Thursday, December 31, 2009

Things I’ve noticed while watching TV shows from the late 60s

I’ve had to spend a couple of weeks in bed recovering form two surgeries. (Henry’s meeting in the emergency room with the 101 year old woman took place moments before I was whisked away to the operating room to correct a complication from the surgery I had 5 days earlier. I‘m fine now, but it was a little exciting there for a few minutes.)

In the last two weeks, I‘ve watched the entire first season for Adam 12 on I grew up watching Adam 12. As a family, once a week we would gather around the TV after dinner and watch the latest episode. At the time, my father was going through police training and later served many years as a police officer. My father would comment of how well the two fictional characters followed police procedures or related his own experiences.

For me, watching Adam 12 is almost like watching home movies. It gives a glimpse into the world of my childhood. The clothing, attitudes, and lifestyle are familiar in a surreal sort of way. In that world, it was normal for children unaccompanied by an adult to wander all over the neighborhood, even in the big city, without a cell phone. Can you even image it?

That was my world. I walked or biked to the library or the store by myself. As a boy, my husband used to ride the bus to the library in down town San Jose from his home in South San Jose. I can’t imagine my children doing that. I have just begun letting my 15 year old daughter bike to our local library and grocery store alone.

So when did we become such helicopter parent society. Even worse, as homeschoolers, it could be argued that we are the ultimate helicopter parents. Heck, we won’t even let our kids go to school.

So where’s the balance? I remember the freedom and independence of my childhood and wish my children could experience something similar. On the other hand, I remember a lot of inappropriate and dangerous things that happened that my parents never knew about either.

I find it difficult to evaluate the risk in today’s society. I read news reports of crimes I never dreamed of as a child. Are things really that different or are we just better informed?

While I’m not willing to abandon my role as protector and guide, I think I will stick my children on a bus to visit their grandparents 20 miles away……with a cell phone…….before dark………after we‘ve tried the route once or twice with them first.

Technorati Tags : Adam 12 , hippies , the sixties , homeschool , public school , helicopter parents

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

4,000 federal crimes!

You might be breaking a Federal law, right this minute, and not even know it.

In Making criminals out of all Americans, Gene Healy reports:

There are now more than 4,000 federal crimes, spread out through some 27,000 pages of the U.S. Code. Some years ago, analysts at the Congressional Research Service tried to count the number of separate offenses on the books, and gave up, lacking the resources to get the job done. If teams of legal researchers can't make sense of the federal criminal code, obviously, ordinary citizens don't stand a chance.
You can serve federal time for interstate transport of water hyacinths, trafficking in unlicensed dentures, or misappropriating the likeness of Woodsy Owl and his associated slogan, "Give a hoot, don't pollute." ("What are you in for, kid?" your new cellmate growls.) Bills currently before Congress would send Americans to federal prison for eating horsemeat or selling goods falsely labeled as "Native American."


27,000 pages of the U.S. code!

Mind boggling.

27,000 pages of the U.S. code!

Now and then I've wondered if a political compagined based on "We'll get rid of the old stupid, outdated laws." would have any traction.

27,000 pages of the U.S. code!

Maybe we ought to have a law that Congress has to live under new laws for five years before the rest of us need to pay any attention.

Technorati tags: federal, crimes

Plunder! looks like another book worth reading

Steven M. Greenhut writes about his book in Public employees living larger than ever as economy struggles:

The economy is struggling, the unemployment rate is high, and many Americans are struggling to pay the bills. But one class of Americans is doing quite well: government workers. Their pay levels are soaring, they enjoy unmatched benefits, and they remain largely immune from layoffs, except for some overly publicized cutbacks around the margins.
As I document in my new book,
Plunder!, government employees of all stripes have manipulated the system to spike their pensions. The old deal seemed fair: public employees would earn lower salaries than Americans working in the private sector, but would receive a somewhat better retirement and more days off. Now, public employees get higher average pay, far higher benefits, and many more days off and other fringe benefits. They have also obtained greatly reduced work schedules, thus limiting public services even as pay and benefits shoot ever higher. The new deal is starting to raise eyebrows, thanks to efforts by groups such as the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, which publishes the $100,000 Club, a list of thousands of California government retirees with six-figure, taxpayer-guaranteed incomes.
The story doesn’t end with the imbalance in pay and benefits. Government workers also enjoy absurd protections. The Los Angeles Times published a recent series about the city’s public school district, which doesn’t even try to fire incompetent teachers and is seldom able to get rid of those credibly accused of misconduct or abuse.
The real scandal is a two-tier society where government workers enjoy benefits far in excess of those for whom they supposedly work. It’s past time to start cleaning up the mess by reforming retirement systems and limiting the public unions’ power.


