What I don't get part Nth: Why is it that everytime -- and I mean everytime -- I go for my three-mile run, at least two cars will pull out of either a road or driveway ... at the exact moment I get there?? What are the chances of that? I'm not talking about me being even a mere 10 feet away or so, either. It's the exact moment I get to the intersection. I'd like to see what the precise scientific odds are of that, man.
Speaking of running, Ive been trying to up my running from every other day to every day. It's tough doing three miles a day at my age, but I've been managing it, and the main reason is that my "bad" cholesterol has been high. But since my first test, my sister suggested I get second test to be sure the first one's results were accurate. I did, and thankfully my "bad" and overall cholesterol numbers were significantly lower on that second test! The doc thus said I didn't need Lipitor; instead, I should now try a fish oil vitamin supplement, as well as a niacin tablet, daily.
Ken at Blogolution reports that "The Rev." Al Sharpton's driver ignored police attempts to stop The Rev.'s car (Al was in back), and "weaved in and out of traffic before state troopers were able to get in front of the car":
A car carrying the Rev. Al Sharpton led sheriff's deputies on a nine- mile chase at speeds up to 110 mph before state troopers stopped the vehicle and arrested the driver, authorities said.
The civil rights activist called the sheriff's report "ludicrous" and accused the Ellis County officers of "embellishing the story."
"That nine-mile chase is news to me," Sharpton told The Associated Press. "All I know is that the police pulled us over because they wanted to talk to the driver about speeding."
Because the 2005 Lincoln was rented to Maupin, of Phoenix, sheriff's deputies impounded the car. Maupin posted a $1,000 bond on charges of evading arrest with a vehicle and reckless driving, authorities said.
The car carrying Sharpton and two other passengers was clocked doing 110 mph in a 65 mph zone on the interstate south of Dallas, Sullins said.
Oh, The Rev. was in a hurry to get to the airport, by the way.
OK, I've little problem with saying that US healthcare could be quite improved, but I just couldn't get up much sympathy for some of the subjects of Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker report:
People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you’re paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury. It isn’t, of course. The loss of teeth makes eating fresh fruits and vegetables difficult, and a diet heavy in soft, processed foods exacerbates more serious health problems, like diabetes.
Wait a second. A toothbrush and toothpaste cost next to nothing. Same with dental floss. Same with a little Listerine. My family didn't have dental insurance (or even much health insurance) when I was growing up, so my parents -- in particular my father -- made damn well sure we took good care of not only our teeth, but our general health. If people like those in Gladwell's anecdotes aren't bright enough to brush regularly, they probably aren't bright enough to eat those needed healthy "fresh fruits and vegetables" either.
The pain of tooth decay leads many people to use alcohol as a salve. And those struggling to get ahead in the job market quickly find that the unsightliness of bad teeth, and the self-consciousness that results, can become a major barrier. If your teeth are bad, you’re not going to get a job as a receptionist, say, or a cashier. You’re going to be put in the back somewhere, far from the public eye. What Loretta, Gina, and Daniel understand, the two authors tell us, is that bad teeth have come to be seen as a marker of “poor parenting, low educational achievement and slow or faulty intellectual development.” They are an outward marker of caste.
But it most likely is a sign of poor parenting (and/or low educational achievement, etc.) if you have bad teeth because having bad teeth ("bad" meaning rotting due to lack of proper care/hygiene) plain means you're just not very bright. Or just plain lazy. Bottom line. (Notice I said "most likely" because certainly there are exceptions where even if one does properly care for their teeth some problems may arise.) And don't tell me "there's not enough education" about proper tooth care out there.
Further making my point is Gladwell's silly lead paragraph which describes tooth decay in depth ("Slowly, the bacteria works its way through to the dentin, the inner structure, and from there the cavity begins to blossom three-dimensionally, spreading inward and sideways.") -- tooth decay that simple twice-a-day brushing would prevent.
Good arguments are out there for improved US healthcare, but Gladwell's ain't one of them. In essence, he wants us all to pay for people's stupidity and laziness, which, come to think of it, is pretty much how our healthcare system works now. Y'know, people who eat like crap, smoke, drink like a fish -- they have this "right" to gratis or cheap healthcare, even though most of us out there actually try to take of ourselves and thus would rarely make use of the system the Gladwells would have us all share.
I kid you not.
From the NEA (National Education Association) Today magazine (I first read the hard copy version): "To find out why Boy and Betty Toy are hooked on tennis, you have to go back to 1978 and a wooden racquet that couldn’t keep up with the fancy new aluminum ones." (Scroll down to last article.)
The Daily Mail reports that a school in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire (UK) will allow "pupils to swear at teachers - as long as they don't do so more than five times in a lesson."
Assistant headmaster Richard White said the policy was aimed at 15 and 16-year-olds in two classes which are considered troublesome.
"Within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate (although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives) five times and these will be tallied on the board so all students can see the running score," he wrote in the letter.
"Over this number the class will be spoken to by the teacher at the end of the lesson."
Parents called the rule 'wholly irresponsible and ludicrous'.
"This appears to be a misguided attempt to speak to kids on their own level," said the father of one pupil.
Un. Frickin'. Believable.
AJ Lynch notes how the Philadelphia Inquirer has a headline "Police release name and photograph of rape suspect," but ... they forgot to include the photo! Or, did they?
I e-mailed Hube and he seemed to recall -- possibly in one of Bernie Goldberg's books (Bias and Arrogance) -- where a group that included a set number of black reporters/editors had a sort of "veto power" at the Inquirer ... whether certain stories or aspects of stories would see print. I did some searching online and essentially found confirmation of this here. In an essay devoted to political correctness, it says
... the "Philadelphia Inquirer" established a body of 15 members (3 of whom had to be black journalists), whose task was to censor commentaries to be published. The "Philadelphia Inquirer" also introduced the so called "pluralistic plan" to prevent any race and gender discrimination. 50 % of new employees have to belong to "ethnic minorities" and at the same time half of the newcomers must be female.
So, did the Inquirer omit the photo because the suspect is ... black?
There is, of course, no certainty that the suspect -- Anthony "Boo" Jennings -- is African-American based on the present article. But if the information in William McGowan's best-selling Coloring the News is accurate, this would be the best guess as to why the newspaper would state that a rape suspect (along with robbery, burglary and related offenses) had been ID'd -- with a photo -- and then not show the photo to the public.
John Bloom explains why.
Here's a surprise: Rev. Jackson lends support to Chavez. Jesse didn't have very nice things to say about Pat Robertson:
The Rev. Jesse Jackson offered support for President Hugo Chavez on Sunday, saying a call for his assassination by a U.S. religious broadcaster was a criminal act and that Washington and Venezuela should work out their differences through diplomacy.
The U.S. civil rights leader condemned last week's suggestion by Pat Robertson that American agents should kill the leftist Venezuelan leader, calling the conservative commentator's statements "immoral" and "illegal."
Jackson urged U.S. authorities to take action, and said the U.S. government must choose "diplomacy over any threats of sabotage or isolation or assassination."
Robertson's comments, as we've noted, were reprehensible, and indeed may warrant further [legal] action. But the funny thing is, Jackson's always conspicuously absent regarding instances such as these Ward Churchill comments, or this city council candidate's advocacy of assassinating President Bush. Or when an Air America personality does same. Likewise The Guardian's Charlie Brooker.
Those must be all "rightful dissent."
UPDATE (8/29 at 3:30pm): The American Thinker notes that as Jackson arrived in Caracas (er, that's the capital of Venezuela), Chavez's thugs pounced on a legal demonstration that was protesting Chavez's holding of political prisoners. Reuters dubs it "the most serious violence [there] in months."
UPDATE 2: Chavez now wants Robertson extradited!
Can't recall offhand where I heard this the other day, but I bagged up:
French officials, already suspicious over a magazine's report that Lance Armstrong used a blood doping drug back in 1999, turned up evidence of two other unknown substances in Armstrong's quarters from the most recent Tour de France. What were these substances?
Soap and deodorant.
... of her First Amendment rights:
A Florida teacher was recently suspended for exercising her constitutional rights. She wrote to her representative about the burden illegal aliens place on America, and the school board suspended her.
Dear Honorable Congressman,
Please consider my views when you are voting and representing voters. I believe we must close the doors to all foreigners for awhile (sic) until we get this economy and the schools back on their feet. As a classroom teacher in Florida for 28 years, I know that foreigners are the largest users of our taxpayers’ money. Foreigners are taking all of the jobs that poor and little-educated Americans could have. Many people are being paid under the table, and therefore they are not paying their fair share of taxes. Schools are dealing with too many problems with language differences, and time is lost to our American children who have parents who pay taxes. I’m seeing money going to local charities going to Mexican, Haitian, and Mid-Eastern immigrants instead of to the poorer people of American descent. (The whole letter is here.)
