTA and local--38.7%

Remember, the CTA paid the arbiter here, so the arbiter has a vested interest in favoring the CTA. Still, these amounts listed above could not be justified even under such an unbalanced agreement.

I ask you teachers union members this: if the union is so necessary and valuable, why are they spending somewhere between a third and a half of your money on expenditures entirely unrelated to collective bargaining?

Truer Words...

These words ring true, over 230 years after they were first written.

God and a Soldier all Men doth adore,
In time of War, and not before:
When the War is over, and all Things righted,
God is forgotten, and the soldier slighted.

The Democratic leadership in the Congress is, even now, trying to slight the soldier before the war is even over. What kind of Americans are they?

Still Hiring Teachers

Well over 2 months into the school year, and one local high school is still hiring teachers to replace the substitutes that have been teaching the students since school started. One commenter to the linked article states that an additional problem is that school administrators were shifting the substitutes every 20 days to avoid having to pay them more as "long term subs" in a specific class.

Despicable. Deplorable. Unacceptable.

Another commenter, though, brought up an interesting point--why aren't teachers lining up to teach at that school?

Diploma Program For Veterans

I don't know if this has practical value, but it's a nice thing to do.

The county Office of Education has kicked off its annual Operation Recognition program, which provides diplomas to veterans who were unable to complete high school because of wartime duties...

To qualify, applicants must be county residents, show proof of an honorable discharge from military service during World War II, the Korean War or Vietnam War, or show proof of internment. Both veterans and Japanese American citizens must give the name of the high school attended when drafted or interned. People who earned a GED also are eligible.

Working With At-Risk Freshmen

Here's a school doing what everyone admits works regarding underachieving students--a mentoring program.

Between youth football practice, caring for younger siblings and a healthy dose of scholastic apathy, Graham wasn't exactly excelling academically.

But he's not alone. Graham is part of Team Husky, a mentoring program at Sheldon with 252 mostly at-risk freshmen.

And Grivel is one of 60 staff members who mentor them. More than a dozen upperclassmen are part of the program, too – each assigned a few freshmen to look after.

Freshmen who had earned a 2.5 grade-point average or below while attending Smedburg Middle School, which feeds students into Sheldon, are automatically in Team Husky. So, too, are freshmen new to the district or those recommended for the program by teachers...

The effort to reach at-risk freshmen is critical, experts say. Poor performance freshman year doesn't bode well for the future.

"Kids who flunk ninth grade are really at risk of dropping out," said Russ Rumberger, director of the California Dropout Research Project and professor of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He's just finished a study about ninth-graders and graduation, to be published soon...

Grivel said higher expectations, more rigorous classes and serious consequences sometimes take freshmen by surprise.

He said some struggling freshmen became accustomed to social promotion in past schooling. Grivel asked the 50 students in last year's pilot program to raise their hands if they'd been told at some point they wouldn't pass a grade and were socially promoted, anyway.

"I think everyone raised their hand," he said. "They've heard it before, but this time we're actually telling them the truth."

Simple things, like having to do your homework to pass classes, are hard for them to wrap their heads around, Grivel said.

I concur with these observations and hope this program works. I've also forwarded the linked article to my own principal.

Minutemen, Insurgents, or Just Plain Murderers?

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.

Click on this web site to see who said that. I actually think he wants them to win. He's cheerleading for them to win.

These are the people he wants to win.

Three suspected Al Qaeda militants beheaded an Iraqi couple in front of the couple's children, Reuters reported Friday.

The suspected militants were reportedly related to the victims, and told a family uncle the male victim was an infidel because he wore Western-style trousers and did not pray, according to the Reuters report.

Way to pick a winner, buddy.

How To Solve The Global Warming "Crisis"

As I've said here and read on Instapundit, I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who say it's a crisis act like it's a crisis.

Perhaps all the global warming fearmongers should consider following this brave woman's example. Other assorted lefties might follow suit.

(And of course I'm referring to the sterilization, not the abortion.)

Free Income Tax Preparation and E-filing

OK, only the federal component is free. Federal and state together, though, costs only $16.95 and includes e-filing for both, which is significantly cheaper than TaxCut or TurboTax.

I read about this in Business Week (slide 7 of 45), so I give it some credibility. Go to the web site and see for yourself.

Democrats, Party Of The Rich

They like to claim they're for "the little guy", but they represent the rich guy.

Also, look where the neediest children live.

UC Berkeley Can Evict Tree Sitters

It's bad enough the university had to get legal permission before removing people living in trees--living there for about a year now, protesting the planned removal of the trees for a new sports center.

As the protest nears its one-year anniversary, plenty of people have suggestions: Fire hoses, skunk spray and tranquilizer darts are among the thorny ideas Internet posters have planted.

Why not just plant 1000 other trees elsewhere; isn't that good enough? The school's already offered something similar:

They promise to plant three new trees for every one felled.

That would be the carrot approach; how about the stick? This idea comes from an eBay auction a student once showed me:

"All right you people up there, listen up. If you don't come down right now, I'm going to rip this sapling right out of the ground! I'm going to twist it, pull it, bend it, make it suffer, too! And then, I'm going to burn it, twig by twig, until you come down? And 15 minutes later, I'm going to do the exact same thing to this sapling! And there are lots of saplings!

"But you can stop the torture. You can stop the pain. Come down, and the saplings remain unharmed. We'll dig them up gently, cooing to Mother Gaia as we do so, and we'll replant them elsewhere.

"This is your only warning! If you fail to comply, if you fail to come down, the wanton destruction of these young saplings will be on your hands!

"And just to show you that we mean business..." Out comes a machete, and in one swoop, down goes a young 6' tall oak.

See? Maybe we can learn something from the Islamofascists. Lefties like Islamofascists anyway.

Sarkozy May Break French Rail Strike

If he does, good for him and good for France.

What I can't figure out is exactly why this strike is different. Reports aren't clear about why this strike is going under, except to say that "support is fading" or some similar vague terminology.

