Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Truth Worse (NOT Stranger) than Fiction

(H/T: Drudge)

Somehow, socialist educators at a private school in (where else?) Seattle have decided to use Legos® to teach kids about the evils of a capitalist society.

Pardon me while I pause momentarily in stunned silence.


Thank you.

Here are a few quotes from the article:
According to an article in the winter 2006-07 issue of "Rethinking Schools" magazine, the teachers at the private school wanted their students to learn that private property ownership is evil.
So I'm an evil person for owning my two cars, assorted pieces of furniture, and the clothes on my back. Interesting ideal. (Notice I do not include my home in this list. The bank owns my home, not me. Just wanted to clarify.) I also happen to own [numerous] Legos. That probably makes me twice as evil.

There's more, of course:
According to the article, the students had been building an elaborate "Legotown," but it was accidentally demolished. The teachers decided its destruction was an opportunity to explore "the inequities of private ownership." According to the teachers, "Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation."

The children were allegedly incorporating into Legotown "their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys." These assumptions "mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society -- a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive."
And aren't those teachers just so miserable that they missed out on all the fun they could have had in the Soviet Union? But there's still time. I'm certain North Korea is accepting permanent resident visas.

The key phrase, of course, is "full democratic participation." Ah, yes. The old fall-back position. Fairness can only be achieved when everyone has an equal say in everything. Which means that I should be perfectly happy if I really wanted to buy a Honda (which, by the way, I do) but my neighbors voted me down, insisting that I buy an American-made car so I can support our poor, oppressed unions. They forget that this is precisely why the framers of the Constitution opted for a representative form of government in the first place.

A few days ago, ZeeMeister Bob (or "Step-Dad" to Woody) sent along something he'd gotten in one of those email strings that I tend to regard with suspicion, unless I happen to agree. I happen to agree with this one:
Father- Child Talk

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and was very much in favor of the redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the addition of more government welfare programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father.

He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, And let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, "How is your friend Audrey doing?"

She replied, "Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties, and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over."

Her wise father asked his daughter, "Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA."

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, "That wouldn't be fair! I have worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!"

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, " Welcome to the Republican party."
Agree or disagree, in my mind her father gives a perfect description of "full democratic participation."

Seattle private schools - reason #1,276 why we homeschool.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Detroit Public Schools - Financial Geniuses, or What?

At least it's nice to see they've got their spending priorities in order.

Here at world-famous Wonderwood Academy ("Where the Leaders of Tomorrow are Whupping Their Principal Academically Today") we have also purchased tons of art, most of which adorns our 17 cubic foot refrigerator. We're thinking of opening a museum on campus, right next to our Teachers Lounge which was constructed with money we saved by closing three of our auxiliary campuses last year. In the meantime, our students and their teacher continue to enjoy the luxuries of a school room designed to look exactly like an average family's dining room, except that the school room is also currently doubling as a storage room. Ditto the school cafeteria's kitchen.

Perhaps, next year, if Detroit has any further budget for art, we could sell them some of ours. I could sure use a piece of that $1.6 million!

(H/T: Joanne Jacobs)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Miracle (or Knot)

For a church that proclaims to have the restored Gospel on the earth, we seem to have an appalling lack of verifiable miracles to which the media and frenzied fanatics might flock, were they so inclined. I know you understand what I'm talking about. Where in the Latter-day Saint culture do we find things on par with the Shroud of Turin, or Fatima, or even the Miracle Virgin Mary Image in the Grilled Cheese Sandwich?

Well, this isn't to say that modern Saints haven't experienced any of these things. When you think about it, only fragments of the papyrii are still around today. And what about the miracle of Brigham Young transfiguring into the voice and image of Joseph Smith shortly following the martydom? I am equally certain that Latter-day Saints have had any number of visitations over the many decades since the church was organized in 1830, but they tend to remain in the realm of anecdotal evidences rather than over-hyped phenomena such as we hear about today in other religions.

So either the church wishes to keep such things quiet and let these miracles serve to strengthen faith as simple testimonies of the living Gospel, or we simply suffer from lousy P. R.

But I think I've found a way to compensate for the church's apparent lack of zing in these Last Days. What we need is something that could be viewed as a miracle and still be marketable. Something that one might even sell on eBay for a ludicrous amount of money (defined as "more than twenty-five cents") and give its owner his rightful fifteen minutes of fame.

Prepare to be dazzled, folks, because I'm about to offer you a chance to glimpse our own personal miracle. We have a knot in a piece of furniture that Mrs. Woody swears looks like Brigham Young. Yes! Let Dave Barry and a host of late night talk show hosts make fun of the Miracle Grilled Cheese if they will. We have an authentic, verified image of Brigham Young right in our living room. Get ready to feel that tingling in your spine, because here it is:

Isn't that great? Of course, the first time I saw it, I have to admit I had a hard time making out his image. I mean, the man's been dead for nearly 130 years now, so my own memories of the late prophet are fading fast. But Mrs. Woody was insistent that he is in fact there in that knot, so I put it to my readers of faith: is this or is this not the spitting image of Brigham Young, complete (as Mrs. Woody pointed out) with his distinctive "page boy" haircut? I'll even adjust the light for you:

Still can't quite see it? Here, let me adjust the contrast just a bit. You know how it is with glare on varnished wood...

