Thursday, April 30, 2009

When your children ask you about the Tea Party movement

If you have any young children who have questions about the origins of the current Tea Party movement, you could have them watch this Schoolhouse Rock video:

(Hat tip: MiaZagora's Homeschool Minutes)

Technorati tags: government, tea party, homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Swine Flu Worst Case Scenario - 1700 in US infected in four weeks

Swine Flu Worst Case Scenario: Computer Simulations confirms that the whole Swine Flu scare is probably way overblown:

( -- Large-scale computer simulations run by Northwestern University researchers show worst-case scenario projections of approximately 1,700 cases of swine flu for the entire United States four weeks from now.
Associate Professor Dirk Brockmann and his research group have found that the major areas projected to have incidents in the worst-case scenario include California, Texas and Florida. Worst-case scenario means that no measures have been taken to combat the spread of disease. These numbers would, of course, be lessened by preventive measures already under way.

That is 1,700 people infected, only a fraction of them will die. It is sad, but there is no need for an end of the world panic.

There is a video showing the worst-case scenario, day by day.

This was interesting:

One way to track how people travel is to monitor how money travels. In a 2006 study, Brockmann used data from -- a site where users enter the serial numbers from their dollar bills in order to track their travels -- to create a model to predict the probability of a bill staying within a 10-kilometer radius over time. From that information, Brockmann found a key factor in his disease-spread modeling approach: very accurate datasets on human mobility. This multi-scale human mobility network included small-scale daily commuting traffic, intermediate traffic and long-distance air travel, which helps determine how a disease could potentially spread.


Just think the next time you get one of the WheresGeorge dollars, but entering where you found it, you help scientists understand how people travel.

Technorati tags: Swine, Flu

With this perspective, why is the Swine Flu getting so much press?

CNN reports that Regular flu has killed thousands since January:

(CNN) -- There had been no confirmed deaths in the United States related to swine flu as of Tuesday afternoon. But another virus had killed thousands of people since January and is expected to keep killing hundreds of people every week for the rest of the year.

That one? The regular flu.

An outbreak of swine flu that is suspected in more than 150 deaths in Mexico and has sickened dozens of people in the United States and elsewhere has grabbed the attention of a nervous public and of medical officials worried the strain will continue to mutate and spread.

The article puts this in perspective with:

But even if there are swine-flu deaths outside Mexico -- and medical experts say there very well may be -- the virus would have a long way to go to match the roughly 36,000 deaths that seasonal influenza causes in the United States each year.

I guess it is worth paying some attention to the Swine Flu, but it seems like it is a lot of noise of a small thing.

(Hat tip: Risks)

Technorati tags: Swine, Flu

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Andrea Hermitt will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week at the Atlanta Homeschooling Examiner.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Update on Baby Bop

Janine and I signed the adoption papers for Baby Bop yesterday. The social worker came to our house. It took about an hour.

Next she'll do some more paperwork, probably today, and then work with her supervisor. Tomorrow or Monday she'll schedule a court date. Then some Monday in May we'll all go before a judge. This will include Janine, myself, our three daughters, Baby Bop, and my parents.

In thirty days Baby Bop should be ours!

Technorati tags: , ,

From the archives - India and private schools

This report on private schools in India is five years old:

MANUA, India — In this democracy of more than one billion people, an educational revolution is under way, its telltale signs the small children everywhere in uniforms and ties. From slums to villages, the march to private education, once reserved for the elite, is on.
On the four-mile stretch of road between this village in Bihar State, in the north, and the district capital, Hajipur, there are 17 private schools (called here "public" schools).
They range from the Moonlight Public School where, for 40 rupees a month, less than a dollar, 200 children learn in one long room that looks like an educational sweatshop, to the DAV School, which sits backed up to a banana grove and charges up to 150 rupees a month, or more than $3. Eleven months after opening, it already has 600 students from 27 villages.
There are at least 100 more private schools in Hajipur, a city of 300,000; hundreds more in Patna, the state capital; and tens of thousands more across India.
The schools, founded by former teachers, landowners, entrepreneurs and others, and often of uneven quality, have capitalized on parental dismay over the even poorer quality of government schools. Parents say private education, particularly when English is the language of instruction, is their children's only hope for upward mobility.

