Saturday, February 27, 2010

Life stress and homeschooling

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that young children can avoid excessive stress as young children. Academic pressure, separation anxiety, and the rush to school in the morning are some of the many things that homeschool children "miss out" on when they are educated at home.

As our children got older, I started to worry that our life wasn't stressful enough to give them opportunities to grow. While keeping up with state defined academic standards and useless school projects may be a bit arbitrary, they can give children opportunities to push themselves.

While I like my children to do hard things, I don't necessarily want to embrace the alternative reality that is created in a school environment. So, in the place of artificial stressors like bullies at school or cramming for a test on material they won't remember after the test, we've taken on challenges that make our children's lives more stressful in the real world.

These real world stressors take the form of foster care children who come to live in our home. The last three weeks have been pretty rough. With the addition of two foster children, we now have 6 children in our home: a two year old, three year old, 4 year old, 9 year old, 13 year old and 15 year old.

Our three year old son, Baby Bop, did not do well in the situation at first. He would scream almost hysterically when the two new additions would touch one of "his" toys which translated to every toy in our house. Screaming was followed by hitting and scratching. I felt like the farmer in the "fox, chicken, grain puzzle." Baby Bop and the two year old simply could not be left in the same room without constant supervision.

Now that we are three weeks into the process, things are actually getting to be quite manageable. In addition, Baby Bop is eating and talking much better (he has significant delays in both) and is hitting and scratching much less. My big girls have had to really help out while juggling school work and their other activities. We've all had to step up a level in our day to day efforts.

I'm thankful that my kids can work on hard things that will really matter ten years down the road.

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

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fascinating - Unemployment by county for last couple years

My mother sent me a link to this video:

Technorati tags: Unemployment

Great motivation to lose more weight

I'm slightly overweight. I could lose ten to twenty pounds. I don't worry too much about it. I eat fairly healthy food, but don't exercise enough.

Mid Life Overweight Faster Mental Decline has a link to Overweight Middle-Aged Adults at Greater Risk for Cognitive Decline in Later Life. Wow. I don't mind the chance of only living 85 years instead of maybe 90, but I don't want to spend the last years of my life not being aware.

I need to figure out how to get more exercise with a knee that hurts now and then.

Technorati tags: weight, exercise

What should we teach our children?

What They Should Have Taught You in School starts with:

Not everybody approaches education with the same goal. High school and higher education serve different purposes for each student. For some pupils, school is a direct path to a job. For others, it is a chance to learn for the sake of personal growth. Visit any classroom and you'll encounter students with a variety of goals for their education.
Regardless of what you want school to be, most people seem to agree that an education should set you up with at least a basic set of skills. Not a universal set -- no one expects someone who studied nursing to have an identical skill set as someone who studied accounting. But when you have employers posting jobs that say a high school diploma or four-year degree is a requirement, you realize they expect you to have crossed a certain threshold. Still you seem to hear frustrated employers and employees wondering aloud, "Why didn't they teach this in school?"
From not knowing how to balance a checkbook to handling a tough boss, many schools don't teach their students how to deal with basic issues they will encounter in their career. We asked employees and employers what skills they wish were taught in schools to see what they thought were the most glaring omissions. Here are their responses:


The four main points are:

Communication skills
Personal development
Interacting with others
All things boss-related

Good article. Some food for thought.

(Hat tip: The Home Education Mailing List)

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

A "Monster" train - 3.5 miles long

Baby Bop loved this:

More info at Popular Mechanics in Is Bigger Better? 'Monster' Trains vs Freight Trains:

Earlier this year, Union Pacific quietly ran a record-setting "monster" freight train over its Sunset Route, from Dallas to Long Beach, using the 3.5-mile-long behemoth during a one-time test of new distributed-power configurations that may help make long trains even longer. Distributed-power units (DPUs) are extra locomotives that are placed between or behind freight cars on very long trains to help them haul long, heavy loads without derailing.

To put this in context the article says most trains are about a mile long.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Technorati tags: Monster, trains

How a book was made in 1947


(Hat tip: Omnivoracious / Instapundit)

Technorati tags: books

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The House Fever Edition

Amanda is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at The Daily Planet.

