Monday, December 31, 2007

Baby Announcement

It took me over a week to send out the word to my friends, and now a week after that, I finally found time to post to the blog!

Little Aaron was born exactly two weeks past his due date on Dec 13th, 12:07 AM and immediately made it into the heavyweight category at 10 lbs 12 0z and 21.5 inches long. The hospital didn't have big enough diapers in the delivery room! Residents were on tour through my recovery room to see the 'big baby,' and every time the pediatrician-on-call came into the room, there was some comment about having a baby the size of a two-month-old. And, no, there was no evidence of gestational diabetes according to a glucose tolerance test administered two weeks before.

I'll avoid any further details about the actual event except to say that the induction was absolutely the best idea (the baby did not seem ready to go anywhere on his own) and the epidural was heavenly--and that's not even an exageration. Kudos go to my doctor for scheduling when he was on call, knowing me and my history well enough to let me give this delivery the old college try, and having a whole team on hand in case of some typical problems encountered with delivering large babies (not needed, thankfully).

The desire to tell the 'birth story' is fairly overwhelming (part of the pride of accomplishing something so awesome), but for sake of my modesty (in a few months and years I just look back on that kind of stuff and blush) and because I don't want to strike fear into the hearts of those who may be facing this in the future (being in the situation is completely different anyway--the reason all pregnant women should think twice before watching the videos so helpfully offered up at child birth classes).

Ta Da!


He did look a bit like he was hit by a truck (and I felt the same way for over two weeks), but he looks much better now--less bruised.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Overdue Baby!

I announced my pregnancy a really long time ago--and guess what! I'm still pregnant. Eight days overdue and still counting. I'm still debating about going for an induction, although recently leaning towards just doing it. I'm still fairly comfortable--I can sleep OK (at least better now than when the baby finally arrives) and still getting around. The baby, however, is BIG! He measured 10 lbs on the ultrasound and he's only going to get bigger. I am nervous about needing a c-section if we decide to induce, but I'm also nervous about needing a c-section if I wait. Scheduling the induction also means that I can line up my parents to take care of my girls while I'm in the hospital.

My other two girls were all natural (planned and unplanned) and I think I'm going to epidural it this time. Someone was trying to talk me out of it (just like I probably did to some other poor mother at some point) and for the life of me, I just can't imagine why I wouldn't go for the epidural. I know why I didn't the first time--scaredy cat! Long needles, spines, possibility of having too much medicine and not being able to walk aferward, not enough medicine and it not taking, being under constant monitoring so you can't walk around, spinal headaches--yadda, yadda, yadda. All good reasons--but I think I'll definitely consider it this time around.

Same thing with the induction--natural isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be!

Movie Recommendation--Original Cheaper by the Dozen from 1950

Cheaper By the Dozen

This is a great movie adapted from Cheaper by the Dozen, a book written by two of the children. Do not confuse it with the movie staring Steve Martin. My daughter and I watched it and we enjoyed the humor as well as the parent's very active parenting style! I particularly enjoyed when the father talked about 'no formal lessons' and the dining room is painted with information about the solar system. No formal learning, but certainly an environment in which to learn.

Newest Reading

Here is what my eight year-old has read so far this school year (on her own with very little reading aloud from the parents):

Most of The Secret Garden
A Nancy Drew book (can't remember which one)
Graphic novel of Frankenstein
Graphic novel of Black Beauty
Junie B., First Grader: Boo...and I MEAN it!
The Snow Spider (Book 1 of the Magician Trilogy, 160 pages, no illustrations)
Emlyn's Moon (Book 2 of the Magician Trilogy, 176 pages, no illustrations)
Part of Chestnut Soldier (Book 3 of the Magician Trilogy, 208 pages, no illustrations)
The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1) (288 pages, very few illustrations)
The Unusual Suspects (The Sisters Grimm, Book 2) (288 pages, very few illustrations)
The Problem Child (The Sisters Grimm, Book 3) (304 pages, very few illustrations)
1/2 of The Edge Chronicles Book 1: Beyond the Deepwoods (288 pages, pen and ink drawings frequently appear along with the text)
Various stories from the Grimm Borthers

Reading along to an audio book:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Audio only:

The Golden Compass
The Subtle Knife
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Interesting Posts in the World of Parenting from a Homeschooler

I'm putting up this link because the posts are long and interesting and about thinking about parenting. Hope you enjoy! The link goes to The Thinking Mother.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Golden Compass Audio Book Review (and History Plug)

Since the movie of The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials Trilogy Book 1) is coming out in early December, I decided to get the audio book for my oldest (8 1/2 year-old).

We've listened to the whole thing, listened to the second book, and are listening to The Golden Compass again.

The book has some religious references (a subject of which my daughter, being raised by an atheist, is fairly ignorant) like the creation myth, the story of Adam and Eve, original sin, and Lucifer. Some of the stories are explained in the book. Others (like the reference to Eve), I explained myself.

Thanks to Elisa's European history class last year with History at Our House, I was able to explain the setting of the story. I reminded her of the middle ages and how the church was able to control everyone's religion and how Joan of Arc had been executed as a heretic, a person stating something different from what the church said. This is very important to understand in The Golden Compass because the world in the story is run by the church and people who seek power in the church.

Interesting reading--even though physics gets mixed up with supporting 'conscious' particles of dust.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Atlas Shrugged is Number One!


In best selling downloads for classics at Audible.com, that is! Notice that Fountainhead is right there as well.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Columbus Day Work

Here we have it: Wednesday evening I realized that Columbus Day was this coming Monday! I never have done much with the kids in anticipation of any holiday. I figured I could start this week.

I know a lot of people might frown on worksheets. One homeschool mom even expressed incredulity that my children would actually voluntarily do them. I find them, at worst, innocuous, and at best, entertaining and educational (for my kids as well as myself--"what do you mean that's grade level?").

I found some nice activity sheets for Columbus Day at abcteach.com, enchantedlearning.com and about.homeschool.

Some are coloring pages, but others are Columbus Day reading comprehensions, spelling units, word searches, and crossword puzzles.

It also gave me a prompt to talk to my 8 1/2 year old daughter about Columbus and his current reputation (even pointing out why people who vilify Columbus are wrong).

She went out of her way to write about Columbus on her own:

Christopher Columbus was born in 1451. He was 41when he went to what he
thought was Asia and died when he was 55. Christopher was at sea for three
months. When Columbus’ men were ready to give up, Columbus gave them courage.
Columbus wasn’t the first one to have found America but he was the first one to do
something about it. He was the first one to have done something about a
continent that had almost no civil things in it. And that’s why we still
celebrate Columbus today.


The 'perseverance' was put in there because we did a literature unit with that theme!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kids--Not One Size Fits All

One of the first things I did when I decided to homeschool was stock up on historical fiction. Since my eldest's history program was European History, I got a lot of middle-ages related things. The Royal Diaries series was very popular. A book I was determined to get was a very adapted Robin Hood (by Anne Ingle). I thought I would have to 'assign' it, but my daughter started reading it in the store that afternoon and finished it the next morning. She has been a Robin Hood fan ever since.

Recently I rented both the Disney version of Robin Hood and the 1922 Errol Flynn movie. She loved the old movie (which was nicely colorized)--even with it's differences from the book.

She tried to show it to her friend (from the sleepover) and this girl had NO patience for an old movie! She just wanted to know why she couldn't watch the Disney channel.

Discipline

My eldest daughter had a sleepover on Saturday. The girl is a good friend from Montessori school. Her mother is as involved in her child's education as you would generally expect an "upper"-middle class parent to be when they would shell out $20K a year for two kids in private school.

