Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A classic from John Taylor Gatto

....his 1990 acceptance speech from the New York City Teacher of the Year Award. He had a bit of chutzpah in pointing out to the educational establishment his belief that the schools exist to do anything but educate.

And, I think he's right. As I work to train my children in character, I warn them that the quickest way to become a slave is to develop laziness and covetousness, the precise things that the government schools relentlessly inculcate in children.

How not to demonstrate someone's innocence

When 11 people are arrested for spying, and their names have not all been released yet, and furthermore some of those released are U.S. citizens, it would probably be prudent for the foreign service of the country they're accused of spying for NOT to demand access.

And yet, the Russian foreign service has demanded access to the 11 arrested and proclaimed their innocence without even knowing for certain their identities, and despite the fact that at least a couple are not Russian citizens.

Translation: G-U-I-L-T-Y. We'll see what the courts say, of course, but this (inadmissible in court) piece of evidence suggests that the reason the foreign service wants access is because they need the last bit of data from these people before they visit the graybar hotel for a good long time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Now here's a scary thought..... less than four members of the Supreme Court cannot parse out a very simple clause "shall not be infringed."

I kind of expect, for example, that the mayor of a city where the average public school graduate reads at a 6th grade level might have trouble with this concept, but among the Yalies of the Supreme Court?

Maybe we ought to rethink that the phrase "elite law school" means, eh?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Now that was different

Just got sent to Quebec in part so I could speak and translate German. By the way, if people tell you how Canada's economy is in great shape, just tell them to take a look at the industrial area around Montreal's airport. It's a ghost town, sad to say.

And no, bummer, didn't get a chance to go to Tim Horton's.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How not to refute a claim

Apparently, Arizona Senator John Kyl (GOP) has made the claim that the Obama administration is holding border control hostage until "comprehensive immigration reform" (meaning "amnesty" as the Democrats tend to phrase things, of course) is passed. With such an inflammatory charge, the White House had to respond, of course.

And how did they respond? After saying the claims were false, they noted that "truly securing the border will require a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system".

In other words, Kyl is 100% correct. The Democrats are holding up efforts for adequate border security until they get comprehensive immigration deform, and it appears that to hide this fact, they're also counting on inadequate instruction in the government's schools to addle our reading comprehension.

Too often, of course, they're right, but in a world that knew how to read, this would be a slow ground ball right to first base--and not with Bill Buckner there, either.

A good Father's Day column Mitch Albom, who reminds us what is at stake in whether a father is involved in his children's lives or not, and counsels young ladies to withhold something from the proverbial young man who wants a drink of milk, but doesn't want to buy or care for the cow.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Now this could be profitable....

Palm Boy links an interesting column by P.J. O'Rourke advocating the end to the government schools, and one figure therein is that nearly half of the employees of the government schools are not teachers--a disturbingly large portion of them (300,000) employed apparently to comply with"Most Children Left Behind." It's also worth noting that the national teacher to student ration is 15.4, and that average spending per student is about $15,000. Now if only a homeschooling parent of five could get this--or better yet what they're spending in DC--to educate one's own children......

Seriously, if we could only figure out a way to see about getting more of that funding to the "point of use," letting kids do a lot of the cleaning (they're making the mess after all), one could reduce school funding by over half without hurting the teacher's pay at all. Another interesting fact about those days; the rate of illiteracy was actually quite a bit lower.

Another triumph of government!

Evidently, the national flood insurance program is about $19 billion in debt. Apparently not only did they not figure out that there was a reason insurance companies were charging high rates for flood insurance in many areas, they also didn't bother to hire any good actuaries to figure out what the proper rate ought to be.

It's as if people will be more likely to live in a flood plain if you subsidize their house insurance or something, and that change in behavior will tend to bankrupt the subsidy program.

Memo to Congress; incentives matter!

Who's calling the shots at the White House?

Take a gander at the title of FoxNews's article on how the Obama administration is, according to Secretary of State Brian Johnson (oops, Hillary Clinton), going to sue the state of Arizona for its new law requiring police to make an attempt to determine immigration status of lawfully detained individuals. One one level, it's odd that the Secretary of State would be commenting on this instead of the Attorney General, but on another, it could be indicative of who is really calling the shots at the White House. It's not the first time this has happened, after all.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My thoughts exactly

Given my love of God, guns, and such, I should be a shoo-in for supporting a likely presidential bid by Sarah Palin. Well, not so much; while I agree with most of her policy positions, I've got another concern, wonderfully expressed by a dear sister in Christ; motherhood.