The news on the recent stimulus package was that employment was up in Washington DC and among government workers.

I am sure that most government workers, like most school teachers, are good people. Steven's point is that the system is flawed. When it become almost impossible to fire a bad teacher, the system is broken.

I wonder was Steven's solution is?

Technorati tags: government, workers

Cheap, almost infinite computing

I find this interesting - Amazon Taking Bids for Computing Resources:

Amazon has launched a new product that offers up cloud computing possibilities in a model reminiscent of Google AdWords.
Spot Instances, it allows users to specify the price they want to pay for access to to resources in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. Users can set other parameters, too, such as the region where they'd like a job to run.
For its part, Amazon gives its unused resources a "spot price" which fluctuates based on how heavily its cloud is being used at a given time. When a user's bid exceeds the spot price, the job runs.


Just like the personal computer, the web browser, and Google opened up new opportunites, I think Cloud Computing will create new industries. I just wish I could figure out what one of them was going to be.

Technorati tags: Amazon, Cloud, Computing

Monday, December 28, 2009

How does your congressman spend your money?

The House of Representatives has a Statement of Disbursements. You can see how your congressman spends money for his office in this large document (a nine meg PDF file).

Another cool thing is the document has all the names of the office staff, and how much they are paid.

Technorati tags: Congress

The last edition of the Carnival of Family Life is up

It has been a long time since I participated in the Carnival of Family Life. I sent in a submission. I am sad to learn that this month's edition of the Carnival of Family Life is the last one.

I wonder if anyone will step forward and offer to take it over.

Technorati tags: Family

Saturday, December 26, 2009

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

The next Carnival of Homeschooling at be hosted at Life Nurturing Education. This will be the last Carninval of Homeschooling for 2009!

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Janine and I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and the best in the coming New Year.

Technorati tags: Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wow, I'm impressed

Yesterday I meet a lady in the Emergency Room. She was 101 years old. Her 73 year old son told me a little about her. At 61 she went back to college to earn another degree. She had traveled to over seventy countries. She seems to be the type which kept trying new things, kind of like Faust.

I was impressed.

Technorati tags: life

Calculus done to music

My aunt posted on Facebook a link to this:

It is surprisingly good. Enjoy.

Technorati tags: Calculus

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some people seem to be missing the Christmas spirit

I took the car in for an oil change today. I've been going to a friend for twenty years. He runs his own shop. He said it would be fine for me to bring Baby Bop.

Baby Bop was fascinated. He watched as the oil was drained, and then later was excited to see as the new oil was poured in. When the mechanic checked the tires and added a bit of air to each one, I explained that like balloons, tires need air. It was a great hour for Baby Bop. He loves cars.

On the way home I was getting off a freeway when someone tried to cut in behind me. The car which was behind me wasn't having any of it. There was lots of honking and for a second or two I was worried that they would play chicken until there was accident. Finally the car that was trying to cut it backed off, with a couple hand gestures.

It is sad that in the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas some people seemed to have misplace the Christmas spirit.

Technorati tags: Christmas

Andrew J. Coulson on The Real Cost Of Public Schools

One of my brothers brought Andrew J. Coulson's column on The Real Cost Of Public Schools to my attention. The column starts with:

We're often told that public schools are underfunded. In the District, the spending figure cited most commonly is $8,322 per child, but total spending is close to $25,000 per child -- on par with tuition at Sidwell Friends, the private school Chelsea Clinton attended in the 1990s.
What accounts for the nearly threefold difference in these numbers? The commonly cited figure counts only part of the local operating budget. To calculate total spending, we have to add up all sources of funding for education from kindergarten through 12th grade, excluding spending on charter schools and higher education. For the current school year, the local operating budget is $831 million, including relevant expenses such as the teacher retirement fund. The capital budget is $218 million. The District receives about $85.5 million in federal funding. And the D.C. Council contributes an extra $81 million. Divide all that by the 49,422 students enrolled (for the 2007-08 year) and you end up with about $24,600 per child.
For comparison, total per pupil spending at D.C. area private schools -- among the most upscale in the nation -- averages about $10,000 less. For most private schools, the difference is even greater.