Union leaders began to concede defeat yesterday. "We have to face reality. Since yesterday's negotiations, things have changed. The strike is no longer the solution. The strike strategy is no longer winning," a leader of the Sud union representing Paris underground railway workers, Philippe Touzet, said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Here's hoping that a new day has dawned in France.

It's still kind of dark during dawn, though, and leftie university students wallow in the darkness:

Meanwhile, protests between students opposed to Sarkozy's reforms and students trying to get to class shut down Sorbonne University in Paris.

The University of Paris administration issued a statement Friday saying that protesters resorted "to physical violence against students who wanted to go to class," according to the Associated Press.

"People's security is no longer guaranteed," and therefore the Sorbonne campus was closed until Monday, the AP reported.

Protesters have rallied for several days against a new law giving universities greater freedom to seek private contributions and raise tuition.

Our intellectual and moral betters. I wish Sarkozy success in fixing this mess--and I don't just mean breaking strikes and raising university tuitions.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Two Views On Thanksgiving

The pro version comes from EIA, called Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation. The con version is included in a post I wrote two years ago.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

MoveOn.Org Just Can't Move On

I think I'm going to order one of these shirts from Cafe Press.

Property Rights

I strongly believe in property rights, and honestly believe the Kelo Decision will eventually join Plessy vs. Ferguson and Prohibition in the Pantheon of Injustice in Democracy.

This story, however, still surprises me. Interesting that it happened in the Peoples Republic of Boulder. Do these "your property is mine" stories take place in conservative areas, or just ones where liberals rule the roost? I'd be curious in an answer, because I genuinely don't know.

Update, 12/4/07: Here's another version of the same story.

Carnival of Education Twofer!

Not forcing me into a Solomonic choice, NYC Educator, the host of this week's Carnival of Education, allowed me to submit two posts about teachers--one a stud, the other a dud.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Union vs. Union

From the major Sacramento newspaper:

On one side is the California Federation of Teachers, the state's second-largest teachers' union. It has been the biggest financial backer of the campaign for Proposition 92, which would lower community college fees and set aside a percentage of the state budget for the two-year schools.

On the other is the California Teachers Association, the largest teachers' group in the state, which so far has been the sole funder of the opposition campaign – to the tune of nearly $300,000.

Paraphrasing EIA here: pass the popcorn.

Oooh, I Ticked Off A Leftie

Whenever I quote from another source, I provide links to that source. And I never, ever, take things from another blog and post them on my own. Besides being a potential copyright issue, I just considered it to be part of the accepted code of conduct in the blogosphere.

So you can imagine my surprise when I found a picture of me, lifted right from my own blog, on someone else's web site. There are three reasons I didn't ask the blog owner to take it down: one has to be a "member" to comment on that blog (and I'm not a member), I didn't find any contact information on the page containing my picture, and, to be perfectly honest, I didn't want to engage in conversation with the type of person who did what he did and wrote what he wrote.

So I followed the procedures of his blog hosting company (Yahoo) to have the picture removed. I proved that the picture was mine and stated that he did not have permission to use it, and they removed it from his blog.

Read his unhinged response and see why I'm not really interested in dealing with this person.

Oh, Mr. Klonsky? Yahoo isn't an agent of the government, and therefore isn't bound by the 1st Amendment. That little tidbit of knowledge I provide to you absolutely free. Here's another: step back, take a deep breath, and reread what you wrote in your little "challenge"; I hope you'll see that you don't come across very well, and perhaps you'd like to try a little more maturity and intellect and a little less temper-tantrum and name-calling.

I'm just saying.

Does This Mean The Meaning of the 2nd Amendment Will Finally Be Determined, Once And For All?

Instapundit has the news here, which I reproduce in full:

BIG SECOND AMENDMENT NEWS: "The U.S. Supreme Court said on Tuesday it would decide whether handguns can be banned in the nation's capital, a case that could produce its first ruling in nearly 70 years on the right of Americans to bear arms."

Lots of background information on the Second Amendment here, and there's some discussion of this particular case here -- scroll down toward the end. (It starts at p. 347 in the journal, or p. 14 in your Adobe reader.)

Also, Helen and I interviewed Bob Levy, the brains behind the case, for The Glenn and Helen Show this morning; it'll be up tomorrow.

UPDATE: More at SCOTUSBlog. And here's a copy of the order. The question is phrased as follows: “Whether the following provisions — D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 — violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

It's that last statement that's key. Expect fireworks.

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Strike Day In France

Schools closed, flights were delayed, trains again weren't running, and newspapers weren't printed as civil servants joined transport workers in strikes Tuesday to challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy's program of sweeping reform for France.

A defiant Sarkozy said voters gave him a mandate for reform when they elected him in May, adding: "We will not surrender and we will not retreat..."

He reiterated his determination to press ahead with the pension reform that prompted labor leaders to call the open-ended strike. But he also suggested that he is not looking to crush unions in the reform process.

"I do not want a winner and loser," Sarkozy said.

The walkouts looked increasingly like the last gasp of a protest movement that started with train drivers but seems to be losing some punch after a week of major travel disruptions.

Is this the kind of country the American Democrat party wants, one where people go on strike whenever they want? Is this the kind of country the American Left wants, where unions hobble the very economy the President is trying to shore up with reforms?

Those unions are behaving like spoiled children and monopolies, both of which they are.

Is Stanford Violating The Solomon Amendment?

If so, yank their funding in accordance with the law.

Here's One For The Troofers

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Apparently My Generation Was Tougher

I was 4 years old when Sesame Street first came on the air. I never watched it; by the time I watched children's television, I was ready for The Electric Company. Perhaps it's a good thing I skipped Sesame Street--I could have been scarred by it. Some "Sesame Street survivors" now think the early episodes are extremely inappropriate for today's fragile darlings.

Pink Hair Turns Some Red, But For Different Reasons

I taught at the middle school where this incident occurred. The principal mentioned in the news article was our vice principal when I was there; in fact, she was the one who evaluated me. I have nothing but praise, admiration, and respect for her.