Not that we ought to be unconcerned at what happens when fathers set off for Washington, DC, but maybe, just maybe, it's Todd's turn to step up to the plate.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yes, Virginia, Incentives Matter

Walter Williams hits another one out of the park by explaining how people choose to go to Wal-Mart, but are required to go to the Post Office or DMV. Since people must choose to go to Wal-Mart, they have an incentive to make the experience pleasant that simply doesn't exist at the DMV or Post Office.

Not that the DMV can't be pleasant from time to time, but it's simply a little bit more difficult to align incentives to assure that for them without the blessed profit motive.

Additional note; Pentamom notes correctly that Wal-Mart is not always a pleasant experience. The point here is not that all things good come from Bentonville, of course, but rather that Wal-Mart has the incentive to make things better due to their profit motive--especially when Target comes to town. Or Blumenkinder Heirlooms. :^)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another argument for classical education

Researchers at Duke have apparently found that computer access actually reduces academic achievement; it seems that sometimes, there is simply no substitute for a good book, and the ability to read it. H/T SCSU Scholars.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm very grateful....

...that Miss Abby Sunderland, a young teen trying to circumnavigate the world solo, has been found alive and well after a horrifying day when she was out of contact with those who loved her while in the middle of the Indian Ocean. However, I have to wonder what on earth were her parents thinking to allow their daughter to attempt this--in a day and age when pirates once more range in places like Somalia and the Straits of Malacca, and when small vessels routinely are dismasted by ocean storms. There is genuine achievement to be had out there, but I cringe when parents encourage their children to be daredevils like this.

It's time for Mr. Sunderland to protect his daughter and bring her home, I think.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Here's some get up and go!

Alvin Greene, a relative unknown, wins the Democratic primary for the Senate race vs. Jim DeMint with little in the way of funding or campaigning. If it weren't for the fact that he'd been arrested for showing obscene material to a college coed while following her towards her dorm, I'd have to suggest that some company might do well to find a place for someone with such get up and go.

Clean some things up, Alvin, and I think you'll do well--though I hope you lose the Senate race. Godspeed.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Prayer request

I'm teaching for the first time in church tonight; passage is Proverbs 9:7-12, and I'll be emphasizing how the context (Lady Wisdoms building her home and serving a banquet) ties moral precepts in squarely with the Church and the Gospel, and the juxtaposition between the scorner and the wise man.

Notice, for what it's worth, that the opposite of the wise man is not the fool, but rather the "scorner." (Hebrew "lutz")

Who killed higher education?

According to Paul Greenberg, it's a suicide--led by administrators desperate to put rear ends in seats, no matter what the academic cost. If you want to find a suitable school for your child (or for that matter, perhaps yourself), you might do well to ask about the core curriculum, and (here I am on my soapbox again) whether the school offers remedial classes. If they don't feature western civilization in the core curriculum and do have remedial classes, chances are pretty good that whatever is being taught there isn't strictly speaking academic.

Update: here's a great piece by Douglas Wilson on about the same subject. If you find yourself in a church where no one has a grasp of the beauties of western civilization and classical learning, it's time to get out of the Dark Ages by learning some Latin yourself, or by going to a church where the Gospel is preached by someone who has at least had a touch of the liberal arts.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Thought on the "Gaza flotilla" incident

It's worth noting, as we consider Israel's stopping of a ship containing 50 people linked strongly to Hamas, that a key event in the formation of the most murderous regime ever, the USSR, was not the arrival of weapons to help the Bolsheviks, but rather the arrival of a single person aboard the ship Aurora.

Mr. Vladimir I. Lenin, of course. I do not know whether there was a Lenin aboard the ship approaching Gaza recently, but those who argue that "there was nothing wrong" with the whole arrangement need to remember how dearly all of Europe paid when the Kaiser of Germany sent Lenin back to Russia in 1917. Lenin wanted the dictatorship of the proletariat, and Hamas urges a new Holocaust. Please, let's not be morally obtuse with this kind of thinking.

Let's get rid of an economic canard

K-Rod cited a yahoo finance report of how once again, lumber prices (and hence the building industry) are not doing so well. The article was good as far as it went, but then it went too far and cited the idea that deflation is even worse than inflation for the economy as a whole.

Really? For contrast, here is a graph of the CPI since 1913. Notice that the last significant deflation we've seen in our nation occurred in the 1920s and 1930s. The 1920s, of course, were the Roaring Twenties, and the 1930s were the Great Government Caused and Sustained Depression.