This is a strong argument against more funding. The public schools are getting two and a half times as much money as private schools, yet the government run schools do a poorer job.

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

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up

Dana is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at A Very Nearly Tea.

She got it up even with several distractions, like showing her house.

Drop by and enjoy.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A good message for the men

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

If I ask my husband what he wants for the holidays,
he will say "nothing" and mean it.
If he asks me, I will say "nothing" as well.
And God help him if he believes me.

-Elizabeth Bernstein
The Wall Street Journal 12/15/2009

Technorati tags: gifts, Elizabeth Bernstein, Dan Galvin

Another beautiful picture from APOD - The spiral galaxy NGC 918

Joseph Brimacombe gave me permission to post his beautiful picture of the spiral galaxy NGC 918:

If you like this astronomy pictures, you can check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day, every day!

Technorati tags: , , Joseph Brimacombe, NGC 918

Friday, December 18, 2009

Outrageous: Democratic districts get twice as much "stimulus"

Democratic Districts Won Twice as Much Stimulus as GOP Districts, Study Shows starts with:

Democratic districts have received nearly twice as much stimulus money as Republican districts and the cash has been awarded without regard to how badly an area was suffering from job losses, according to a new study.
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University reviewed the distribution of $157 billion in stimulus dollars based on publicly available reports and found that there was "no statistical correlation" between the amount of money a district got and its income or unemployment rate.
"You would think, right, that if the administration believes in its theory that government money can create jobs, they would spend a lot of money in districts that have high unemployment," study co-author Veronique de Rugy said. "We found absolutely no relationship. It just kind of shows that the money is spent kind of randomly."


Maybe the Republicans will have a better chance in fighting more massive government spending, or at the very least demanding that it is spread more evenly.

Technorati tags: Democrat, Republicans, stimulus

Pretty cool: World Air Traffic 24 Hour Period

My mom sent me this video:

Here's the explanation:

It is a 24 hour observation of all of the large aircraft flights in the world, condensed down to about 2 minutes. You can tell it was summer time in the north by the sun's footprint over the planet. You could see that it didn't quite set in the extreme north and it didn't quite rise in the extreme south. Notice that as evening approaches, the traffic is predominantly from the US to Europe and when daylight comes, the traffic switches and it is predominantly from Europe to the US.

Technorati tags: World, Air, Traffic

What does it take to be an expert now?

Steven Rossi has an interesting thought about The New Expert. He notes that in the past an expert was someone who:

1) Knew information
2) Used the information

But nowadays an expert also needs to know: How to find information.

Maybe we should have classes on how to use Bing and Google?

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

Pretty cute: The 14 Days of Homeschool

I think my favorite may be "Look at what they are missing."


(Hat tip: Home School College Counselor)

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homeschoolers on TV

There is a new reality television show called The World's Strictest Parents. Here's a little background info:

The World's Strictest Parents is a television series developed by TwentyTwenty Television, originally broadcast by BBC. America's CMT (part of MTV Networks) and Australia's Channel Seven have both created localised versions of the program, with the CMT episodes frequently rebroadcasting on MTV.

The concept is that two so-called "unruly" teenagers are sent to live abroad with a strict host family for a week in an attempt to change their behavior. During the week they receive an impact letter from their birth parents with a list of issues they should try to fix.

I normally don't watch much television, and never reality shows. However, when I read that a BBC episode sent two troubled teens from the UK to live with an American homeschool family, I couldn't resist. I was pleasantly surprised.

Check it out here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6


Apparently, this episode with the homeschool family was one of the post popular of the series. I can see why.


I forgot to post the link the the Peck's website Teaching Self Government.

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

Why the double standard on charter schools v. public schools?

Dave asks a great question in Why do we hold charter schools to a higher standard? He starts with:

Charter schools must petition their chartering agency every few years (depending on the length of the charter granted) to have their charter renewed. This gives the chartering agency an opportunity to review the school's progress at raising achievement. A significant number of charter schools have lost their charters because of poor academic achievement.
I think this is a good thing. Schools should be held accountable for improving academic achievement. If a school has very low academic achievement, year after year, we owe it to the students to either fix or close the school. I think this is a positive aspect of charter schools, closing the ones that don't work.


