Sunday, February 28, 2010
Makes me think of this:
Especially after about 7:10.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
It doesn't matter, now. A woman the same age I am that taught elementary school special needs children is now dead, because she legally couldn't defend herself where her attacker chose to turn her into a statistic.
It also doesn't matter that the police turned him into a statistic a few moments later. The young woman is still dead.
Images found on A Human Right
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
So, I pulled out my CCW, and told him that I was planning on ignoring the no-weapons policy on our local campus when I went back to work. I told him that there was no way I was going to permit some douchebag in the administration to turn my students into statistics with that policy.
His shoulders kinda relaxed, and he said that if some crazy person was going to ignore the signs and bring a gun on campus to commit violence, that there needed to be a crazy person bringing guns onto campus to prevent that.
My state recently considered (briefly, before they shot it down) a law requiring state colleges and universities to permit faculty with CCWs to carry on campus. I really wish they hadn't shot it down, because if I have to draw down to prevent a mass murderer from turning my students into statistics, I likely would get fired.
It would have been a far lower death toll at Columbine High School in 1999, had faculty been carrying (I think--it's entirely possible that no teacher could have brought themselves to kill one of their students). Math teacher David Benke would have had a far easier and safer job stopping the crazy bastard shooting at his middle-school students had he been permitted to carry a gun.
Colorado State's faculty and Board of Governors just turned their students into walking targets in a target-rich environment.
Funny, that. I've been with the same man for twelve years. I've been married to him for six. There've been times when he's been out of work (fewer, shorter, and less regular than the times I've been unemployed), but I don't recall him ever getting violent with me in any way, shape, or form.
Then again, that may be because I'm proud of my man, and I let him know that I'm proud of him and support him, whether he's working or not.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The official story is that this has nothing to do with terrorism; that the two were nothing more than run-of-the-mill car thieves.
Our current administration is looking weaker by the day, almost begging for more attacks with the way they've handled those that have actually happened.
I would be willing to bet that, American born or not, the two car thieves in Arizona were radical Muslims.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Blackberries, iPhones, and other really fancy communications devices have edged away from being mere 'phones into being small computers, containing much of their owners' lives through correspondence, paperwork, appointment books, and the like.
Law enforcement agencies are pushing for the legal ability to thumb through peoples' lives through their cell phones without the need for a warrant. That, as I said, is like picking through their computers, or through hard-copy filing cabinets, without said warrant. It is not necessarily protected within the wording of the laws, Constitutionally or otherwise, but it is by God protected by the intent behind those laws.
I don't know if law enforcement will get what they want regarding warrantless searches of arrested perps' cell phones; however, I do know that, if this is permitted, none of us are safe from the same.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Naturally, the school's administration uses (and abuses) this ability: they've activated the webcams and spied on the students while the students are at home with their families. And students and families know this because...the school has sent home notes with some students warning families of "unacceptable behavior" that the school has pictures of. Taken with the remotely operated webcams.
Um. No. That is not legal. That is not legal any more than it's legal for police to fully wiretap your home and plant video cameras. Schools are currently government entities, and as such, are just as bound by Constitutional law as law enforcement. And this is infringing upon the rights of not just students, but also their parents.
And, ironically, at least one class has just finished 1984.
I think, were I one of the students at that school, I'd've refused the school's laptop and purchased my own netbook (mine cost a bit under $300). And if the school had forced one on me, it would remain unpowered in the top of my locker--or dropped on the floor in the principles office as soon as I'd received it. Most of the kids have started covering the webcams and microphones with masking tape.
Yeah, I'm definitely homeschooling my kid(s). This is total bullshit.
Well done, Israel.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Pray for my sanity.
"But in the aftermath of a special election in Massachusetts that cost Democrats unilateral control of the Senate, the White House is getting ready to act on its own in the face of partisan gridlock heading into the midterm campaign.
“We are reviewing a list of presidential executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff."
In other words, like any other thwarted bully, Barak Obama is going to throw a fit and do his damnedest to make us play by his rules.
