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Showing posts from March, 2008

Governmental Parenting Standards

In Parents pick prayer over docs; girl dies , Nicholas Provenzo discusses the role of the parents’ faith in the death of an eleven year old girl. As the post and subsequent comments elaborate, the question becomes one not solely of mysticism vs. science, but of individual rights: the parents’ versus the child’s. This is a fascinating subject to me and one about which I have more questions than answers the more I explore it. I have posted on the role of parents as educators here regarding objective standards in government of monitoring or intervention in the education of children. Given that government schools don’t seem to be losing any strength of entrenchment within our society, the premise of mere government oversight is an illusory one at this point in time. However, it is still worth attempting to define by what possible political philosophy could government standards regarding the education of a child be enforced under the umbrella of the individual rights of the child as appli

Kirk Johnson, Hero Curator

I'm not posting this to froth anyone up - god knows, we atheists need no frothing, but rather to present the hero curator, Kirk Johnson . Johnson, who grew up with a similar religious background to the children in the video, was able to make empirical observations on his own and come to devote his life to science. He further alludes to the fact that the despite the tour guides being wrong about the science, presenting a diametrically opposed opinion is a pretty American thing to do. Secure with his background and knowledge, he is one cool customer. There is a particularly disturbing bit within the first 2 minutes (1 min 45 sec) where one of the tour guides sees that a young girl cannot follow his leading logic regarding the likelihood of a dinosaur praying and fasting for Eve to fall from grace so that he can eat meat (did you follow that?), he says, “Everybody say it with me now”, nodding his head up and down, “No.” If that don’t beat all hell.

ManHour 2008

A friend of mine sent me this the other day. Tell me, is there anything more frightening than the image which shows the beautiful city lights across America turning off simultaneously (at about 1 min 56 sec in the video)? Tomorrow night between 8-9pm EDST, I will be turning on all the lights in and out of my house for one hour. I will be supporting the idea that man should never go back to the dark ages. I'm calling it ManHour 2008. Have the organizers of EarthHour asked themselves how their Mother will accommodate all the little consumers produced during that hour? After all, what else can people do during with the lights out?

Gone, Batty, Gone

A friend sent me this article in the NYT on the plight of bats in the Northeast region. I’m concerned by this devastating loss of bats in my area. As one who sees the extensive loss of species as a potential loss to mankind, and as one who swells to nearly 4 times her normal size at the site of insect bites, I’m worried about the billions of extra mosquitoes that will congregate in my yard with impunity now!

The Real Good News for Modern Man

This article in last week’s Houston Chronicle is worth reading. It tells the story of a young woman whose heart was failing and her tough decision to not have a heart transplant. Luckily for her, she lives in an age where the best and brightest minds are working on alternatives for ailing hearts. She not only avoided the transplant, but now she has her life, and her heart, back! Parties responsible for this good news: the brave young woman, her doctors, and the designers at Thoratec. After having read the comments to the article, I think my post title would have served as a better title – geesh!

Master of All Masters

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Danny Kaye is a master story teller as well as a singer, dancer, actor, and kind of a treasure in his own right. When I was growing up, this album was my very favorite! I had searched for it for years without any luck and then I finally found this site at which many old children’s albums have been downloaded as MP3s. I'm not certain about the legal issues of this site, but I think that since these albums are not available any longer, it is not an infringement issue. If someone knows better, please tell me and I will remove the link. I have really enjoyed sharing these stories with my children. Maybe you’ll find an album that you’d like to share with yours.

George Washington, the Greek God?

In his post entitled In Defense of “Heroification” (Part 1), Scott Powell presents an excellent refutation of the ideas in the popular book, Lies My Teacher Told Me . As a parent of one of Scott’s gigglers (upon seeing the Horatio Greenough statue of George Washington) I can attest to the fact that children who have a grasp of the real heroism of George Washington do not fall prey to the type of hero worship condemned in the book. I eagerly await the second and third installments of Scott’s posting on the proper heroification of George Washington which will also be found on History At Our House .

Coincidence or not?

The presence of red coats (brown coats). A struggle for independence. A confluence of events and characters making a peerless assemblage. Having had the pleasure of watching the first three episodes of John Adams (the miniseries on HBO) this weekend, I got to wondering about the similarities between it and Firefly . Okay, not really, but the end of the opening theme does bear a striking resemblance to the end of The Ballad of Serenity . The miniseries is every bit as good as I hoped it would be.

Happy Atheister!