Then later Dave turns to the question of why regular public schools get a pass:

As I said, I don't have a problem with these new "bars" for charter performance. What I find puzzling however is why we're only holding Charter schools accountable. Why are only charter schools required to improve achievement?

Clearly part of the reason for the double standard is government schools have entrenched bureaucracies and union support. Often when there is an attempt to improve a failling government school the reformers are attacked as being anti-education. The truth is many reformers are more pro-educatio that almost any union leaders.

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

Great thoughts and great acts

From A.Word.A.Day:

Great thoughts reduced to practice become great acts.
-William Hazlitt, essayist (1778-1830)

Technorati tags: thoughts, acts

The Best Global Brands List 2009

We had a talk at work recently about how our company had improved on the Interbrand Best Global Brand List. I hadn't been aware there was such a list. Here is the 2009 Best Global Brand List.

The top three companies, in order, are: CocaCola, IBM and Microsoft.

As an engineer I find marketing a little bit like black magic.

Technorati tags: Brands, marketing

A good way to destroy the future of a society

Life has many hard, challenging problems. There are problems at the personal level, the local level, the national level, and many world wide problems.

To solve our future problems, we need to educate our children. Unfortunately in the US, the UK, and some other nations it has become politically incorrect to address the special needs of gifted children.

From the UK comes this acknowledgement: State schools admit they do not push gifted pupils because they don't want to promote 'elitism'

As many as three-quarters of state schools are failing to push their brightest pupils because teachers are reluctant to promote 'elitism', an Ofsted study says today.
Many teachers are not convinced of the importance of providing more challenging tasks for their gifted and talented pupils.
Bright youngsters told inspectors they were forced to ask for harder work. Others were resentful at being dragooned into 'mentoring' weaker pupils.


It will be very funny if most of the major problems in the middle part of the twenty first century were solved by adults who were homeschooled.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A source of many of America's problems

Divorce is devastating to everyone involved, but especially the children. Children from most divorces end up doing poorly in their own marriages, in their careers and in many other areas.

There are times when divorce may be the right thing. But too often years later the adults acknowledge that knowing what they know after the fact, they feel they should have stayed married.

Dr. Helen found some Interesting stats on divorce:

The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%

It is interesting that once a person gets divorced, they are much more likely to get divorced in subsequent marriages.

Technorati tags: marriage, divorce

Did you know that today is the Bill of Rights Day?

In Bill of Rights Day, Tim Lynch reviews how each of the ten admendments is currently treated in the United States today. For example:

The First Amendment says that Congress “shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Government officials, however, insist that they can make it a crime to mention the name of a political candidate in an ad in the weeks preceding an election. They also insist upon gag orders in thousands of federal investigations.

It might be good to review with your children Tim's analysis of all ten amendments.

Technorati tags: Bill, Rights

Interesting reason to keep junk mail

As bloggers we are often looking for ways to get increase our exposure and promote our brand. Bryne Hobart tells us Why he Stopped Throwing Out Junk Mail:

There’s lots of general advice on how to keep readers hooked—tell them a story they can relate to, offer them a benefit they can’t get anywhere else, establish a cadence—but that’s too vague.
I’d rather just copy people who can’t afford to be wrong.
Junk mail practitioners obviously can’t afford to make all the same mistakes I can. When they’re paying for every printing and every delivery (and every phone inquiry, and every return), they have to know to a dollar what works. And what they never stop saying is that Long Copy Works—if it works when you pay more for every page, it must really work when you don’t.

I'll be a little slower now to toss junk mail.

(Hat tip: Hackers News)

Technorati tags: marketing, junk mail

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up

The Headmistress, Zookeeper is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at The Common room.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

If you are feeling a little "uʍop ǝpısdn"

ʇno sıɥʇ ʞɔǝɥɔ at

So if you are feeling a little "uʍop ǝpısdn", now there is a way to let it show.

