Thursday, May 26, 2005

Not surprising

A home-schooled student won the 2005 National Geographic Bee this week.

Congratulations to Nathaniel Cornelius of Minnesota!

I think home-schooling is delightful.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ooo-Kay.

The latest online business venture: SaveToby.com. If people don't send this guy $50,000, he says he'll eat the cute bunny (Toby) he found and nursed back to health.

Someone call PETA! Send in the hostage negotiators!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Education choice

My latest column in The News Tribune.

Book Meme

1. You are stuck inside "Fahrenheit 451." Which book would you be?
It's been years since I've read that, but as I recall most of the books got torched. I'd like to be one of the ones that didn't get torched. If there were any.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
If I ever have, you can bet I wouldn't publish it on my blog.

3. What is the last book you bought?
"Orthodoxy" by G.K. Chesterton. I already own a dog-eared copy and it's one of my favorites, so it became the prize for a target-shooting contest some friends and I had at the local firing range. I didn't have a "snowball's" chance of winning anyway, so it was perfectly fair to choose the prize and compete. (I took fourth place. Out of four contestants.)

4. What are you currently reading?
- The Bible.
- Another Chesterton book about St. Thomas Aquinas.
- "No Excuses: Lessons from 21 high-performing, high poverty schools." (Samuel Casey Carter)
- "Left Back: A century of battles over school reform." (Diane Ravitch)
- "End Times Fiction." (Gary DeMar)

5. Five books you would take to a deserted island.
No internet access on the island? Hmm. I'd take a copy of 1) the Bible, since it never gets old, and if a plane load of people made an emergency landing on the island one day, it would be invaluable in forming the new close-quarters stranded society. 2) "The Counte of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas because I forget all of the details every couple of years and it's a delightful read. 3) Paul Johnson's "A History of the American People" because I've been trying to get through that for years and I'd have more time there. 4) "Human Action" by Ludwig von Mises because I've heard it's one of the best books ever written on economics, and it's horrendously long, but I'd have time. 5) Going with Goldy's good idea, probably something about surviving or getting off of a deserted island.

Sigh.

I've never wanted to be one of those people other people describe as "always busy." What a drag. So perhaps I've taken on too much lately. I think I was still in childhood the last time I was bored, but lately my hours have been filled with so much "going and doing" that it seems I have very little time for all the "sitting and thinking" that needs to be done.

Let alone blogging.

Still, at the invitation of Goldy, I'm going to try to answer some quick questions about my reading habits. (In the next post.)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Democrats are partially right

As reported by David Wickert in The News Tribune today, some Democrat legislators are considering making wealthy students (or their families) pay for the full cost of their higher education at state universities.

That makes sense. Why should taxpayers -- many of whom are struggling to cover modest expenses -- foot the bill for rich people?

The problem is, the Democrats don't take their logic far enough. The proposal is rightly dubbed a "Robin Hood plan" since rich families would pay the entire cost of their education plus the cost of education for less wealthy families.

I can't say I think much of Robin Hood for stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Where's the virtue in that?

But...if Government doesn't take money from some people and redistribute it to others (i.e. from each according to his ability, to each according to his need...), how will poor people ever rise above their circumstances? Who else would give them a chance to achieve a college education?

In response to which, I pose another question: Did Government have to force people to donate money to the victims of 9/11? How about victims of the recent tsunami?

No. In fact, as I recall, the individuals and foundations handling relief efforts asked people to stop contributing because the generosity was greater than the need.

Why do we sell people short and abuse government power by assuming similar generosity won't be shown in meeting a need as crucial as education? Countless individuals and foundations already prove the negative assumption wrong.

Wouldn't you?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Who would have thought?

Way back in 1993 a couple of teenage thugs severely injured a pizza delivery man in an armed robbery here in Washington. They were members of an Alaska Indian Tribe that successfully lobbied to mete out its own form of punishment instead of sending the criminals through the regular justice system. They were "exiled" to an island off the Alaskan coast for 18 months.

Only...the media noticed they got off the island quite a few times during their exile, as well as received visitors. Ultimately, they came home early.

One of them was arrested this week for assault in Alaska. Guess the exile didn't work.

Public v. Private

I've been digging through SAT scores for Washington's students, and I find the comparison between public and private school mean scores interesting. For 2004:

Public
Verbal: 526
Math: 530

Private
Verbal: 554
Math: 552

Of course, there are far fewer private school students in the pool (2,508) compared to public school students (27,467), but maybe that's a good argument for increasing one pool and decreasing the other. Maybe it's a good argument for allowing parents to send their children to the best schools they can think of using some or all of the $9,688 per-student we're currently spending every year on public schools.

Hm. Maybe.

Takes a village to raise a clone...