Better? Isn't that simply astonishing?

As I say, we may very well offer this up on eBay. I mean, if the Miracle Grilled Cheese sandwich could fetch $28,000, our Miracle Brigham Young Knot ought to be worth a cool $2.00 or $3.00, easy!

On the other hand, this also makes this particular piece of furniture a real family heirloom. Think of the rolled eyes shining faces of our children when they explain to their children why Mom and Dad were committed to a facility this furniture is so special to the family.

And if, like ours, your faith has been strengthened by seeing this miracle of ours, we can only hope you start taking your medication again soon be grateful to have been allowed to share in your happiness.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Your Global Warming Update

Ok, this is funny. A House subcommittee has to postpone a hearing on global warming due to inclement weather. From Drudge:
The hearing is entitled “Climate Change: Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Human Activities Contributing to a Warming of the Planet?”

The hearing will be rescheduled to a date and time to be announced later.


Wednesday: Freezing rain in the morning.
Irony, anyone?

Equally ironic: Your average session of Congress produces as much greenhouse gas as your average day on a Los Angeles freeway. Pick a freeway.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Global Hysteria - UPDATED

I'm no scientist, and neither is Al Gore. Given the fact that the entire scientific community can't quite seem to come to a unanimous agreement on the global warming issue, I'm not quite ready to give in to the hype yet. While I'll grant you that it did seem to take our winter down here a couple of weeks longer to arrive, I can also tell you that it's been one of our chillier winters. Even for Southern California, where "chilly" means "had to put a sweater on, Dude." I don't even want to get into New York and, what is it now, 142 inches of snow? And counting?

No, Al Gore is no scientist. What Al Gore is, precisely, is a politician. Politicians in the Al Gore vein are competent at only one thing: scaring people into supporting their position. And this is something that Al Gore has orchestrated beautifully. Scaring people is how politicians make money. Barbra Streisand makes money for candidates by scaring her friends into believing that without their money the evil Republicans will kill their children and scorch the earth. Republicans make money by scaring their friends into believing that Hillary will make Barbra her Secretary of Defense. Hmm. That one might almost make me give money to the RNC next year. Or not.

Anyway, I'm afraid that, for Woody, the jury is still out on global warming. This is not to say I categorically deny the existence or dangers of greenhouse gasses. I'm all for cleaning up the environment because I believe it to be part of our sacred trust as stewards of the planet we occupy. At some point I may even be wealthy enough to purchase a hybrid vehicle. Hybrids just aren't where I need them to be right now as I contemplate buying a new(er) family vehicle. I would need a hybrid mini-van - not an SUV - and they're just not available yet. But my need for the mini-van trumps the availability of green technology. My apologies. My next car-buying cycle won't appear for (hopefully) another ten years or so, either. But I promise to feel appropriately guilty for buying a carbon-burner this time around.

Perhaps by the time I'm ready to buy again Arnie will have finally created the infrastructure we need to actually support hydrogen technology. That would be great. The problem there is timing. I suspect that the infrastructure won't be ready until I retire, and I sure as heck don't plan to retire anywhere in California. We have, what, 23 (count 'em!) hydrogen stations in the entire state right now, but it won't be viable for long distance travel until we have stations up and down the entire I-5 corridor. Yes, I know that hydrogen cars are supposed to burn both fuels, but I'd rather go whole-hog when I convert. Also, there's no way I'd be able to afford a hydrogen vehicle for quite awhile, unless I'm willing to live in one. So I'm not holding my breath for hydrogen. (Har.)

[Side note: If we have 23 working hydrogen stations and 14 planned, but there are only, like, two hydrogen vehicles in the entire state right now, could that be why we've already decommissioned one station? Just askin'.]

But back to Gore and his Screaming Meemies. I have mentioned elsewhere that there are two classes of people for whom I harbor an instinctive mistrust: politicians (and, by extension, lawyers), and scientists looking for grant money. These two classes of people will do - and say - anything to get our money.

Sorry. This bank is closed.

UPDATE: As if to solidify my position. Politicians make lousy scientists. And vice versa.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Romney... Romney... I Give Up. Romney WHO?

Hugh Hewitt admires Mitt Romney and grudgingly appreciates his religious background. Hewitt himself likes to invoke his friendship with the late apostle Neal A. Maxwell, and clearly would have no problem supporting a Romney presidency. So Hugh has been watching the Boston Globe's anti-Romney campaign with great interest.

