Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize.  While I don't think well enough of the committee that makes these decisions to be impressed, many others are now suggesting he run for president.  I'll admit I do find him in many ways more attractive than the current Democratic candidates, but I don't think he should join the fray.

For his own sake. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 13, 2007 at 9:20 am | Edit
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Central Florida is the most dangerous place in the country, at least if it's lightning strikes that worry you.  The tragedy of a girl who was struck by lightning just after descending from her school bus is still fresh in our memories, so it's no wonder the Orange County school board policy errs on the side of caution:  No student is allowed outside until 30 minutes after the last lighning flash, if thunder follows the lightning within 30 seconds.

They are wisely reconsidering the policy, however, after a recent debacle.  A long-lasting storm coupled with rigid enforcement of the rules kept some 2000 students trapped at two schools until nearly 9 p.m.  Snacks were trucked in (the district apparently caring less about the safety of their employees), and no doubt many of the students thought the excitement high adventure—at least for the first hour.  But most of the children—not to mention the teachers—must have been anxious to get home to their families, with not a few kindergarteners crying for their mommies. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 at 8:23 am | Edit
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Not really.  I do want my vote to count.  But I can't help finding the Democratic Party's attempt to disenfranchise Floridians amusing.  I do believe they're still sore over Bush's 2000 victory, even though Al Gore has every reason to be thankful he lost that election.

Florida has defied Democratic National Committee rules by moving its primary date into January, a month reserved by party rules for Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Now the DNC threatens to deprive Florida's delegates of their votes at the national convention if we don't change our primary date to suit them.  There is a certain validity to their claim that they're only enforcing the rules, but what they are doing is missing the perfect opportunity to revise a totally antiquated system.  Who can blame Florida, and other states, from wanting a say in the choosing of presidential candidates?  That decision has already been made by the time of the primaries in many states.  It's time to settle on one, national primary date.  The candidates can still get in plenty of campaigning time, travel time from state to state being nearly negligible.

On the other hand, the DNC has also threatened to penalize candidates who would dare campaign in Florida or other wayward states.  This sounds like such a good thing to me I'm tempted to support the Committee's decision.
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, August 25, 2007 at 3:03 pm | Edit
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I acknowledge that sometimes the government is better than the market at accomplishing good things.  In the classic example, Company A might want to reduce its emission of pollutants, but knows that if it does it will no longer be competitive with Company B.  Company B might be in the same position.  But if the government requires all companies to make the reduction, none is left at a competitive disadvantage.

Nonetheless, I believe the market can often do a better job, being more flexible.  Take low-flow shower heads, for example.  I'm all for saving water, but I'd rather choose the method.  I'm a quick shower person: get in, do the job, get out.  Low-flow shower heads frustrate me, because I have to go more slowly—and I suspect thus use at least as much water as before.  I would much rather be able to purchase a high-flow shower head for my house, and save water in other ways.  What we don't spend watering our lawn would probably supply a small city. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at 8:45 am | Edit
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I have a friend who is a faithful e-mail forwarder.  I don't mind, because she is pretty much the only one who sends me the dusty sweepings of cyber space, and occasionally she finds some gems.  One of her recent offerings was not treasure, however, but fool's gold.

Note that the words of the e-mail, the majority of which I reproduce below, do not belong to my friend.  She gets credit for providing blog-post inspiration, not for the embarassing sentiments. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 7:50 am | Edit
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So just what kind of people are we dealing with here?  According to this article, the eight suspects in Britain's recent failed terrorist attacks are doctors.  I can almost understand the desperate suicide bomber recruited from a population of uneducated, poor, and hopeless young men.  But doctors?  Those whose training and profession are supposed to be about relieving suffering and saving lives? 

Well, there were doctors who served Hitler.  The scariest attitude in the world is one that dehumanizes other people.  Be it Jews in Nazi Germany, natives in colonial days, slaves, unborn babies, or "infidels" of any stripe—once we convince ourselves that a group of people is less than human, we find it all too easy to justify the most hideous and inhumane actions. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 4, 2007 at 6:06 pm | Edit
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I find it amusing that President Bush gets blamed for anything that goes wrong, including hurricanes.  But even I am incensed about this one.  Whatever his personal opinion might be—if he's aware of the situation at all—he surely bears part of the blame for the following insanity, because the president is ultimately responsible for the actions of his administration. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 7:21 am | Edit
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Remember the story of the guy who got in trouble for (correctly) using the word "niggardly"?

Porter's boss once called him on the carpet for "using words I don't understand."