An interesting choice that has prevailed in her house, until recently, has been laxity in the rules at home. I've gone over to the house to see the child standing on chairs, standing on the coffee table, sitting on the table, and walking on furniture--even the back of the couch. When I first saw the child do something like that, I would correct her--"chairs are for sitting." After visiting more frequently, I got to see her do this behavior while her mother was also in the room. She was not corrected! This has changed recently. I imagine that what seemed acceptable or bearable from a kindergartener started to be obviously inappropriate, outlandish, and out-of-control for a 3rd-grader.

I do not mean this as a put-down of the mother's parenting style. We've all made 'foresight' mistakes. We may not realize how annoying a behavior could be until the child did it all the time. Or perhaps we saw that it was affecting how they behave at other homes or in-school. We all need to decide on house-rules and how to enforce them and we often have to come at it from a hit-or-miss approach until we find out what works. I've often been in the dilemma of being unable to come up with the right consequence. Sometimes the pain of trying to change an ingrained habit and guilt for realizing we've left it go for too long can be a detriment to change at all.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Well-Trained Mind and Montessori?

I have a confession to make about my homeschooling. I am never happy with the curriculum I buy to leave well-enough alone. With the exception of history (History at Our House). I find more and more that I like to go back to a lot of the Montessori materials and activities--without the total freedom usually assumed in a Montessori curriculum. There are a few reasons I do not do a full Montessori curriculum. For one thing, my kids just aren't as motivated to do the work at home as they are when surrounded by a bunch of other kids also working. Another reason is that it seems that Montessori's curriculum was not very fully developed and while it is strong in math, reading, and grammar, it is weak in science, writing, and history. Yet another reason is actually part of the curriculum itself. Sometimes I think it is OK to help kids "get" the next step by explaining it rather than waiting for them to figure it out on their own.

Here I will attempt to capture what I remember of the beginning reading program. I think there are some really great approaches here that anyone interested in phonics might like.

My two kids were in Montessori pre-school and kindergarten prior to being homeschooled. Maria Montessori believed that every activity needs to be concrete and tactile. My eldest catches on quickly and she spent a lot of time practicing her skills but was able to work with long vowel sounds (the last step in this beginning reading program) by the end of Kindergarten. My younger daughter (currently a "first grader" according to CT, but would be a kindergartener in every other state due to her late birthday) took much longer to work through the material and made it onto spelling with consonant blends and reading Bob books.

Children learned all of the letter sounds right away. In our school they sang a song. "Apple, apple, a, a, a; baby, baby, b, b, b; car, car, c, c, c." They would hold up a binder with the letter shape on one side and a picture of the noun with the beginning sound on the other. After a while you could add your own words and then help the child figure out the beginning sound.

Along with that, they introduced the sandpaper letters. The letters would be printed about 4" tall and made of sandpaper mounted to wood. Some Montessori homeschoolers actually cut letters out of sandpaper and mount them to cardstock or cardboard. I would think they could be made by painting the letters in glue and sprinkling sand over them. The children would trace the letters with their finger while repeating the letter sound over and over. My eldest started learning the letter sounds in her pre-K year in September and knew all of her letter sounds in November.

Once the kids knew most of the letter sounds, they would begin matching an object (an actual little figure--homeschoolers look for dollar store items, magnets of common things, small figures, etc) with it's beginning letter sound. How the middle (vowel sound) and end sounds were determined, I don't know.

Once the child could remember most letters and identify beginning, middle, and ending sounds, the children begin work with the movable alphabet. Montessori found that spelling was an easier exercise than reading and so her first task for the child is to spell. Again, real objects are used in the Montessori classroom (homeschoolers try to find objects, but if that fails, then pictures or clip art can be used as well). The moveable alphabet is just that--all of the lowercase letters are stored in a separated tray and the children take out the objects (perhaps things using the 'a' sound--like fan, man, can, ham, etc--nouns). The child will then take the object and then figure out the letter sounds for the beginning sound of the object and place that actual letter next to the object. Then the child tries to find the middle sound and physically places that letter to the right of the beginning sound. By the time they get to the last sound they have spelled the word. Sometimes the child then copies the words they've spelled onto paper as a kind of copywork exercise.

It is important to note that Montessori teachers do not usually correct the child. The Montessori materials have "control charts" which contain the answers so the child can correct their own work. For instance, for the spelling exercise above, a word chart with a picture of the object and the spelling of the word is stored with the material. When the child first gets the material to work on it, they would take the "control" or answer sheet, to the teacher. When they've done their best and are ready to check, they get the answer sheet and can look at each word. If a word is wrong, they then change it to match the control. When a Montessori teacher sees that a child is doing something incorrectly, they go over the proper technique again rather than correcting the child's work. An example in handwriting would be "The capital T starts all the way at the top line and goes all the way to the bottom line," rather than "Tommy, your capital Ts are too short."

I can get frustrated when my child doesn't seem to understand why she needs to do something again, but I am mindful of how sensitive my youngest can be with correction. I might point out the proper technique and then ask her to evaluate her own work. "The capital T starts all the way at the top line and goes all the way to the bottom line. How does your capital T look?"

Once the child does fairly well spelling three letter words (lots and lots of practice), Montessori moves onto spelling phonetic words that are longer and contain consonant blends and double letters (bell, stem, basket, pumpkin). It is at this time that the child also begins reading. Instead of using the moveable alphabet, the child has objects or pictures and words cards and plays matching with them. The child finds a word, sounds it out (here we're starting with the three letter phonetic words again) and then finds the matching pictures and puts them together, one above the other. Another option is the read the card and find that thing in their environment (like 'cup' or 'desk'). As with the spelling, the matching moves from very simple to more complex.

Another great reading activity are the Montessori command cards. Where the children are spelling and matching nouns--the beginning reading command cards have kids performing verbs--nothing motivates my reluctant reader faster! Her first command cards are the simple three-letter phonetic words like "hop," "hum," "jog." You can then move onto "stand," "jump," "bark," "skip." When she reads the card, she has to perform that action--which she finds very rewarding.

Once the child is fairly practiced at sounding out three letter words and words with blends, they are moved onto books that contain short phrases (though not necessarily whole sentences or a story) and there are still picture clues. One page might have "a muffin tin" and the next could be "egg basket."

As you can see, everything in beginning reading is very tactile and hands-on.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Halloween!

OK--Not everyone starts panicking about Halloween a month and a half early. BUT! But I just remembered that one of my partial plans from last year is still incomplete (my youngest daughter has accessories for her costume but NO DRESS) and the other plan was just completely wiped out. My oldest daughter was all set to be Joan of Arc this year (I was able to get the knight costume half-off), except she decided that dressing as a boy was not going to cut it. C'est la vie!

After checking my usual cheaper-costume stand-bys, I realized that I couldn't find a costume I liked for my younger daughter. It's been about six years since I attempted to make one myself. As you can guess, like labor, the pains of that other creative exercise have also faded. Thus I went to the fabric store today and bought a couple of possible patterns (I won't really decide which one to use until I balance total cuteness against number of seams and difficulty of closures) and some stretchy crushed velvet.

OK--I haven't sewn a costume in six years. I haven't sewn anything seriously in much longer than that. I've NEVER sewn stretchy material before. Thus, hope springs eternal and I'm panicking over Halloween!