If you're not much for clicking on links, let me give you the condensed version: the school has a rule about having "unnatural" colored hair. A girl came to school with pink hair, earning some time in the principal's office for violation of the rules. I have it on pretty good authority that the girl's mother signed the school's behavior code at the beginning of school, and that code mentions the hair color rule. And let's look at these quotes from the article, ones that reinforce what I said above about the principal:

Principal Trish Baldwin said Thursday that she understands Ashley is making an effort, and the girl will be welcomed to class today even if the offending color lingers.

"As long as we could tell she is making progress toward a more natural color, she can come to class," Baldwin said...

Hair color is restricted more in younger grades than at high schools, Baldwin said. The idea is to get young students focused on academics rather than on themselves, she said.

Baldwin hasn't sensed a groundswell of support for changes to the dress code, including hair color restrictions.

It looks to me like she's being eminently reasonable.

Having taught at junior high for six years, I support the policy. Junior high students are easily distracted, and unnatural or outlandish appearances have much more of an impact at that age. Having taught high school for more than four years now I've seen that high school students have more maturity and ability to deal with differences, so thankfully we don't have such rules at high school.

You can see the fault lines in this situation, can't you?

--Rules are made to be broken! (No, they're not. That's why we assign penalties to breaking them.)
--She should be free to express her individuality however she wants! (No, she shouldn't. She can express it within the confines given her, just like all the rest of us.)
--This rule is stupid! (While I disagree, that is a legitimate disagreement. Take it up with the school board.)

I'm sure there are some of you out there--anonymous troll included!--who will try to make some claim about me and rules. Before you do so, however, I encourage you to read this post from a year and a half ago, especially the first two paragraphs.

There's one aspect of this story that I haven't mentioned yet. I've been saving the best till last, kind of like Paul Harvey and his Rest Of The Story.

When your 13-year-old kid is longing for an eyebrow piercing, the washable pink hair dye might seem like a pretty benign alternative.

At least that's what Orangevale mom Sandra Chavez thought.

"I thought it was one area where we can compromise. I didn't think it would offend," said Chavez, the mother of Andrew Carnegie Middle School student Ashley Davis.

So first off we have a weak mom who feels a need to negotiate with a 13-year-old girl over an eyebrow piercing. But wait, it gets better:

Her mother, a high school teacher at Natomas High School...

Yes, folks, you read that right--her mother is a fellow teacher!

Mama's baby gets sent to the principal's office for violating a school rule, and mommy contacts the local paper and television news! What a self-absorbed, weak woman.

I wonder--when a student breaks the rules in Mrs. Chavez' class, does she support their going to the press and whining about it? Does Mrs. Chavez support her own school rules, or does she allow students to violate them as she did with her own daughter? Does Mrs. Chavez negotiate deals regarding rules with her students, like she did with her daughter? Does Mrs. Chavez attempt to undercut and backstab the administrators at her own school like she did the ones at her daughter's school? Does Mrs. Chavez ever sit in the staff lounge and complain about overprotective, overbearing parents who try to shield their children from the reasonable consequences of their actions?

Two adults are mentioned in this story, Mrs. Baldwin the principal and Mrs. Chavez the teacher/mother. Only one of them is acting like an adult.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Vaunted Canadian Health Care System

This is from The Calgary Sun, not the Bush White House:

There is a good reason Alberta spends more on health than any other province in the nation -- $3,695 per person -- and yet we wait longer for care.

The Fraser Institute notes that if an Albertan sees a family doctor -- if you're lucky enough to have a family doctor, which in Alberta is fast becoming a mythical creature on the same order as a unicorn -- and are referred to a specialist, the average wait before actually getting treated is 19.5 weeks.

This is not good.

It is not even up to the sad standard set by other Canadian provinces.

Our American cousins look at such numbers and are appalled.

Yet there is a very good reason for this.

It is because the economic model for our health-care system, in Alberta and across the country, would be instantly recognizable to Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong.

Mao and Stalin didn't believe in the rights of individuals to make economic decisions on their own, and neither do those who become hysterical and cry like little girls denied tickets to the new Avril Lavigne tour when it is suggested an absolute government monopoly on health care is killing us, financially and literally.

We have taken the economic model of the Soviet and Maoist collective farm -- the result of which was generally widespread starvation -- and applied it to the delivery of health care.

Anyone surprised by the fact it doesn't work is probably also surprised Jack Layton isn't prime minister, the sun rises in the east, sticking a knife into a toaster hurts and that you can sit in a Calgary hospital emergency room suffering a serious gallbladder attack for eight hours before getting a shot of Demerol, which happened to the wife of a friend of mine recently.

Despite our institutionalized disdain in this country for all things American, if a U.S. citizen doesn't have health insurance and goes to a county hospital where medical care, as it is in Canada, is "free," the wait for treatment for a gallbladder attack is .... you guessed it ... about eight hours.

The average Canadian, with his much-lauded, universal medical system, is treated like the average American without health-care insurance.

Countries that provide a compassionate and intelligent mix of private and public health care simply do better.

A recent survey of 28 countries that offer universal health care saw Canada place 26th in terms of medical outcomes for every dollar spent, 18th in access to CAT scans and 22nd in infant mortality.

Because of the presence of (gasp of horror!) capitalists in the systems outperforming ours, such as Australia, they have embraced the discipline of the free market, which delivers any product -- from iPods to heart surgeries -- more efficiently and effectively.

Notice that it's a Canadian who's comparing their system to Communism, not me. What would the fat Sicko himself, Michael Moore-on, say to this?

Hat tip to NewAlert (see blogroll).

Real? or Satirical?

Save Our Failing Teachers.

If you are a parent, teacher or concerned citizen, join our coalition. If you know in your heart there is no such thing as a bad teacher, stand up and be counted. E-mail Us!

Even better:

Our Raison D'Etre:
  • The national hysteria over student achievement means that teachers all over this nation and city are under assault.
  • There is no such thing as a failing teacher, only failing students, parents and principals.
  • Failing teachers need love and support, not criticism.
  • It's not a teacher's fault if a child doesn't learn.
  • Failing teachers need to feed their families too.
  • People who aren't teachers have no right to judge teachers. Hug, Don't Judge!
  • ALL teachers are inherently great.
This has got to be satire.