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I'm sure some people are interested in how atheists can celebrate what has come to be known as a religious holiday. Well, contrary to popular belief, some of us have a deep sense of morality and are extremely caring. For us, this is what today is all about:

Leveling the Playing Field

When you hear that, does it make you cringe? It does me. If you have wondered exactly how campaign finance reform is a violation of free speech, here is an excellent article in Forbes magazine by Yaron Brook which explains it clearly. He reasons that by attempting to prohibit political persuasion from those who can afford it, campaign finance reform effectively insures political coercion by those currently in power. War on Free Political Speech

March Madness

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At first, I thought March Madness was about the naming of the Girl Scout cookies: Thin Mints - oh, the irony. Then I realized, it's the beginning of baseball season, people!!!! Check out the boys at the official MLB Red Sox site on the top of the sidebar (how long it shall remain there is anyone's guess - longer than the VOKI, I can assure you). Can you believe that Youk has his own blog? Me neither. Opening day is just around the corner..... I'm very excited. (Since we can't get tickets to Fenway, here is a picture we took watching the Sox at Camden Yards - nice place to see a game - we couldn't believe the ease of access! Tek is walking out to calm Beckett down.)

"No Substitute for Victory"

I am in awe of the sheer willpower necessary to maintain one's composure and concentration when being verbally attacked by the very same irrationality one is speaking against. John David Lewis recently posted a blog entry on Principals in Practice, the blog of The Objective Standard regarding his most recent lecture at the Georgia State Technical University. His lecture, 'No Substitute for Victory': The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism , is based on an article he wrote in The Objective Standard. An audio presentation of his No Substitute for Victory lecture given at George Mason University last April can also be found at The Objective Standard. I cannot recommend the article and the lecture enough. The article is an excellent presentation of why Islamic Totalitarianism is a threat to us all, and the audio presentation is an amazing example of staying focused on the issue when your audience is openly hostile. If you find it worth your time, you will no doubt fin

Motivation, Part 5

The following is the 5th (possibly final) part of a series of essays on student motivation by Lisa VanDamme. You can find all of them on her Pedagogically Correct blog. Last time, I explained that in order for a teacher to properly motivate his students, he must really know the purpose of teaching his subject, and that purpose must set the standard for selection of the subject's content. Let me now add that the content selected must also be hierarchically appropriate if the purpose is to be achievable. In a literature course, for example, the works selected for a given group of students must contain characters and themes to which they can relate. They must contain abstract material that the students are capable of grasping and can connect to their own lives. I once gave a workshop on hierarchy in education to the Maryland Homeschoolers' Association. In the discussion, I threw out, as a contrived example of the violation of hierarchy, the absurdity of reading Tom Sawyer to y

The Utilization of Salami

(And other salty meat products) And they say deli meat is bad for you.

Defining Objective Educational Standards in Protecting the Individual Rights of a Child

Thanks to two posts started on Armchair Intellectual , regarding Requiring Parents to Provide an Education for Their Child , I've been giving even more thought to the role of government in determining if a child is being educated. Based on the premise that the government gets completely out of the business of administering education, some questions arise as to what form of monitoring or intervention the government should have to insure the child’s rights (to an education in this case) have not been violated by his parents. Should parents be responsible for the education of their children? Does this mean that children have a "right to an education" which surpasses their, or their parents' individual rights? Should the government be the arbiter of an objective standard by which to measure the parent’s efforts in educating his child? Is this a matter for the government, a matter of a parent’s individual rights vs. the individual rights of a child, or none of the above?

HBO: John Adams miniseries

John Adams by David McCullough - In a testament to the extraordinary confluence of men of reason and events as well as to the writing style of Mr. McCullough, I read toward the American Revolution as if I couldn’t wait to find out if the good guys win! Spoiler: they do. McCullough then delves more deeply into John Adams’ psychology and his obsession with ambition after the war. Ben Franklin is portrayed in his later years as a saucy old hedonist, much to Adams' dismay. In the relationship between Adams and Jefferson, it is clear which is the more principled man, but again, I couldn’t wait to find out it they managed to mend their relationship. Spoiler: they do. The miniseries is based on the book by McCullough. I read it many years ago (hardcover), but I remember racing up to the Revolution, hardly being able to withstand the suspense! That's how exciting it all still is! There was an excellent review of the series in the Wall Street Journal this week. It starts tomorrow ni

Beware the Giant-Handed Constitutional Scholar!

This is by far, the funniest thing I have seen in a very long time. I only wish it weren't true. Long after they hilarity of the marine-hippie is over, we're stuck with the reality of the scary, scary Americans, whose rights to be so scary we need to continue to protect. Marines in Berkeley Thanks to Nicholas Provenzo for putting this on his blog.