Yes, I know this is a time waster, but I couldn't resist.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

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

Note: Blog Carnival is having some problem. It is not forwarding entries. I think I'll be able to dig them all out, but it would be safer for bloggers to mail the entries directly via the GMail account. Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

The next Carnival of Homeschooling at be hosted at The Common Room.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Monday, December 07, 2009

I like Terry Paulson's column on Free Enterprise

Terry Paulson starts off his column Free Enterprise—Time for Respect instead of Envy with:

Milton Friedman said with passion: “The record of history is absolutely clear that there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activity that is unleashed by the free enterprise system.” American capitalism, as imperfect a system as it is, has made America the “shining city on the hill” where immigrants still stand in line and cross borders to find opportunity.
Those who worked hard to earn their American Dream used to be respected. They were a source of inspiration and jobs for those who aspired to their own success. Americans took pride in being the land of opportunity where anyone could better their position in life.
How then have those who have worked hard to achieve success now become the subject of envy and derision? When did it become acceptable for Americans to embrace candidates who could openly brag about redistributing the wealth of the top 5% of wage earners to subsidize their supporters?


Technorati tags: , Free Enterprise

A key quality of leadership

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

Be willing to make decisions.
That's the most important quality in a good leader.
-General George S. Patton

Technorati tags: leadership

The Carnival of Space edition 132

This week's Carnival of Space is up at Steve's Astro corner.

Technorati tags: ,

Baby Bop is feeling sick

Baby Bop had Janine up this morning from 12:30 AM till 2:00 AM. Then again at 5:00 AM. Luckily our older two daughters will willing to take turns this morning, so Janine went back to sleep. She finally got up about 9:00 AM.

Baby Bop is feeling awful. He just wants to be held. He has some kind of congestion in his chest. He says his stomache and ears hurt. Some times it is hard being a parent.

Janine and the older two girls have a Homeschool Band practice this morning. Normally Janine takes the younger two children and they play quietly off to the side. But with Baby Bop being sick, we don't want to expose him to other children. So I am staying home from work this morning. They get done with practice about noon, and I'll go to work then. Unfortunately I'll end up working till nine or so tonight.

Technorati tags: family, news

Another beautiful picture from APOD - The Star Pillars of Sharpless 171

Nicolas Outters (Observatoire d'Orange) gave me permission to post his beautiful picture of The Star Pillars of Sharpless 171:

If you like this astronomy pictures, you can check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day, every day!

Technorati tags: , , Nicolas Outters, Star Pillars, Sharpless, 171

This strikes close to home

As a software engineer working in the high tech industry, this strikes too close to home:

Not every engineer is doomed to be a nerd. I have learned a few social skills.

(Hat tip: The Thinking Mother)

Technorati tags: engineers

Would you like a copy of Susan Wise Bauer's latest book?

In Shameless self-promotion time!! Susan Wise Bauer writes:

If you have a blog and you’d like to review the History of the Medieval World, you can get an advance copy…now! Email for details.

Technorati tags: History, Medieval, World

You have till December 24th to vote

Alasandra is hosting her 2009 Best Homeschool Blogs contest. The contest is in the sidebar.

We've been nominated for the "Best Homeschool Group Blog!"

You have till December 24th to vote.

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

Natalie's hit song has over 100,000 hits

Last year Natalie Criss wrote the words to the homeschooler's version of "I will surive." I noticed that it now has over 111,000 views!

In case you missed it last year, or haven't seen recently:


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

Saturday, December 05, 2009

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

The next Carnival of Homeschooling at be hosted The HSBA Post.

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,

Friday, December 04, 2009

Should you only praise and love your children?

Over the Thanksgiving weekend a friend told me about Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. The authors reviewed current beliefs about parenting, and looked at the research. They explain how several myths on how to raise children are wrong.

One of their findings was that it is best when parents both praise and give corrective feedback. And we have to be careful about what we praise. If we praise the wrong things, like "You are so smart," too often children will then be reluctant to try difficult tasks. It is better to says things like "You are persistent!"

In It’s OK to praise, punish, Joanne Jacobs recounts an experiment where children in the US and Hong Kong were given IQ tests. No matter how the children did, the researcher told the mothers their children had done poorly. Joanne writes:

Then she left the mothers in the room with the kids for five minutes.
The American moms talked to their kids about what they would have for dinner. They talked about the day. They never mentioned the test. The Chinese moms immediately told the kids that the children didn’t do well enough on the test; then the mothers and children sat down to look at where the kids went wrong.
Upon the retest, the Chinese kids improved at twice the rate of the Americans.