This in contrast to the rest of the old media juggernauts who seem intent on simply ignoring Romney and hoping he goes away before the primaries begin early next year. My own anecdotal evidence of this "fact" is the weekend radio news roundup that CBS produced yesterday. I was listening primarily because our local affiliate is still the best place to get traffic reporting. (This was not the case last night. Last night, so long as the Mothership was talking, the locals didn't dare break in for the next hour and a quarter just to tell some poor yokels why they weren't moving on their freeway of choice. "Extended Traffic," my great-aunt's bustle.)

Anyway, just before I got completely disgusted and switched back to classical music (where they are quite right not to interfere with a performance of Mozart's 40th just because of some silly hazmat situation on the 405), CBS decided to talk about Giuliani, whom they have anointed as "the only serious threat" to McCain. This is incorrect. McCain is the only serious threat to McCain. I did, however, find it fascinating that they were quite ready to extol Giuliani's virtues as a fiscal conservative, even if his social conservatism leaves something to be desired (i.e., conservatism). Then they made, in essence, the statement that no one else currently on the Republican trail has the sort of conservative "credentials" that would hold any water with the right wing of the party.

Beg pardon? Mitt who?

So the MSM strategy seems clear. Ignore Romney enough, and he'll simply go away before Iowa even stays up late next winter.

There is a flaw in this strategy, however, and that flaw is the Boston Globe. The Globe is probably still smarting from the insult of having allowed a Republican to get elected to the governor's office of their Commonwealth of Kennedys and Kerrys, Occasionally Known as Massachussetts. Thus the Globe has ever since attempted to cast their ex-governor in the same light as the Boston Strangler (who was probably Ted Kennedy before he learned how to swim) and is going out of its way to highlight every one of Romney's perceived shortcomings.

This is a good thing, because this means the Globe is not supporting the MSM's "ignore Romney" policy, and will thus ensure that Romney continues to maintain a national presence whether CBS wants him to or not.

Wouldn't it be deliciously ironic if Romney somehow captured the nomination (or even a spot on the ticket as VP) precisely because the Globe wouldn't shut up and ignore him like all good little MSMers are supposed to do?

We'd have to send the Globe a great big "thank you" should that happen. Perhaps I'll buy one of their papers next time I go fishing. Assuming they're still printing by then.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Peyton Space... er, Place (UPDATED)

This is just sad on so many fronts. From my childhood, astronauts were my "safe" heroes. These were men (and, later, women) who had proven themselves to have nerves of steel under extremely stressful situations. They faced the prospect of death regularly, even succumbing to it in pursuit of a dream. Yet here we have an astronaut - flight tested - who gets caught up in one of the oldest stories of deceit and debauchery the world has ever known.

A married flight veteran, herself a Navy Captain, finds herself fighting (at least in her own heart) with an Air Force Captain over the same man; he a Shuttle pilot.

[Next on Law & Order: The following story is based partly on recent events. The fictional characters, however, bear no resemblance to any living individuals.]

Who should investigate? NCIS? CSI? NASA's Auditor General? Sheesh.

This is likely to become one of those stories where we have far more questions than answers. What happened to this astronaut that would push her over such an emotional edge? Not that extra-marital nonsense is ever absent from the space program; there have been plenty of exposés that refute the idea of a morally pure corps of astronauts. But this whole incident smacks of a lovelorn female stalking her intended lover. Someone who would even go to the extremes of threatening any perceived competition.

In the meantime, of course, there's her family to be considered. What must they be going through right now? Or has this been brewing long enough that all the effected parties were already well aware that something was going on?

As I say, it's just sad. From a perspective of timing, this couldn't have come at a more inopportune time. Congress has just been handed what can only be classified as a ludicrous budget proposal from the White House, and they've already been rattling sabers over the admittedly ambitious plan to return the United States to the moon in the next decade. You can be sure that there will be hearings and debate over the non-issue of whether our current crop of astronauts are emotionally stable enough to even pursue this project, let alone justifying its cost.

I'm not ready to give up on our space program by any means. I'm just saying that for all the vetting our astronauts go through in order to prove themselves worthy to be blown out of the atmosphere, perhaps we need to do a bit more vetting in between flights, too.


UPDATE: I changed reference to Capt. Nowak as being a Navy captain, not Air Force. The charges now include attempted murder, which means that the bond on which she was to be released is revoked. Here in the Los Angeles area, as predicted, the Radio Talking Heads were already hard at work yesterday hoping against hope to bring us the non-issue of astronaut corps mental stability:
Talking Head Anchor Person: So are there unusual pressures as an astronaut that would make this kind of breakdown likely?

Former Astronaut Dr. Norm Thagaard: No.
A few moments later, one of the THAPs said, "She lost control, and that's really all there is to say about that."

Same THAP, not two minutes later: "We will, of course, stay on top of this story."

Ad nauseum, no doubt.

I should add that Dr. Thagaard, a veteran of five shuttle flights, agreed with me on the prospect of reviewing flight readiness in between flight assignments. He stated, however, that scrutiny of flight crews in the training sessions leading up to any flight is pretty intense, and any suspected instabilities should surface well before a crew launches.