She starts with:

It seems this winter is dragging out as long as it can! I know its still February, but its almost March and that means its time for winter to hit the road! Being the lover of hot weather and sunshine that I am, I have house fever! Which is cabin fever except I don’t live in a cabin. But there are definitely plenty of things to keep me busy waiting for this winter to finish out!

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

Homeschooling highlights from November 2005

Janine and I have been blogging about homeschooling for four years now. If you missed some of our early posts, you have missed some of our best thoughts. Here are some highlights from November of 2005:

Janine tells one of our favorite stories, a story that we have told many of our friends, how our little children were exposed to Homer’s Odyssey.

With School would have ruined that kid! Janine explains one of the reasons why we are so grateful for homeschooling.

Many homeschooling parents know this: homeschooling allows parents to Stack the Deck in their favor, and in favor of their children.

Janine wrote about one of her typical Unschool Days.

Finally Janine gives advice on how parents can determine if Homeschooling is right for you.

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

The Thomas Jefferson Education Consortium

A couple years ago Janine wrote about A Thomas Jefferson Education.

Andrew recently gave us a link to The Thomas Jefferson Education Consortium.

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

It is important to make decisions

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

Decision is a sharp knife that cut clean and straight. Indecision is a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind.
-Ian McKeithen

Technorati tags:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

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

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be held at The Daily Planet.

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,

Update on school spying of children via laptops

Yesterday I came across a news article about a school which was accussed of spying on children in their homes. A school loaned 1800 laptops to children. Software was on the laptops which would allow the schools to turn on the computer's camera. The school explains that it was only suppose to be used if the laptops were lost or stolen.

This whole issue bubbled to the surface when the school showed pictures of a student eating "drugs" which the student explained was "Mikes and Iks" a candy. The parents asked how in the world the school got pictures of things happening in their home, realized the school used the camera on the laptop and rightly yelled foul!

Here is a video with the boy, and his lawyer:

View more news videos at:

Wikipedia has an article with several links on this issue, the Blake J. Robbins v. Lower Merion School District case.

It appears there is enough national notice of this that it will be hard for the school to sweap it under the rug. But I still don't expect anyone to be fired.

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

Good video about problems with the government public school monopoly

Dan Mitchell has this introduction:

The Cato Institute’s Isabel Santa uses school choice as an example of why competition is better than government-imposed monopolies. The video explains that government schools cost more and deliver less, which is exactly what one might expect when there is an inefficient monopoly structure. The evidence about the school-choice systems in Sweden, Chile, and the Netherlands is particularly impressive. Leftists always argue that we should have government-run health care because it’s what exists in other nations. Yet they are conveniently silent about looking overseas when other nations are choosing market-based policies and getting better results.

to this video about school choice:

Isabel mentions homeschooling, though I'm disapointed that she is so quick to dismiss homeschooling as an option for most parents.

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

Friday, February 19, 2010

The really sad thing is probably no one will get fired

School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home reports on a very awful practice by a public school:

According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins's child was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.
If true, these allegations are about as creepy as they come. I don't know about you, but I often have the laptop in the room while I'm getting dressed, having private discussions with my family, and so on. The idea that a school district would not only spy on its students' clickstreams and emails (bad enough), but also use these machines as AV bugs is purely horrifying.
Schools are in an absolute panic about kids divulging too much online, worried about pedos and marketers and embarrassing photos that will haunt you when you run for office or apply for a job in 10 years. They tell kids to treat their personal details as though they were precious.

Update: The school district admits that student laptops were shipped with software for covertly activating their webcams, but denies wrongdoing.

I wonder how they can try to use a photo on one hand to discipline a student, but on the other hand claim they did nothing wrong.

Personally I think that maybe several public school officials should be fired. But it will probably never happen.

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

Spunky is back

I enjoyed her version of Cat's in the Cradle: Mom's On the Computer (or not).

Her version starts with:

My computer arrived just the other day,
It came on the porch in the usual way
So many blogs to read and games to play
My child learned to walk, while I twittered away
And he was talkin’ for I knew it, as my friends list grew
He’d say I’m gonna be like you mom
You know I’m gonna be like you

And mom’s lost on the computer, lettin' dinner burn
Little boy wanders, he just wants to learn
When you getting off mom?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
we're gonna have a good time then

Go read the rest of her song.