To make the weakness of mind even more apparent--while flipping through the pattern book, I was wondering which costume my OTHER daughter would like best!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

No-Blogging Excuses

So after we got back from visiting my folks, I had to do something about my house. Some people might call it "nesting." A weird term for pregnant women who clean the house. I decided to try to have a school room this year (instead of a school kitchen table and pantry shelves). We have a large area in our upstairs that we call a landing (don't see those much in modern homes) that is currently holding piles of school stuff. I had been going to use the dining room, but couldn't bring myself to give up a room that I actually use when company comes over. Right now I'm using it with my newest distraction (so below).

After that, I organized the pantry, removed a bunch of junk from the kitchen, and washed the walls and woodwork (that were visible) in the downstairs. It makes the place look really fresh. I do something like that once, oh, maybe every lifetime. Or maybe it's once a kid?

With the house nice and neat, I've started some nicely cluttering puzzles. The kids and I always check out the puzzles at the Christmas Tree Shoppe. This time they both got a 100 peice puzzle with pictures of Fairies (the five year-old needs some help with these). Daddy and I got the following:



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Are You Ready for Some Sex?


From the messed up files of the Catholic Church (actually James Brundage), comes the "Is Sex OK right now?" flow chart. From Boing Boing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Atlas Shrugged is a Landmark in Time

This article about the York High School class of '57 uses Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand as a seminal event in the passage of time.

Video Game Dealing with Morals?

There has been a lot of hype about the recently released BioShock video game. Some early reviews have related it back to Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I can't get through the hype enough to know whether that is good or bad for Objectivists.

Review of High School Musical 2

LA Times has a review of High School Musical 2. They like it even better than the first one! Of the climax of the film, they say:


So while the Wildcats learn a few hard lessons of the workplace (bosses can be mean!), Sharpay attempts to seduce Troy with the possibility of the ambitious life, which could result in a basketball scholarship to the University of Albuquerque. Heady stuff, and our boy is tempted, much to the dismay of his friends (hence Gabriella's sad song). But this is Disney, which is to say not Ayn Rand, and so the needs of the individual will always bow to the collective, with the requisite ginormous dance number.

Of course, this shows a misunderstanding of Rand in that it's not the "collective" winning out if he really thinks it's important to follow through with his friends. If he did it because his friends made him feel guilty and he really wanted the basketball scholarship and went with his friends begrudgingly and with resentment, then the interpretation would be right. As it stands, it is Disney, and a Disney kid would think it was more important to stick with his friends than to see himself with a really promising future. Go figure.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fifth Objectivist Round Up




Welcome to the August 16, 2007 edition of objectivist round up. There are a number of great contributions this week. Wonderful insights to great sense-of-life posts are found here.


Ergo presents Why Choose to Live? posted at Leitmotif, saying, "Is the choice to live a pre-moral choice? If so, then why should anyone ought to choose life? I attempt to offer an answer to these questions."

Nicholas Provenzo presents Hillary Clinton’s Uncle Ellsworth posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, "Hillary Clinton’s Uncle Ellsworth"

joetab24 presents My Thoughts: The Economics of Work posted at My Thoughts, saying, "An objectivist view of the economics of teaching"

Rational Jenn presents Parenting With Objectivist Principles: Honesty posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "This time, I considered different ways my husband and I demonstrate and promote the virtue of Honesty to our kids."

Flibbert presents Define Discrimination posted at Flibbertigibbet, saying, "This week it's far less swearing and cursing, but only thanks to the mountain of self-restraint I keep piled up around my computer. Apparently there's a church in Texas that won't do funerals for gay men, but they don't call it discrimination. But as usual it's not the hate and discrimination that bother me, it's the dishonesty."

Myrhaf presents Long Day posted at Myrhaf, saying, "I'll go with this post about making music since it's positive, whereas my other posts are about politics -- which is always negative!"

Kim (that's me) presents A Surprise in a Bit of Tawdry Gossip posted at Kim's Play Place, saying, "I think this view is a bit of fresh air from the entitlement mentality of a lot of people."

That concludes this jam-packed, full of information and good bits, edition of our carnival. Submit your blog article to the next edition of objectivist round up using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. If you are interested in hosting drop me a line.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

My Favorite Club Song from College

Flibbert has the You Tube video of Jump Around by House of Pain! Great song to get you moving.

Fall Asleep Easier--Nightmares Await


OK--I know I said I was going to take a break--but I had to get this off my mind. Doesn't this make you think that you'll experience nightmares of drowning over and over again? No? Just me, huh? With pregnancy hormones I have nightmares pretty easily, but I still think this is just too creepy.

A Little Vacation

Heading off to visit the folks this weekend. I think we'll be taking in the grand sights of the City of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia, just in case you've been stuck in a cave for the last century, or aren't from the east coast) and some of the Jersey shore. And visiting a lot of relatives!

Philadelphia is a great place to visit with American History coming up this year. There's the Betsy Ross house, the meeting location of the First Continental Congress, Independence Hall where much of the business of revolution was decided, and the Liberty Bell, which was rung to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Objectivist Round Up #4--A Menagerie

We have another Objectivist Round Up! The posts span the gamut from seeking knowledge, to government, to sense-of-life.



Bill Brown presents An Inconvenient Uncertainty posted at bblog. Getting a handle on the state of science, not consensus.

Stella presents Lybrel: A study in wasted resources posted at ReasonPharm. The FDA and a discussion how it affects prescriptions and insurance coverage.

Rational Jenn presents Compulsory Education Versus Compulsory Attendance posted at Rational Jenn. What the government can and can't mandate (as opposed to should, of course).

Craig Ceely presents The politics -- and economics -- of Prohibition posted at The Anger of Compassion. How can economics drive politics?

Aaron presents The Tie posted at Thought Laboratory. Swimming against the tide (no pun, right?) of casual dress.

Flibbert presents Doggess, Please posted at Flibbertigibbet. A post discussing the recent NYC council attempts. Not for the faint-of-heart when it comes to vulgarities. I definitely learned at least one new term!

I present Another Article Attacking a Neo-Atheist and Promoting Religion posted at Kim's Play Place. I have spent time looking at articles about the slew of recent anti-religion books and articles in response. I do not have the arguments in this debate down pat. In checking out this article, though, something struck me. The true division between the "new" atheists and religion is shown. And I've seen it somewhere before....

That concludes this wonderful collection. If you would like to submit your blog article to the next edition of objectivist round up, please use our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

If you like the carnival, please consider: hosting, posting, or putting up a post so readers can find the current one!

As a big "thank you" to all of the bloggers who submitted and helped me discover so many great reads out there, all of the submitters' names went into a hat for a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift certificate! Rational Jenn is the lucky winner. The Amazon gift certificate is electronic so as soon as I figure it out, you should see it in your inbox. I won't be able to do this regularly (not having an income and all), but may choose to do so again in the future.

Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Bird, It's a Plane! It's the Perseids!

As long as it doesn't rain or get cloudy this weekend, the Perseid meteor should be awesome to check out. The reason why this year's show promises to be so good? No moon! Yes! A meteor shower without competing moonshine (unless you plan to bring your own) is much easier to see. The peak is Sunday night, but you should be able to see some on Saturday night too. If you can, try to get to an area away from a city to remove light pollution.

Let the little ones see how late they can stay up!

To see the show, one need only find a comfortable spot with a clear view of the northeast horizon, away from local lights. A dark rural location is best. Lie back on a blanket or lounge chair and scan the entire sky. In the late evening, starting around 9 p.m. local time, sharp-eyed observers might see "earthgrazing" meteors that skim the northeast horizon.