They're trying to excuse it--"White House officials said the increased focus on executive authority reflected a natural evolution from the first year to the second year of any presidency"--but it's pretty obvious what's going on. At least, it is to those of us who've progressed beyond the fifth-grade mentality so displayed by Dear Leader.
Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, said, "Colored people are like human weeds and are to be exterminated." It really looks like Planned Parenthood is still following her dreams.
I am not criminally-minded. I will, however, be one of those that carries even in "gun-free zones." I will not be victimized by someone who intends to do harm.
This "...no new taxes" pledge is what got G.H.W. Bush unceremoniously thrown out of office. And Dear Leader knows it. He's already accepted that, barring unconstitutional action on his part, he will be a one-term president.
Unfortunately for him, he's no better of a president than he is a father.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Send her home, certainly. Refuse to allow her back until her "temper issues" have been dealt with, maybe.
For God's sake, people: she's six years old. She shouldn't be expected to act like a tiny adult. Her parents maybe should discipline her better, but temper tantrums and meltdowns are normal for that age, especially when the kid's scared, uncomfortable, frustrated, or tired.
Here's my question: what did the teacher ask her to do? Was it something that the little girl was having a frustrating level of difficulty with? Why didn't the teacher ask her what was wrong, and try to help before taking her to the office and handcuffing the child one day, and institutionalizing her the next?
The more I hear, the more determined I become to homeschool my child(ren).
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Last summer did have a good, hot spell (but it wasn't as hot as the previous summer's, and didn't last as long); however, last summer was shorter and cooler than the summer before.
And there are record breaking amounts of snow in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; in Baltimore, Maryland; in Washington, D.C.; in Chicago, Ohio; and Dallas, Texas will be seeing snow tonight. The Cheyenne River Indian Reservation has been snowed under so heavily that it's been effectively cut off, and will likely see more deaths as a percentage of population than the other areas combined (the initial press release is dated Feb 1, and is currently about a third of the way down the page).
Human-caused global warming my ass. The earth goes through approximately sixty-year cycles, thirty years warm, thirty years cold. We were in one of the warming cycles for most of my life, and there was nothing anybody could do to change it. We're heading into the cold half of the cycle, and there's nothing anybody can do to change it.
Shut up. Just...shut up. Don't dump a crap load of taxes on us designed to force us into "green" behavior. We're already doing everything a reasonable nation can expect to do. Any more and we'll be crippled.
Unless, like a character in a book once implied, that there is no difference between our modern "greens" and the former Russian Reds.
In which case, that's precisely what they want.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Not one of them makes $50,000/year, much less $250,000/year.
No new taxes my ass.
Even more,"it'll bring in billions of dollars of revenue" my ass. Adding a dollar per pack of tax is going to have people going to Indian reservations, where they can buy tobacco without paying the stupid sin tax, or else cutting back on the quality of their smokes, going from Marlboro to GPC or AlwaysSave.
Then again, this smells more of the nanny state trying to force us all into healthy behavior, whether we want to have healthy behavior or not.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, or be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…
The fourth and fifth amendments to the United States Constitution forbid our federal government, and all of its branches, from infringing upon our individual freedoms. The fact that these prohibitions against government and legal harassment are laid out in the federal constitution means that they trump state constitutionality.
In other words, no government or law enforcement official is permitted to scrutinize your home, your person, your business, your papers, or your correspondence, with the full power of Constitutional law set against them.
That makes the proposed encrypted, law-enforcement-only, backdoor into private data unconstitutional. Illegal, in other words.
According to Declan McCullagh, law enforcement agencies want the process by which warrants are served to access private data streamlined, and want ISPs to be forced to archive data for much longer than they otherwise do. Of course, the agencies would protest that it’s only to streamline the warrant request process; however, the FBI has been known to fabricate emergencies to gain access to private data—phone numbers, IP addresses, you name it.