Unlike the case of radio talk show guy Michael Graham, this is a clear breach of 1st Amendment protections. The teacher, Jan Hall, is a government employee and wrote to a representative of government. As Civil Commotion says (though I don't agree with him about many other points), "If a letter to your congressman isn’t protected speech, then there’s no such thing."
Usually, both the Right and Left are hypocrites in cases like this, but overall the Right is more consistent in free speech advocacy. For example, in the case of Ward Churchill, many on the Right thought that in no way should he be fired for mere speech. In contrast, American universities, which are in large measure run by those on the left, attempt to impose "speech codes" and "free speech zones," all the while clamoring about "academic freedom." Just check out such fevered responses to Hall's letter here, here, and here.
The latest strategy of the Left?
I just caught liberal pundit Eleanor Clift on "The McLaughlin Group" calling American soldiers "mercenaries." Why? Because they get paid for soldiering!
Conservative talking head Tony Blankley rightly corrected her: Mercenaries fight for money for any flag or purpose. Just like NY Rep. Charlie Rangel's "bring back the draft" gambit, Clift's terminology also denounces the very concept of free will.
"Church: God punishing GIs over gays" is the headline.
The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist in Kansas, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps' children, grandchildren and in-laws.
The church members carried signs and shouted things such as "God hates fags" and "God hates you."
If we're all God's creations, why would he hate any of us? Manoman, why anyone listens to absolute loathsome creatures like Phelps is beyond me.
I wouldn't go as far as the Sci Fi Channel advertises, but the new "Battlestar Galactica" is pretty darn good. It's much more realistic than the 1979 original, but neatly incorporates aspects of its predecessor. Still, a Battlestar fan site voices many of my questions and "WTF?"s. One thing that I just don't plain get is how friggin' gullible the surviving humans constantly are. I mean, the Cylons -- the bad guy robots -- now are in human form, and they've wreaked some all-out havoc (besides the almost complete destruction of the human race, that is!). Commander Adama (played awesomely by Edward James Olmos) was almost killed by one such Cylon in last season's cliffhanger, but here we are well into the second season and we still have the human higher-ups trusting and listening to some of these genocidal robots! Yeesh. Let's see -- there are only some 47K humans left out of billions, but instead of destroying any Cylon we meet, we're gonna "try to understand them." And by keeping them around, they eventually cause us hell. Give me a break.
That nonsense aside, the new series has delved deeper into the human race's best hope -- that of finding the lost "13th tribe," or Earth. Last night's episode was boss as Adama and co. discovered an ancient "map" that showed their own [now destroyed] 12 Colonies as viewed from Lost Colony 13 -- Earth. (The 12 Colonies of "Galactica" are named loosely for the 12 horoscope signs, by the way. Another neat Earth folklore tie-in.)
Also cool is Richard Hatch playing a recurring character on the show. Hatch was "Apollo" on the original series, and he's written numerous "Battlestar" novels since. He also was mighty close to having his own "Galactica" series produced in 1999-2000 which would have been a direct sequel to the '79 show.
"Battlestar Galactica" is on at 10pm EST Friday nights on the Sci Fi Channel.
I did this a few times over at my old place, but never to the degree that Plum does it here. The ever witty Prof. takes a gander at the utterly ridiculous NEA (that's National Education Association) "resolutions" passed at the 2005 convention in Los Angeles, and injects his hilarious commentary throughout.
Earth to A.A.: Robertson was covered everywhere. Check it out:
What's more, former Clinton advisor George Stephanapoulis once advocated the exact thing as Robertson, albeit against a head of state a bit more familiar to Amercians:
Fresh from his influential White House post, Stephanopoulos devoted an entire column in Newsweek to the topic of whether the U.S. should take out Saddam Hussein.
His headline? "Why We Should Kill Saddam."
"Assassination may be Clinton's best option," the future "This Week" host urged. "If we can kill Saddam, we should."
Does anyone recall a press firestorm over George's "heinous" comments? Not me!
UPDATE (10:20am): Whoa -- Stephanapoulis also used the "terrorist" label to describe ... a U.S. senator.
"Iran says its atomic program is aimed only at producing electricity and insists it has the right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to build a uranium-development program," reports the AP.
OK, someone explain why a country that sits atop 10% of the entire planet's petroleum reserves needs nuclear power for electricity!
... some folks are just nuttier. Case in point: letter writer David B. Murphy of Petaluma, CA. He says:
Pat Robertson has succeeded in vaulting himself to the No. 1 spot on the list of reasons why there should be complete separation of church and state in this country. This man was a serious candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2000. It is not too much of a stretch to envision the possibility of his having been nominated by the Republicans and his having won in 2000 with the help of his fanatical conservative Christian Fundamentalist followers. What an American dystopia that would have been!
I can envision bands of Christian Fundamentalist death squads roaming the East and West coasts of the U.S. searching out openly gay and lesbian people, Unitarians, French chefs, "Hollywood types," poets, writers, artists, evolutionary biologists and anyone else who they feel is an "elite."
"Not too much of a stretch ..."?? Come on!! I mean, what can one say? As Taranto notes, it was 1988 (not 2000! Gee, only 12 years off!) when Robertson ran for pres., and virtually no one viewed him as a "serious" candidate. Except for leftists who already think we live in a "fascist dystopia."
"It's your weight, ... and there's dozens of programs," Bennett said. "You don't have to come in here. You can join Jenny Craig. You can go see Weight Watchers."
This is essentially what Dr. Terry Bennett told a patient. But the patient got pissed off.
Bennett said he tells obese patients that their weight is bad for their health and their love lives. But the lecture drove one patient to write a letter to the Board of Medicine, which has passed on the complaint to the Attorney General's Office.
"Did I sleep with somebody? Did I give somebody drugs? Was I careless? No. End of story," Bennett said. "That should have been the end of it."
We agree. Bennett even apologized:
"I'm sorry. If she's watching, I'm devoutly sorry to have offended you. I didn't mean to offend you. I meant to tell you the truth. And that's what I tried to do."
Sounds good to us, doc. Unfortunately, we wouldn't be surprised if some ultra-nutty lawsuit comes your way next.
Really? Since when? Did I miss something?
By the way, doesn't that look as if someone's wearing a Fidel mask?
From today's Wilmington, DE News Journal: Obesity on the rise in almost every state.
In the article, we're treated to the usual pontificating about how to combat our fatty selves, but this paragraph sticks out:
Dr. Delia West, a professor of public health in Arkansas, said demographics play a part. The South has a larger percentage of minorities, who have shown an increased risk for obesity. She said Southerners also tend to lead a more sedentary lifestyle than their counterparts in states such as Colorado or Oregon. People will find fewer jogging trails in Little Rock than in Denver, she said.
Is this just yet another media attempt to find some sort of racial bias in an otherwise unrelated story? I mean, is it because there are fewer jogging trails in the South that there's a higher incidence of obesity in that region, or that there's fewer jogging trails in the South because the folks there (minorities, especially!) are just more sedentary? I actually tend to think the latter (sans the gratuitous "minority" reference), but media word tricks are funny y'know. After all, how many people see the word "minorities," read that "people will find fewer jogging trails" [where they live] and make a connection? I know! If there were more jogging trails in the South, minorities (and, oh yeah -- everyone else) wouldn't suffer from so much obesity!
Looks like the tribe gets a veto on college nicknames.
The King notes:
If you name your team after a tribe you must get agreement from the tribe. This doesn't help the University of Illinois because there's no tribe called Illini. (It also happens to be the state's name, but the NCAA isn't making the university change that yet.) The University of North Dakota has one tribe supporting and one opposing.
One of King's commenters, Kevin, says:
Strange what some people call success. Let's say that all references to American Indians are expunged from team names. In one sense, this simply furthers the disappearance of Indians from American culture.
Soon, all that will be left of Native Americans will be brief passages in high school history books, casinos, and Ward Churchill. And then they wil be gone entirely, even their names.
I posted a couple weeks ago that I was somewhat swayed by Carol Spindel's argument against Indian mascots.
The ever-intriguing Carnival is back at the Ed Wonks' place. As always, much great stuff to peruse!