Munsters and Papercraft--These are a Few of My Favorite Things

This is made from paper! I have been into making cool things from paper ever since I discovered The ToyMaker. After that, I found a site to make cool and creepy Halloween crafts for my kids (complete with haunted cemetery play set, evil dice, pocket monsters, and tons more). Now here is a papercraft model of the Munster's awesome car. From Boing Boing.

Get Your SkyMap Here!

August skymap is available!

Frictionless Machines--Bring it On!

According to this article at the Telegraph, scientists have discovered a way for molecular-level forces to be reversed.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have worked out a way of reversing this pheneomenon, known as the Casimir force, so that it repels instead of attracts.

Their discovery could ultimately lead to frictionless micro-machines with moving parts that levitate But they say that, in principle at least, the same effect could be used to levitate bigger objects too, even a person.

Another Life Enriched by Atlas Shrugged

Tom Robotham at Portfolio Weekly reminisces about his less-than spectacular summer jobs in college. Hindsight shows that his efforts, though not directly linked to his specific career helped him. He also talks about the benefits of extended subway rides where he got to do a lot of reading:

Instead, within the space of minimal but significant structure and discipline, I ended up doing a lot of reading and thinking about life and its possibilities. I remember, in particular, reading Atlas Shrugged that first summer on countless subway rides. After I’d emerge from a station, I’d reflect on the story. And with New York’s great skyscrapers as a backdrop—towering symbols of human aspiration—I grew excited by my own prospects. I wanted to strive for excellence in one endeavor or another while also never forgetting that anyone and everyone I might meet, from college professors to corporate CEOs to the old men who sat on the benches in Battery Park, harboring lifetimes of unshared wisdom in their hearts—potentially had something to teach me.

I'm always heartened to know that Ayn Rand's work has helped others to see man's excellence.

Carnival of Education

At Education in Texas. You know, everything's bigger in Texas!

Carnival of Homeschooling

At NerdFamily! It's huge--so enjoy!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Principled Government Carnival #11

At Question the Culture.

Tribune Editorial in Praise of Atlas Shrugged

Defending freedom, vigorously

The author recognizes Ayn Rand's unique perspective and it is a very positive article talking about why Atlas Shrugged still resonates.

Becoming Jane Star's Favorite Book--

Atlas Shrugged! I have like Anne Hathaway ever since Ella Enchanted (great movie that should be on everyone's shelf). In this interview, Anne Hathaway says her favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

“It’s very plausible that something like this could have happened to Jane, but it’s equally plausible that it didn’t,” says Hathaway, whose own favorite book is “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. “It’s a love story, but it’s also a portrait of an artist."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Another Article Attacking a Neo-Atheist and Promoting Religion

In the Daily Mail, Melanie Philips believes that a disbelief in God allows people then to believe in anything (like quack cures and kooky conspiracy theories) and that science is to blame. One point in her favor is the idea that when science promises to provide answers (as she claims Dawkins does), and the answers themselves are nonsensical, people then eschew belief in science, too.

Disturbing indeed. But where Dawkins goes wrong is to assume this is all as irrational as believing in God. The truth is that it is the collapse of religious faith that has prompted the rise of such irrationality.

We are living in a scientific, largely post-religious age in which faith is presented as unscientific superstition. Yet paradoxically, we have replaced such faith by belief in demonstrable nonsense.

It was GK Chesterton who famously quipped that "when people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing - they believe in anything." So it has proved. But how did it happen?

...

The heart of the Judeo-Christian tradition is the belief in the concept of truth, which gives rise to reason. But our postreligious age has proclaimed that there is no such thing as objective truth, only what is "true for me".

That is because our society won't put up with anything which gets in the way of 'what I want'. How we feel about things has become all-important. So reason has been knocked off its perch by emotion, and thinking has been replaced by feelings.

This has meant our society can no longer distinguish between truth and lies by using evidence and logic. And this collapse of objective truth has, in turn, come to undermine science itself which is playing a role for which it is not fitted.

When science first developed in the West, it thought of itself merely as a tool to explore the natural world. It did not pour scorn upon religion; indeed, scientists were overwhelmingly religious believers (as many still are).

In modern times, however, science has given rise to 'scientism', the belief that science can answer all the questions of human existence. This is not so.

Science cannot explain the origin of the universe. Yet it now presumes to do so and as a result it has descended into irrationality.

The most conspicuous example of this is provided by Dawkins himself, who breaks the rules of scientific evidence by seeking to claim that Darwin's theory of evolution - which sought to explain how complex organisms evolved through random natural selection - also accounts for the origin of life itself.

There is no evidence for this whatever and no logic to it. After all, if people say God could not have created the universe because this gives rise to the question "Who created God?", it follows that if scientists say the universe started with a big bang, this prompts the further question "What created the bang?"



The ending is pretty weak. Talking about how "intelligent design" promoters are shot down by not obeying the scientific principle of evidence in support of one's theory and then stating that some scientists are ignoring that principle well. She does hit on a couple of important points. She discovers the exact false dilemma that Leonard Peikoff discusses in his "Disintegration, Integration, and Misintegration (DIM)" hypothesis. Most people are only aware of religion (truth handed down from "on-high") and subjectivism (anything goes because you can't know anything anyway). I am lucky enough to know that I can have a solid basis for knowledge and values that is anchored in reality, not religion.

What it comes down to, is that because this columnist doesn't know about Objectivism, she gives a bogus argument for religion because it is anti-scepticism.

Pre-Teen Going on 30

Mostly because their parents are buying them clothes, beauty products and procedures you and I wouldn't have imagined until high school.

As a step-mother to a girl who was 11 when she began wearing make-up, got her hair highlighted, and had her first "boyfriend," I can see the damage this type of leniency has done. She was so concerned with her looks and social life and friends that she has no academic ambition at all. School is a place she goes to get away from her mom and hang out with her friends and boyfriend. Not a place where anything actually sinks into her grey-matter.

Just imagine how these girls will turn out. The moms express "concern" but say they feel powerless to stop it, or just feel like "maybe it's too much." If you can't put your foot down about this kind of stuff that oversexualizes and over-emphasizes appearance, is there anything that will be enforced? Some choice quotes:

At the weekends, it takes longer. Bethany — who has £70 worth of beauty treatments each week, including a spray tan, pedicure, manicure and eyebrow wax — applies St Tropez blusher, pink eye shadow and mascara. [That is a LOT of makeup! FOR A NINE YEAR-OLD!!]

She prefers to use a Chanel foundation over her moisturiser, but as her 37-year-old mother Catherine, a qualified beautician, puts it, perhaps somewhat mildly: "She's a bit young for that."

She has a point. Bethany is nine years old.

...

"It started when she was eight, and wanted highlights putting in her hair and her ears pierced. She said all her friends were having it done and so I let her. She's a determined girl, who likes to be thought of as cool. [Her mom is letting her give in to peer pressure. What about helping to develop character?]

"In many ways she isn't a child at all — her obsessions are clothes, hair and make-up.

"She adores pink clothes and goes out wearing tiny tops showing her tummy, skinny jeans and her Ugg boots.

...

Cheryl is divorced and also has a 14-year-old son, Caspar. Despite paying for her little girl's waxing treatments, she does admit to being disturbed by the way her daughter dances.

"She does all this very sexy dancing, 'shaking your booty' I think it's called. [Her mom allows her to idolize Britney Spears and Victoria Beckham. If you idolize someone who dances like a sex-pot and you're allowed to watch her video (where else could she be learning these move from?) or go to dances with significantly older kids, that's what you're going to do. Her mom could tell her if she dances like that she's not allowed to go out. Hmm--what an idea!]