See, the thing is that, once a branch of government (which is what law enforcement is) gets a “back door” into all of the electronically stored, private data, like who pays for what private organization’s website, who donates to them, and (quite probably) who frequents them—all in the name of Law and Order and National Security, doncha know—even if it’s only allowed with so-called proper paperwork, there’s no way it won’t be abused by every branch of government. Everyone, from congresscritters looking for dirt on opposition to law enforcement looking for anyone breaking any kind of law so they can make names for themselves to the IRS looking for people’s TurboTax data (hoping to find somebody who’s cheated that isn’t in a Presidential cabinet, or in congress), will be illegally sifting through everyone’s data.
Not long after that, they’ll be looking at the private data of free sites, like Blogger and Hotmail and Yahoo! and Gmail, keeping an eye peeled for domestic terrorists—er, dissenters from the accepted politically correct opinion.
So, this infringement upon the fourth and fifth amendments will probably lead to infringements upon the first. It really is up to us to prevent the government from abusing us—using the second amendment, if need be.
This isn’t a big news story—but it is out there. We need to keep an eye on our employees, so that they don’t become our masters, and we their slaves.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
"A report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that for the first time in 25 years, Social Security is taking in less in taxes than it is spending on benefits.
Instead of helping to finance the rest of the government, as it has done for decades..."
Basically, what this is admitting is that the Federal Government has taken investors' money, and instead of actually putting it to work, they've used it to finance their own lifestyle, and pay off former investors. Just like Madoff was doing, before the market crashed and the money tightened down, blowing his cover.
I don't necessarily think we should cut off those who've paid in their whole lives and have retired; however, I do think we need to cut off any further payments, and force people to start being accountable.
We should have called the Federal Government onto the carpet when we first learned what they were doing with our Social Security taxes, and forced them to stop.
Or else, made Ponzi schemes legal for the average con-man to enact.
I really have no objection to this. Constitutionally, it is his right and responsibility to nominate justices to the federal bench, with Congress advising, and giving either a thumbs-up or -down.
Besides. Reading further on Sotomayor's decisions, she may well come down far to the right of where her proponents expect. Yes, she does do more research than may be strictly necessary--she isn't as smart as some of the others, and probably knows it. Yes, she handed down rulings in favor of minorities and of unions a few times. However, she's also Latina, and Catholic. Which means she may well come down well to the right of where partial-birth abortion proponents would want her to. She may well come down to the right of where other lobbies want her to, as well. I don't yet know, but I'm certainly optimistic.
So, yes. Go ahead, Mr. President. Nominate more Latinas and other religious minorities to the bench. And may you be as blindly stupid of their probable politics as you were Sotomayor's.
After all, Lada was the state-sponsored automaker in Soviet Russia, and the only brand of car that those with permits were allowed to buy. Why in the world would we think that the socialists in Washington D.C. would be happy with Americans buying their competitors' better quality and lower priced products?
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
What’s the difference between Keynesian and classical economics? Which has a greater impact on global climate: man or nature? How many feet per second is the speed of sound? What function does RNA serve? Who wrote Ben Hur? Why does it matter?
Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo, Thomas Jefferson, and others have been termed “Renaissance Men:” individuals who held expertise in many fields. da Vinci and Michelangelo, both famed for their art, also made forays into engineering and architecture, and made significant contributions to their contemporary body of scientific knowledge. Galileo, more than simply an astronomer, also studied advanced mathematics and philosophy. Thomas Jefferson was statesman, botanist, philosopher, author, lawyer, architect,…the list of his accomplishments goes on and on. The modern term, “polymath,” is one that’s virtually unknown—mostly because of modern assumptions.
Not too long ago, I had a student sit down near where I was grading my students’ research papers in conference in the library, and simply listen. My students’ papers were over everything from the psychological effects that various forms of media had on kids’ psyches, to what was the underlying causes for the (then beginning) economic meltdown, to why laws should be changed to permit and money should be focused toward pharmaceutical research on marijuana. The papers ranged from excellent to the student had to have been high when they wrote the paper.
But I understood practically all of all of the papers—the topics and the research.