As if this is news: Televangelist and one-time presidential candidate Pat Robertson has gone off the deep end -- again. This time he's advocated assassinating Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,'' Robertson said yesterday on the television program "The 700 Club,'' the AP reported.
Killing Chavez, who is visiting Cuba, would be cheaper than starting a war, AP cited Robertson as saying. The U.S. can't allow Venezuela to become a "launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism,'' he said.
Earth to Pat: Castro and communism are anachronisms. Communist infiltration into Latin America -- again -- is highly unlikely. Yes, we cannot allow Venezuela to harbor Muslim terrorists. If that happens we deal with it then. But assassinating a president that was elected -- and elected again in a recall vote -- is insane.
Besides, if we couldn't get Chavez's buddy Fidel after 40+ years, what are our chances?
... despite Bush's dismal poll numbers: They offer absolutely no alternative. [Another] case in point -- Colleen Rowley on MSNBC's "Hardball" last night. Rowley was one of Time magazine's "People of the Year" in 2002 for her "whistleblowing" against the FBI's lack of investigations into terrorism. Now, she's running for Congress in Minnesota. When asked by "Hardball's" guest host last evening what she would do in Iraq (since she had no shortage of criticism of the president), she had no answer. None.
Transcript link later today when it becomes available.
Readers of my old blog may recall I'm a die-hard St. Louis Rams fan. Two interesting tidbits I came across about the team today. One, the NFL Network's lead analyst, Rich Eisen, picks them to win the NFC West. Now that's not really going out on a limb because that division blows. Still, it gets 'em into the playoffs (which is like being a San Diego Padres fan and bragging about winning their division -- I know!).
Second, I saw over at La Shawn Barber's that former promising running back Lawrence Phillips was arrested in, ironically, Los Angeles (from where the Rams moved in 1995) after "allegedly running his car into three teenagers who argued with him during a pickup football game." Oh, he also was wanted for roughing up his girlfriend! Nice.
Phillips was a mess from the get-go with the Rams, so much so that even coach Dick Vermeil -- who can work with anybody -- ended up letting him go. Phillips was later picked up by the Miami Dolphins, but that went nowhere fast.
Unintentionally(?) funny wacko-ism in the northwest: BSU Women's Center Distributes Vagina-Shaped Candy.
BOISE - They might taste good, but some BSU students think the vagina-shaped, white chocolate candy that the school's women's center is distributing is in poor taste. "That's almost to the point of being degrading to a woman's body in my opinion," says business student Vicki Johnson.
Other students say they're not offended by the candy. "But I wouldn't eat one," says Jennifer Gillmore.
Gee, really?? And who is it? Joan Baez. Surprise, surprise!
Wilmington, DE: "Teachers solicit gifts but get flak."
A letter from a Christiana High School faculty group soliciting gifts and money for teachers who promote positive student behavior has infuriated one business owner and puzzled administrators.
Christiana's teachers are "accustomed to focusing on the negative behaviors of students," said the letter from the school's Positive Behavior Support Committee.
To encourage teachers to spend more time rewarding positive attributes, the group is seeking donations such as gift certificates and "financial contributions" to buy teaching aids and "maybe even a small weekend getaway," the letter said.
The actual full letter is here.
The intent, says Principal Scott Flowers, was to raise funds for "positive behavior support" -- a "cultural shift" (oh oh -- edu-code!) in how discipline is administered. Instead of using school funds, local businesses were [to be] solicited by the committee.
Students who show respect, responsibility and other positive attributes qualify for the Viking Cards -- named after the school's mascot. Students can use the cards to buy Christiana High shirts, visors and other items from the school store.
(Quick aside: isn't that mascot name offensive to Scandinavian people? Isn't there a "cultural shift" towards doing away with such mascots?)
Sometimes teachers can be so clueless. Not many people outside the education realm want to hear about teachers' problems. They have their own problems. What if a teacher received a solicitation from a group of employees from a popular local business -- saying, for instance, that "their long work hours were taking their toll," and that to rejuvenate themselves they "needed an extra weekend getaway"? Come on, teachers! You may sympathize with these employees somewhat, but would you actually send them cash?
In addition, people outside edu-ville aren't accustomed to the edu-babble of today's schools. Folks reading "It's a cultural shift in the way we do discipline" will scratch their heads and wonder why kids are rewarded for doing what they're supposed to. And then, some of these folks are asked to contribute to this "cause"! District Superintendent Joseph Wise further adds to this (even though he came out and said he didn't endorse the committee's letter) by stating "It does take a village. If we're going to have world-class public schools in Christina, I want everybody to participate."
Hey, wasn't that the title of a popular senator's -- and former first lady['s] -- book? The sentiments may be noble, but again, many people (outside edu-ville) do not share them. This is a problem with educational bigwigs (and some teachers). Educational theory (i.e. edu-babble) begins to permeate everything. Why couldn't Wise have just said, for instance, "If we can get some local businesses to help us with coupons and promotions, that'll enable us to put more school funds towards classroom and building supplies"? Such a statement is straighforward and appeals to everyone. The "village" stuff, and Principal Flowers' "cultural shift" terminology effectively serve to alienate a significant portion of [their] served community.
And most of these are probably peeved at that "weekend getaway" passage already!
Bob Costas refuses to report on Natalie Holloway anymore. Good. Talk about your ridiculously over-reported story. With me, any time a news show starts in on it ("On The Record," anybody?) "click" goes the channel.
David Kranz in the [South Dakota] Argus Leader quotes Jeanne Koster, South Dakota Peace and Justice Center director, as saying that the No Child Left Behind law gives military recruiters "unprecedented access" to secondary school student personal information:
"That section gives recruiters unprecedented access," she said. Her organization wants to tell parents and students about their rights if such information is sought.
So it is implementing "Eyes Wide Open" - an effort to help schools "fulfill the complete obligation" in section 9528 of No Child Left Behind.
She's focusing on the second provision of Section 9528, called Consent.
"Schools have to notify parents this is going on, and the parents have the right to have data for their own kids struck from the roster that is submitted to recruiters."
"Unprecedented" compared to what, though? Kranz's first sentence says that
"the No Child Left Behind Act specifies that military recruiters must have the same access to contact information about students at the secondary-education level as those students' other prospective employers have."
Hube asked me to add that little animated .gif of Los Amigos Invisibles under his name (on the right-hand margin). No problema, dude.
I know he's a big fan; I checked out some of the stuff at their site and it is indeed good stuff. It's really hard to classify their music, so just go on over and check it out!
Yeah, I guess I did. Here's yours truly sliding across the rain forest canopy in Costa Rica:
A round-up of interesting pickings in the blogosphere:
My favorite writer in the blogoverse, Michael Lopez, is back -- filling in for Joanne Jacobs while she's on vacation. (Michael's old site was "Highered Intelligence," for those who may not recall.) He has a number of great posts up already, including this one about "bored students."
I followed the link to the original article where the Indianapolis Star interviewed several students at [local] Ben Davis High School. I was confounded by the answer to the question asked to Heather Barnett, "Do you feel safe at school?"
"Sure. . . . Just as long as no one messes with my car. There are some you just keep your distance from."
She feels safe -- as long as no one messes with her car? And keep your distance from what -- some ... cars? Students? Or ... schools?
... blogger buddy Greg has a post up about teachers getting out of the profession after only five years of service:
More teachers, it seems, are ready to leave their schools behind.
Forty percent of public-school teachers plan to exit the profession within five years, the highest rate since at least 1990, according to a study being released today.
83% of teachers surveyed, however, report being satisfied with their jobs. Yet,
beyond retirement, teachers say they have plenty of reasons to consider leaving, including concerns about pay, dissatisfaction with school bureaucracy or plans to work in another education job.
I never complain about pay, for one. First, because our bennies are first-rate, and second because we get a lot of time off. Next, what bureaucracy doesn't breed some degree of dissatisfaction? Lastly, another education job? That's always a possibility if the right opportunity ever presents itself. However, it's gotta be a darn good one for me as the staff at my school is the finest group of people I've ever known.
I turned 40 earlier this year. I actually felt older when the date arrived, too. Not so ten years ago when I hit 30. Conventional wisdom says you oughta get a full physical when the big 4-0 comes around, so as a precursor my doc gave me a slip for a whole battery of blood work. (I just finally got around to doing it -- typical male, I know.) The results came in yesterday, and ... violá! I have to go on Lipitor for high cholesterol! Damn it.
OK, I don't eat the best diet, but I do make a point of making sure I get enough veggies and fruits. I've also been taking Garlique for the last 4-5 years. I certainly exercise regularly (run, basketball, golf, weights). I'm 6'3" and 185 lbs. Virtually perfect body-mass ratio, if that's actually a scientific measure. So ... what's the deal??