But she has no idea how sexual the moves are. I wonder what's going to be left for her when she actually becomes a teenager — where is it all headed?" [Precisely. If she's already acting and being treated like a teenager at 11 years old, exactly what do you think she'll feel she's entitle to at 14? That her mom won't feel like she can or won't be able to stop.]

Indeed. Though it's impossible not to feel that Cheryl only has herself to blame for encouraging Belle to dress like an 18-year-old. [Ya think??]

Surely, she and Bethany's mother Catherine could stop pandering to their daughters' unhealthy obsession with their looks and refuse to pay for it? [Again, ya think??]

Catherine says: "If her nails need doing or the tan needs topping up, Bethany complains she doesn't feel right - a feeling lots of women can associate with." [Uh, only it's age appropriate for women and even then, lots of women have to make the choice between lattes, manicure, drinks out, or rent. These children are given everything without a sense of proportion or trade-off.]

Of course, the uncomfortable truth is that, like Belle, Bethany is not a woman, she's a child, one of thousands of young girls being bombarded by society's confused and damaging messages as they grow up — messages it appears are being reinforced by their mothers.

At a recent family party, Catherine recalls how a 14-year-old boy pursued her nine-year-old daughter.

"He wouldn't leave her alone all night, which made me feel very uncomfortable," says Catherine, who runs a furniture business with husband David, 42, in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. [A family party and she didn't step in? With the way she allows and encourages her daughter to dress as if she's older, certainly others will pick up on that message too and assume she is ready and willing to do things like an older kid. Perhaps that's what the kid wants? I'm glad her mom had the decency to be uncomfortable rather than admiring her daughter for being able to attract "older" guys.]

...

Pause for thought for Elima Jackson who spends £200 a month on beauty treatments for her ten-year-old twin daughters, Karolina and Daniela.

Both girls, who have modelled children's swimwear and dressing up costumes for Toys R Us, have expensive highlighted hair and go to a beauty salon near their home in Westgate-on-Sea in Kent each week to have manicures.

They may not be allowed to wear make-up to school, but they won't leave the house without running straighteners through their hair and spritzing themselves with Barbie perfume.

Far from being horrified that her ten-year-olds are obsessed with their looks, Elima, 30, encourages them.

She says: "I'm glad they like to look after themselves from such a young age."

...

And Cheryl is all too aware of the conflicts at the heart of her daughter Belle's world.
She says: "She is conscious of her body image and is always saying things like: 'I am far too fat, my stomach is too big.'

"She's still got a little girl's body, and she thinks there is something wrong with her because she doesn't look like a woman yet.

"One day last year she came downstairs wearing a tiny mini skirt with stockings," she recalls.

"She looked like a mini prostitute, and I had to tell her to get changed. She looks 14. It's frightening, but I don't know what I can do to stop her acting and dressing like a mini adult." [Maybe getting rid of TV, fan magazines, any Gossip Girl and Clique books, and magazines for 17 year-olds. To say that she doesn't know what to do means she's either not trying, not willing to put in the hard work now that it has gotten this far, or hasn't read anything about parenting. She's the parent!]

...

The Daily Mail columnist Bel Mooney, who lectures on the role pornography plays in society, says: "Go into town centres and you see pre-teen girls dressed as go-go dancers in mini skirts or navel-showing jeans with skimpy crop tops over their flat chests.

"Do parents have to hammer the nails in the coffin of innocence themselves?"

Set stories such as this together with the release of a UN study in February which said British children were the unhappiest and unhealthiest in the developed world, and a very worrying picture of Britain's young girls begins to emerge.

And what is especially worrying of all is the role of parents in all this and what appears to be an increasing inability to say 'no'.

Belle's mother Cheryl says: "I suppose the obvious response is that I could stop her, but the trouble is all her friends are dressing and acting like this, and she says it would make her too different." [Now would be the time to enforce the idea that your family rule don't change because of other people. A bit of difference is always a good thing, and about this kind of stuff, it's a great thing. Besides, is it true that all her friends are doing it?]

Elima, mother of Karolina and Daniela, adds: "My partner rolls his eyes at the girls' beauty regime and says they should be concentrating on their studies.

"But I don't see anything wrong with what they are doing."

Meanwhile Catherine says her husband David is unhappy about Bethany's obsession with beauty.

"He's always telling her: 'You've got to be a child and that means you shouldn't be standing in front of the mirror putting make-up on.'

"I wouldn't let her wear heels or low-cut tops because that definitely sexualises children, but I don't worry about Bethany wearing make-up." [What is this woman thinking?]


There is, unfortunately, much more in the full article (including pictures). For mothers and fathers of five and six year-olds, it is NOT too early to start thinking about the type of eight year-old you're willing to have in your house. Reasonable boundaries need to be set and followed. Give your girls a chance to have self-esteem apart from their appearance. Allow them to do things! Show them how to play chess, build stuff, cook, make something they can use (not some standard school craft, but something real). Allow them to feel accomplished in other areas.

And the first time they ask for make up, and every time they ask thereafter, set down the law. My daughters aren't allowed to any colored make up until the summer before high school (cover up for pimples and such will be OK). And then it will be brought in slowly, as she shows she can be responsible with it.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Secular Defense of the Founding of America

Rational Jenn points to a letter to the editor posted at the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism talking about how America was not founded on Christian principles. After being asked for some documentation, Edward Cline has a post on The Dugout providing examples. It's long and has a lot of quotes.

Trying to Advance Math and Science through Legislative Fiat

Congress plans on spending a lot of money to promote "competitiveness" with other countries that are producing more scientists and engineers. The legislation will throw money toward ill-defined causes according to the article. ConcernedCTParent also catches the idea that we don't really know what will be supported.

Hopefully some of the research they support will actually be well-done and useful. One can always hope. We got to where we are now with vague ideas and no research.

Ayn Rand Mention

An off-hand Ayn Rand mention in this article. The author was reading her novels in high school.

A Surprise in a Bit of Tawdry Gossip

In perusing the Daily Mail, I ran across an article that delves into Keira Knightley's grandmother's personal affairs. Apparently she had given up a son into adoption after discovering the man she met and married in a whirlwind romance already had a wife. The Daily Mail decides to track this guy down and deliver the news that his neice is Keira Knightley. Here's his response:

How does he feel now that the Mail has broken to him the news that he has a half-sister whose daughter is one of Hollywood's most high-profile stars?

"Good on her," he says of Keira. "I'm very pleased for her. It's nice to have a niece who is known and proficient in her calling. Someone who does a job well should get all the plaudits they deserve.

"But that's her life. It's not mine. I am who I am. I'm very pleased about it, but it won't change my life one jot. Why should it? The cult of celebrity has passed me by."
As for whether he will get in touch, his reaction is an antidote to our Big Brother worshipping society.

"I am somewhat ambivalent. You don't want to intrude in other people's lives. I hate the modern way of hugs and tears and all that."


What a great response. He appreciates people's good work, he understands that just because one shares a biological bond does not necessitate an emotional one when one never existed, and doesn't seek unearned fame. Sounds like the kind of person more youngsters could learn from.

Nostalgia Goes On and On


The Lego Desk (from NewLaunches).

Friday, August 03, 2007

Can Democrats Learn from Poor Taxation Policy of the Past?

That's the question in this Opinion Journal article.