LTE: Nudging

I believe this is called cross-posting, but of course, I could be wrong. It's been known to happen. 05 March 2008 When Shove Comes to Push In When Shove Comes to Push (Page D1, March 2 Boston Sunday Globe), Drake Bennett focuses on the interesting applications, rather than the abysmal implications of “nudging”. Endowing the government with “choice architecture” is a gross inversion of its sole purpose: the protection of individual rights. Nudging violates our individual rights while claiming to protect us – from ourselves! Touting that in limiting our choices the government will effectively protect us from our own stupid decisions, “nudge” enthusiasts hide their advocacy of an increasingly omnipotent government behind the euphemism of “libertarian paternalism”. Nudging, they say, has the potential to make us all much happier – so long as we are willing to forgo our freedom of choice and individual rights. Update: This LTE remained on my computer (and in some revised hard cop

BS is its middle name

YR BS S The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. It's a mouthful and a truck load. My freshman daughter came home from high school the other day and said, "Mom! I had to take this really stupid survey today about drugs and sex and suicide and stuff" (this is the way she speaks, I didn't homeschool her early or long enough). Anyway, I was more than a little curious because I have always exempted my children (she has an older brother who survived high school) from these "health surveys". I received the letter stating that “if you do not want your child to participate, you should call the school nurse" today - 2 days after the survey was administered. I decided to do some research. Here is what I found at the CDC website: In 1987, CDC developed a program to provide fiscal and technical assistance to state* and local education agencies for effective human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention programs for youth. Since 1992, CDC has funded educati

Why we educate children (at home)

The subject of history demonstrates on a grand scale the consequences of men’s ideas and actions; literature concretizes highly abstract values; science shows the power of man’s mind to understand and harness the natural world; math provides tools for grasping science and developing logical acumen; the language arts help children to develop the capacity to express themselves with clarity and eloquence. This beautifully complete and concise statement by Lisa VanDamme in the Letters & Replies section of the Spring 2008 issue of the Objective Standard explaining the value of curriculum has provided me with immense homeschooling inspiration and confidence. Until and unless there is a VanDamme Academy near us (or another school which espouses these values ), we will continue to try to acheive these primary goals of education at home.

The Edge of Objectivist Activism

A few weeks ago I decided to become more active in my pursuit of truth, justice, and the American way….okay, more like more active not only in the course of my life, but also in somehow attempting to alter the mindset of others: a dangerous proposition, I know. This attempt is made more dangerous by the fact that up until a few months ago I had decided that a well-lived life was the best way to impact those around you, which, in turn, is the most influence you could ever hope to achieve. What started as a slow burn a few months ago blossomed into a few glorious, passionate weeks, however, when I thought I was going to change the world. This step-change started with a casual reading of a classic book I had missed in my youth, Brave New World , an innocent question by a school teacher friend, and serious frustration with the lack of American leadership in our country. It then spilled over into my scouring the internet and newspapers, for items on which to make blog comments, list postin

Soul versus Character

This was part of an old discussion I was having with my electronic book club, but I thought it was an interesting idea (after having established "soul" as a non-religious entity) . Soul versus character: My soul is a reflection of my values. My character is the culmination of my words and actions. For example, everyone has made a poor choice and said “now why the hell did I do that?” to themselves at some point after the fact. If you thought about it hard enough, I’m pretty sure you could determine why you had automatized that response. It was through a series of experiences that you had previously determined required that type of response (or lack of experience in the case of newly developed fears). Determine why you feel the way you do, and change your conscious thought to better reflect the reality about that particular thing, and it could help bring about a change in your automatized response over time. A long, long, time if it’s anything like my futile yelling at my

WGBH fundraising.

Sure, I've become part of the misguided machine. Last night, I was among the many who answered the phones for WGBH as part of their month long fund drive. I have to say it was great fun. Mostly, the calls I got were from people who wanted the premiums (gifts in the form of books, CDs, or tickets) that were being hawked on Channels 2 and 44 - but it seemed to be quite a win-win situation for the callers and the station. I'm sure Stephen has a different opinion about the constant begging throughout the month of March, but I was happy to help. Additionally, the new 'GBH studio in Brighton is fabulous! Walking along the outside of the modern corrugated metal building, I read the words to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood theme song (sniff, sniff), and "Hey! It's a Wonderful Day!" the theme song from Arthur (again, sniff, sniff). I love PBS - I do wish it were completely privately funded.