It's gotta be genetic.
Talked to a few relatives on dad's side. No real instances of high cholesterol! Sheesh. Got calls into some mom's side relatives (in Florida). If they say there's no real background of high cholesterol, I'll be like "WTF??" Cripes, I'd be starting what -- a new genetic trend??
Via The Spectrum.com's (Utah) News in Brief section: Washington City dental hygienist honored.
WASHINGTON CITY - Sarah Jeffery of Washington City has been awarded a scholarship at Ohio State University by the Greater Columbus Mortar Board Alumni Chapter. Jeffery is a senior majoring in dental hygiene.
I never would have guessed, given the headline!
Still perusing the Corner, and even though I may be straying into Rhodey's territory somewhat, I had to note this post:
August 17, 2005 -- PRESIDENT Bill Clinton's team ignored dire warnings that its approach to terrorism was "very dangerous" and could have "deadly results," according to a blistering memo just obtained by The Post.
Then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White wrote the memo as she pleaded in vain with Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick to tear down the wall between intelligence and prosecutors, a wall that went beyond legal requirements.
Looking back after 9/11, the memo makes for eerie reading — because White's team foresaw, years in advance, that the Clinton-era wall would make it tougher to stop mass murder.
"This is not an area where it is safe or prudent to build unnecessary walls or to compartmentalize our knowledge of any possible players, plans or activities," wrote White, herself a Clinton appointee.
"The single biggest mistake we can make in attempting to combat terrorism is to insulate the criminal side of the house from the intelligence side of the house, unless such insulation is absolutely necessary. Excessive conservatism . . . can have deadly results."
She added: "We must face the reality that the way we are proceeding now is inherently and in actuality very dangerous.....
Justice honchos overruled White's plea — even though her team knew better than anyone else in law enforcement what the real risks were. White's team won a host of convictions — including Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who plotted to bomb landmarks like the Statue of Liberty.
Equally troubling is that the 9/11 Commission, charged with tracing the failure to stop 9/11, got White's stunning memo and several related documents — and deep-sixed all of them.
The commission's report skips lightly over the wall in three brief pages (out of 567). It makes no mention at all of White's passionate and prescient warnings. Yet warnings that went ignored are just what the commission was supposed to examine.
So it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the commission ignored White's memo because it was a potential embarrassment to the woman to whom it was addressed: commission member Jamie Gorelick. (White has declined to discuss the matter, and Gorelick didn't immediately respond to requests for comment yesterday.)
And then there's this from the NY Times: State Dept. Says It Warned About bin Laden in 1996.
One usually has to submit a post for consideration; I'm honored to have been an "editor's pick!"
Peter Robinson, over at the Corner, offers some notes from his high school reunion:
“The idea of leaving no child behind,” my old classmate explained, “has focussed more and more resources on the worst students.” Budgets have ballooned for special ed—special instructors, special classrooms, special textbooks and equipment—while starving budgets for mainstream instruction. “In my AP English class,” my old classmate continued, “only about half the students really belong. But I have to carry the other half even so.”
“No child left behind?” said the retired English teacher, one of the finest teachers I’ve ever encountered. “But there are kids who deserve to be left behind.” The legislation may have mandated strict new tests, but the pressure on teachers to ensure that all their students pass those tests means that in practiced public education gets dumbed down, not smartened up.
I've heard similar sentiments regarding that first paragraph. Somehow, the educational theorists think that by suddenly placing low-achieving students in AP (that's "Advanced Placement," folks) classes, their academic achievement will miraculously be improved. Oh, right -- kids who can barely read at, say, a third grade level will now be expected to write a five-page paper on The Enlightenment. The smarts of those high-achieving students will be magically "absorbed" these low-achieving kids.
I know many teachers. I also know why most of them guffaw at the educational "experts" that talk to them at conferences and inservices.
I sent the ridiculous editorial headline from the St. Cloud (MN) Times that I posted about yesterday to James Taranto's Best of the Web Today -- and they used it. As a matter of fact, they've used several tidbits I've sent in over the last year or so.
Opinion Journal offers up some insight on the history of nuclear weapons:
[Yet] the notion that the nuclear genie can be willed out of existence through the efforts of right-thinking people is as absurd as it is wrongheaded. Just as guns and knives will be with us forever, so too will the bomb.
... who cannot be grateful that it was Truman who had the bomb, and not Hitler or Tojo or Stalin? And looking forward, who can seriously doubt the need for might always to remain in the hands of right? That is the enduring lesson of Hiroshima, and it is one we ignore at our peril.
A neat short story that illustrates this view perfectly is Ben Bova's "Nuclear Autumn." In it, the president (ironically a female) and her science advisor (who seems to be a Carl Sagan knockoff) butt heads with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff over whether the Soviets will actually launch a threatened nuclear strike. The former two say "most assuredly not" while the latter is adamant that they will, and the US should be ready to respond. The president's and advisor's reason: such a strike will result in a "nuclear winter" which will eradicate all life on the planet. Why would the Russians be so stupid? Well, they're not. Their own scientists have calculated how many nuke explosions the earth can withstand without the nuclear winter scenario, and while the Soviet premier has the US president on the "hot line," he informs her of just this. And, his missiles are already in the air. It's too late to react. The president looks around the room asking "What should I do?" She finally asks the Soviet premier this, who responds "Learn Russian."
Ben Affleck is working on creating a TV series titled "Resistance" -- which deals with a "second American Revolution":
"Resistance," to be produced by Touchstone and Live Planet, will be set in the not-so-distant future, imagining a United States that's been divided into separate countries following a pair of catastrophic terror attacks.
[It] will follow a band of modern patriots who are attempting to bring back the Bill of Rights and reunify the country. One person familiar with the pitch said the show ultimately will be a hopeful hour because of its pro-democracy bent.
But as Greg says over at Rhymes With Right,
do you want to make a guess who the "bad guys" are going to be? I doubt they will be swarthy fellows named Muhammad and Akbar. I suspect that more than a few will have the title "Reverend", and that none will be "Imam".
But then again, I could be wrong. Affleck might actually make a real, honest-to-God patriotic show about in which folks try to restore the Constitution as written, not as modified by the liberal courts of the last seven decades.
I'd bet good money on your first assessment, Greg.
First I want to know: what were the "catastrophic" terror attacks? Nukes? Gas? Biological? Second, why would this lead to a fracturing of the United States? Was one part of the country more adversely affected? Third, wouldn't such attacks rightly lead to something like martial law, at least temporarily? You probably won't hear that in Affleck's drama. Here's what I'd guess about "Resistance": After the attacks, the federal gov. declared martial law and suspended the Bill of Rights, but when the danger passed the conservative president refused to lift the emergency declaration, and as a result the USA became a "dictatorship." The "modern patriots" in Affleck's vision will fight against this conservative president and his minions (as Greg noted, most likely people with the title "reverend" before their names) to restore the Constitution. (And, as Greg says, you can bet it won't be the Constitution -- or Bill of Rights -- that the Founders originally envisioned!)
On what basis do I make my predictions? Just check out Ben's (and buddy Matt Damon's) "Good Will Hunting." Damon's character's (Will) first meeting with Robin Williams' character (Sean Maguire) is a virtual advertisement for leftist academics Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. Indeed, Damon later narrated a documentary on Zinn, "You Can't be Neutral on a Moving Train." Second, it plainly wouldn't be politically correct to make the bad guys Islamic fundamentalists. The popular show "24" had to include disclaimers that "not all Muslims were terrorists," and, ironically, an Affleck movie "The Sum of All Fears" changed its book premise of Islamic terrorists nuking a US city to white supremacists when it made the move to the silver screen.
Barbara Walters on Peter Jennings: "What made Peter great was that he knew there was no such thing as the truth."
(h/t: Dissecting Leftism.)
I've heard from several readers (thank you!) about our appearance on various browsers. It seems that on the latest version of IE, our links and all appear underneath our posts. However, on Netscape and Firefox, our links etc. appear as they should -- on the right hand margin.
Please take a sec and comment -- let us know how we appear in your browser. Thanks!
In contrast to black leaders such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, [the Rev.] Louis Farrakhan said that Mexican president Vicente Fox was correct when he said that Mexican immigrants take jobs "that not even blacks want."
Farrakhan said Sunday that blacks do not want to go to farms and pick fruit because they already "picked enough cotton."