Brave Acts

Just when I think animal lovers are about to lead us all to the slaughter for the sake of wild animals who should be able to live in peace in the areas as us, I run across a story where someone actually does the right thing.

Mark Patterson kicked, choked and wrestled a cougar to rescue a 12-year-old boy from the jaws of the big cat..

...

Patterson said five soccer kicks to the cat's head were not enough to wrench the boy's head from the animal's mouth. So he put a chokehold on the cougar "and squeezed as hard as I could, and he finally let go."

...

The cougar finally slinked away as Patterson's wife stood nearby armed with a meat cleaver. Later Wednesday, park conservation officers shot and killed the cougar near the community of Clinton.


And then come the inevitable excuses for the animal:

Conservation officer Rod Olsen said the cougar may have mistaken the boy for a deer or mountain sheep because the attack occurred in an area where such prey is common.

Why can't some people ever accept the idea that wild predators can and will attack humans? Predators instinctually go after anything they think would make a good meal. Heck, even my dog will try to take down the kids if they run around and trigger his predator instincts. By take down, I mean he'll run after them and jump on them. But, as all dog trainers will tell you, even a dog you believe is safe can be triggered in some way by the behavior of people around them.

Zimbabwe Keeps Getting Worse

Just in case you thought things in Zimbabwe were so bad, they couldn't get worse, Reason Hit and Run talks about Mugabe doing the most asinine thing yet--price controls. They also point out how his failed price controls are just what congress talks about when they talk about price-gouging legislation. Hopefully even congress can figure out what that would mean.

Some Reasons Why One Might Homeschool

At the Roanoke Times.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Bears--Oh My!

Remember when bears were dangerous animals you tried to stay away from and who feared human disturbances enough to remove themselves from inhabited areas? Apparently that lesson is lost in Tahoe.

The front window of their sturdy mountain home had been smashed, and when Danny Hyde, a school principal, opened the front door, he discovered that a bear and two cubs had taken up residence.

...

The Lake Tahoe area is experiencing a rise in home invasions by bears.

...

Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League, which promotes human-bear co-existence, estimates there are five bear break-ins around Lake Tahoe every night. Jason Holley, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, believes the number is twice that.

...

She tries to modify the behavior of bears and humans but says bears are easier to retrain than humans.

She urges residents to remove food from vacant houses and install double locks, double window panes, shutters, barking-dog alarms and metal containers, or bear boxes, with keys to secure garbage.

...

Ms. Bryant recalls one morning feeling a nudge on her elbow while stirring oatmeal. A bear wanted breakfast.

Adult black bears can weigh as much as 400 pounds, and while many have lost their fear of humans, they are capable of inflicting harm.

...

Once a bear becomes a nuisance, California residents can request a depredation permit to have it killed, although that creates new risks. Recently one homeowner found his bear trap sabotaged and signs posted with his name, phone number and the appellation “bear killer.”

“I feel violated. There’s a predator out there who wants something I have,” said Mr. Hyde, who admits he feels conflicted. “Nobody wants a depredation permit because of the residual community reaction.”

His wife, Catherine, said, “There’s no good solution.”


So bears break into houses, show no fear of people, and have more offspring that they're teaching to do the same. And somehow humans are supposed to co-exist with the bears?

Once you've shown a bear is a menace, your neighbors will harass you and prevent you from following the law because they love the menacing bear? Life loving people who don't want bears in their kitchen are supposed to be "retrained" by these animal lovers?

How inhumane and condescending. As though humans are worse than the wild animals and that we should have to make way for marauding wild life.

Gwen Stefani Capitulates

Malaysian Islamic students protested Gwen Stefani's performance because of, um, well, Gwen Stefani. They don't want her to wear revealing outfits or do anything naughty on stage. Gwen said "Go to Hell. This is my show. People here like my music. They are lining up to see my show. If you don't like it, you get everyone else not to come. I'm doing my show the way I designed and rehearsed it for the type of culture that would allow an artist like me to exist and become popular. If you don't like it, then stuff it. If you won't let me perform it the way I see fit, then call me back when you get some good ideas."

Oh, wait...That's what I imagine Gwen Stefani would have said if we lived in a world that made sense. Instead, she has modified her show and allowed the backwardness to win out even though if she had been in Malaysia she would have probably been flogged by now for her work.

NCTM Says for Families to Take Math Seriously

And I'm just wondering when they will. Dont' forget the NCTM was the organization to bring us the justification for "new" math.

Edukey points to this article featuring former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Gail Burrill.

Diet Soda--Low in Sugar, High in Caffeine

Of course this list was published to help you realize how much caffeine you're consuming and help cut it back. For those of us trying to up our caffeine intake, the list can be very helpful. In the intro they pick on Coke (my favorite) even though Pepsi is at the top. (From Neatorama)

"Black" Budget

Reason Hit and Run thinks it's good news that the budget for classified and clandestine activities has not increased by thinks the $31.9 billion price tag is too much. Personally, I think the US should have a great deal invested in operations that improve our security--either through developing new weapons, spying, developing new defenses, etc. The cost doesn't scare me.

China Controls the Weather

Monica from Spark a Synapse will be on vacation, but leaves us with a last thought about how the Chinese might deal with the 2008 Olympics weather. Have a great vacation.

Objectivism Round Up 3--Food for Your Brain and Soul!

Welcome to the August 2, 2007 edition of objectivist round up.

Chris presents Transcending Subjective Reality posted at Martial Development.

Kim (that's me!) presents A Worrying Nexus of Hate Crime Law and Religion posted at Kim's Play Place, saying, "Volokh Conspiracy sees a troubling opening using hate crime laws to punish blasphemy." Christopher Hitchens offers more in Slate (from the Harry Binswanger E-mail List).

Tracee Sioux presents Salute to Kindred Spirit posted at Blog Fabulous, saying, "A salute the the person who posted In Honor of John Galt on a highway in the middle of no where."

Rational Jenn presents Parenting With Objectivist Principles and posted at Two Great Books for Kids, saying, "On the Parenting with Objectivist Priniciples, I am planning several more posts, each focusing on a different virtue." I am looking forward to more of such posts.

For those who were paying attention, you'll note there was no surprise this time around--except for the great posts, of course. Next week will bring a drawing for a nominal monetary value prize from all of the submitters to next week's carnival as a thanks for being part of this new endeavor!

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Objectivist round up using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Again, if you would like to host--drop a line and let me know. Thanks! You can reach me using the contact link on the blog carnival box on the sidebar.

Bottled Water is Overrated?

According to this opinion piece in the NY Times. Expensive, bad for the environment, and may lead to less people wanting to support a public water supply are all ills attributed to bottled water. What the article misses is that it tastes better than water from a tap or a well. I pay more because when it tastes good, I'll drink as much as I need. When it tastes bad, well then it's time for soda, drink mixes, and juice (true liquid candy). Even a filtering system like Britta doesn't remove all of the bad tastes. I don't mind that Aquafina may just be filtered tap water--they can afford a much better filter than I can.

That more bottled water may mean less support for public water, I cannot countenance that argument. Even though people do not want to drink tap water, they still need to cook, clean, brush their teeth and shower. Only the most wealthy can afford their own private water supply for that. Most city dwellers will continue to desire healthy, clean water for those purposes. What an overwrought argument. Those of us with children may choose city water for their drinking water for the flouride, too.

People should take the cost of bottled water into account in their decision whether to drink it or tap. Government should not force people to drink water that though safe, may be unpalatable.

E for Effort outweighs F for Failure

NY Times has a great article highlighting why so many kids--even after graduating high school--are ill-prepared for college and life.