If CTEN Started A Chapter In Pennsylvania, This Guy Would Be A Charter Member

You've got to love this statement:

Shortly after signing on with the district, Mellinger was cajoled to join the union. Frustrated, Mellinger asked a union representative if she would rather have an excellent nonunionized teacher or a below average unionized teacher. She replied, "You really don't want to know." When questioned about which option would be best for the students, the representative replied that 100 percent unionization is taken very seriously.

Go read the whole thing.

Race and Academic Performance

John at Discriminations (see blogroll) opened my eyes to the mistake made by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, who, after standing up for California's standardized testing system against those who want to water it down, has opted to water it down a different way with the soft bigotry of low expectations for students with black or brown skin.

I've stated before (see the comments in the link above) that I don't think California's teachers are racist, whether overt, subliminal, or institutional. This crutch of racism dishonors those who struggled under true, legalized racism--when, as a group, blacks performed much better, in underfunded schools, than they do today. Culture, not racism, accounts for the lack of performance of so many today.

A majority of black Americans blame individual failings -- not racial prejudice -- for the lack of economic progress by lower-income African Americans, according to a survey released Tuesday -- a significant change in attitudes from the early 1990s.

At the same time, black college graduates say the values of middle-class African Americans are more closely aligned with those of middle-class whites than those of lower-income blacks, the poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found.

Slate, not known for its conservative leanings, had an interesting take.

Yesterday we looked at evidence for a genetic theory of racial differences in IQ. Today let's look at some of the arguments against it. Again, I'm drawing heavily on a recent exchange of papers published by the American Psychological Association...

The current favorite alternative to a genetic explanation is that black kids grow up in a less intellectually supportive culture. This is a testament to how far the race discussion has shifted to the right. Twenty years ago, conservatives were blaming culture, while liberals blamed racism and poverty. Now liberals are blaming culture because the emerging alternative, genetics, is even more repellent...

When I look at all the data, studies, and arguments, I see a prima facie case for partial genetic influence. I don't see conclusive evidence either way in the adoption studies. I don't see closure of the racial IQ gap to single digits. And I see too much data that can't be reconciled with the surge (partial closing of the US black-white IQ gap in the last century) or explained by current environmental theories. I hope the surge surprises me. But in case it doesn't, I want to start thinking about how to be an egalitarian in an age of genetic difference, even between races. More on that tomorrow.

The Los Angeles Times, yet another not-quite-conservative bastion, had an opinion piece on last week's conference at which O'Connell was present.

Hardly had the figurative strains of "Kumbaya" faded when racial fault lines erupted. Before the end of the first day, numerous white educators had stormed out. At workshop after workshop, they had been asked to examine their attitudes toward and expectations for black and Latino students. Only once that was done, they were told, could they initiate change in their schools. Hurt, resentful and angry, the white educators heard this message: Stop being racist.

That's right, folks--if you're going to judge me by the color of my skin, that's racist. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that's the very definition of racism.

In turn, some black educators were nearly or literally in tears after Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute stated that even the best schools cannot close the gap. Rather, he said, the cultural and socioeconomic divides between the races -- differences in wealth, health, child-rearing -- must be addressed. Deflated, demoralized and anguished, the black educators heard this: It's not white institutions that require scrutiny, it's black and Latino homes.
So everyone got ticked off. I guess that's what we call equality.

Then there's the closing.

Unfortunately, misunderstanding, fear and hurt are inevitable consequences of talking about race. But we hope O'Connell doesn't back down now. If we are committed to educating all of our children, this conversation must continue. It's probably going to become a lot more uncomfortable -- certainly for him, but also for the rest of us.
Personally, I'm tired of talking about race. In education it seems that half of what we talk about is race. The racial achievement gap is real--that's not even debatable. The question is how best to address it, and if the problem is even one the schools can address. It doesn't make sense to me, though, to have the starting point be that all of California's teachers are racist. Not only is it not constructive, it's not even close to accurate.

I wonder how Mrs. Barton would react to this foolishness.

Update: Joanne Jacobs has addressed this topic on her blog as well. The comments afterward are especially enlightening.

Racist Roots of Gun Control

This little post will surely have the liberals spinning.

Service Academies Each Get A Rhodes

For its size, West P0int turns out more Rhodes scholars than just about any other school in the country. Just thought I'd throw that in at the beginning :-)

This year, though, the Department of Defense has won a trifecta--there's a Rhodes-selectee from each of the three service academies. Click here to get to the Rhodes home page, then click on 2008 Scholarship Winners List to see the pdf document listing all the winners.

Look at the schools that are represented. It's a most impressive list.

Right On The Left Coast offers congratulations to the chosen cadets and midshipman, as well as to the other recipients.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cheerleaders Suspended For Risque (?) Performance

I've watched the (very poor quality) video and, while the routine isn't what I'd consider classy or even good, I can't see that it merits being removed from the field. Since we only have the students' story, I can't tell if the 2-day suspension for defiance is warranted or not. Decide for yourself.

The Wit and Wisdom of Bumper Stickers

A pretty bright guy (yes, I know who it was) once said, "It's better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." So it is with bumper stickers.

Check out these from Madison, WI.
How about these, from Berkeley?
And let's not forget the comic genius who put these in my mailbox at school.

Support The Troops

Send them a free message.

This isn't political, it's compassionate. Go send a message of support to people doing a difficult job far from home.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I once committed to posting about my 3rd grade teacher. So, Mrs. Barton, this one's for you.

Mrs. Barton was not just a super teacher. She was a Superteacher.

Now, that's not to say she was without fault--she was not. But her positives so outweighed her negatives that those minor flaws do not bear repeating. Superteachers may not be perfect, but they are still Superteachers.