"Why are you so foolishly sensitive when somebody is telling you the truth?" he asked the crowd at Mercy Memorial Baptist Church. He said blacks and Latinos should form an alliance to correct differences and animosity between the two communities.
Farrakhan said the above while in Milwaukee, promoting the October 15 "Million More March." The "More" event is labeled as "more inclusive" than the 1995 "Million Man March." Women and gays are "encouraged to attend."
From the St. Cloud (MN) Times editorial board: Our view: Preparation will help your child get ready for schooltime.
Next up: Breathing regularly will continue your existence.
UPDATE: La Shawn Barber says "Lay off Cindy Sheehan."
... unfortunately, something appears quite amiss with the "Able Danger" revelations that the 9/11 Commission apparently never heard about.
John Podhoretz neatly summaries them: “So was the [9/11 Commission] staff a) protecting the [9/11 hijacker Mohammed] Atta timeline or b) Jamie Gorelick or c) the Clinton administration or d) itself, because it got hold of the information relatively late and the staff was lazy?”
Was there an agenda that didn't sit well with some commissioners -- such as the Atta-Iraq connection?
Lest you think I'd forgotten about fellow Delawarean Dana Garrett's contention that Costa Rica was home of "mass killings" and "death squads" back in the 80s, well, I didn't. The only evidence he was able to provide (via e-mail) was a single sentence from a Counterpunch article from 2002:
Political murders like the shooting of a Catholic archbishop in Cali (he was a sharp critic of the paramilitaries, guerrillas, and the government, and his death remains a mystery), and the mass killings and disappearances of peasants, trade unionists, human rights activists, leftists, and anyone suspected of sympathizing with these have characterized the conflict, which has exhibited marked similarities with the political violence that tore apart El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica twenty years ago.
As I've vigorously maintained, there's just one small problem with this. It isn't true.
Take what Dr. M, the professor who took my University of Delaware group to CR back in '86, said about Garrett's (Counterpunch's) contention. Keep in mind, too, that Dr. M, as I noted in my first post about CR, is quite the leftist:
I think your friend is off base on CR. I spent a lot of time in Central America in the 80's including a 5-month stint in Nicaragua in 85. The paramilitaries were very active in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador...much of it financed by the US gov't. Costa Rica never had a strong leftist movement..so there was no reason for paramilitary units to form. Ask your friend for documentation. 2 bits says he has none.
Two bits are now in your pocket, Doc.
Scary moments in 1986 during my semester abroad.
My second post about CR detailed a pretty scary moment, but in actuality I was too delirious to be scared. Much. One spooky moment was at the beginning of "Semana Santa," or Holy Week (which precedes Easter). Two other members of our University of Delaware group and I got on a bus bound for Playa de Coco in the Guanacaste province (some 3+ hours minimum from the capital of San José). If you've ever seen movies that include the stereotypical tourist riding on a bus in a Latin American country where there are numerous stops made and locals get aboard with live chickens and such, this fit the stereotype perfectly. Instead of just over three hours of travel time, the countless stops turned the trip into more like 5 and half hours.
And, we realized, we were dropped off some three miles from our intended destination. We were at Playa Hermosa, which doesn't sound bad (it means "Beautiful Beach," after all), but there was no place to stay there. And, it was quickly getting dark. No Daylights Savings Time in Costa Rica. It was 5:30pm and dusk was upon us.
Andre, one of my traveling companions took the ball-sy move of flagging down a local who was driving a beat up pick-up down the road. He asked for a lift to the intersection of Playa Coco, and surprisingly, the driver agreed to hoist us three gringos on the back bed. It was now pretty much pitch dark, and we could sense, if not actually see, the myriad bats flying all around us. Nice. At last we spotted a rather nice looking hotel, and it actually had space (considering how late we were in arriving at Coco). But my second traveling companion, Robert, who had the only credit card among us, refused to make use of it despite my and Andre's utter pleading -- and promises of return compensation upon our return to San José. The tight bastich! So, we continued walking into the bat-infested night ...
... until we found some "cabinas" that had some vacancies ("cabinas" meaning, literally, "cabins"). Andre and I waited while Robert (who spoke better Spanish than Andre and me put together) settled with the proprietor. When Robert came back, we headed to our, um, "room," and ... we're incredibly disappointed. The place was a complete and utter dump. The "room" was more like a cell, it was mosquito infested, and it stunk. To make matters worse, Robert paid in advance for three nights. Andre and I wanted to ring his scrawny little neck. However, we were at this time fairly exhausted, and wanted to just get some rest.
Good luck. Besides the heat and humidity, the mosquitos were eating the living s*** out of us right through our bedsheets! I'd say we were lucky to manage an hour's shut-eye that first night. Upon dawn, we headed to a "pulpería" for some breakfast (which was damn good), then to the beach -- where I merely wanted to get some sleep. I did manage a few winks, and then pondered what the hell else I could do with the day. It turned out that at Coco, the answer was "nothing much." Coco turned out to be a major dud on the fun-o-meter. (I'd later learn that Robert, and to a lesser extent, Andre, were kind of duds themselves, but this was early on in our semester, mind you.) Turns out all we did those first two days was lay on the beach and eat. And besides breakfast, there was only one real restaurant in the whole place.
What also sucked was that the place was practically devoid of babes. Not that this meant a whole lot to Robert (who, I found out later in the semester, was [is] gay), but it turned out that Coco is more of a family-oriented hangout. Nice. Just what a 20 year old wants, huh? It's like comparing Lewes Beach to Dewey Beach for you Delawareans out there. So let's see: The room sucks, the beach sucks, the babe-o-meter sucks ... why are we here? Sheesh.
After another nightmare night of fighting mosquitos, I told Robert I'd had enough. We all decided to vamoose after only two nights and two and half days. Thankfully, the bus ride back to San José from Liberia (Guanacaste province's largest city) was fairly quick (few stops b/c it was mostly at night).
One very hilarious moment from our brief Coco sojourn was at the pulpería for breakfast the second morning. Andre had suffered some "intestinal" problems that previous night (whew!) and didn't feel like eating. When the old woman who ran the joint asked him what he wanted, he replied "No tengo hambre -- tengo diarrea" ("I'm not hungry, I have diarrhea.") Robert and I buried our faces in our hands as the few Ticos eating there looked over at us, laughing. But the old woman didn't hesitate -- "I have something that'll fix you right up," she said (in Spanish, of course). According to Andre, it indeed worked!
[Mildly] scary moment one week later: I hooked up with the previously mentioned Brad (the "bus emergency door" guy) and another we-found-out-later-in-the-semester gay guy Brett for another excursion to the Pacific coast. (Yeah, I know -- what's up with the gay guys? As mentioned, there ended up being two out of the 13 of us that were gay, and one more that everyone suspected. Not that there's anything wrong with that.) We headed for Jacó, which is one of those areas that was hardly developed back then, but is now a small city. The bus ride there was better than the one to Coco, but once we were there, the humidity must've been at 200 percent. Back then, wearing shorts wasn't very socially acceptable, so we were all in jeans. Ugh. Next, we discovered that finding a vacant room was virtually impossible. One rather shady place had one double bed and one single one. Had we "known," Brad and I would have shared the double. As it was, we all just looked at one another and decided to search elsewhere.
We ended up at a nice, albeit small, cabina. The 3-day stay was nice -- good beaches, good sun, good food. Then, we had to leave. The bus "station" was a madhouse. Brad, Brett and I were some of the first in line. But when the bus pulled in, people started throwing their stuff in through the bus's windows to "reserve" a seat! As a result, us three had to stand for three hours for the ride home. Through winding mountain roads. With gaping potholes. Our legs felt like wet noodles (our arms, too -- we had to hold on, after all) upon arrival in San José.
I think I slept 14 hours that night.
Jonah Goldberg shares with us a couple e-mails he received comparing the U.S. to China. How and why? Can't you figure it out? Tiananmen Square = the Cindy Sheehan stakeout, for one! (Hard to tell if the second one is a joke though, I must admit.)
From the Toronto Sun:
Bill Dalrymple, 56, and best friend Bryan Pinn, 65, have decided to take the plunge and try out the new same-sex marriage legislation with a twist -- they're straight men.
"I think it's a hoot," Pinn said.
The proposal came last Monday on the patio of a Toronto bar amid shock and laughter from their friends. But the two -- both of whom were previously married and both of whom are still looking for a good woman to love -- insist that after the humour subsided, a real issue lies at the heart of it all.
"There are significant tax implications that we don't think the government has thought through," Pinn said.
"Generally speaking, marriage should be for love," he said. "People who don't marry for love will find themselves in trouble."