Here is an interview with Po Bronson:

For more information you might check out ABC Newss interview of Po Bronson in The Myth of Praise, or the NurtureShock web site.

Nurture Shock looks worth reading. I have reserved it at my local library.

Technorati tags: children, parenting

Discretionary and Mandatory spending in the Federal Budget

I like 10000Pennies explanation of Discretionary and Mandatory spending in the Federal Budget:

(Hat tip:

Technorati tags: Discretionary, Mandatory, spending, Federal Budget

Which to fix first? Education or Proverty?

Matthew Ladner says we should Fix education before fixing poverty:

New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein recently stated:
People have said to me ‘Chancellor, we will never fix education in America until we fix poverty in America.’ Now I care about fixing poverty, but those people have got it exactly backwards folks. We are never going to fix poverty in America until we fix education in America, and this report shows that it is entirely doable.
Klein has both his theory of causality and priorities correct. Claiming that education cannot radically improve without the working class seizing the commanding heights of the American economy is more than silly. It is destructive to children.
A vastly expanded welfare state won’t change the fact that we recruit too few of the right people, and too many of the wrong people into teaching. It won’t change the fact that we distribute the limited supply of high-quality teachers as if we are intentionally stacking the deck against poor, inner city children. For that matter, it won’t change the fact we still don’t measure teacher effectiveness, and that when we do, we don’t do much of anything with the information. In fact **ahem** all of this happens in the government-controlled system of schools.
Pop quiz: should we bring the practices of our failed public school system to the rest of the economy to solve our education problems, or some market discipline into our failed schools? Anyone who actually cares about the plight of the poor would do well to listen to Chancellor Klein on this point.

Human nature is funny. We consider people poor who don't have as much as average people. We rarely stop and realize that even poor people today live much better than people a hundred years ago. I'd rather live now than three hundred years ago as a king. I'm safer now, have better entertainment, it is easier to travel, there is more knowledge available, and I'll live longer.

Klein is right. Government does not have infinite resources. They should focus their limited resources on improving education.

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

Funny thought on exercise; sad thought about TV

From A.Word.A.Day:

If it weren't for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn't get any exercise at all.
-Joey Adams, comedian (1911-1999)

It looks like the average American watches almost five hours of TV a day.

Technorati tags: TV, television

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Rights with your camera

Too often I'll read a news article about some policeman who hassles a citizen taking pictures. This seems to happen when the policeman is involved with an arrest.

I like this summary of a photographer's rights. It starts with:

About this Guide
Confrontations that impair the constitutional right to make images are becoming more common. To fight the abuse of your right to free expression, you need to know your rights to take photographs and the remedies available if your rights are infringed.

The General Rule
The general rule in the United States is that anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place or places where they have permission to take photographs. Absent a specific legal prohibition such as a statute or ordinance, you are legally entitled to take photographs. Examples of places that are traditionally considered public are streets, sidewalks, and public parks.


I think it is good for all citizens to know what is legal. I've printed a copy so it is easy to reference. You might want to also print a copy.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Technorati tags: photograph, rights

An explanation of Tax Deferral

The CEO at my company mentioned Tax Deferral. I didn't understand how it worked. I like this video by The Tax Foundation:

(Hat tip: Conservatism Today)

Technorati tags: Tax, Deferral

The Price of Children

My aunt and uncle sent this out awhile back:

This is just too good not to pass on to all. Something absolutely positive for a change. I have repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost of raising a child, but this is the first time I have seen the rewards listed this way. It's nice.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140.00 for a middle income family. Talk about price shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition.

But $160,140.00 isn't so bad if you break it down.

It translates into:

* $8,896.66 a year,
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171..08 a week.
* That's a mere $24.24 a day!
* Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be 'rich.' Actually, it is just the opposite.

What do you get for your $160,140.00?

* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kiss es and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate.
* A partner for blowing bubbles and flying kites.
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140.00, you never have to grow up. You get to:

* finger-paint,
* carve pumpkins,
* play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:

* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
* watch Saturday morning cartoons,
* go to Disney movies, and
* wish on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect! spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.