Now when is someone going to make a video of it?

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another John Stossel exposé

I always enjoy John Stossel's commentaries.

Here's a clip from his latest, broadcast today on Fox Business News:

Education: Too Important for a Government Monopoly

Here's another preview.

Looks good. Unfortunately, we don't have cable television. I hope it gets posted in its entirety somewhere on the internet.

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

What is your political IQ?

Another fun link from my mother: The Pew Political IQ.

I missed two questions.

Technorati tags: ,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As a software engineer I find this very scary

I like technology. Technology has greatly improved the world. We are safer, healthier, more entertained, and better empowered.

But technology has risks. Software can especially have risks. I find this very scary - The Dozens of Computers That Make Modern Cars Go (and Stop):

The electronic systems in modern cars and trucks — under new scrutiny as regulators continue to raise concerns about Toyota vehicles — are packed with up to 100 million lines of computer code, more than in some jet fighters.
“It would be easy to say the modern car is a computer on wheels, but it’s more like 30 or more computers on wheels,” said Bruce Emaus, the chairman of SAE International’s embedded software standards committee.
Even basic vehicles have at least 30 of these microprocessor-controlled devices, known as electronic control units, and some luxury cars have as many as 100.
These electronic brains control dozens of functions, including brake and cruise control and entertainment systems. Software in each unit is also made to work with others. So, for example, when a driver pushes a button on a key fob to unlock the doors, a module in the trunk might rouse separate computers to unlock all four doors.


A 100 million lines of code is a lot of code. Applications with a million lines of code are considered large.

The problem with Toyota brakes, leading to the recall of 400,000 Prius cars is due to a software glitch.

There is a joke in the software industry that you never want to buy the first release a new version of software because it would often be buggy. There is wisdom in letting others use a new operating system or application to shake out the bugs and then buying a fixed version.

I will probably never buy a new car. I'll let others buy a car, with all the new software, and wait for a year to make sure there are no major problems before buying.

(Hat tip: Risks Digest)

Technorati tags: software, technology, cars

Union teachers refused to work, and are then fired

This is pretty big news - Unionized Rhode Island Teachers Refuse To Work 25 Minutes More Per Day, So Town Fires All Of Them:

A school superintendent in Rhode Island is trying to fix an abysmally bad school system.

Her plan calls for teachers at a local high school to work 25 minutes longer per day, each lunch with students once in a while, and help with tutoring. The teachers' union has refused to accept these apparently onerous demands.

The teachers at the high school make $70,000-$78,000, as compared to a median income in the town of $22,000. This exemplifies a nationwide trend in which public sector workers make far more than their private-sector counterparts (with better benefits).

I am afraid that the union will take Rhode Island to court and the teachers will get their jobs back. All the while the children will continue to suffer.

If Rhode Island is able to make it stick, I wonder if any other states will follow their example.

Oh, and check out the comments. At the time of this posting there are 254 comments for a post that isn't even eight hours old yet.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

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

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Think Spring Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at SmallWorld. This is the "Think Spring Edition!" The carnival starts with:

Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling! I particularly like that this carnival falls on the Queen of all Carnival days: Fat Tuesday. While we won't be doing any Mardi Gras parading or masquerading around our house today, I just might be brave and tackle making a King Cake this year.
But I think what is on everyone's minds more than Mardi Gras, the Olympics, and possibly even more than my birthday (tomorrow) is, well, Winter. Seems to me that here in the States, at least, we are all marveling at the record frigid temperatures and outrageous amounts of snow. Or even that some states have snow. I've seen more gray skies in the past month than I hope to see ever again. And so instead of festive beads or figure skating or birthday cake, I'm giving this carnival a touch of spring. It really is coming.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Saturday, February 13, 2010

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

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be held at SmallWorld.