That’s what the student who’d sat nearby listening (though I thought he was reading) noticed. After my last student had left, he looked up at me and told me that one of his professors described Leonardo da Vinci as someone who knew nearly literally everything, and that said professor said that, with the amount of knowledge now out there in the world, that was impossible for the modern scholar. He said that’s why the modern scholar specializes—that it’s possible to know everything about one topic, even if it’s not possible to know everything about all.
He said he’d never met anyone who had a good enough grounding in all to understand most of anything they read. And that it was kinda scary.
Two years later, I’ve been thinking about that discussion with that student. And I’ve been thinking about the too-narrow specialization that we see in various humanities departments. While I understand the specialization in the sciences—no way can anyone do serious research into cracking the human genome, for instance, and have time to be serious students of anything else—I’ve never understood that level of specialization of study in any other field.
Well, scratch that. I think I might be able to understand the “but since we can’t know everything, we should specialize to be experts in part of part of one thing (like women’s pre-colonial French literature, between 1400 and 1450)” mindset.
It’s sheer intellectual laziness.
With the movement of facts and knowledge from being archived only in libraries to being archived a mouse click away on a web search, there is no reason people have to go through life knowing only their narrow field of study. I teach English, but I understand how flawed the study was that suggested a possible link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism. I understood that not simply because of my reading comprehension, but because I understand the theories, and I understand how the scientific method is supposed to work. I understood why so many people bought it without questioning it because I understand psychology, and I understand the heard of sheep mentality that unquestioningly trusts someone they consider an expert.
With Google connecting everyone who has access to a computer to much of the knowledge in the world, there is no excuse for this blind, trusting, unquestioning, “if the expert says it, it must be true,” mindset that’s bled over to “if someone famous says it, there’s got to be something to it” that’s continued on to “they’re famous, and they feel strongly about something, and I don’t have an opinion, so I’ll follow theirs.”
I’m not the only one who has this ability to think for myself, and the intellectual curiosity to look up things that interest me, or concern me. Joe the Plumber in this last election—you know, the guy really loony left stole the private records on so that they could publish him and try to discredit him—may have been a manual laborer, but he certainly demonstrated an understanding of the way politics, taxes, and economics work that most of those who voted in the last Presidential election lacked. Most of the blogs I read demonstrate an intellectual curiosity that’s been fed, satisfied, and fed again, leading to a basic understanding of a huge array of topics.
I compare my reading habits, and those of my friends in the blog sphere, with my colleagues in most branches of the humanities, and all I can think of is Robert Heinlein’s take on the whole idea of specialization, articulated in his Notebooks of Lazarus Long:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
-Robert A. Heinlein
I've got a pretty good idea why she dropped the appeal, unlike most of those involved. Y'see, her male genetic donor sold her to her husband for not quite $23,000. That makes her, in the eyes of the men in the area, her pedophile husband's property. If she gets the divorce, that means that her male genetic donor might have to give the money back, but almost certainly will kill her to repair his honor. And since she's twelve, and female, she'll be handed back to her father's ownership, which would make it simplicity itself to repair his "honor."
Seriously. This culture needs to be wiped--violently, if necessary--from the face of the earth.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
My other half and I got to talking, the other night. We were discussing the Glenn Beck documentary on socialism: the Fox executives’ fears that the American public wouldn’t watch because it was too complex, and too information filled, and doesn’t follow the accepted format of 40 seconds spent on a story to keep America’s short attention span focused; how high the ratings actually were; how many more have watched it on YouTube; and the way history has been “progressivised” (for lack of a better term) in modern public schools.
It’s not just history that’s been done that way. Literature has been emasculated as well. Literally.
Mary Grabar, in her essay “Death by Suicide,” discusses—quite well, for the most part—why English Departments in universities are hemorrhaging students: literature has been abandoned in favor of studying anything but. She describes an incident at a conference at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association, where the panel speaker (in analyzing a comic book) dismisses the actual written and drawn text in favor of analyzing the empty spaces between panels. Because, you know, “Lots of stuff happens in that silent space.”