I wonder if homeschooling in India will take off some day?

Technorati tags: private privates, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, India

A recent article from Isabel Lyman

Isabel Lyman's The Homeschooling Revolution was one of the first blogs I ever read. She did a great job covering homeschooling news. I was sad when she stopped blogging. Isabel also wrote a book of the same name, published nine years ago. I had the privilege to interview her three years ago.

I was pleased to find she has recently written about homeschooling. In Trailblazers: Tale of a Tween and Teen she writes about two homeschoolers. The first is about a homeschooler in Florida:

At age 12, Sky is the youngest student (ever!) to attend Florida International University, located in Miami, Florida. He’s double majoring in physics and mathematics with a minor in astronomy. He hopes to graduate with his bachelor’s degrees when he turns 17. Since he’s participating in a dual-enrollment program, he will finish the high school component of his education this spring.

The article goes on about Sky's amazing accomplishments.

The second featured homeschooler is a teenager in the UK who was recently in a BBC show:

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean and deep in rural England is where Deborah
13: Servant of God
was filmed.
The one-hour BBC documentary stars Deborah Drapper, a 13-year-old, who, like Sky Choi, leads an unconventional life. The young teenager is an outspoken evangelical Christian who learns at ome and resides with her family in a farmhouse in picturesque Dorset. When quizzed by the BBC interviewer, Deborah, who has a computer but no access to television, admits to not knowing who Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham or Britney Spears is. Nor is she interested in fashion fads or partying with other teenagers. Conversely, she can recite the Ten Commandments, thinks that evolution is a fairy tale for grownups, and loves to learn: everything from speech to West African agriculture captivates her. She also participates in that most modern of pastimes –blogging.
The film’s creators tried a little too hard to make Deborah look like everybody’s favorite
stereotype of a holy-roller homeschooler –brainwashed, sheltered, and God-crazed. But it’s the products of all that carefree liberal parenting —the young Brits whom Deborah is shown
evangelizing —that come across as boorish, hedonistic, and boring. Deborah, in contrast,
appears poised, principled, and daring.


It is nice to still see Isabel writing about homeschooling!

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, education, , , ,

Another instance of teaching fiction as history

Last week I posted a link from my archives about how public schools often teach a fictional account of history. Joanne Jacobs has a post that shows this trend continues - Textbooks push the softer side of Islam:

Textbooks are pushing a PC version of Islam, reports the American Textbook Council in a study of the most commonly used junior high and high school texts. “Jihad,” commonly defined in the ’90s as “sacred” or “holy” struggle or “holy war,” was a struggle “to do one’s best to resist temptation and overcome evil” in Houghton Mifflin’s junior high textbook. That wasn’t soft enough. By 2005, the company “apparently had removed jihad from its entire series of social studies textbooks,” the report finds.
Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Gary Bauer complains that textbooks are “intentionally vague” about sharia law, “the Islamic code that can be used to subjugate women and deal death to wayward believers.”


There is a clear double standard in reporting the history of Christianity and Islam, from the report Gary Bauer writes:

One book describes the Crusades as “religious wars launched against Muslims by European Christians.” But when Muslims attacked Christians and took their land, the process is referred to as “building” an empire.

With homeschooling you can give your children a much more accurate understanding of history.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, public school, public education

Our life - worth saving?

I like this thought:

A doctor saves lives--it's up to people to create lives that are worth saving.
-Philip Gold

Technorati tags: life, value

Other homeschooling carnivals

Talking to Myself is hosting this week's Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival.

Golden Acorn Homeschool is hosting the latest Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival.

Canadian Home Educators Blog Carnival only had one participant. If you homeschool in Canada, consider participating.

The Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers hosted the recent edition of the Homeschool Showcase.

The Heart of the Matter Online is winding up their eight week More Organized Homeschool Carnival, here's week 6, which is on organizing your kitchen.

Again, if you know of any other active homeschooling carnivals, please tell me.

Update I - 30 Apr 09

I found two more homeschool carnivals:

The April edition of the Homeschooled Kids Blog Carnival is up at Homeschooling Ideas. You can submit to this carnival by clicking here.

The April edition of the Homeschool History Buffs is up at The Tie That Binds Us. To submit a post, click here.

In addition to the Carnival of Homeschooling there are now eight active homeschooling carnivals!

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Online tracking of the Swine Flue

The swine flue will be big news for awhile. One of our local high schools is closed. I'm sure more will follow. The scare is this will turn into a pandemic, with lots of people catching the disease, and many dying.

While we wait to see if this will blow over and become huge, there are a few web sites you can use to track the status.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the best known. They have a page for just the Swine Flue.

The HealthMap uses Google Map technology to show outbreaks of various diseases around the world. You can select just the Swine Flue.

Google has a Flu Trends site with a graph and a map showing flue activity and the status by state for the United States.

(Hat tip: Technology Review)

Technorati tags: Swine, Flue

Are you looking for a job?

In this economy we all know people who are looking for a job.

My mother found a good web site to check out: SimplyHired.

Here's Kim Komando's description of the site:

Simply Hired's goal is to build the largest online database of jobs. That's a lofty goal!
Simply Hired has a good start, though, with more than 2.5 million listings.
These jobs aren't on Simply Hired's site. Rather, Simply Hired does the heavy lifting for you. It searches other job sites and lists openings in one place.
To make things even easier, Simply Hired will alert you to jobs that match your search. That means you have some time to focus on your online reputation!

Technorati tags: job, search

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Insider's view of Wikipedia

Wikipedia was suppose to be a central place for all the information anyone would ever need. For the first few years the repository exploded. I've read a couple grumbles about particular Wikipedia individuals who had axes to grind in making sure certain articles only presented the "right" view.

Recently things may have gotten worse. MrMerlot is a infrequent contributor to Wikipedia. He is an insider, but not one of the movers and shakers. He reports in Wikipedia: Lord of the Flies and Banned from Wikipedia: The Aftermath [reconsideration]. It appears that Wikipedia may becoming more and more dictatorial and bureaucratic.

It would be a sad ending to what once had great promise.

Technorati tags: Wikipedia

What do we really need?

Found on a bumper sticker:

Fountain of youth?
We have enough youth,
what we need
is a fountain of smart...

This reminds me of a quote:

Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
- Susan Ertz

If anyone finds a fountain of smart, please tell me, I'd like a drink. :-)

Technorati tags: youth, immortality, smart

Dana is back online

Dana of Principled Discovery is home and recovering!

Technorati tags: recovering

Why aren't we happier?

Good thought for the day:

"If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult since we think them happier than they are."
- Montesquieu

Technorati tags: happiness

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The No Child Left Inside edition

Susan is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Corn and Oil.

It is interesting how you can read what you expect to read. At the start of the carnival I first thought Susan had a theme of "No Child Left Behind." It wasn't until a few seconds later I realized she was playing on the famous, or infamous, law with a small switch in words: No Child Left Inside!


Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Which part of the world are you in?

Good thought:

I don't divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures, those who make it or those who don't. I divide the world into learners and non-learners.
-Benjamin Barber

Technorati tags:

Friday, April 24, 2009

It is an amazing world - using a cell phone with an ultrasound

I carry in my planner an ultrasound picture of one of my daughters. It was such an amazing experience to see the little body moving inside Janine.

A couple researchers have made it possible to use a cell phone with an ultra sound device. Ultrasound to Go explains:

In a twist of engineering that could redefine mobile medicine, researchers have built an ultrasound device that can be plugged directly into a smart phone's USB port. The system can capture ultrasound images of pregnant bellies and blocked carotid arteries, display them immediately on-screen, and even use the phone's capabilities to send that data just about anywhere in the world.