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, February 12, 2010

Heavy internet use affects teenager's ability to concentrate

Internet rewiring youngsters' brains reports:

Students are losing the ability to study properly because constant internet use is "rewiring" their brains, researchers have claimed.
Experts believe the internet encourages users to dart from page to page, rather than concentrating on one source such as a book.
Described as "associative" thinking, researchers believe it is reducing youngsters' capacity to read and write at length because their minds are being remoulded to function differently.
A survey designed to examine the internet's impact on the brain examined how 100 12 to 18-year-olds responded to a series of questions requiring some form of research.
They discovered that most of the respondents gave their answers after looking at just half the number of web pages older people examined.
They also found that younger people took far less time to research their answers and were therefore less thorough.


The article concludes with this painful account:

Dr David Runciman, political scientist at Cambridge University, added: ''What I notice about students from the first day they arrive at university is that they ask nervously,? What do we have to read?
''When they are told the first thing they have to read is a book, they all now groan, which they didn't use to do five or 10 years ago.
''You say, 'Why are you groaning?' and they say, 'It's a book. How long is it?'
''Books are still at the heart of what it means to be educated and to try to educate. The generation of students I teach see books as peripheral.''


Janine can confirm this, but my impression is our daughters spend one to two hours a day on the internet. Often my daughters will reach for a book, especially the younger two.

Technorati tags: parenting, children, education

Keep pencil and paper handy at all times

This is from my Covey Planner:

"A man would do well to carry a pencil in his pocket and write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought are commonly the most valuable and should be secured because they seldom return."
Sir Francis Bacon, essayist, philosopher, and statesman (1561-1626)

I use a Covey planner to be organized. I also have a thin notebook about the same size. I typically jote down more than a dozen ideas a day in the notebook. It has been very effective for me.

Technorati tags: notebook

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bad Parents in the News (who happen to be homeschooling)

I just hate it when a story like this hit the news. Obviously, this is not what homeschooling is about, but for some people it will only confirm the stereotype of homeschooling to hide abuse.

Arizona teen locked in homemade dungeon for months; daring escape leads to parents' arrest

...Police documents say the officers found a blanket, empty cans of food and a bucket filled with urine in a "dilapidated" room, the station reported.

Scott Bass reportedly told police he locked the child up as punishment for stealing food and cheating on her homeschool assignments.

A medical exam of the girl appears to reveal severe malnutrition.

It just makes me ill that someone would treat a child this way. I wonder how the parents got so far off track.

I hope the public will do a little research before jumping on the "we need to regulate" homeschoolers bandwagon. CPS already knew there was a problem in this household.

CPS apparently received a handful of complaints about the Basses in the past.

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

Kind of confirms what many believed

Obese Children Twice as Likely to Die Before 55 starts with:

Obesity in children may pave the way to an early grave, a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds.
The study, published Wednesday, followed nearly 5,000 American Indian children from childhood to middle age and found that those who were obese as children were more than twice as likely to die from disease before the age of 55.
This is the first large study to confirm that childhood obesity is a risk factor for long-term complications, though that is something experts have suspected for years.


Technorati tags: Obese, children

The Debt Limit Made Simple

I like Heritage Foundation's explanation of the debt limit:

(Hat tip:

Technorati tags: Debt, Limit

Sounds like what many homeschoolers are doing

Students in charge of own education reports on a "new" approach to public education:

The school's four subject teachers and principal have undertaken education reform that gives students as much time as they need to learn, eliminates the point-earning model for homework and tests, and has turned student incentives on their head.
It's the kind of culture-changing reform that proponents of the "proficiency model" hope that national leaders are referring to when they talk about overhauling the American education system.
The proficiency model is a main theme in Oregon's application for Race to the Top, a national competition for federal stimulus money that has been called the centerpiece of the Obama administration's education reform efforts.
"It's changing the concept of school from 'here's what you have to know, you get it or you don't get it and we're moving on anyway,'" said Susanne Daggett, an education specialist with the state department of education.


Starting in the mid and late 1800s the states took over education, step by step, they exercised more control. Public schools in America were largely modeled after the Prussian factory approach. It was more efficient to put thirty children in a room and teach them all the same thing, at the same time and in the same way. It didn't matter if the students weren't interested, weren't ready or already knew the material.

I know many homeschoolers who frequently point out this flaw in the dominate public school approach today.