Two great columns in Washington newspapers yesterday...

Legislators want village to do more
by Elizabeth Hovde (Columbian)
"The proposed bill drips with entitlement language, suggesting the state must do more to help people meet family obligations and responsibilities. Generous employers should feel free to do more in this regard voluntarily, but the government hasn't the right to be so generous with other people's money."

Bill raises many ethical questions
by Sharon Quick, M.D. (Seattle P-I)
"Why would any legislator vote to exploit citizens for the speculative medical benefits theorized from unsafe, unethical, unsuccessful and impractical research involving human embryo destruction and cloning?"

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Miles: The Latest

Miles is almost completely healed and he's allowed outside again. He wasn't allowed out for a few months, so he still thinks he's doing a Bad Thing when he manages to scamper through the screen door I open for him. When I call him to come back in an hour or two later, he usually yells from somewhere in the backyard to let me know he's coming. Then he "sneaks" into the house.

The most exciting part of Miles' day is sneaking through the door in one direction or the other. I admit, affectionately, he isn't very bright. My roommate and long-time friend, Tiana, is less sensitive about it:

"I think Miles has smoked a little too much catnip, if you know what I mean."

Tiana's cat, Boston, is quite a bit smarter, but also evil. Boston got shot in the leg several years ago (I'm guessing in a drug sting), and she turns the limping on and off whenever she wants. If you have food, she's near death and can barely drag herself across the floor -- it's like she doesn't even have a leg there anymore. But if you look at her wrong, she'll bury the sharp end of it in whatever part of your body is closest. Then she'll cuss at you and stalk away.

Miles, watching the whole thing, thinks: "That Boston sure is nice."

I'd post a picture of Miles, but I haven't figured out how yet.

Como estas?

Hola. Mi llamo Marsha. Aprendo Espanol en mi communidad instituto local. Es divertido! Penso...

Monday, April 04, 2005

My brother-in-law

It's a delightful thing to hear husbands and wives speak well of each other, so I can't resist posting an excerpt from an email my sister (Anna) recently sent me. (I got her permission first.) She and my brother-in-law (Brian) will celebrate their third anniversary this year. Here's what she thinks of him (and everyone who knows him agrees):

He is a really amazing man - I have a lot of respect for him. The more I get to know him, the more things I see to admire. He's a very considerate person at home - he didn't become less nice or less attentive after the wedding day. He's always willing to give me a foot massage or spoil me if I've had a long week or a bad day. He works hard and is willing to take complete responsibility for our financial situation. He loves God and has good judgement and wisdom and wants to do the right thing. He's also a very humble person - he has this great balance where he's not fearful or insecure and he has good confidence, but he's also not prideful or egotistical. He is always quick to give God the credit even for his own strengths and accomplishments or to admit his shortcomings and apologize when he sees he's been wrong. Yet I also I love that he is a very unwavering person in so many ways. Very steady and consistent. It's a great security for me. He makes me feel safe because he's so solid, he always goes to God about everything.

Union brilliance

It’s amazing how much wisdom a local teachers’ union president can pack into one short newsletter article. Here are a few quotes from the March 28 newsletter of the Federal Way Education Association (by union president Shannon Rasmussen) to make you think profound thoughts:

“Instead of ‘No Child Left Behind’, which focuses only on improvement on tests and heavy-handed sanctions, our school system should be interested in seeing that every child have [sic] an opportunity to excel – at something valuable.”

I guess grammar isn’t on the list of valuables.

“It is our job to educate our public.”

“Federal Way should create a school system that we are able to stand behind and defend to the parents of our children.”

Our parents want their children to have the same kind of education that kids get in private schools.”


I sense a lot of biological confusion. But why not let all your surrogate parents send your/their kids to private schools, if that’s what your public wants?

“The best part of investing in the school system kids truly deserve is that the very programs we are finding it necessary to eliminate while playing the game are the ones shown to actually improve the very test scores we know don’t accurately indicate our children’s potential.”

YAY!! Er. Wait. Huh?

These are the people who control public schools. Think about that.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Books

Douglas Hyde was a long-time communist who converted to Christianity and wrote an excellent book called "Dedication and Leadership." The book answers the question: "What can Christians learn from Communists?" Fully aware of the evils inherent in Communist philosophy, Hyde focuses on the legitimate tactics and strategies they used to inspire people and change the world.

Another good book on strategy and tactics is Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals." Unlike Hyde, Alinsky was a rather dark man with no apparent ethical boundaries though. He personally trained members of the National Education Association in the late 60s and early 70s, which explains a lot.

Anyway, I recommend both books.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

No tolerance for abstinence

The federal Department of Health and Human Services has created a website promoting sexual abstinence as the healthiest choice for unmarried young people.