I wouldn't call Mrs. Barton a warm teacher. She certainly wasn't mean at all, but she wasn't the huggy kind of teacher. She was very firm but also gentle, and we respected her. She held us to the highest standards, and she drilled us until we met them. All of us met them. And six years ago, when I visited her class--she was due to retire in a few days after 39-1/2 years' teaching--she showed me that all her students knew their multiplication tables. They showed off for me; it was play for them, as it had been for us almost 30 years before.

They all read fluidly, too--even the Salvadoran boy, who showed up in December not speaking a word of English. "I wouldn't let them put him in those bilingual classes," she told me. He read aloud as well as all the others, and spoke without a trace of an accent--after 6 months with Mrs. Barton.

Mrs. Barton always had a piano in her class. Her playing, and our singing, was sometimes used as a reward for us. She had one songbook that most of "our" songs were in. When we wanted to sing the National Anthem, though, we helpfully reminded her that it was in the other book, and we told her which page--although, looking back, I'm sure she remembered as well as we did. And she required us to stand as we sang it, too.

It was in Mrs. Barton's class that I learned that the human body has 206 bones in it. We had a report on the human body in her class. Much of it we copied from the board, but it was in her class that I learned about the skeletal system, the nervous system, the digestive system, the repiratory system, and a few others. I remember how old and mature I felt when I asked her how long it took after eating something to excrete it. Scientific and adult-sounding words were a big deal. She guessed at an answer.

She held spelling bees; I was always the last one standing. Until, that is, Joellen transferred into our school and class. All of a sudden, I was no longer the "smartest kid in the class", a title I'd always held. It was most uncomfortable for me. I don't know if Mrs. Barton knew--she probably did, she was very perceptive--but she would never say so. I remember the day Joellen misspelled caught--she spelled it with an ou instead of an au--and ran crying from the classroom. I was back at my rightful place, standing alone at the side of the room, spelling my last word correctly. All was right with the world after that.

Several years and schools later, Joellen and I ended up at the same high school. She was always in student council and came this close to getting into Harvard. Last I heard from her she was a bigwig for Chevron, that one spelling bee notwithstanding.

Mrs. Barton wore a green, furry coat. I don't know what it was made from, but it was green and furry. I'll bet it was warm, but it must have taken a very secure person to wear that color in public, even in the early 70's. I wonder if she still has it.

We did art, or arts and crafts, in Mrs. Barton's class. One project near Easter stands out in my mind because my grandmother made such a contribution. We were making Easter bunnies out of bleach bottles. We poked holes into the plastic bottles without harming ourselves or others. We cut up plastic sheets--thin, like plastic tissue paper--into squares and partially inserted them into the holes, making the rabbit's fur. We glued on ears and eyes. We decorated them with jewelry--my grandmother had donated a grocery bag full of old costume jewelry, something that seemed to impress Mrs. Barton to no end. There was plenty of jewelry for everyone, and never before or since had there been such stylish Easter bunnies. I'm sure Mrs. Barton would still agree.

When I was in 4th grade, Mrs. Barton asked Diane Jordan (I didn't know it at the time, but I had such a crush on her) and I to be reading tutors in her class. Being Superteacher, she didn't stick the lower-performing students with the tutors--no, she put us with the best readers so she could work her magic on those who needed it most. Everyone in Mrs. Barton's class--and I do mean everyone--could read and calculate by June. Write in script, too. What she did really was magic.

I remember two mistakes I made in her class--one mistake, actually, the other I'd still begrudge her if she weren't a Superteacher. One time she was drilling us on our multiplication tables, writing all the 7's from 7x1 to 7x12. I was going so fast that I made a mistake: ...42, 49, 56, 67, 70, 77... Well, of course that 67 was supposed to be 63. I knew it, and she knew I knew it. I mean, 70 wasn't 7 units from 67, and neither was 56. It's just that I was going so fast! Nope, minus 1.

Another time we took a spelling test. One of the words was flowers. It was so easy that, instead of writing (in cursive) fluidly, I made the letters boxy. Smooth curves gave way to straight line segments and angles. It was readable and clearly spelled correctly, but it was not acceptable to Mrs. Barton. Minus 1.

That I remember those mistakes so many years later is a testament to her standards and how she didn't relax them for anybody. She compelled us to meet them, and meet them we did.

She was a Superteacher. Rare as they are, every child deserves to have one.

Global Warming Test

Take it here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

State Can't Balance The Budget On My Back

From the major Sacramento newspaper:

The California Supreme Court has turned down the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger administration's appeal of a $200 million interest payment owed to the state teachers' pension fund.

Faced with a looming $10 billion budget gap, the administration sought to lower the interest obligation ordered by a state appellate court.

California State Teachers' Retirement System successfully sued to recover $500 million the state withheld four years in a budget-cutting move by lawmakers and then-Gov. Gray Davis. The original ruling came in 2005 and the appellate court this summer upheld it.

In September, the state repaid the half-billion dollars, which is earmarked for a special supplemental fund for 63,000 older retired schoolteachers, who use the benefits to protect their pensions against inflation. But the administration challenged the interest rate set by an appellate court, hoping it would be reduced.

I agree with this online comment to that news article:

Yes the state is in trouble, and no I'm not a teacher, but right is right and wrong is wrong. The state should have to pay the teachers pension fund back.

Also note this comment:

The teachers' fund is made up of deductions from the teachers' paychecks. The money is invested in various high risk and low risk investments. The money from those gains flow into the pot. It's not a pot of money funded by tax payers.

I pay a higher percentage of my pay into this fund than people pay into social security.

Another Substitute Story

Just read it.

P.S. Please don't think for a moment that I have some ax to grind with substitutes. A quick perusal through the archives shows that I'm just as harsh on teachers when they misbehave--especially when that misbehavior involves something of a sexual nature.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

California's Teachers Are Racists

So says State Superintendent For Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, according to John at Discriminations (see blogroll at left).

News Media Give Academic Lefties A Pass?

Where Are The News Media?

Stuart Taylor's brilliant rant in this week's National Journal ("Academia's Pervasive PC Rot") says "the cancerous spread of ideologically eccentric, intellectually shoddy, phony-diversity-obsessed fanaticism among university faculties and administrators is far, far worse and more inexorable than most alumni, parents, and trustees suspect."