In many ways the trial in Oregon is not a "new" approach, but returning back to what we did before. Back at a time when the literacy rate was higher than it is today. It used to be that children were lumped together according to their abilities and not by age. Some children would move faster, others would take longer. The traditional one room school had one teacher helping children across a variety of ages, each children progressing as best they could.

I’m glad the students at this school in Oregon are getting a chance to go at their own pace, whither it is fast or slow, but this isn’t a new approach.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

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

Totally amazing: Lab on a piece of paper

Ever since I heard about the idea of putting diagnostic lab on a chip for analyzing blood I've been fascinated by the potential.

Just two months ago I came across news on IBM was getting closer to bringing this to the market.

George Whitesides just blows my mind with the same idea, but using paper:

It is such an amazing world.

Be warned, there is a little swearing in the last minute.

Technorati tags: blood, test, paper

Georgia is having trouble giving tests

Suspicious test scores widespread in state starts with:

One in five Georgia public schools faces accusations of tampering with student answers on last spring’s state standardized tests, officials said Wednesday, throwing the state’s main academic measure into turmoil.
The Atlanta district is home to 58 of the 191 schools statewide that are likely to undergo investigations into potential cheating. Another 178 schools will probably see new test security mandates, such as stepped-up monitoring during testing.
The findings singled out 69 percent of Atlanta elementary and middle schools — far more than any other district — as needing formal probes into possible tampering.


I struggled a bit with the math. There seemed to be a contradiction.

I read it again and realized that it is 20% state wide of all public schools, while it is 69% of Atlanta elementary and middle schools.

It looks like things are rotten in Atlanta.

(Hat tip: Betsy's page)

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

Some people have trouble learning the lesson the first time

Other people never seem to learn the lesson.

Cal Thomas writes about Unlearned Lessons. His point is that politicians often don't realize that when taxes get too high people will start moving. His case in point in New Jersey:

Last week, the Newark Star-Ledger reported that New Jersey lost $70 billion in wealth over the past five years. The reason? Affluent people have moved to states with a lower tax rate or no income tax at all.
The findings are from a study conducted by the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, the first study on interstate wealth migration in the country. The report found that wealthy New Jersey residents apparently grew tired of the state treating their success as an ATM for politicians and so they moved to Florida, Pennsylvania and even New York, a state not known for low taxes, but its levies are not as high as New Jersey's.


I had not realized that taxes were so bad in New Jersey that people were escaping to New York. I always thought of New York as one of the worse states in the union.

Technorati tags: taxes

Funny: Miss me yet?

Someone, or group of people, arranged to have a billboard with a picture of President Bush and the caption "Miss me yet?" For more details check out NPR: ‘Miss Me Yet?’ Billboard With Photo Of Bush Is Real; Not An Internet Trick.

Instapundit has a link to a similar picture with the same caption. But this picture is of the Constitution. I'd love to see this picture on billboards across the US.

I wonder what it costs to get a picture made and to rent a billboard?

Technorati tags: Constitution

Using math & computers to find fake art

This is a fun story - Math Professor Helps Uncover Art Fakes:

Determining what is real and what is fake has long been a problem for art curators. It is estimated that 20 percent of the worldwide art market is made up of forgeries. But art lover and Dartmouth College mathematics department Chairman Daniel Rockmore has developed a technique that is helping to determine the difference between excellent copy and the real McCoy.
"I joke a lot that I am a mathematician by mistake," says Rockmore. "It was something that I had an aptitude at, but I've always had lots of interests."
One thing Rockmore is particularly interested in is art. And a few years ago, his professional skills and personal interest collided.


the article continues later with:

He realized that if he had digital images of the drawings, he could use his math skills to design a computer program that would analyze the pen strokes and characterize which were Bruegel-like and which weren't. So he and some colleagues got hold of the digital images, and wrote the program.

Pretty cool!

(Hat tip: reddit)

Technorati tags: fake, art

More reasons to homeschool, from the archives

As I mentioned earlier this week, long ago, before Janine and I started blogging, I used to browse around the internet looking for reasons to homeschool. Here are a few from 2004:

Reason to homeschool: To protect your children from the NEA. This book review of "The Worm in the Apple: How the Teacher Unions are Destroying American Education" should cause any parent to consider pulling their children.