Typically these devices cost any where from $10,000 to $25,000. With the cell phone approach a doctor can get the price way down. William Richard and David Zar did the research. William hopes to get the final product down in the $200 range.

The article explains how this will also allow poor communities, and nations, to have access to ultrasound technology.

It is an amazing world.

Technorati tags:

Another beautiful picture from APOD -

Frank Barrett gave me permission to post this picture he and Steve Davis took of the Seagull Nebula:

Technorati tags: , , Frank Barrett, Steve Davis, Seagull Seagull

From the archives - 1000 marbles

This story helps put things into perspective:

A Thousand Marbles
author Jeff Davis

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.
A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the basement shack with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it.
I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind-he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles."
I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say. "Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital."
He continued, "Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities."
And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles." "You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy- five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years."
"Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me Tom, I'm getting to the important part."
"It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy."
"So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away."
"I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight."
"Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast.
This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time."
"It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. 75 year Old Man, this is K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!"
You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast."
"What brought this on?" she asked with a smile. "Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles."

Copyright © 1999 by Jeffrey Davis.
Used with permission.

(Update I: 23 May 2009)

In response to one of the comments I asked Jeff and he said the story was based on a real event, but he did emblish a bit. The call sign was made up for anonymity.

Technorati tags: life, perspective, 1000 marbles

From the archives - stamina

Here's one of the lessons we're trying to teach our children:

The wayside of business is full of brilliant men who started out with a spurt, and lacked the stamina to finish. Their places were taken by patient and unshowy plodders who never knew when to quit.
- J. R. Todd

Technorati tags: stamina

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Susan will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week at her blog Corn and Oil.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More on Susan Boyle

I enjoyed Cal Thomas' column of Pretty Woman about Susan Boyle.

Technorati tags: Susan Boyle

Another instance of teachers being told to say they don't know

Yesterday I posted about a teacher being told back in 2004 that they didn't know the answer to a student's question, because it was on a religious topic, and some parent some where might be offended.

I find it funny that today I came across Joanne Jacobs' post of Calculators? Don’t answer, which has a very similar issue. At a training session a teacher asked what to tell parents about the use of calculators. Here's the answer:

. . . it’s part of the math wars. The best advice is, Don’t answer that question. You are being asked to fight a battle on a hill that has been custom made to turn you into a fool. And there’s no way to win. So basically, the general advice I give in the math wars is Advice 1. You have to realize that their strategy is to attack you, not your ideas andthey’re going to fool you by making you think they are attacking your ideas.

It is sad that so much of what happens in public schools is political. But that it was you get when the state and federal governments get more and more involved.

For the record we want our children to know how to add, subtract, multiple and divide without the use of calculators. I want them to have a feel for math. I've seen too many people, intelligent people, reach for a calculator when trying to multiple numbers like 2.3 million by 200.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

From the archives: reason to homeschool - so children learn the real history, not an alternate history

This 2004 report on how history is taught in America reinforced my desire to homeschooler my children so they would learn true history, and not fiction.

In the foreward Chester E. Finn writes:

If American teachers of history were broadly educated and deeply knowledgeable about the subjects for which they're responsible in the classroom, and if they were free to draw their information, textbooks, and other instructional materials from whatever sources they judge best, all within a framework of sound academic standards and results-based accountability under that dreamy set of circumstances, this report would not be necessary.

The sad reality, however, is that many of our history teachers don't know enough history. To make matters worse, the textbooks on which they typically depend are vast yet surprisingly shabby compendia of dull, dated, and denatured information. (See A Consumer's Guide to High School History Textbooks,, for independent reviews of the most widely used texts and to see some examples of their shortcomings.) Thus, those teachers that seek to use their textbooks as a crutch to help fill the gaps in their own knowledge are not doing right by their students.