There's an obvious explanation of why so many university watchers don't seem to know what's going on: the news media are extremely reluctant to report on what the increasingly coercive diversity lobby is doing to the campuses.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Campus Buzz

I have no commentary on this story.

Most folks probably think Texans would have a simple way to handle a major insect infestation: Kill them varmints.

But officials at the University of Houston are bucking the stereotype when it comes to a colony of up to 100,000 bees that have taken up residence inside a classroom building.

They hired a beekeeper and on Wednesday he gently and humanely removed the beehive so it can be relocated to a better home on a wooded part of campus.

Although no one has reported being stung yet, school officials said they couldn't take any chances.

The Youth Vote Is Overrated

Or so one could conclude from this story.

Sixty-six percent of NYU students would sell their right to vote in the next presidential election in exchange for a year's tuition at the pricey private university, reported Tuesday.

According to the report, a survey of 3,000 students conducted by an NYU undergraduate journalism class found that an overwhelming majority of those polled said their right to vote could be for sale; in addition to the 66 percent who said they'd trade their vote for a free year of college, 20 percent said they'd exchange their vote for an Ipod Touch. Half of the students polled said they'd forfeit their right to vote forever for $1 million.

Perhaps another interpretation is that the university crowd is easily pandered to....

Should This Really Be A Firing Offense For A Teacher?

OK, she wasn't fired--she was put on administrative leave and has elected to resign. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck....

I'll grant that cheerleading in front of an English class probably isn't the smartest thing, especially if the cheerleading bore no relationship to the topic at hand. But must every mistake result in job termination? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Men and Family Law Injustice

Here's where the feminists will call me a misogynist. They're wrong, of course, but it's easier to call names than to address the subject at hand.

I've addressed the topic before. If a woman gets pregnant and wants to have the child, she gets to have the child, the man has no say, and he pays child support. If the woman doesn't want the child but the man does, she can have an abortion, the man has no say, and he just has to deal with it. There's lots of talk about "choice", but in each case it's the woman who gets to make the choice.

The (woman) author of this piece has one take on the situation. I'll go her a stop further. I didn't come up with this idea entirely on my own, but I've adopted it as my own. You probably know I'm not a big fan of abortion--but if I were tasked with making the laws, this is about as close to "fair" and just, however we define those words, as I could come.

If both parents want to abort the child, I'd allow it. I wouldn't agree with it or like it, but I'd allow them to make that medical decision within the confines of their own religious dictates.

Now here's where it gets fun.

If the mother wants to have the child but the father doesn't, then I'd allow him to sign away any privileges and responsibilities of fatherhood. If the woman chooses to have the child, then she chooses to raise the child. This way, both parents have a choice in the matter.

If the father wants the child but the mother doesn't--and don't tell me this never happens, as I know it does--then the mother can still choose to have an abortion, but she must compensate the father for his emotional loss. And don't tell me it's not an emotional loss, as I know that it is. If she doesn't want to compensate the father, she can choose to bear the child for him--but he must compensate her for her 9 months of inconvenience.

In these ways, both parents get a choice. It seems more just to me than what we have now. I wonder if the author of the linked piece above would agree.

Bush Derangement Syndrome

This piece explains BDS rather well.

But Bush hatred is different. It's not that this time members of the intellectual class have been swept away by passion and become votaries of anger and loathing. Alas, intellectuals have always been prone to employ their learning and fine words to whip up resentment and demonize the competition. Bush hatred, however, is distinguished by the pride intellectuals have taken in their hatred, openly endorsing it as a virtue and enthusiastically proclaiming that their hatred is not only a rational response to the president and his administration but a mark of good moral hygiene.

It's ok to disagree with policies or even to dislike the President, but the extremes some people go to are excessive (even for the word "extreme"). Put simply, BDS sufferers don't come across as rational.

Our Former Allies Don't Like Us

Perhaps ardent lefties think that, but such whining doesn't explain why pro-American leaders have, since 9/11, been elected in France (Sarkozy), Germany (Angela Merkel), Canada (Stephen Harper), and now Denmark. John Howard of Australia was reelected in 2004. Tony Blair's party won reelection in 2005, although he has now stepped down.

Lefties never let facts get in the way of their "truth".

The Academic Left

Is the person who wrote this a conservative?

Another hyperbolic, conservative rant about liberals in academia? Perhaps I should confess my biases. I do dislike extremism of the Left and of the Right. But I have never been conservative enough to vote for a Republican presidential nominee. And the academics whose growing power and abuses of power concern me are far to the left of almost all congressional Democrats.

Go read the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

SFSU, Civility, Tolerance, and the College Republicans

I'm not sure which is more interesting--the Chron's slightly biased story about the continuing saga of the SF State College Republicans and their discrimination case against the university, or the 66 comments (so far) at the end of the article.

It's clear that some people don't understand the 1st Amendment--and that some really don't like it when it's invoked to keep rabid lefties from harrassing conservatives.

A couple of the comments reminded me of this post.

Public University Doesn't Like It When The Truth Is Shown

I wonder which university it is....

Monday, November 12, 2007

To Renew The Charter Or Not To Renew The Charter...

...that is the question.

The Sacramento City Unified school board is reviewing one of its most politically charged decisions: whether it made the right call in 2003 in giving the city's namesake high school to a nonprofit group run by a retired basketball star.

Kevin Johnson's St. HOPE Corp. has asked permission to run Sacramento High as a charter school for another five years. The board will decide by the end of December whether to renew the charter, which allows St. HOPE to run the school free from many of the regulations governing traditional public schools.

The charter school's success has become a matter of great debate. Some of the teachers who bought into Johnson's vision of giving disadvantaged kids a private school-style education for free left after a couple of years. They say St. HOPE hasn't lived up to its promise.

Update, 12/22/07: St. Hope's charter was renewed by a 6-1 vote of the school board Thursday night, keeping the program alive for another 5 years.