"If someone wants to do something foolish, let them do it."
Geez, how "insensitive."
S.D. Melzer notes how the far-left By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) is attempting to prevent the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative from even getting to a vote:
The group, which lives in a Malcolm X-inspired fantasy world ... has been engaged in a long guerilla campaign to prevent the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) from getting on the state ballot.
This initiative, backed by Ward Connerly, the California businessman who successfully spearheaded a similar effort in his home state, seeks to end, once and for all, racial preferences in public universities and state government.
Polls have repeatedly shown that over 60% of Michigan voters oppose preferences, even though the U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled them constitutional in a lawsuit challenging University of Michigan admission polices.
But instead of doing the hard work required in a democracy to convince voters, BAMN has been using its patented formula of political intimidation and legal harassment in an attempt to strangle the initiative in the crib. Last year, it disrupted initiative meetings on college campuses and tailed initiative signature-seekers, denouncing through bullhorns any student who approached them.
BAMN has also challenged the wording of the Initiative and attempted to invalidate signatures. Their basis? BAMN-signed affidavits attesting to supposed fraud:
But BAMN's evidence of fraud consists not of any audio or video recording of the deception, something that Stephen J. Safranek, the legal counsel for MCRI, notes it could have easily obtained given its habitual shadowing of signature-seekers. Rather, its evidence consists mostly of affidavits that BAMNers themselves signed after supposedly conducting phone interviews with duped voters. Only a handful of the affidavits were actually written and signed by the voters themselves.
Mr. Melzer concludes by noting what has become, sadly, how race is debated by the Left:
Why BAMN has no use for democracy is perfectly clear. In its totalitarian, morally righteous universe, political opponents deserve no voice. Those who reject racial preferences are not honorable individuals with different views--they are "racist devils."
John Rosenberg has more.
Carol Spindel has a well written take on the use of Indian mascots and names at American universities. Here's a sample:
Eighteen colleges are now on the mascot pariah list of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Three are Braves. Six are Indians. Four identify as specific tribes — Seminoles, Utes, Chippewas, and Choctaws. Carthage College calls itself the Redmen. The University of Illinois has created its own tribe, the Fighting Illini. The last university on the list — Southeastern Oklahoma State — doesn’t beat around the bush or go for modifiers. Its team name is the Savages.
American Indian leaders and activists have objected to their tribes’ use as sports mascots since the 1970s, but the public has shrugged its shoulders and gone on cheering for its favorite Indians and Redskins, a term one linguist compared to Darkies. It is hard to have a serious public discussion about sports mascots because most of us don’t know enough history to put the debate into historical context. Native Americans know this history. These are their family stories.
I admit I was pretty swayed by the article. However, some of the comments in rebuttal are excellent too. There are, after all, many state names taken from Native monikers. Do we change these, also?
Geez, here I am feeling like a full-time blogger again. But don't worry, that'll change quickly when school starts! Here, I just wanna send a shout out to Mike M. of Down With Absolutes! and Dana Garrett of Delaware Watch. I met up with them at a local Mexican restaurant last evening. I had enjoyed my tit-for-tat's with Mike over the last few months (at his blog and on my old one), but with regards to Dana, we had engaged in some major flame wars in posts and comments during the same time frame. But I just knew that meeting in person would change our perceptions of one another. It apparently worked!
Dana is a very friendly and personable guy! We kept politics talk to a minimum, and when it was discussed, we actually seemed to agree more than not. Maybe that was thanks to Mike, who definitely seems to fall in between Dana and I on the political spectrum. Speaking of which, Mike is friggin' hilarious -- his posts frequently bag me up, and he injected humorous anecdotes last evening at the most opportune times. Mike informed me that he bought a couple Los Amigos Invisibles CDs (my favorite music group) and really dug 'em. (BTW, LAI are playing in nearby Philly on Oct. 29, and you can purchase tickets for that show at their website which I just linked!)
I want to thank Dana for the kind words over at his site; I certainly appreciate it. Right back at'cha! I, too, look forward to the next time. As we discussed, maybe a monthly blogger's get-together would be a good idea!
It's gotta be "racism": 'White flight' from Hearne ruled illegal.
I see Hube has already commented on this La Shawn Barber noted post; it's amazing to me that today people still cling to outdated notions of "the right thing to do." In other words, forcing someone to be an unwilling participant in some social engineer's experiment instead of letting them decide what's best for their own kids.
Christopher Hitchens has a must read on the topic here.
"What the propagandists on the right have done is make people afraid to say they are Democrats. We have to be out there. We have to be vocal. We have to be pushing our version of the facts because their version of the facts is very unfactual." -- Howard Dean. (Via Taranto.)
"Our version," Dr. Dean? Like this?
A city council candidate dropped out of the race Friday after it was disclosed that he posted comments to a white supremacist Internet bulletin board more than 4,000 times.
Doug Hanks said the postings on the site stormfront.org were fictional and designed to win white supremacists' trust as he researched a novel he was writing.
"I needed information for the book and some other writings I was doing," Hanks said. "I did what I thought I needed to do to establish myself as a credible white nationalist."
The Louisville, KY Courier-Journal notes that the Williamsburg schools are banning certain student hairstyles:
The Williamsburg Independent School District has joined a small number of Kentucky districts and individual schools, including some in Louisville, that have banned certain hairstyles.
According to the Williamsburg district handbook, other kinds of hair "disrupt the educational process and can represent certain groups or gang membership."
"We're trying to teach obedience and conformity," Williamsburg principal Joy Mack said. "We don't expect much resistance."
Geez, does Ms. Mack sound like a member of the Borg collective, or what? But don't fear, Williamsburg students:
"Williamsburg Superintendent Dennis Byrd said students who violate the policy will be disciplined on a 'situational basis.' Punishment will range from being ordered to adapt hair to meet the standard to suspension from school, according to the school handbook.
Byrd said the ban does not apply to cornrows or mullets."
Thank goodness for small favors, eh?
Via La Shawn Barber: "Denver Fire Department to Dumb Down Test." She says:
For reasons unknown, it never occurs to the clueless in charge of these things to change the people trying to pass the test instead of diluting the test for the people. I assume such tests measure cognitive ability and certain skills set for the job.
Rather than shifting upward and expanding the pool of qualified black applicants (as affirmative action was originally conceived) with the requisite cognitive ability and skills, they’ll shift downward to make the test “passable” for black applicants, specifically. The first thing whites do when making these decisions is appeal to the lowest element. And this is offensive to no black person but me?
Check out the "sullen" photograph of Dept. Capt. Kevin Duncan. Something has got to be done! Denver Fire Chief Larry Trujillo says the blame is on the "Civil Service Commission, which instituted a computerized testing system five years ago that he believes was culturally biased and crafted in a way that largely benefited white applicants."
I've always wondered just what "cultural bias" entails. Everything I've read in the past appears pretty specious to me.
By the way, Denver's efforts to get more minorities into the fold isn't exclusive. It's focused on women, too:
At the time, the boards could give minority and female applicants preferential standing in the rankings. Also, the physical and agility tests accounted for a greater percentage of an applicant's overall score and rank.
Today, civil service rules give little weight to the physical and agility portion of the tests to avoid discriminating against women.
Yeah, you know -- we don't want firefighters to be physically fit! After all, what are a few 3rd degree burns suffered by a fire victim as long as we have a diverse fire company, eh?
The newer computerized test is at the middle school level, and
Civil service officials say many black and Hispanic males between the ages of 18 and 25 also were disqualified because of past criminal activity. Candidates are automatically eliminated if they have a felony or misdemeanor conviction for drug use or distribution, brandishing a weapon or assault, among other transgressions.
OK. So? But they're going to "examine" this:
"The question is where do you make the cutoff for past problems?" [Civil Service Commission president Chris] Olson said. "If someone engaged in significant criminal activity up until age 17, have they all of the sudden become an angel at age 18? I don't know; we're looking at that."
You're looking at it?? Has the term naivete reached all new heights of absurdity?
Man. If any test leads to supposed "disproportionality," are we led to believe this is "discrimination"? There can be no standards? (A middle school level math and reading test? What do we go down to -- 3rd grade? And limited physical and strength standards so as not to "discriminate" against females?) If I ever have to move to Denver, I'm going to make sure my house is devoid of all flammable materials.
Publius Pundit dissects Venezuela's municipal elections, which may have had a single digit turnout. Commenter "catchy" defends Venezuelan pres. Hugo Chavez noting, among other things, the following:
you’re blinded by the fact that Chavez is anti-American/leftist into thinking he wasn’t popularly elected. That much is transparent.