This reality has led to the development of an immense cottage industry in our primary-secondary education system, one designed to supply history and social studies teachers with pre-digested "supplemental materials" and "professional development," ostensibly to help remediate teachers who do not have sufficient historical knowledge or suitable instructional materials.


The whole report is rather long, a full sixty pages. In The Stealth Curriculum: Manipulating America's History Teachers Sandra Stotsky documents how government schools are teaching children a fictional history.

I'm not surprised the Disney gets the events surrounding Pocahontas all wrong, but it greatly distrubs me when the public school system pushes fiction cast as history.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, public school, public education

How to fix the recession - tell Congress to go home

It looks like we can fight the recession easy: just tell Congress to go home.

The S&P 500 Index Daily Price Gain annualized is 0.31% when Congress is in session.

It is 16.15% when Congress is out of session.

The growth is fifty time better when Congression is out of session.

Part of the reason may be that businessmen want to be able to anticipate the future, and when Congress is in session they just never know if the rules will be changed yet again.

Technorati tags: Congress, economy

From the archives - Character

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list, in 1999:

Character is defined by what we are willing to do when the spotlight has been turned off, when the applause has died down, and no one is around to give us credit.
-Either said or stolen by Penny Pennington

Technorati tags: Character, Dan Galvin

Get your news via Google News Timeline

Google News has a cool feature, you can track some event, person, activity, or place as it has been reported in the news over a period of time on the Google News Timeline.

(Hat tip: Today @ PC World)

Technorati tags: Google News

From the archives: reason to homeschool - so children learn to stand for what is right

Five years ago Kerry L. Marsala wrote a column about how students were taught to cave in to peer pressure:

Just recently a young aspiring film student entered his high school's first film festival. He worked with his heart, and soul on writing, producing and directing his film. He received praise and accolades from his media teacher on his film and the vision he had. The film was based on four young military men lost from their platoon and fighting an enemy that had invaded our country. The ending of the film is especially touching, as a young man plays the bugle call, while being saluted by a fellow officer as the words of dedication to all who've served our country rolls past. The young actors, along with this student worked long hot hours in over 100 degree temperatures during the summer months. They endured mosquito bites, allergic reactions to the corn fields, sunburns, dehydration, cuts, bruises, sand embedded in their hair and eyes to produce a film that gave pause for reflection on our brave women and men in military service.
The week of the film festival (several months after the completion and acceptance of the film by his media teacher to be entered into the celebration of films) the students' film was pulled from the line up. Disbelief, hurt, and righteous indignation rose within not only the student who gave his all to make this film, but within the actors who helped with their sweat, time and blood. The students took their grievances to the media teacher, but all would be denied and the explanation given was weak.
Evidently, another teacher was asked to view and judge the films to be allowed in the festival. This teacher had a problem with the guns used by the actors portraying military men defending themselves. A counselor also stepped in and stated that the school rules apply to certain standards of things not allowed to be on or depicted on campus. Finally, the principle left the matter in the media teachers' hands to decide. The media teacher realizing their own job could be on the line, since this was their first year at the school, decided for their own 'job preservation' that the film could not be shown.

One of the funny, but sad, things about this account is as the other films were shown the students counted eleven violations depicted.

This teacher buckled and the students were taught not to fight the system, to give in and don't make waves, and that peer pressure is more important than doing what is right. They were taught that standards don't apply uniformly. The students were taught to be passive and go with the flow.

With homeschooling we can teach our children to stand for what is right. Our daughters know that they won't always get what they want, but they will not be passive in life. I want my daughters to expect justice and work for justice.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at The Common Room.