Another Reason Not To Like The UN (as if you needed another one)

Can you imagine the UN--the same organization that puts Libya in control of a human rights commission--in charge of the internet?

Big on the agenda is the UN-based campaign to take away control of the internet from the U.S. The aim, now that U.S. freedoms and resulting creativity (not Al Gore, his own claims notwithstanding) have brought mankind this marvelous gift of the internet, is to confiscate management of the World Wide Web and turn it over to the same grand conclave of UN potentates whose members include the web-censoring likes of dissident-jailing China, monk-murdering Burma, terrorist-sponsoring bomb-making Iran, and 2008 members-elect of the Security Council, Libya and Vietnam.

This current pow-wow in Brazil is the work of the UN-based Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which — with a secretariat now entrenched in an office at the UN’s palatial (BMW-rich) complex in Geneva — has been following up on the UN’s second World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). That internet summit, as you might recall, was held in November, 2005 in internet-censoring Tunisia — initial sponsor in 1998 of this UN bid to cash in on the web.

Not Everyone In Hollywood Is Nuts

Most, but not all.

Bjorn Lomborg on the IPCC

I've mentioned Danish leftie vegetarian Bjorn Lomborg before and now I'm going to mention him again. Bjorn (may I call him Bjorn?) has written a piece for The Telegraph, and as you might expect it contains some tasty tidbits:

This week, the United Nations' climate scientists will release a major report synthesising the world's best global warming research. It will be the first time we've heard from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since its scientists won the Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice-president Al Gore.

The IPCC's Assessment Report will tell policy-makers what to expect from man-made climate change. It is the result of rigorous and painstaking labour: more than can be said for the other Nobel Prize winner. The difference between Gore's claims and IPCC research is instructive.

While Gore was creating alarm with his belief that a 20-foot-high wall of water would inundate low-lying cities, the IPCC showed us we should realistically prepare for a rise of one foot or so by the end of the century. Beyond the dramatic difference, it is also worth putting that one foot in perspective. Over the last 150 years, sea levels rose about one foot - yet, did we notice?

Oh, there's so much more. Go read the whole thing.

Update: But wait, there's more!

John Coleman, the founder of The Weather Channel, gives his (quite strong) opinion about the reality of global warming. Coleman joins 'a pioneer of hurricane research', Bill Gray, and 'the father of climate science', Reid Bryson, on the list of eminently qualified people who don't buy into the climate change drivel.

We Are Lucky That Such Men Have Walked Among Us

On the Veteran's Day holiday....

Local Paper Digs Toward Center of the Earth

Remember the story of Bobby Calvan, reporter for the major Sacramento newspaper--the reporter who made an international ass of himself in Baghdad a few weeks ago? Well, I wrote about him in this post and wondered how long "this pissant reporter (will remain) employed."

Well, the paper's public editor wrote a piece today--and it looks like Mr. Calvan will be getting the corner office.

"It was used by people with a political agenda," said Mark Seibel, managing editor in charge of foreign coverage for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. "They were trying to discredit our reporting coming out of Iraq."

Really? You don't say! When your reporter shows he has a chip on his shoulder the size of a 2x4 regarding our soldiers protecting his miserable hide, well hell yes your reporting coming out of Iraq is somewhat suspect.

Seibel noted that it's common for reporters everywhere to talk their way past guards and security, whether it's on a city street in the United States or dealing with sentries in a foreign land.

"Bobby's mistake was blogging about it and expressing his frustration."

No, "Bobby's" mistake was to forget his ID and/or credentials and to try to pull a "do you know who I am" with an American soldier on guard. "Bobby" compounded his mistake by blogging about the incident.

Now, a little more than two weeks later, the attention has faded, flashing bright for a few moments like a falling meteor and gone just as quickly.

So why, why oh why, did this editor feel the need to resurrect this controversy? He obviously feels his reporter was wronged and wants to rehabilitate his image now that the story's passed. This editor has no idea how the blogosphere works.

What I want to know is whether the blogosphere's trip-wire is just mindlessly sensitive in igniting outrage or was it just a slow week in the conservatives' Internet neighborhood?

I wonder why this editor thinks it necessary to pick scabs. It was a big story, the blogosphere made it a big story, the blogosphere got what it wanted (more proof of biased reporting from Iraq, and at least a pseudo-apology from the reporter), and then, like adults, let the story go away. This editor seems unwilling to show the same maturity.

By the way, I'm well aware today is Veterans Day. Today's column has nothing to do with that, so please don't go there. I'm proud of our men and women in uniform. I have family wearing that uniform now.

This isn't about them. This is about politics and playing games.

He really doesn't get it. First, the blogosphere wasn't playing politics or games--we were genuinely concerned about the slant of McClatchy's reporter in a freakin' war. It seems that the Bee itself is now playing games, trying to pick another fight now that most of the kids have gone home. I can't imagine anything more childish.

And despite his protest, it's hard not to question the timing of this opinion piece. I can't imagine anything more obvious.

You should have let it go, Mr. Acuna. When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging. Please take that advice in the generous spirit in which it is offered.

Update: I always give credit to the major Sacramento newspaper for allowing comments at the end of their online submissions. The seven who have commented so far are dead on, echoing many of the points I made here and adding others.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Anti-Abortion Club At School

In this post from September I discussed a student who was not allowed to form an anti-abortion club at her Virginia school. It seems the school has had a change of heart and will now allow her club, prompting her to withdraw her lawsuit.

Reeducation Camps For Conservatives

Remember my whiny liberal post, the one in which a liberal is so tired of having to justify his beliefs that he would prefer just to dictate his beliefs and have everyone accept them prima facie? Well, here's a soulmate for him:

Your "conservative"voice will hopefully be classified as hate speech in a new America that will be ushered in with a Democratic president and veto proof Democrat congress in 2008. They will appoint the judges to the supreme court that will redefine free speech. Your time is coming. Free speech will remain protected but conservative positions such as your amount to hate speech that WILL BE OUTLAWED. I hope to help ensure you end up in jail to be reeducated with your friends Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. Leave San Francisco now or you will be rounded up with your filthy hater conservative friends. Go to hell monster.

