Monday, February 28, 2005

Why is public education being attacked?

[via Sideshow]

The short answer is that changing staffing needs in the new corporate push-button economy have resulted in a need for fewer successful students and rising stratification of the new economy needs to be explained (by the people at the top) as the fault of the people at the bottom.

If this analysis is even close to correct (and I'm afraid that it does explain a substantial part of the phenomena described), it represents a failure of imagination on the part of the business communities: a bigger pool of talent means cheaper talented people. It also means more entreprenurialism which, though it does lead to competition, also leads to innovation and growth.

Quranic Translation Challenges

The above link is a fantastic collection of excerpts from relatively recent translations of one section of the Quran, demonstrating the difficulty of translation, specifically the translation of gender. Aside from the technical issues, the sheer beauty of the text is eminently obvious, but the effect it has varies with the choices of the translators. Great stuff.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Quotations #043

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them." -- Alfred Adler

"There are two kinds of marriages -- where the husband quotes the wife, or where the wife quotes the husband." -- Clifford Odets

"Business succeeds rather better than the state in imposing its restraints upon individuals, because its imperatives are disguised as choices." -- Walter Hamilton

"Nobody talks more of free enterprise and competition and the best man winning than the man who inherited his father's store or farm." -- C. Wright Mills

"Canada has no cultural unity, no linguistic unity, no religious unity, no economic unity, no geographic unity. All it has is unity." Kenneth Boulding

Friday, February 25, 2005

Quotations #042

Normally I bold my favorite quotations. I can't possibly pick one or two of these over the others. Consider them all Bold.

"Poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive, and widely effective way of saying things." -- Matthew Arnold

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being." -- Johann W. von Goethe

"If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other causes for prejudice by noon." -- Senator George Allen

"Politics should be the part time profession of every citizen." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, in their separate and individual capacities." -- Abraham Lincoln [And a happy belated birthday to you, too!]

The History Teacher Card

Me, too.

The Hierophant Card
You are the the Hierophant card.
The Hierophant, called The Pope in some [Christianized] decks, is the preserver of cultural traditions. After entering The Emperor's society, The Hierophant teaches us its wisdom. The Hierophant learns and teaches our cultural traditions. The discoveries our ancestors have made influence the present. Without forces such as The Hierophant who are able to interpret and communicate traditional lore, each generation would have to begin to learn anew. As a force that is concentrated on our past and our culture, The Hierophant can sometimes be stubborn and set in his ways. This is a negative trait he shares with his zodiac sign, Taurus [I'm not a Taurus]. But like Taurus he is productive. His traditional lore can provide a source of inspiration for the creatively inclined, and his knowledge provides an excellent foundation for those who come into their own in the business world. [Not to mention ethical and moral foundations] Image from: Morgan E. Cauthers-Knox.
Which Tarot Card Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Pop Culture Dichotomy

Well, it's no worse than most of the commentary which has followed the election. It's a bit late, and it's not entirely fair, but it's amusing, particularly if you're a Democrat. But it does raise the question: which pair of characters would a Republican choose to characterize the worldview differences (they might still pick Lisa Simpson for "Blue" but I doubt they'd pick Homer Simpson for "Red"), and how would they characterize them (I'm pretty sure Lisa wouldn't come out quite as well)?

Childhood is not a disease

Mr. Jones may be wrong about a lot of things, but he's not wrong about this: the overuse of medication (particularly cocaine-like amphetamines like Ritalin) to control behavior in children, particularly boys, is going to be looked back on in a few years much the same way we look back on flogging and corsets and footbinding.

How to Prepare for College

My high school was like this... well it offered tracks like this. Number 3 was rarer than it should be, and I never really needed #4. But we had 1 and 2 in abundance. Is it that hard?
four major characteristics shared by these high performing high schools:

1. High-level, college-oriented content in core courses -- All schools offered coherent sequences of courses focused on college-readiness content at a level beyond most state and district standards.

2. Qualified and experienced teachers -- All of the teachers were certified in their subject area, and nearly all had a Master's degree or higher with at least one degree in their subject area.

3. Teaching that is flexible and responsive to students -- Most teachers frequently asked and answered questions and checked for student understanding. In classroom discussions and lectures, they helped students make meaningful connections to the content by using examples that had meaning to students, making reference to prior learning, current events and popular culture.

4. Out of classroom support for students -- Students were provided with extra support outside the classroom through tutors, teachers, and other helpers, including peers and adults from the community. Teachers offered help outside of class and reminded students that they were available for assistance.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Numbers Games

There was a time when government documents and figures were considered the "gold standard" of historical sources. Now look what we've got. It's not bad enough they're cooking the books: the ingredients are US soldiers and the outrage is only coming from the left. Who's "supporting" the troops?