One of the things I am grateful for is that we have so many people willing to help with the Carnival of Homeschooling. Dana of Principled Discovery was going to host this week, but a recent trip to ER precluded that option. The Headmistress stepped in at the last minute volunteering to host! She starts the carnival with:

I haven't submitted a post to the weekly homeschooling carnival in forever- just because I keep forgetting. So when Henry asked me to pitch in at the last moment because the scheduled bloghost couldn't do it, I quickly agreed.
Then, of course, came the part I always struggle with, finding a theme- one nobody else has used, one that is clever, and witty, and preferably has some artistic tie-in so you can choose cool graphics to illustrate your post.
And then I looked at the time and decided that this is just going to be the All About Me Blog Carnival. You can probably figure out why. =)

So pop over and check out this week's Carnival of Homeschooling.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

From the archives: reason to homeschool - to teach our children to be doers

I like this thought by Thomas Sowell from his column five years ago Talkers versus doers:

The big divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans, or women and men, but between talkers and doers.
Think about the things that have improved our lives the most over the past century -- medical advances, the transportation revolution, huge increases in consumer goods, dramatic improvements in housing, the computer revolution. The people who created these things -- the doers -- are not popular heroes. Our heroes are the talkers who complain about the doers.

One of the nice things about homeschooling is we can teach our children to be doers.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

From the archives - putting things into perspective

I've been collecting and saving emails since electronic email first went over the internet. I built a collection of 50,000 clean jokes. I've saved hundreds, maybe thousands, of good thoughts. For several years before Janine and I started this blog I had been saving link after link about why people homeschool.

When we first started writing on our blog we had so many things running around in our thoughts, then I didn't bother to dip into the archive. Then over time I forgot about my collection. Recently I've been cleaning up an old computer and found some of the archived emails, so over the next couple weeks, or couple months, I will post some of the olden goodies.

Here's a good thought that helps put our problems into perspective:

If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire - then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.
-Robert Fulghum

Technorati tags: Robert Fulghum, problems, inconvenience

Monday, April 20, 2009

This is a great idea - good way to teach civics

One of the results of the Tea Parties is more average Joes are getting involved with politics. People are concerned with the huge increase in spending by the federal government.

I like Instapundit's idea on a way for people to be more involved:

"Another suggestion: show up at your Congressman's local town meetings with a half dozen friends and ask tough questions. He or she will notice or at least be uncomfortable."

(Glenn is building on his wife's post about this topic.)

I wonder how many views on Youtube it would take before a politician would sit up and take notice. Does a mayor of an average size city worry about a hundred views, or does it take more? Would a congressman notice a thousand views? Or would it take more?

I'll have to check out when my congressman will be holding town meetings next.

Technorati tags: politics

From the archives - Tell him you don't know

The following is was a comment on a blog at Reason, back in 2004, but the link I had no longer works:

I was a high-school English teacher for three years, and recently ran screaming back to the arms of the private sector. I personally had no bad experiences with the NEA, but I'll say this: thinking that the NEA is the only thing wrong with American education is like thinking Bin Laden is the only thing wrong with Islamic extremism. Teachers are expected to "open kids' minds" and "teach them to think for themselves," yet at the same time we don't dare say or do anything that might possibly offend the parents. Kids with criminal records have a "right" to an education, but teachers don't have the right to know that their students are dangerous. Special-ed kids cannot be disciplined at all. Failures cannot be held accountable for their failure, because that might damage the kids' self-esteem.
True anecdote, before I make my dinner: I taught "Merchant of Venice" to seniors one year; in it there's a line where one character is insulting another, by saying something along the lines of "He damns the ears of all who hear him, by calling him 'fool.'" One of the kids asked me what that meant, so I explained that one of the lesser-known verses of the Book of Matthew has Jesus saying that anyone who calls another a fool will be damned. (I recited chapter and verse, though I can't remember it now.) I went on to talk about the very funny use Voltaire made of that in his essay "The Jesuit Berthier" (an angel tells a priest to stop giving his stupid, boring sermons, because instead of winning souls for God he's endangering the souls of all who hear him, because they all call him a fool), and explained also that this is why cartoony villians in movies developed the habit of using "Fool!" as their default insult; for people familiar with the Bible, the fact that the villian always says "Fool!" is just one more proof that this is an evil, evil dude.
"So anyway," I said to the class, "back in Shakespeare's day, when people were far more familiar with the Bible than they are now, instead of insulting someone by saying 'You are a fool,' you'd say 'You are a--well, I can't SAY what you are because then I'd go to hell.' That's what he's doing in the play."
Next day I get called into the principal's office; some parents were FURIOUS that I had told their kids that Jesus said anyone who says 'fool,' will go to Hell.
"But he did," I pointed out.
"It doesn't matter, Jennifer. You can't insult kids' religions."
"Well, the kid asked me what that line from the play meant! What was I supposed to do?"
"Just tell him you don't know."