...Austin Lampros received a copy of the school’s grading policy. He took particular note of the stipulation that a student who attended class even once during a semester, who did absolutely nothing else, was to be given 45 points on the 100-point scale, just 20 short of a passing mark.

...Arts and Technology’s principal, Anne Geiger, overruled Mr. Lampros and passed a senior whom he had failed in a required math course.

That student, Indira Fernandez, had missed dozens of class sessions and failed to turn in numerous homework assignments, according to Mr. Lampros’s meticulous records, which he provided to The New York Times. She had not even shown up to take the final exam. She did, however, attend the senior prom.

Ms. Geiger ... characterized her actions as part of a “standard procedure” of “encouraging teachers to support students’ efforts to achieve academic success.”

The issue here is not a violation of rules or regulations. [emphasis added] Ms. Geiger acted within the bounds of the teachers’ union’s contract with the city, by providing written notice to Mr. Lampros of her decision.

...The principal and officials in the Department of Education say that he missed 24 school days during the last year for illness and personal reasons. He missed two of the three sets of parent-teacher conferences. He also had conflicts with an assistant principal, Antonio Arocho, over teaching styles. Mr. Lampros said all of this was true.

...

The written record, in the form of the minutely detailed charts Mr. Lampros maintained to determine student grades, supports his account. Colleagues of his from the school — a counselor, a programmer, several fellow teachers — corroborated key elements of his version of events. They also describe a principal worried that the 2006 graduation rate of 72.5 percent would fall closer to 50 or 60 percent unless teachers came up with ways to pass more students.


Both the teacher and the administrators are to blame. The teacher missed parent-teacher conferences.

The administration bears the brunt of the animosity, though, because of their underhanded tactics in meeting a goal that was supposed to mean increased school performance but is now just another metric to be side-stepped and boosted up through any means.

The article states that it is not an issue that Geiger was following the rules and regulations that were part of the teacher union contract. I disagree. I don't understand how a teacher union contract could allow a grade change when the student, according to all records, failed, failed, and failed again.

Russia Claims the North Pole

If they actually plan on drilling there--let them have it. We've had massive oil reserves in Alaska forever and our country refuses to do anything productive there. Let the oil go to those who will actually use it.

Taking a Look at Teacher Contracts

From the Hartford Courant:

Every year when municipal budgets are debated throughout Connecticut, a terrible irony takes place. A massive bite - more than half the total budget - is off-limits for discussion. It has already been decided by a handful of people months, maybe years before the budget presentation. That huge bite is the teachers' salary and benefit contract. And it is irrevocable

With few exceptions, the contract, usually written for three years, is negotiated behind closed doors, routinely approved by local boards of education, submitted to the city council or board of selectmen and, absent any public comment, quietly approved.

The irony is that, for the fraction of the budget not concerned with teacher salaries, town officials conduct public hearings replete with charts, graphs, comparisons, projections and speeches. But the lion's share remains insulated and unexplained year after year. Before the curtain falls on yet another three-year shutout in many Connecticut municipalities, towns and cities must change this model.

...

Labor negotiations between municipalities and certified teachers are governed by the Connecticut Teacher Negotiation Act. According to the CTNA, the local legislative body, upon receipt of the contract, may remain silent for 30 days and the contract is deemed to have been approved. It can, of course, approve or reject the contact within the proscribed 30 days. Should it reject the contract, a cascading torrent of time-sensitive strictures engulfs the municipality in various levels of arbitration.

The state statutes, however, do not prohibit a public presentation. In fact, the local legislative body (city council, board of selectmen, etc.) has full authority to decide how much or how little public input it will allow, from no discussion whatsoever to an all-day referendum.

In a perfect world, negotiations would be held in the open, with the public invited to observe. Let municipalities bring them out of the shadows, where they have languished for decades. It's time for towns and cities to show respect for taxpayers, who fund these contracts. Open the book and start a new chapter. It's the right thing to do.



This is a great point. Our local district mandated an 18% increase in teacher salaries over a three year period when the average raise in wages for the rest of us was 2.5%. These contracts should be open for public discussion as long as the public is paying. The school districts always pretend that there's nothing that can be done about the contract when budget time comes around. Only something can be done about the contract when it is being negotiated.

Talking Smack

You know the school yard taunts that were old even when I was a kid (which was a long time ago). Your momma's so ugly... or your momma's so fat.... And I know you're just wondering how philosophers flung those insults. Here's your chance to find out!

Nietzsche: Your mama is dead.

Schrödinger: I shut the box and opened it again. And there was your mama!

Locke: In a natural state, your mama is so dumb, she tried to set the tabula rasa with Chinette.

Rousseau: In man's natural state, man is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. But then he saw your mama and decided inherently ugly.

Ayn Rand: Man - all of mankind - is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. But your mama is so fat, this means she never ends.

Hegel: Your mama is so fat she broke the dialectical cycle.




There are more (if you think you can stand it) at the link!

Public Executions in Iran

The Daily Mail has more graphic photos. This time of a public execution in Iran. They show at least one child in the crowd. There are a number of bystanders. I guess this is more entertaining than other alternatives (not many) in Iran.

Terrible Engineering Tragedy--Mississippi Bridge

The Daily Mail has some pictures from the Mississippi bridge collapse. They are devestating.

I hope a full report details what caused the collapse and I expect that most construction firms and the contracts that hire them will enact safeguards to prevent a similar collapse in the future. It will be interesting to see if the repairs were responsible or some original engineering or material flaw.

Flogging in Malaysia

A flogging of a Malaysian prisoner has been posted on the web. The Daily Mail has stills from the video. The pictures are disturbing. What is just as troublesome are the comments to the article. So many people are fed up with the out-of-control youth in Britain that they are calling for a return to such harsh punishments.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Escheat

From Myrhaf, the OC Register discusses California's unclaimed property law. NPR covered the same topic today.

Escheat is a feudal concept that arose from the despotism of the Dark Ages. It stemmed from the principle that property rights depend upon the sufferance of the sovereign, and when a person dies or disappears without heirs, his property reverts to the feudal lord.

California revived this medieval doctrine in 1959 and began seizing personal assets on the smarmy pretext that after a few years of account or safe-deposit box inactivity, property is obviously "lost," and the state needs to "protect" it by selling it off and depositing the proceeds into the general fund.


They seize assets after three years of inactivity. They would have seized my 401K from my first job five times over by now. I would hate to have that go missing when I'm looking at retirement.

Thanks to my second grader's course with Mr. Powell, I actually know what escheat is and so does she!

Toy Recalls due to Chinese Manufacturing

Fisher Price is going to recall almost 1 million popular toys because its Chinese manufacturer used very high lead content paint. I think the article hints at, but does not conclude, that there may not be a way to know if older products have this same problem. They highlight Fisher Price's longstanding arrangement with this manufacturer.

This problem has made me consider buying American (or at least not Chinese) more than any "Buy American" campaign ever could. Of course not poisoning my children is more of an incentive than propping up uncompetitive American businesses that suffer from too much government regulation, taxation, and mandated unions.

Hope for Brain Damaged Patients

A patient has regained some communication and motor function after electrodes were used to stimulate specific brain areas.

This is Worthy

More Futurama! New episodes/movies will be released.

Another Stupid Statist Solution to a Problem that Doesn't Exist

Force employers to give more vacation time when employees aren't using the vacation they get even now.

Carnival of Education

At Dr. Homeslice. I have a post included (the one about Junie B. Jones).