Homework: Media Bias

Here's an interesting exercise: compare two independently produced lists of underreported stories for the past year. I've condensed a few stories together, and the summary language is my own (I've tried to be fair, but who knows?).
WorldNetDaily Top 10Project Censored Top 25 [Note: for fairness, only the top ten included here]
  • Nuclear Terrorism
  • al Qaeda-Iraq links
  • Immigration/Border control
  • Sandy Berger Document Theft
  • SBVT were right
  • ACLU/Judicial Activism
  • anti-Christian arrest incident
  • UN Oil-for-Food scandal
  • Darfur Genocide
  • Corrosive Wealth Stratification
  • Nuclear energy/waste dangers
  • Human Rights v. Corporations
  • Administration attacks on non-partisan science
  • Administration giveaways to corporations (Energy, logging)
  • Conservative Judicial nominations
  • 9/11 RICO lawsuit filed against US gov't

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Power without Shame

From wood s lot:

Promoting the 'Ambassador of Torture': Bush Nominates Negroponte for Intel Czar.
a look back at Negroponte's bloody history in Central America in the 1980s.
Scum Also Rises: The Bloody Career of John Negroponte by Dave Lindorff

Add that to the Gonzales memos and propoganda operations.....

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Clarke's Laws....

I'm in love. I just found a whole website devoted to quotation collection and classification. [Via Maroonblog]

Here's a sampler: Arthur C. Clarke's three laws of science
  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Check out the link above for ten more Clarke tidbits....

Friday, February 18, 2005

New Commandments?

Following up on this actual attempt by some British to revise the Ten Commandments, Ophelia Benson has begun a list of her own. Of course, being a confirmed atheistic skeptic, she's not takng the exercise quite as seriously. Frankly, as a believer, I find the exercise (or at least the reported results) kind of embarassing.

Two comments: first, of all, if you're going to revise the Big Ten, it seems like a good guideline would be to keep the number at ten, taking something out for everything new that gets put in. Though, to be fair, the Big Ten are actually a small part of the Original 613, so there's some room to play around, I guess. Second, Benson's coming up with stuff that's no worse than the religious folks (and actually might be more thought-provoking and useful, in the long run).

Quotations #041

"Every nation ridicules other nations, and all are right." -- Arthur Schopenhauer

"Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious." -- Oscar Wilde

"Being a philosopher, I have a problem for every solution." -- Robert Zend

"If I wished to punish a province, I would have it governed by philosophers." -- Frederick the Great

"Man has lost the ability to foresee and forestall. He will end by destroying the earth." -- Albert Schweitzer

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


You scored as Sensible Flats. You are Sensible Flats. Practical and comfort-oriented, you'd rather go through life without the pain of a pulled arch. Still, you might want to walk on the wild side a litte more.

Sensible Flats


Classic Pumps


Quirky Shoes




Sexy Heels


What Kind of Shoes Are You?
created with

Monday, February 14, 2005

Quotations #040

"My life has been nothing but a failure." -- Claude Monet

"There's no reason why the University [of Chicago] should be stuck with me at 51 because I was a promising young man at 30." -- Robert Maynard Hutchins

"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." -- Mark Twain

"Berlioz says nothing in his music, but he says it magnificently." -- James Gibbons Huneker

"Without music, life would be a mistake." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Not bad at all....

You're Les Miserables!
by Victor Hugo

One of the best known people in your community, you have become something of a phenomenon. People have sung about you, danced in your honor, created all manner of art in your name. And yet your story is one of failure and despair, with a few brief exceptions. A hopeless romantic, you'll never stop hoping that more good will come from your failings than is ever possible. Beware detectives and prison guards bearing vendettas.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

[via Kelly in Kansas]

Friday, February 11, 2005

As the dragon said....

I ... AM ... ORANGE!

orange aura
Your aura shines Orange!
What Color Is Your Aura?
brought to you by Quizilla
And I wish Quizilla included a spellcheck with its images. Man, that's annoying.

Quotations #039

"In his private heart no man much respects himself." -- Mark Twain

"I have discovered the art of fooling diplomats: I speak the truth and they never believe me." -- Camillo di Cavour

"Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one." -- Voltaire

"Who of us is mature enough for offspring before the offspring themselves arrive? The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults." -- Peter DeVries

"Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof." -- John Kenneth Gailbraith

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Somebody owns everything.... everywhere

Private property is one of the most interesting, troubling, useful concepts in human history: radical and conservative, responsible and selfish, driving and dragging force, uniting and dividing. It has been underdone at times, true, but we are entering a new realm: overdoing it. The above link is about a public space which has been rendered unphotographable because of the public artwork in contains. Yes, when the art was emplaced, the city neglected to get the COPYRIGHT for the artwork, so the city has the physical art, but the artist has a right to veto all images thereof.... and apparently has done so. [But some slip through: Barista has pictures, and I think that the artist would have a really hard time claiming copyright violations over what is basically an impressively executed but fundamentally boring piece of work. Barista also notes the same thing happening to the Eiffel Tower!]