Frankly, I don't think Government has any business teaching young people about sex. That's the Family's job and Government will just screw it up.

Unfortunately, that's not the argument the ACLU and its pro-gay allies are making in their efforts to get the website shut down. No, they're mad because the website promoting abstinence doesn't go out of its way to tell kids how to have sex, and it seems to imply that homosexuality is wrong.

They're mad because the site contains factual information about why various contaceptives are not foolproof. After all, they say, abstinence "doesn't work" because teenagers can't resist sex. Thus, if we don't lie to them about the effectiveness of contraceptives, they won't even bother to use them at all.

Having read some of the "sexual health" curriculum these adults foist on children, I've concluded they're perverts masquerading as professionals. They hate the idea of abstinence because it implies humans (even adolescent humans) can control their appetites, and they don't want to control their appetites.

I hope this is a wake-up call to moral people who imagine they can reach a peaceful consensus on this issue. I hope it's a wake-up call to parents who imagine they can trust strangers with the hearts and minds of their children.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sigh. Why try?

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother trying to have a rational discussion with most liberals. They can't defend their opinions in an honest exchange of ideas, so they launch personal attacks. It goes something like this:

Me: I think parents should be able to decide how and where their children are educated. Why do you disagree?

Them: She's villifying teachers! She wants to indoctrinate all children in private religious schools!! She hates education!!! She's a shill for Wal-Mart!! Aaaiiiieeeeee!!

Me: Um, do you need me to help you find your meds?

Here's a good example on David Goldstein's "Horse's Ass" blog. (Goldstein is the one who filed an initiative to declare Tim Eyman a horse's ass. I think he's wrong on many things, but certainly intelligent and entertaining. I don't group him with the liberals above.)

This'll make the unions mad

Here's a great op-ed by Michael Reitz of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation on why mandatory union membership is bad.

Mission Impossible

Three dozen school district superintendents signed an open letter to legislators this month in which they asked for more education dollars to accomplish a mission they claim “has changed from providing universal access [to a quality education] to insuring universal success for all students.” [emphasis added]

They need the same reality check many critics have wisely voiced in the face of President Bush’s federal education mandates: No amount of money or time will ever make it possible to achieve universal academic success. Period. There is no virtue in denying this reality. Utopian ideals may sound nice, but few things are more destructive than utopian policy. ...

Read the rest of my commentary here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

In the news...

A smattering of interesting news stories this week...

- There's a good article about Francis Schaeffer in the March 26 issue of World Magazine. What's not to like about a man and his wife who opened their chalet in the Swiss Alps to all passersby who wanted to know more about Christian philosophy and life?

- ABC posted an article online announcing Terri Schiavo's death. Only she's still alive. Can you say "vultures"?

- The Colorado Supreme Court tossed out the death penalty for a convicted rapist/murderer because jurors in the case consulted the Bible in their deliberations about capital punishment. Never mind that the Bible provides the foundation for many of our nation's laws.

- The front-page headline in today's News Tribune is "Gregoire vows to save Sound". (In case you didn't know we were in danger of losing The Sound.) "We have met the enemy and the enemy is us," Gregoire said. "Our robust population leads directly to the health problems of the Sound." Price tag: $31.5 million.

- Spam-lovers unite! Senate Democrats want to tax canned meat to raise $11 million a year. What next? A tax on chocolate? They wouldn't dare.

- There's a picture in the paper of Richard Gere dancing with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Koizumi is called the "Japanese Richard Gere" because they resemble each other in looks. That's weird.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Clone and kill?

I’ll be interviewing Wesley J. Smith of the Discovery Institute on Republican Radio tomorrow from 11:20am – noon PST. We’ll be talking about human cloning and the Terri Schiavo case. A bill moving through our state legislature right now (HB 1268) claims to ban human cloning but actually allows it as long as the cloned baby is killed before birth.

You can listen on several stations in Washington or live on the internet. Here’s the link for a station list and the streaming audio.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Foiled again!

If only those public employee unions weren't so smart!

I confess it. I infiltrated the editorial board of the Tacoma News Tribune. I didn't apply for that guest column because I have a passion for ideas and a personal enjoyment of writing. No. I work with a "shadowy front group" -- an "anti-government think tank" -- and my motives are, therefore, never what they appear on the surface.

There's no denying it because it's all on video.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Back again!

Long absences are the death of a blog. My apologies!

I took the comments down a couple of weeks ago because one person was getting a little out of control. I'm putting them back up, and hopefully everyone can use them in a normal way.

Looks like we're in for a few days of rain here in Washington, after weeks and weeks of glorious sun. Someone from California remarked recently: "Yeah, I came up here to get away from the rain."

Heh!