I’m sure the voting isn’t perfect. Wasn’t here either. You’ve provided no basis for even suspecting widespread fraud. Keep trying and for G*d’s sake be a little more discerning with your sources.
Fine, I say to catchy. Now please relay this exact sentiment to the Left here in this country regarding the 2000 and 2004 elections, would you? (I recall Hube writing a bit about this very thing back after Chavez' recall election.) Folks like Harry Belafonte, Dick Gregory and "Judge" Greg Mathis, who, besides saying the usual nasty things about the president, recently yammered on about the usual "election theft" charges of '00 and '04.
Via the Las Cruces Sun-News: Jail numbers up, crime down.
Jail populations continue to grow even as the crime rate continues to fall, a study of county jails in six New Mexico counties has found.
The study by the University of New Mexico Institute of Social Research looked at the length of time inmates were jailed, both before and after sentencing, in Doña Ana, Bernalillo, San Juan, Curry, Eddy and San Miguel counties. Those jails accounted for 60 percent of people in county detention centers as of June 30, 2003.
The report was presented last month to county commissioners, managers and jail administrators at the annual meeting of the New Mexico Association of Counties, which contracted with the New Mexico Sentencing Commission for the research. The idea is to understand the dynamics of jail populations to better control crowding.
Which is fine, of course. But the insinuation at article's beginning is that people are being jailed even though the crime rate is falling. Maybe, just maybe, the crime rate is falling because more people are being jailed?
Interesting that you would characterize Costa Rica as possessing an “extremely long history of political stability.” Does that include CR’s death squads that were responsible for the mass killings and disappearances twenty years ago of peasants, trade unionists, human rights activists, leftists, just about anyone suspected of not toeing the government’s line?
I must admit I was quite shocked to read this. Being that I'd like to think I'm open-minded and certainly not a know-it-all (even on a topic with which I'm quite familiar), I asked Dana for some solid evidence to back up his claims before I told him I thought he was putting forth obscene charges. (I think he may be confusing Costa Rica with what occurred in nearby El Salvador.) My curiosity piqued, I turned to an investigator's best friend -- Google -- and searched. The result thus far?
This site, which should appeal so to Dana, has nothing regarding his claims, and if such a site would provide evidence of atrocities, you'd probably expect it at this World Policy Institute site which, among other things, purports to "nurture a new generation of writers and public intellectuals committed to internationalist thinking and to provide students in the New School community with an opportunity to gain practical experience in policy research and advocacy on global issues".
OK, I just got an e-mail from Dana and he claims he tried to provide URLs in his comment for substantiation, but was unable. I checked with Rhodey, and he tells me that HTML has always been allowed in comments. Even so, why not just copy and paste the URL as plain text? Dana also says that "my wife not knowing about any CR atrocities" is understandable, since many in the US are also unaware of such things. Don't you just love that implicit condescension? That somehow, far-leftists "know" more than you and me? Why would I (or anyone else, especially Ticos) want to NOT know about Costa Rican atrocities and/or mass killings from 20 years ago? I've studied CR up and down and never, ever encountered such stories. That Dr. M wasn't aware of any either seriously brings into question Dana's allegations, relevant URLs notwithstanding.
I'll keep you posted.
(Note: Part 1 is here.)
I've recently gotten back in touch with Dr. M. He's since retired and is living out west. We'll definitely keep in touch.
Speaking of Oscar Arias (see my last post), the Nobel Peace Prize winner is virtually a shoe-in to win next year's Costa Rican election. The CR constitution was recently amended so that candidates may be re-elected, either sequentially or not, as is the case with Arias (who served from 1986-1990). CR has dealt with a lot of political scandal over the last few years, and one of Arias' positives is his honesty. I didn't meet one opposition party supporter in the past three weeks that didn't think Arias wouldn't win. That can't be good for the opposition now, can it?
Back to my semester abroad in '86. Many have asked me over the years (especially my students) "How do you become fluent?" (In this case, in case you don't know, in Spanish.) The only real way to become fluent is to spend time abroad in a country that speaks the language you wish to learn, and spend it around people who don't speak English. That's was my situation in '86. I lived with a family consisting of a mom and dad, three daughters, a son and a (male) cousin. Between them, they knew about ten words of English. Some people find speaking the foreign language to be the toughest part. For me, it was the listening. My first two weeks in Costa Rica were mentally exhausting due to the "strain" of listening intently to all that was said to me, and thinking through what I wanted to say to others. It gradually got easier and easier. Then, something really weird happened ...
... I had a dream all in Spanish. At some point in the semester, everyone in our group had this moment. We all considered it a pivotal point in gaining fluency. It meant were we starting to think in Spanish, not merely translating from -- and to -- English.
I also found that the more I was relaxed, the better I spoke. Which seems perfectly logical, after all. If I was out with the guys at a club or bar having a few beers, my Spanish was excellent. On the other hand, the day I got severely ill ...
... showed that when nervous and/or delirious, my Spanish sucked.
I still don't know exactly what happened that caused me to become violently ill that mid-March of 1986. What I do recall is that I was out with a group of American and Costa Rican friends, including my now-wife. We were dancing and drinking, and as the night went on, I was overcome by nausea. Upon arrival home, I took a Pepto Bismol shot and went to bed. Two hours later, I awoke, realized I'd never make it to the bathroom, so I puked my guts up on the small throw rug beside my bed. I grabbed the rug and tossed it outside (since I had no idea what the hell else to do with it!). I went back to sleep, but awoke another couple hours later to repeat the process, but this time I made it to the commode.
Now, severely dehydrated, I ventured to wake my "dad" for assistance. He gave me some pills to pop (I was too weak to inquire as to just what they were), but I quickly vomited them right back up. "Dad" quickly gathered me into his truck and drove me to the hospital.
Thankfully, just about every CR doctor speaks English, so he took note of all that was wrong w/me in my native tongue. He told me my temperature in Celsius, which caused me to freak for a second, but he quickly noted it was 104 in Fahrenheit. Yikes. The first order of business was to get fluids into me, so I was taken to a room where I was to get an IV. Unfortunately, the nurses spoke no English, and they pricked and prodded both my arms and hands until they settled on my left arm. I remained with that IV stuck in my arm for almost 18 hours. When my "dad" came to pick me up the next day, I had to literally carry my arm with me. And that was actually pretty tough, considering how weak I was.
I was in bed for the next week essentially. I had a slew of medications to take, and once a day I had to walk to the nearby pharmacy to get an injection in my posterior. Seriously. The first four days of that were OK as the woman who administered them made it virtually pain-free. However, the last day of injections there was only one person in the pharmacy -- an 80+ year old man who had the shakes! Unreal, man. He jammed the friggin' needle into my hip bone and by the time he actually managed to get the thing into my butt cheek, it was the worst shot I'd ever had. My right cheek was sore for three days.
I'm still a fairly thin guy (6'3", 185 lbs.) but back then I came into CR at around 158 lbs. (same height). Over that week of hell, I managed to lose almost twelve pounds. I figure I got some sort of food poisoning, which sort of makes sense being that my host family didn't exactly care for leftover food very well. Since my final meal before the illness was an omelette, to this day I still cannot eat one.
This tale of sickness, however, actually pales in comparison to that which happened to another exchange group member. Brad, with whom I remain good friends today, traveled with six other group members and Dr. M to neighboring Nicaragua, where the Contra War was raging at the time. (I didn't go mainly because I didn't have the cash to do so.) Nicaragua is still one of the poorest countries in our hemisphere; however, at that time it was really impoverished. On the last day before returning to Costa Rica, buddy Brad did something incredibly thick: he bought a snowcone from a street vendor. Since potable water then was in short supply, what Brad did bordered on the insane. And he paid for it. On the (long) bus ride home, he was unable to control his bowels, and in order to prevent further ... mess, Brad went to the back of the bus, opened the emergency door exit, stuck out his backside, and let it all go. Seriously. The whole tale was told to me by those who went to Niacargua (on my first day back to classes) after my own sickness. I, along with everyone else in attendance, couldn't catch our collective breath we were laughing so hard. Brad just sat there, smiling, eventually uttering, "Hey -- I had to go!" As to why he purchased that snowcone? "I was thirsty," he said. Oh.
The next two-three weeks after I was back on my feet, I was perpetually ravenous. I must have had six meals a day during those weeks in my body's attempt to regain those lost twelve pounds. Being that I returned to the States heavier than when I left, I guess it worked.
(Part 3 coming soon!)