So, perfectly good public space has been privatized. Who benefits? If this is allowed to stand, will the very notion of public space, of photography, of art and cultural history beyond 1920-something, be forced into legal gray areas? Fair use has to be revived, strengthened. [via Sideshow]

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Darwin Award Special Citation

"Geoff Huish, 26, was so convinced England would win Saturday's [rugby] match he told fellow drinkers at a social club, 'If Wales win I'll cut my balls off,'" ....

Quotations #038

"Once made equal to a man, woman becomes his superior." -- Socrates

"If I had to give young writers advice, I'd say don't listen to writers talking about writing. Nothing you write, if you hope to be good, will ever come out as you first hoped." -- Lillian Hellman

"In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style." -- Sydney Smith (18-19c)

"No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader's intelligence, or whose attitude is patronizing." -- E. B. White

"We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood." -- William James

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Forests, Trees, and Impressions

Rebecca McKinnon cites a reporter who finds less than impressive levels of competency among US troops in Iraq. There are, as she notes, lots of folks, particularly military who find fault with reportage. What to do, she asks?

Well, how about we start by acknowledging that one reporter, one soldier, even one general, etc., is not likely to get a grasp of the whole truth of the entire situation. Let's acknowledge that different observers will see and remember different things, even when they are in the same situation. It's messy, but true.

How about we try to avoid forming strong opinions based on too-partial sources? How about we put things in context and try to be fair? Is it that hard? Criminy.

Slight Non-Sequitur [via the Grand Rounds XX]: Military doctors in Iraq have decided that at least one disease is not worth treating if the patient thereby incurs the risk of traveling to a military hospital. Another tree.

Monday, February 07, 2005

I have no idea....

I have no idea what this site is, or how it relates to the questions I answered. None.

You are You like to push things to the limit, the faster the better.  You're into modification.  You like shiny objects, and flashing lights.
Which Website are You?

Quotations #037

"One of the disadvantages of wine is that it makes a man mistake words for thoughts." -- Samuel Johnson

"From the errors of others a wise man corrects his own." -- Publius Syrius (1c BCE)

"I see no wisdom in saving up indignation for a rainy day." -- Heywood Broun

"The man who sees the consistency in things is a wit; the man who sees the inconsistency of things is a humorist." -- G. K. Chesterton

"The purpose of satire is to strip off the veneer of comforting illusion and cozy half-truth. And our business, as I see it, is to put it back again." -- Michael Flanders

Friday, February 04, 2005

Social Security Speculation

I think I've finally found the phrase I want to counter the neutral-positive "reform" being offered by the Administration and its allied think tanks. Avedon Carol links to Paul Krugman, who refers to it as the "borrow, speculate, hope" method. It's that middle word, "Speculate" which is the key to this reform. Private accounts is a BET that the (invested in portion of the) economy will grow faster than the (payroll) tax base. It's speculative. It's risky.

It's also, as my spouse pointed out this morning, intended to bind people to the financial markets in such a way that resisting deregulation or pro-corporate reform becomes psychologically difficult. It's not that we're going to get rich by being in these government managed mutual funds, but that (and this is being semi-openly talked about by political operatives) they will be our only hope, and that losses will be felt so keenly that market growth (not necessarily economic growth, mind you) will be the first priority of all governments to come.

So henceforth I declare that private accounts, personal accounts and all other market-based approaches to social security are to be termed "social security speculation."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Thursday Poem: Don't You Let Nobody Turn You 'Round

In honor of the State of the Union:
And the silv'ry words tumble from the leaders,
And the loud Hosannas ring aloud.
From the dungeons of history, you'll hear an answer:
Don't you let nobody turn you round.
Read the rest. Sing it to your children.

(the index of other lyrics and poetry I've posted is here)

Not the State of the Union

Via Peevish:
In a perverse sort of way, it was an impressive performance. In thirty-five minutes, he managed to commit nearly every verbal “mistake” that served him so well during the campaign.

Bush equivocated, temporized, oversimplified, engaged in self-delusion, indulged in verbal flights of fancy and, when necessary, uttered statements absolutely devoid of any discernible fact.
Sounds like the State of the Union to me.

Test your Latin! sort of.

I got 9/10. Which isn't bad, but don't tell my HS Latin teacher (two years worth, including competition team....) [via Quiet Pond]

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Deja vu: Vietnam 1967

"John B" found this old NY Times article on the September 1967 elections in South Vietnam. Apparently the spin this time is recycled, too. We were "heartened" despite "problems"....