One of the things I like about homeschooling is we can tell our children the truth.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

From the archives: Do you really have confidence?

When Henry Ward Beecher was a young boy in school, he learned a lesson in self confidence which he never forgot.
He was called upon to recite in front of the class. He had hardly begun when the teacher interrupted with an emphatic, "No!" He started over and again the teacher thundered, "No!" Humiliated, Henry sat down.
The next boy rose to recite and had just begun when the teacher shouted, "No!" This student, however, kept on with the recitation until he completed it. As he sat down, the teacher replied, "Very good!"
Henry was irritated. "I recited just as he did," he complained to the teacher. But the instructor replied, "It is not enough to know your lesson; you must be sure. When you allowed me to stop you, it meant that you were uncertain. If all the world says, 'No!' it is your business to say, 'Yes!' and prove it."

The world will say, "No!" in a thousand ways:
"No! You can't do that."
"No! You are wrong."
"No! You are too old."
"No! You are too young."
"No! You are too weak."
"No! It will never work."
"No! You don't have the education."
"No! You don't have the background."
"No! You don't have the money."
"No! It can't be done."

And each "No!" you hear has the potential to erode your confidence bit by bit until you quit all together.
Though the world says, "No!" to you today, will you determine to say, "Yes!" and prove it?

Technorati tags: confidence

From the archives - the Porta-meeting

I've been working through some old email. There are a number of gems from years ago.

I still chuckle when I see this:

Technorati tags: Porta meeting

An amazing Mayor - Hazel McCallion

My mother sent me a link to a news report on Hazel McCallion, who has been the major of the City of Mississauga for an incredible 31 yeas. The city seems well run. She wants a balance budget for each year, and the city has money in the bank. In the last election she received over 97% of the vote!

It would be nice to have more mayors like her.

Technorati tags: Hazel McCallion

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Slight change in plans

Dana of Principled Discovery was going to host this week, but she's has a problem with her hip.

The Headmistress of The Common Room has generously agreed to take over at the last minue.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Internet Phenomenon Susan Boyle just keeps going

The Susan Boyle's video has been up for a week and is already up to 25 million views! I wonder if it is the all time hit on Youtube now? If not, it could easily be in another week.

Here is another song by Susan Boyle:

It is from a charity CD made back in 1999, of which only 1000 copies were made. I wonder how much the CDs are selling for now.

I hope she gets a good agent.

Here is a nice interview with Susan Boyle:

And another interview.

Technorati tags: Susan, Boyle

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mainstream Media Commercial

I really do love YouTube. I got this from my cousin on Facebook.

WARNING: While I think this is a cute clip, don't check out any other video clip produced by this group. They are mostly awful and in poor taste.

Tags : YouTube , Mainstream Media , thinking

History of the Tax Day Tea Parties

I'm still coming up to speed on Tax Day Tea Parties. I'll be leaving in a couple hours for the local event. I came across Michelle Malkin's history of how the Tax Day Tea Parties got started. She reports:

Feb. 15: Keli Carender, who blogs as “Liberty Belle” spread the word about a grass-roots protest she was organizing in Seattle to raise her voice against the passage of the trillion-dollar stimulus/porkulus/Generational Theft Act of 2009. It’s the first time she had ever jumped into political organizing of any kind. She is not affiliated with any “corporate lobbyist” or think tank or national taxpayers’ organization. She’s a young conservative mom who blogs. Amazingly, she turned around the event in a few days all on her own by reaching out on the Internet, to her local talk station, and to anyone who would listen.