Not that I'm biased, of course (I am), but reality is that the data do not support the idea that deflation is an enemy of the economy; it's associated with both booms and busts. Savers love deflation, and borrowers hate it. The traditional bias against deflation comes from the fact that (see Harry Browne's works on the subject) that a wartime boom caused by spending features inflation, and the postwar bust--or hangover from the wartime boom really--tends to feature deflation. Keynesian economists--often untrained in logic--confused correlation with causation, and therefore assumed that deflation was the enemy, while the real problem was government.

Hopefully my gentle readers can do bettter than Keynes, Hoover, Obama, and Roosevelt in this regard.

Monday, June 07, 2010

That's about right!

My 3 year old son had been pleading for something for his toy tractors to tow, and so last weekend, I got him one of these (toy, not real). Imagine my surprise when I found he'd put something appropriate into it: one of these.

Yup, that's about right. Well done, son!

If it weren't real,

this would be hilarious. Evidently a Republican lawmaker from Michigan is endorsing the idea of licensing journalists, making sure that they have journalism degrees (or "equivalent experience"), "good moral character," and requires three years of journalism experience to be given a license to practice journalism.

My favorite, of course, is the "catch 22" situation of requiring journalism experience to get journalism experience, but the other two are hilarious, too. When he was alive, my great uncle told my relatives and I about some of the parties he attended with greats like Ernie Pyle; suffice it to say that in today's world, the cigar and whiskey filled newsrooms would not yield too many people who could meet the "good moral character" test unless they were grading on a seriously generous curve. (on the bright side, it might send Ms. "Send them back to Auschwitz" Helen Thomas to a well deserved retirement....)

It's also worth noting that few of the great journalists of old actually had a degree in the same--including my uncle, Pyle, Pulitzer, and Peter Zenger. Back in the day, one learned the trade when editors realized a young man could write--whether or not the prospective reporter had a real degree (as opposed to a journalism degree) from a college or not.

In other words, too many today think that good quality press can be regulated. One would think that the history of Pravda and other state controlled media would disabuse us of this idea, but apparently not.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Shocker, this

Or not. Apparently, the TV series "Jersey Shore" features something else besides sex appeal, relationships, sun, partying and tattoos: rampant STDs. It's as if sleeping around has hazards or something in an age when about 70 million adults have a "gift that keeps on giving."

If only they'd show them going to their appointments and being told the consequences of what they've got, there might be something worthwhile in that show....

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Another explanation for the government response?

The American Thinker puts forth a very provocative thesis; that the incompetence shown by the Obama administration in dealing with the BP oil spill could be part of a coordinated Cloward-Piven strategy to achieve socialism by driving more and more people into dependence on the government.

I'm not generally one for conspiracies of this sort; what kind of insane person would intentionally drive a prosperous country to look and act like East Germany or Cuba? However, the ugly reality is that when you look at Obama's appointments, they are by and large the kind of people who would nod appreciatively at Cloward and Piven instead of administering the brutal mockery such an asinine idea deserves.

(Mr. Obama, tear down this wall?)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

All you need to know about the far left....

....can be summed up in recent statements by TV babble-fool Bill Maher (H/T SITD and Muckraker), who has called for President Obama to be a "real black man" (his words, not mine!) and show BP executives a gun in his pants to intimidate them and get the Gulf oil spill crisis resolved more quickly.

So what does this teach about the Maheresque left? First of all, if the gun is simply "in his pants," it shows that Maherites don't know how to carry a firearm safely and discreetly. You carry a pistol in a holster designed for that pistol to avoid accidental firing and dropping.

It also shows that they believe that "the right people," but not you, ought to be able to carry firearms--and that "the right people" ought to be allowed brandish that firearm at you without legal consequence--for the "little people," of course, threatening someone with a gun is a felony.

Going further, Maher evidently believes that showing a lethal threat to BP executives is going to motivate them more--as if the reality of the loss of about a third of BP's market value and huge liability lawsuits does not motivate them already, and as if it will somehow do some good to activate the "fight or flight" reaction in executives that the President desperately needs to have thinking, not fighting or fleeing.

Most hilarious, though, is Maher's apparent idea that the Commander in Chief of the deadliest military the world has ever known needs to carry his own gun in order to persuade people that he means business.

And then there's the racist insinuation of suggesting that a "real black man" would have acted like a gangster rapper, too. Racism, totalitarianism, thuggishness, and a complete lack of sense; you'll find it in the far left in abundance.