Reason to homeschool: To make sure your children read good books, instead of trash. In 2 lazy 2 teach Michelle Malkin starts with:

Have you checked your child's summer reading list? Beware: Some lame-brained school officials have decided to ditch the sonnets of Shakespeare for the tripe of Tupac.

Reason to homeschool: To teach your children about money. Teach Kids About Money....Or You'll Pay For It! (Steve Moitozo has a few more reasons to homeschool here)

Reason to homeschool: To protect your children from lead poisoning. School district ignored lead hazard. Lead-tainted water in Seattle schools stuns parents has more information.

Reason to homeschool: Because school lunches aren't always safe. Elizabeth Lane Lawley gives the details in another reason to homeschool.

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

What are you acting on?

From A.Word.A.Day:

We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are.
-J.K. Rowling, author (b. 1965)

Technorati tags: good, evil

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Pipe Dream Set" - Animusic

Several months ago a friend suggested I check out Animusic for Baby Bop. I hadn't heard about them before. Here's a sample:

It is pretty cool.

Technorati tags: Animusic

The real danger from robots

A lot of science fiction is about robots revolting and taking over the world. Terminator is an extreme example.

Home Robots May be the Next Target for Hackers has a twist on the real danger from robots. Current models are open to hackers:

A paper published recently by researchers at the University of Washington shows that several commercial home robots--essentially small, wheeled bots with cameras, microphones and other audio-visual surveillance features--are not as secure as their owners might think. The researchers studied 2008 models of the Erector Spykee, and WowWee's RoboSapien and Rovio robots and found security holes that include unencrypted audio-visual streams, unencrypted usernames and passwords for accessing and controlling the bots, and tricks for taking over the robots remotely.
The researchers say on their website:
"[These vulnerabilities] mean that someone might be able to drive your robot around your home, look around the house, listen in on conversations, and knock over small objects."


Technorati tags: robots

John Stossel explains why the laws are so complicated

I've always had a frustration with the increasely complicated government laws that get passed every year. I had never really thought about why Congress keeps making the laws more and more obscure and confusing.

John Stossel has a great column explaining The real reason politicians like complicated tax and regulatory schemes. He concludes with:

Let's not be misled. Government is as manipulative with selective tax credits as it is with cash subsidies. It would be more efficient to cut taxes across the board. Why should there be favoritism?
Because politicians like it. Big, complicated government gives them opportunities to do favors for their friends.


Now you know.

Technorati tags: laws, taxes

As the father of three girls this worries me

The New York Times reports on The New Math on Campus:

ANOTHER ladies’ night, not by choice.
After midnight on a rainy night last week in Chapel Hill, N.C., a large group of sorority women at the University of North Carolina squeezed into the corner booth of a gritty basement bar. Bathed in a neon glow, they splashed beer from pitchers, traded jokes and belted out lyrics to a Taylor Swift heartache anthem thundering overhead. As a night out, it had everything — except guys.


North Carolina, with a student body that is nearly 60 percent female, is just one of many large universities that at times feel eerily like women’s colleges. Women have represented about 57 percent of enrollments at American colleges since at least 2000, according to a recent report by the American Council on Education. Researchers there cite several reasons: women tend to have higher grades; men tend to drop out in disproportionate numbers; and female enrollment skews higher among older students, low-income students, and black and Hispanic students.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

Technorati tags: college, male, female

I expect a lot of Congressman are worried about this Fall

Rasmussen reports that 63% Say Better for Country If Most of Congress Not Reelected:

Most voters think the country would be better off if the majority of the current Congress wasn’t reelected this November, and their confidence in their own congressman continues to fall.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 63% of likely voters believe, generally speaking, that it would be better for the country if most incumbents in Congress were defeated this November.
Just 19% disagree and say it would be better if most congressional incumbents were reelected. Another 18% aren’t sure.


Technorati tags: Congress, election

A video on the recent Federal Budget Freeze proposal

This is done by the same guy who did 10,000 pennies:

(Hat tip:

Technorati tags: Budget, Freeze

Will you let others listen to their drummers?

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

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer,
Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
-Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

This is one of the great secrets to human relationships. Way too often one person will try to manipulate another. Almost always it is because the first person believes they know what is best. They know what kind of food that person should be eating, or how they should vote, or how they should work, or how they should raise their children, or how they should worship God.