Like nothing actually happens in the text and art of the comic book—sorry, graphic novel.
She goes on to say that literary critics are the ones who have done the most to murder their own discipline, their jobs, their relevance—explaining her title.
She’s completely right, as far as it goes. However, she doesn’t go far enough.
I work in a small English Department at a small Midwestern university. There are fewer than thirty of us, counting both full-time and part-time instructors, teaching English. Out of those, most have not read Chaucer. Or Beowulf (either in the original, or in any of the various translations). Or Shakespeare. No, they focus on their own tiny area. And even then, it’s not well understood, because they use the literature to forward their own tiny, irrelevant theories.
While I was in graduate school, I found out just how many of my current colleagues—many of whom are actually recently graduated PhDs—have not read, and do not plan to read, the literature they “study.”
In my first year of study for my MA, I had a second year classmate who was in the process of writing his masters’ thesis on postcolonial influences in Shakespeare’s work who (I was certain) hadn’t read any of Shakespeare’s actual work. I suspected he hadn’t read enough to have the expertise he claimed when I met him, and he wasn’t doing the reading for the class we were in together. I was certain he didn’t when, around Halloween, he jogged up to me in the hall and asked what the reading assignment (which he hadn’t done) had been, with a copy of Cliff’s Notes in his hand. I hadn’t recognized him, because he was dressed up for Halloween, in a purple velour jogging suit over a white tee-shirt, with white Nikes, and a black fedora with a purple hat band. I said “I’m sorry; I took thee for a fishmonger.”
He recognized the reference as being from Hamlet, from when Ophelia’s father had approached Hamlet about his daughter, and Hamlet compared his efforts with those of a pimp trying to talk up his rent-girls: “So, you recognized me?”
He missed the point, though—the next line is “Would thou wert so honest a man.” Basically, I wasn’t complimenting him on his costume, I was telling him that his lack of academic integrity made a pimp look good. And he simply didn’t get that.
A year later, when I was in my second year, I heard a first year talking about his planned thesis. He planned to do a study of one of my favorite novels’ main characters, Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights, through the lens of queer theory. His idea was that Heathcliff was miserable because he was denying his latent homosexuality.
At this point I had to step in. Anyone who has read the novel knows damn well that Heathcliff is in no way gay. Necropheliac, certainly; but certainly not gay. And I quoted the actual text to back me up, complete with page numbers from the edition I owned, had been reading for my own pleasure, and had in my purse. His response? “No fair; I haven’t actually read the book, just the criticism.”
One of my classes in grad school focused on Restoration and 18th Century plays. The teacher mentioned that most of the plays we’d read were written by men, and that women didn’t write much because, for the most part, they weren’t as educated as their male counterparts. I’d heard the same from my teachers as an undergrad student when I asked why the later British literature class wasn’t teaching Kipling—and was further told that something had to be sacrificed to include those authors who’d been excluded.
I will agree with my colleagues that it’s likely that the women and minorities are under a handicap of lower levels (and lower quality) of education; however, whether or not it’s fair, it’s a fact of life that most of the “newly discovered” works of literature did not stand the test of time because they simply aren’t as good as what used to be taught as the classics. They’ve replaced Homer with Sappho. They’ve replaced Chaucer with Marie de France. They’ve replaced Kipling with some low-quality women’s writing that don’t resonate with readers through the years, decades, and probably centuries.
And my colleagues that are stripping quality from our curriculum are the ones shaping the teachers of tomorrow. My colleagues are teaching the teachers of tomorrow that quality doesn’t matter nearly as much as gender and sexual orientation and social equality.
And the crap they’re replacing the classics with is teaching a whole different lesson: that there’s nothing there to study, so the study of English isn’t worth our time.
It’s sad, and infuriating, that students aren’t being introduced to the masters of literature in public schools anymore. It’s sad, because by calling those works that form the foundation of culture irrelevant, modern culture is becoming irrelevant, and edging toward becoming nonexistent.
And it’s infuriating because it’s the most highly educated among us that are busily making themselves irrelevant.