For a mere $24.24 a day, there is no greater bang for your buck.

You get to be a hero just for:

* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,
* taking the training wheels off a bike,
* removing a splinter,
* filling a wading pool,
* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat in history to witness the:
* first step,
* first word,
* first bra,
* first date, and
* first time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren.. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, so one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price!!!!!!!

Love & enjoy your children & grandchildren & great-grandchildren !!!!!!!

It's the best investment you'll make!

This site claims the above piece has been cloating around on the internet since 2005, but it isn't clear who wrote it. (Anonymous sure gets around.)

Technorati tags: parenting, children, education

Update on Lab on a chip

Last year I blogged about taking a daily blood test with our vitamins.

IBM's Move in Microfluidics is an update on this technology:

Researchers at IBM have demonstrated a novel "lab on a chip" that uses capillary action to create a potential one-step diagnostic tool, and which could ultimately test for a wide range of diseases and viruses.
The chip requires only a small drop of blood, which it draws through tiny channels within the device. The blood reacts with different disease markers to provide accurate diagnoses in about 15 minutes, says Emmanuel Delamarche, who codeveloped the device at IBM Zurich Research Laboratory in Switzerland.
A nice thing about the new chip is that it involves no moving parts, says IBM's Luc Gervais, who is also a researcher at the University Hospital Basel. Instead, it works using capillary action to filter blood and pump serum through its various chambers.


I hope they work out the bugs soon. This would be such a help. There are lots of medical conditions which are more successfully treated when they are caught early.

Technorati tags: blood, test, chip

An interesting teaching style

My Favorite Liar has an interesting teaching style. A college professor told his students that there would be one lie in each of his lectures. The students listened carefully to catch the lie.

(Hat tip: Hacker News)

Technorati tags: teaching, style

Another reason to homeschool - to make sure your children have financial literacy

Lisa Fairfax reports on The Financial Literacy (or Lack Thereof) of Young Americans:

In connection with a story I was reading about the SEC’s outreach efforts to promote financial literacy among elementary students, I stumbled across a pretty depressing survey on financial literacy in young Americans. Last Friday, officials from the SEC, FINRA and the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy visited 18 elementary schools throughout the county to teach a class on financial literacy. The program is part of a joint partnership among the organizations called Project C.H.A.N.G.E: Creating Habits and Awareness for the Next Generation’s Economy. In talking about Project C.H.A.N.G.E, Chairman Schapiro noted “Teaching children about money is an investment in the future, because an investment in financial literacy can pay a lifetime of dividends.” And apparently young Americans are in dire need of such an investment.
A 2008 national Jump$tart
survey found that the financial literacy of high school students had fallen to its lowest level ever, with students scoring an average of 48.3%--that would be a failing grade. The survey notes that basic and critical financial concepts are simply not getting through to the next generation. To be sure, college students fare better on the survey and hence, the survey concludes that “American college graduates are close to being financially literate and probably will be so with more life experience.” However, because only 25% of our youth graduate from college, the survey's results mean that 75% of young American adults “are likely to lack the skills necessary to make beneficial financial decisions.”

Read the second paragraph again, 75% of young American adults “are likely to lack the skills necessary to make beneficial financial decisions.”

I think the primary responsibility for a financial education lies with the parents. One problem with government schools is the schools demand so much time, that often parents have to work hard just to spend time with their children. Public school parents may not realize the public schools are doing a poor job in teaching about money.

I'm glad we can homeschool. Our daughters have read several books about money. We often talk about money. And maybe most important, they are learning about saving, and restricting their spending!

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

Are problems never ending?

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

"Every solution breeds new problems."

Though some problems are nastier than other problems. I would rather deal lack of dessert than lack of food.

Technorati tags: problems

Adding to my extended memory

I find it interesting that our blog has become an extension of my memory. This post is partly to add more to my extended memory.

I don't remember hearing about the Cook Partisan Voting Index before. Here's the first paragraph from the Wikipedia entry:

The Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI), sometimes referred to as simply the Partisan Voting Index (PVI), is a measurement of how strongly an American congressional district or state leans toward one political party compared to the nation as a whole. It was developed in 1997 by Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan political newsletter, working with Polidata, a political statistics analysis firm.

It is an interesting way to look at voting patterns.

Technorati tags: politics