Inviting a friend to try a new food, or come to your church or consider a candidate is appropriate. But we need to be careful if we start doing more than offering to share what we have learned.

Technorati tags: freedom, drummers

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Internet 2009 in numbers

Internet 2009 is numbers has some interesting statistics. Here are a few:

90 trillion – The number of emails sent on the Internet in 2009.
247 billion – Average number of email messages per day.
1.73 billion – Internet users worldwide (September 2009).

126 million – The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse).
350 million – People on Facebook.
50% – Percentage of Facebook users that log in every day.

2.5 billion – Photos uploaded each month to Facebook.
1 billion – The total number of videos YouTube serves in one day.

If you enjoy these numbers, check out the post for more.

(Hat tip: Rackspace)

Technorati tags: Internet

Cute idea, I wonder how valid it is

Typealyzer takes the URL for a blog and tells you what type of blog it is.

It says Why Homeschool is: ISTJ - The Duty Fulfillers.

It is kind of a fun idea.

(Hat tip: Hacker News)

Technorati tags: blog, tools

Column on "Race to the Top"

It seems like every where I turn there are more reasons to homeschool.

In Federal Control of Education on Steroids, Dr. Karen Effrem reviews proposed legislation, she starts with:

Without the slightest bit of legislative discussion in either chamber, the Obama administration quietly slipped $4.35 billion of education funding into the stimulus ("porkulus") bill passed last year for a program called Race to the Top (RTTT).

With the nearly one trillion dollars spent for the stimulus as well as the trillions spent or proposed for the federal budget, health care, and cap and trade legislation one might reasonably wonder why a few billion dollars for more federal education spending is any big deal. The answer is that federal government is using this program to bribe states to accept even more federal control of education, a constitutionally and traditionally state function. This dangerous trend of more federal control of education was greatly accelerated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. However because of the intense opposition engendered by NCLB from all points on the political spectrum and the difficulty that the Obama administration has run into trying to implement its expansive and statist domestic agenda, RTTT is accomplishing more of that same federal control without having to go through the messy process of reauthorizing the controversial NCLB.


Large bureaucratic organizations do not tend to improve situations with complex problems. Too often they'll be driven by their own goals.

(Hat tip:

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

Reasons to homeschool, from the archives

Long ago, before Janine and I started blogging, I used to browse around the internet looking for reasons to homeschool. Here are a few from 2004:

Reason to homeschool: Because teachers unions work to destroy charter schools. Veto the charter-school moratorium has the details.

Reason to homeschool: So girls can escape bullying. New age teens has the details.

Reason to homeschool: Because schools will say one thing and do another. The Heritage Foundation reported in Comprehensive Sex Education vs. Authentic Abstinence: A Study of Competing Curricula that:

In recent years, a new approach, termed “abstinence-plus” has played a prominent role in the public debate over sex education. This approach is presented as the middle ground between safe sex and abstinence.
Research conducted by Heritage Foundation analysts, however, reveals that traditional abstinence and abstinence-plus curricula differ radically in their contents and messages. It also revealed that the claim that abstinence-plus curricula place an emphasis on abstinence is false.

Reason to homeschool: Because the teachers might go on strike, and then the students will have to go to school through the summer. In Students not to blame Mike Throgmorton reports:

The subject for our game today is the Marysville teachers' strike. Prior to the start of this academic year, teachers in Marysville went on strike for a state-record 49 days, effectively delaying the start of the term until October 22. Since state law mandates 180-days of academic instruction to constitute a full academic year, the lockout has had the effect of pushing back the start of summer vacation until July 19th.

Reason to homeschool: To protect your children from the sexual predators in public schools. Report: Up to 10 percent of students sexual targets:

While the Catholic Church continues to wrestle with the ramifications of decades of sexual misconduct by some priests, another institution responsible for even more children has its own shameful record of protecting child molesters -- public school systems.
As many as 10 percent of public school students are targets of unwanted sexual advances, and the perpetrators are often popular, award-winning teachers, a new report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education states.


Sex Abuse by Teachers Said Worse Than Catholic Church has more.

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