Michelle then covers events over the next week.

I think one of the results of this movement is more people are going to be involved in politics. There are lots of instances of average Joes who rarely did much about politics before who are organizing events with hundreds, even thousands of people. If they stay active and organized, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Technorati tags: Tax, Day, Tea, Parties

Interesting - the 1040 form through history

This is an interesting site - U.S. 1040 Tax Forms, 1913 to 2006.

The first 1040 form was more complicated than I expected, but the instructions were way simplier than what we have today. I wish we had the tax rate of 1913.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Technorati tags: 1040, form

Lessons from Susan Boyle

I've been thinking about Susan Boyle's video. It has been on YouTube for four days and it has 5.6 million hits, as of now. I'm sure by tomorrow it will be up to seven million, or more.

This amazing story takes place on England's version of American Idol. Britains Got Talent has Susan Boyle as one of their contestants. She has a dream to be a professional singer. Susan is 47, a bit overweight and not real attractive. She's never been married, never even been kissed. She cared for her sick mother for years. The audience clearly expects a poor performance.

Then she sings "I have a dream." They are stunned. Quickly everyone changes their opinion of her. She has a great voice, as good as any professional singer, maybe better than most.

By the end of the video it is clear Susan Boyle is extraordinary, and she will be a professional singer.

Don't judge a book by its cover.

In the buzz around the internet there are frequent mentions that we should be careful about being quick to judge. We shouldn't judge a book by its cover. And clearly this is a good lesson to learn from this event. Susan is not polished and comes across as an average person.

Yet there are other lessons here.

Go for your dream

Susan says she's been singing since she was twelve. It appears she has been scared to take serious steps to realize the dream. One article said that after her mother's death Susan finally got up the courage to take a risk and appear on Britains Got Talent.

I think many of us have great potential, yet we too often don't step into a scary spot. There are probably dozens more Susan Boyles in the UK, maybe hundreds, people who can have amazing voices, but will never be known.

We need to take risks and go for our dreams.

Support others in their dreams

We've watched the video of Susan singing a dozen times in our family. It has brought great joy. Baby Bop claps each time he hears her sing. Her voice has enriched our lives. Her story has renewed our hope in humanity.

Yet there are others who won't be successful because they have little or no support. They want someone to hold their hand when they step into the scary spot. They want to be reassured that it is OK to try, and maybe even fail at first.

We should help others take risks as they go for their dreams.

Teach our children to work for their dreams

People don't just walk onto a stage and belt out a perfect version of "I have a dream." There are years of preparation. Susan has been singing for 35 years. As parents one of the important lessons we can teach our children is to put in the effort to realize their dreams. Our society has a meme that it just takes luck to be successful. It is true that luck helps, but true success also takes year of hard work.

Technorati tags: Susan, Boyle, dreams, success

This week's Carnival of Education is up

Joanne Jacobs is hosting this week's Carnival of Education.

The theme is: We don’t need no stinking theme!

There are a ton of posts.

Technorati tags: government schools, public school, public education, education

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Susan Boyle - Wow! Wow!

My mother sent this link. (For some reason Youtube won't let people embed the video.)

Susan Boyle is a contestant on Britian's version of "American Idol." She's 47, lives along with a cat. She's unemployed. At the start of the video she comes across as an average person, maybe even lower class.

Then she sings!


According to this web site, Susan put off chasing a music career to take care of her sick mother, who died at the age of 91 in 2007.

Well it looks like her music career will be doing just fine. A single Youtube video of her singing has had over 3.5 million views, in just three days.

This is a good reminder not to judge a book by its cover.

Now go watch the video.

Update I - 14 Apr 09
In just the seven hours since this post when up the Youtube video has had another million hits!

Here's a nice article with insight into who is Susan Boyle. Just amazing.

Technorati tags: Susan, Boyle