Notice that this comment comes from the most "tolerant" and "diverse" city in the country. How often do I have to bring up George Orwell ("Free speech will be protected but conservative positions...will be outlawed") when discussing the left?

Like the Islamofascists, these people tell us exactly what they think and what they want to do. Those of you in the squishy middle need to take them at their word and react accordingly.

Happy Veteran's Day, Happy Armistice Day

We all know the story. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns in Europe fell silent for the first time in over 4 years. The most destructive war in modern history was over. Germany, the largest protagonist, was mostly disarmed, the Rhineland was demilitarized, and the League of Nations would ensure that nation would never again rise against nation.

How hopeful the future must have seemed from that vantage point. But only one generation later....

Throughout the Anglosphere we celebrate Armistice Day, known as Veterans Day in the United States. While we remember the end of the first War To End All Wars, we also honor all of our veterans, living and dead. This is not a day of warmongering; no, this is a day to honor the sacrifice of those who have worn a uniform and served their country. It's a solemn day, one to allow reflection and a thought of thanks for those who have served, and who continue to serve.

Yes, we'll take tomorrow off as a holiday. But today is the day. Be worthy of it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Huck Finn And The Word "Nigger"

I don't dance around and call it "the N-word". I hear it every day. Oh, you can say that what I hear is really "nigga", but let's be honest--if I were to say "nigga" out loud in public, I'd be in a heap of trouble as big as if I'd said "nigger".

Let's not play kiddie games here. We all know what the word is, why it's not a term that should be used in polite or any other company--and we also know that some people get a pass on saying it and others don't.

It's used in Huck Finn. Its use there is genuine, it strengthens the story. So should the book be used at schools? One superintendent had an interesting reply to the expected debate.

This Leftie's Mental Faculties Are Under Siege

The Siege (with Denzel Washington) is on television tonight, and I thought I'd look it up on IMDB and see the plot. Imagine my shock when I read the following user comment:

This film, made in 1998, is so close to the reality of Sept. 11, 2001 that it sends chills down your spine. Although events played out differently, so many elements in the film are near-mirror reflections of the reality. The attacks are carried out by Islamic extremists, whose core network were trained by the CIA, their attacks were dramatic and centered on New York City, there was little cooperation between, the FBI, CIA and military, and Arabs and Arab-Americans were rounded up in large numbers, or were subjected to harassment and violence. The images of bodies and debris are no less shocking than the sight of people jumping to their death from the World Trade Center. Torture was employed by US soldiers, in pursuit of terrorists. With all of that said, even had the attacks of Sept. 11th not occurred, this would still be a tremendous film.

The film delivers a cautionary tale about extreme reactions to terror and the loss of freedoms that can result from acting in anger, rather than with reason and law. The rounding up of citizens, as depicted in the film, and the declarations of martial law, are not that far away from the provisions of the Patriot Act, which violates First Amendment rights, the right to privacy, and the right to due process. The film suggests that by giving up these rights, or stripping them away, we become the very thing that our enemies claim we are. It suggests that that may be the terrorists true aim.

Near mirror reflections that played out differently? This sounds like the typical leftie belief that the narrative was correct, but the facts were wrong.

Gotta love that Patriot-Act-violates-the-1st-Amendment canard, as well as all the Arabs/Muslims the government "rounded up".

And remember, these are the people who refer to themselves as the reality-based community.

Update: I forgot to mention above that while The Siege may star Denzel Washington, it also displays the acting talents of one Mark Valley, a classmate of mine from West Point.

I've Heard Of Bad Substitute Teachers, But...

Every teacher has a horror story about a particular substitute. I recognize up front that subs have a difficult job, one I certainly wouldn't enjoy doing. That, however, doesn't excuse those behaviors we've all observed at least once in our teaching years--behavior like this, for instance.

"My child does not know what a prostitute is and she shouldn't be learning that at school," said the unidentified student's mother...

"She said sugar is cocaine, McDonald's should be called 'Crack Donald's' and Burger King should be called 'Murder King' because the hormones in the food will kill you," said the student.

The students were 5th graders.

Another Whiny Liberal

RightWingNation is on a roll, getting two links from me in a row--this one from a whiny liberal appears to lack so much in the way of intellect or even common sense:

I’m a little bit tired. I’m a little bit tired of arguing about why equality is important. Why human rights matter. Why poverty is not ok.

I’m a little bit tired of spending so much of my time defending the most basic principles of what I stand for. It serves to distract. What I need is a safer space where I don’t lose so much energy justifying why social and environmental justice are worth spending a lot of society’s money on.

What I want is a space where these ideas are a given and the debate is about how best to actualize them. Where a frank discussion about the nature of power and who gains and who loses by not changing things is as necessary as air. I want to be challenged to be the most radical humanitarian in the room. Instead of rolling around in a fog that dangerously confuses the over-policing of some with ‘freedom’ and where indifference is rewarded. I want to be inspired by the good and the great to imagine what is possible – in that place where all life prospers.

Standard fare for the left is to build straw men and then tear them down. Look at the first paragraph--who, exactly, doesn't support equality? Actually, it's the American Left and their international brothers, which is why the left balkanizes society and openly attempts to make some groups more equal than others. What has the left done regarding human rights? And yes, that's a serious question. What has the left done to alleviate poverty? How's that Great Society War on Poverty, which is as old as I am, going lately?

Note the 2nd paragraph: he wants to spend society's money on his pet causes. If society were spending money, and not the government, I'd be ok with it. But no, I don't want my government taking my money to fund his socialism.

So yes, whiner, you do need to justify why it's important. If your arguments have merit, you'll persuade others; if they don't, which seems more likely if his post is indicative of his skills, we can understand clearly why he wishes his points were a given instead of having to justify them.

I wish everyone understood the value and necessity of personal freedom. Since plenty don't, though, I'm not going to whine about having to advocate for those values--because they're important enough to me to talk about.