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)
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)
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)
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."
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 length 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."
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
The day care debate would be only of mild interest to me, given that despite my own strong feelings on the matter, I equally strongly believe that circumstances can be complicated and parents are the best ones to make childrearing decisions for their own families—I say it would be only of mild interest were it not for the growing number of people who believe that "free" day care (paid for by taxes, of course) is the hallmark of civilization.
I remember the response, too.
You've probably seen the commercials. Over the last few months, it's been almost impossible not to see them. They parade endlessly across our screens—a multitude of women of all ages, from all backgrounds—and they all have the same urgent message to share: "Tell someone that human papillomavirus causes cervical cancer. Tell someone. Tell someone. Tell someone."(More)
To which I can only respond, "We tried."
In Arizona, the winning team in the kindergarten through sixth grade category of the recent state scholastic chess championship must know that their victory is tainted.At least I hope so. (More)
Earlier I wrote about Melissa Busekros, the 15-year-old German girl who was taken from her family to a psychiatric ward and thence to foster care because of her desire to be tutored at home in some subjects. This morning I learned that the five children of a second family have been ordered into state custody by a German court.
The parents reportedly can regain custody of their children only by placing them in public school.
In the order, which was based solely on the parents' decision against sending their children to public school, the family also was told to pay court costs estimated at $4,000.
The judge had concluded that the children were well-educated, but accused the parents of failing to provide their children with an education in a public school. The court noted that one of the daughters expressed the same opinions as her father, showing they have not had the chance to develop "independent" personalities.