Now Missouri legislators are up in arms because their vocabularies failed them.  They passed a bill legalizing lay midwifery because they didn't realize what "tocology" means. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 28, 2007 at 6:51 am | Edit
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Among the more bizarre stories of the day, here's a study that claims to be able to predict your child's future SAT performance based on the relative lengths of his fingers.  Those whose ring fingers are longer compared with their index fingers are statistically likely to do better on the math portion, and those with the reverse situation to do better on the verbal.  This supposedly reflects prenatal testosterone/estrogen exposure.

It's a lot harder to measure finger lenght than I thought.  I finally settled on measuring from the knuckle, and it seems my ring finger is a bit longer than my index.  It's true, I did very well on the math portion of the SAT.  But I did even better on the verbal, so I must have measured wrong.  :)

The researchers plan to expand their studies into "other cognitive and behavioral issues, such as technophobia, career paths and possibly dyslexia."
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 25, 2007 at 7:46 am | Edit
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We have been blessed with a surprising number of very bright friends, their talents ranging from math to music, from business to origami, from computing to law.  It was with the last that we had a disturbing conversation recently.  The conversation itself was delightful; what we learned from it was not.

To begin, the background.  Most of my readers are familiar with the following story, which I told several years ago in our family newsletter.  But for the benefit of the one or two who meander over here from random places, I'll reproduce it here, sufficiently altered to protect the innocent and the guilty alike. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 8, 2007 at 2:52 pm | Edit
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This just in:  middle-aged men have no business stopping to chat with young people.  After all, the young and their elders have nothing in common, right?  No reason to talk to someone who is so different from you.  Certainly no reason to smile and speak to a stranger passing on the street.  Even if you both have dogs.

Here's the story.

The 43-year-old man was the subject of a police "be on the lookout" memo because two children said he spoke to them while they were walking their dogs. Police said no criminal activity had been reported.

I don't blame the police for being cautious.  Maybe the kids had been overly hyped to "stranger danger" by well-meaning parents and teachers.  Maybe they truly sensed something wrong.  In any case, I'm glad the police took them seriously. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 3, 2007 at 8:12 am | Edit
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Melissa Busekros, the German teen kidnapped from her family by government authorities because she was being homeschooled (see my previous posts here and here) has given herself a birthday present.  On the day she turned 16, she ran away from her foster care situation and returned to her family.  The response of the authorities remains to be seen, but having turned 16 gives her more legal rights, so there is hope she will be allowed to stay.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 24, 2007 at 2:01 pm | Edit
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My friends and family know how unobservant I can be.  When I'm focused on one thing, all else recedes to near invisibility.  At the grocery store I can pass a good friend without knowing he is there, because, well, I'm looking for food, not friends.  Advertising is more or less wasted on me; in a newspaper, magazine, or online I simply do not see the ads on the periphery of what I am reading.

However, that's no excuse for reading stories of the Virginia Tech tragedy and letting slide the oft-repeated comment that this was "the worst mass murder in U. S. history."  (Thanks to Tim at Random Observations for opening my eyes.)  I tend to ignore hyperbole as I ignore advertising, but this should have whacked me over the head. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, April 22, 2007 at 8:07 am | Edit
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Joshua T. White, of the Institute for Global Engagment, spent a year in Peshawar, Pakistan, as the guest of the provincial chief minister, a radical Islamist leader. His insights, which he shares in this Christianity Today article, are well worth reading.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 30, 2007 at 2:54 pm | Edit
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Once again, Tim at Random Observations has provided post which I must pass on.  (Warning:  Yes, it's depressing, but worth reading, really.)  First, read his commentary, You're Just Another (Lego) Brick in the Wall... about an after-school program in Seattle, where teachers took over the children's imaginative Lego play and turned it into a chance for socialist indoctrination.  For a more direct view of the teachers' perspective, read their original article, Why We Banned Legos.

To Tim's insightful post I will only add this:  What about the parents?  Where were they when all this was going on?  Were they expecting childcare and maybe some help with math and reading from this afterschool program?  Did they know their children were getting a heavy dose of politics and indoctrination in values—politics and values possibly in direct opposition to the parents' own?  Certainly most parents would have a few issues with this part of the lesson:

[W]e explored questions about how rules are made and enforced, and when they ought to be followed or broken. We aimed to help children see that all rules (including social structures and systems) are made by people with particular perspectives, interests, and experiences that shape their rule-making. And we wanted to encourage them to consider that there are times when rules ought to be questioned or even broken....

The children were between the ages of five and nine, perhaps not the best ages at which to tell them that obeying their parents' rules is optional.  On the other hand, perhaps the teachers will eventually receive due retribution in the form of students who have decided that the school's rules are not worth following.  Alas, it's probably the high school teachers who will bear that cost. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 7:52 am | Edit
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