Linda Seebach dissects a critique of a study which suggests "that not only Christians and conservatives but also women in higher education tend to teach at less prestigious institutions than their scholarly qualifications would suggest."
For certain enlightened liberals on university faculties, the lesser intellectual stature of Christians and conservatives is so much taken for granted that they do not hesitate to write about them in terms dripping with condescension and contempt.
Seebach, using the critique's authors' own words, shows exactly that.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, said "no" to a Hawaii school's policy of exclusive enrollment for native Hawaiians:
... the private school's policy of admitting only native Hawaiians amounted to "unlawful race discrimination" [the court said] even though the school receives no federal funding.
The decision shocked school officials and devastated the Native Hawaiian community. The school has defended the exclusive policy as a remedy to socio-economic and educational disadvantages Hawaiians' have suffered since the 1893 U.S.-backed overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.
The Kamehameha Schools were established under the 1883 will of a Hawaiian princess. About 5,100 Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian students from kindergarten through 12th grade attend the three campuses, which are partly funded by a trust now worth $6.2 billion. Admission is highly prized in Hawaii because of the quality of education and the relatively low cost.
I'm curious as to exactly how this differs from the Boy Scouts, who took their case all the way to the US Supreme Court to "win" (maintain?) the right to decide who can join their ranks. If the Kamehameha Schools are private, and receive no federal funding whatsoever, why are they not allowed to do as they wish in deciding who can enroll?
John Rosenberg weighs in, and wonders about the University of Hawaii's "scofflaw spirit" on this ruling.
My old buddy The Unabrewer notes that in 2004, the area with the greatest amount of voter fraud was ... Philadelphia. I remember reading quite a bit about said fraud right after the election. Didn't realize it was that bad.
Funny -- and all we heard about was Ohio. What a surprise, eh?
Arthur Chrenkoff, whose "Good News from Iraq" was a fantastic alternative to what you usually would see in the mainstream media, is saying adiós to the blogosphere. I know I'll miss him, as will Hube and many other bloggers, Michelle Malkin (from whom we learned this) included.
All the best, Arthur.
Greetings everyone. Hube here, and I´ll be writing here occasionally whenever I have something to say. Back at my now defunct blog "Hube´s Cube," that urge to "say something" occurred too frequently. I´ve had the desire to become a writer for a long time. I absolutely love to write. Thus, Hube´s Cube was the perfect outlet for me -- the avenue by which I could espouse my views on literally anything, and join in on whatever discussion that followed. It was perfect.
It was a little too perfect, as it turned out. I began to spend more and more time writing and searching for topics to write about. When I had little or nothing to say, I´d spend a lot of time perusing other blogs and commenting on their posts. I´d hesitate to call it an addiction, but perhaps it was bordering on such. Time for other matters -- especially for those of family -- began to suffer. And being that I´ve always considered family THE ultimate foundation of all around us, I had to ... stop. Family is all, folks. All.
Hube´s Cube thus ceased to exist in early July. I have some regrets, yes, but ultimately it is for the best. I wanted a "clean break," so to speak, and no -- "The Cube," as many of you so called it -- will not be coming back. There were some other peripheral issues surrounding The Cube´s demise (server problems being one), but I won´t get into these. I did what I had to do, and I´m very thankful to Rhodey and co. for offering me a chance to jump in whenever I have a free moment -- with something to say, that is! Speaking of which ...
Costa Rica!! If you ever get the chance to visit what´s dubbed "The Switzerland of the Americas," grab it. Immediately. My wife is from CR, and we travel back to her homeland every 2-3 years or so, since her family is all there. Her folks live in San José, the capital, very close to the American Embassy as it would be. I first set foot in CR back in 1986 as a college junior in an exchange program. It´s amazing how much the country has changed over these last 19 years. Tourism is a huge industry, if not THE industry in the country. Thus, many of the coastal areas that I recall as being hardly developed back in ´86 are now virtually cities. Also, there were not many Americans in CR in the mid-80s. This was probably due to the civil war in neighboring Nicaragua (the Sandinistas vs. the US-backed "Contras") and dictator Manuel Noriega running things to the south in Panama. However, these things affected CR very little, then. CR has an extremely long history of political stability, with a very large middle class. The people are very pro-American for the most part. I first discovered this my first week of classes in ´86: An obviously anti-American speaker had a microphone at the usual student hangout in front of the university library, and many people were whistling at him. At first I was worried because in the US, whistling usually signifies a positive feeling. On the contrary here. In CR, whistling is the equivalent of booing! A Tico (as Costa Ricans refer to themselves) who spoke perfect English, pointed this out to me. Hell, maybe that speaker was Dana Garrett for all I know!
The ironic thing was, at the time, I became sympathetic to the Sandinista cause thanks in large measure to the advocacy of our accompanying professor. An outspoken Marxist, Dr. M freely discussed the "greatness" of the FSLN (Sandinistas) and Cuba. He brought in virulently anti-American speakers to "talk" to us in class and in discussion sessions held at his apartment. In a nice change of pace one time, Dr. M invited a representative of the newly-elected Oscar Arias government to a discussion session. He was quite the anti-Communist, and sparks flew as Dr. M and the representative went at it. Us students clandestinely chuckled at how the perfect English speaking rep. kept his calm the entire time while refuting Dr. M´s points with introductions like "Now let me help you with that idea..." or "Now let me tell you the real story..." Dr. M´s face would turn beet red with anger.
Still, despite Dr. M´s outspoken leftism, I still regard him to this day as a very kind, gentle and wise man. Despite his outspokeness, he never "hurt" us grade-wise if we disagreed with him; indeed, he welcomed disagreements and would invite more discussion. He was always there to help us with problems adjusting to CR life (we were there for three and half months, after all), and would even go out and party with us!
(Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!)
The AP's Eric Talmadge serves up what may be a "typical" remembrance of the Hiroshima A-bombing:
Hiroshima marked the 60th anniversary of the first atomic bomb attack Saturday with prayers and water for the dead and a call by the mayor for nuclear powers to abandon their arsenals and stop "jeopardizing human survival."
A flock of doves was released into the sky. Then wreaths and ladles of water - symbolizing the suffering of those who died in the atomic inferno - were offered at a simple, arch-shaped stone monument at the center of the park.
Outside the nearby A-Bomb Dome, one of the few buildings left standing after the blast, peace activists held a "die-in" - falling to the ground to dramatize the toll from a bombing that turned life to death for more than 140,000 and forever changed the face of war.
The remainder of the article is all more or less about remembering "the horror" of the nuclear bombings. No mention is made of the horror an invasion of Japan would have witnessed. Or of Japan's World War II atrocities throughout southeastern Asia. However, Time's David Kennedy, in an article titled "Crossing the Moral Threshold," (most of the online article is only available for premium content members; however, I have the hardcopy magazine version) makes several interesting points. First, the atomic bombings were essential to ending the war. Countering what I had posted previously, Kennedy notes that
Japanese scientists assessing the Hiroshima damage doubted that the Americans could possibly have harvested enough radioactive material to make more than a few bombs. It was even likely, they said, that Hiroshima was a one-off stunt that could not be repeated. (This deprecation of the magnitude of the US Bomb program suggest how ineffective a demonstration would have been.)
Second, Kennedy points out that the real moral question is the targeting of civilians during wartime, not the atomic bombings in and of itself. He notes that "66 of Japan's largest cities [were consumed] and as many as 900,000 civilians -- many times the combined death tolls of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" were killed in "standard" firebombing raids.
Kennedy ends by stating the "US had already crossed a terrifying moral threshold when it accepted the targeting of civilians as a legitimate instrument of warfare. That was a deliberate decision, indeed, and it's where the moral argument should rightly focus."
Get this: DNC Chair Howard Dean blames the US Supreme Court´s Kelo decision on ... right-wing justices!
"The president and his right-wing Supreme Court think it is 'okay' to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is," Dean said, not mentioning that until he nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court this week, Bush had not appointed anyone to the high court.(!)
Dean's reference to the "right-wing" court was also erroneous. The four justices who dissented in the Kelo vs. New London case included the three most conservative members of the court -- Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the fourth dissenter.
The court's liberal coalition of Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer combined with Justice Anthony Kennedy to form the majority opinion, allowing the city of New London, Conn., to use eminent domain to seize private properties for commercial development.
"We think that eminent domain does not belong in the private sector. It is for public use only," Dean said.
The conservative bloc agrees with you, Howie! Nevertheless, we think a national party chairman ought to get his facts just a little straight before foaming at the mouth. Again.