This Guy is Crazy

Python Sneaks Up on, Bites 15-Month-Old in N.C. Park

I was already to ignore this story because the baby is generally unharmed. Until I read the following quote:

John Calchera, a pet store owner in nearby Pineville, took in the constrictor snake. He thinks it may have been abandoned by a pet owner and that it won't survive being beaten.

"It's a totally harmless thing," he said. "Why attack a harmless thing?"


OK--The snake bit and wrapped itself around the leg of a 15 month old--and the pet store owner calls it harmless. Regardless of what he seems to think, it is a predator and you don't get to be a predator by being harmless. Idiot.

Atlas Shrugged--The Movie

After Angelina Jolie said she was going to take a break for a while to spend more time with her kids, I thought that was another end to the Atlas Shrugged movie. A report indicates that filming with Angelina Jolie is in the works.

Jolie recently indicated the adoptions of her children likely would force postponing a number of film projects, but that obviously has not been the case. Along with ''Wanted'' (also starring Morgan Freeman and James McAvoy), Jolie is also providing voice talent for the upcoming ''Beowulf'' and ''Kung Fu Panda''; starring in ''The Changeling,'' and is expected soon to begin the long-delayed ''Atlas Shrugged,'' based on the Ayn Rand novel.


I am excited to see Ayn Rand's epic translated to the big screen, though dubious about how it will play out in only two hours. A great hero, as can be envisioned through Objectivism, is sure to be a hit.

Reminder! Objectivist Round Up Submissions

If you are a card-carrying Objectivist, please consider adding a submission to the Objectivist Carnival today. This week's carnival will be hosted at The Anger of Compassion. Here is a handy submission form. Submissions need not be philosophical treatises. Objectivism applies to all aspects of life--getting things done, humor, news of interest, education (my favorite), etc.

Announcing the carnival on your own blog can help gain exposure for Objectivist bloggers and introduce a new blog that others may not know about!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Best Blog Post Title Evah!

Writer’s Block Sucks The Red Sulfurous Hairy Balls Of Satan

(I had to add the red color, the bold, and the larger text--I wish I could add flames)

Here are some choice lines from Jennifer's Feral Genius blog:

From the above title:

Speaking of hairy balls, I did manage to produce a halfway-decent piece about “manscaping,” the growing (oops) trend of people pouring wax on their private parts so they can rip the hair off. I didn’t have much to say about the practice itself, so I amused myself (and hopefully my readers) by inventing euphemisms for it, including paring the pubic patch, pruning the curly branches, keeping the labial lawns mowed, transforming one’s shrubbery into topiaries, lumberjacking in the pelvic forest and downsizing the subwaist workforce.


And:

Conclusion: if God wants me to stop being an atheist and resume worshiping him as I did in childhood, he needs to quit being such an asshole.

Another good one from the front page:

Democrats are better than Republicans the same way being gang raped by five biker scumbags is better than being gang raped by ten. Either way, you’re badly screwed.

It Sounds Like a Good Book, But...

That mouse is really ugly.

From their web site:

This book is written for the early reader (4 year to 8 year olds, depending on reading development level).

Parents/guardians that wish to expose their children to the value of knowledge and the need to defend reason in the face of force will enjoy and appreciate the story of Nimble.



Sounds great, right? But isn't this picture a little scary? I think it's the beady-eyed stare combined with troubling bald patches, really dirty looking hair, and weird eyebrow placement. I really like the illustrations in my kids' books to be as attractive as the story. Given the story description above, this seems to fall far short. Perhaps the author also illustrated?

School Can't Fire Principal Convicted of Rape

Not an 'alleged' rapist--a convicted rapist. From Reason Hit and Run and Joanne Jacobs.

As when it becomes nigh-unto-impossible to quickly fire a principal after he’s convicted of a serious felony – because state law requires that he first be offered elaborate due process.

That’s the predicament the Tacoma School District finds itself in with Harold Wright Jr. He was principal of Baker Middle School before July 12, when he was found guilty of third-degree rape, a felony. He remains principal today, because he has refused to give up his position as expected.

In the meantime, Wright, 36, continues to collect his $8,245-a-month salary, something he’s been doing since February, when he was first charged. So far, the district appears to have paid him at least $45,000 for time he wasn’t working. There are not many other jobs where commission of a felony can earn the perpetrator a sweet paid vacation.

But in Washington’s public schools – all public schools, not just Tacoma’s – even convictions for grave crimes do not permit administrators to simply fire the convicts. State law explicitly gives all educators the right to a potentially lengthy process of responses, hearings and appeals.

This is not a quarrel with due process in general. The law protects educators and other public employees from arbitrary, groundless firings by vindictive or incompetent administrators. School districts should not be able to dump employees without good reason and without the employees being allowed to defend themselves.

But a rape conviction – by a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt – is plenty good reason. And Wright has already been allowed to defend himself quite vigorously in criminal justice proceedings far more protective of his rights than than civil due process.

For Blues Brothers and Lego Fanatics

From Neatorama--A Blues Brother's tribute!

Free SkyMap Software


Neatorama provides a link to a list of virtual sky programs. All of them are free. So head out in the evening with the kids and show them where the constellations are. Or, take a virtual tour of the solar system. The link is full of goodness!

Ugh!

I'm not a big fan of raw fish, or cooked horse. Raw horse, thought, is really too much! From Boing Boing.

Is that a horse in your sushi?

Sushi chefs are considering using raw deer and even horse meat because of an international shortage of tuna.

...

At the Fukuzushi restaurant in Tokyo, Shigekazu Ozoe said he might use substitutes such as horse and deer if tuna supplies ran out, as he did in 1973 when a mercury poisoning scare meant customers refused to eat the fish. "We tasted it, and horse sushi was pretty good. It was soft, easy to bite off, [and] had no smell," he told The New York Times.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

What happens when one dogma tries to replace another. Communism tried to supplant ancient Chinese mystical beliefs, only to have them resurge with the reforms being made. This market in corpses has led to a bizarre incentive for murder. This is not proof that the communists need to be more firm. Though it is proof that communism has done nothing to move China into the modern world with scientific beliefs. Perhaps this is mostly a problem in villages with low out-of-country communication. From Boing Boing.

Parts of rural China are seeing a burgeoning market for female corpses, the result of the reappearance of a strange custom called “ghost marriages”. Chinese tradition demands that husbands and wives always share a grave. Sometimes, when a man died unmarried, his parents would procure the body of a woman, hold a “wedding” and bury the couple together.

...

The communists discouraged burials and suppressed ghost marriages as “feudal superstition”. Yet ancient beliefs die hard. As Marxism wanes, burials are reappearing—and so are corpse brides.

...

This January he was arrested again and confessed to strangling six women and selling their bodies. Killing for corpses, he said, was an easier way to make money than digging them out of the ground.

Unconcious Versus Conscious Mind

The New York Times has an article discussing the impact of the subconcious mind on behavior. It points to the idea of small changes in the environment "priming" the subconscious to change your behavior. I don't know enough about epistemology to imagine what it means.

It is an interesting article. It points to effects on behavior from having a cleaning fluid scent in the air leading to subjects more likely to clean up after themselves and the effect of thinking of some misdeed in the subject's past making the subject twice as likely to ask for a cleaning wipe over another choice (very much an "out damn spot" moment).

All of the effects in the studies listed are minimally interesting, however. The behavior "triggered" seems pretty inconsequential. No indication is given that this type of "priming" could actually have an effect on important decisions or actions.

83rd Carnival of Homeschooling is Up!

Mom Is Teaching is this week's host!