Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another article about passwords

Thursday I posted about a site for testing how secure a password might be.  Then this morning I posted a TED Talk by Bruce Schneier on security.

Instapundit linked to a nice post on Thinking About Better Passwords.  One of the points it makes is there are times when it makes sense to write down your passwords.  It is worth reading.

Happy New Year

Janine and I wish you all the best in 2012.

TED Talk - Bruce Schneier on The Security Mirage

I enjoyed this TED Talk by Bruce Schneier on The Security Mirage:

If you like his talk you might enjoy his blog.

Khan Academy had 4 million unique visits in November

Facts About the Khan Academy reports some exciting news:

Over the last month (November), Khan Academy had 4 million unique visits. That’s up from 1 million in the same period last year, and up from 3.5 million in October.

There is a lot still to happen with online education.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Good argument for depowering the TSA

Chante Codrington makes a great case for why judges should take away the power TSA agents have to do agressive pat downs in Codrington vs United States.

Kind of funny that this opnion piece is being posted from the Caribbeans.

Hat tip: Boycott Flying

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Password security: It would take 408 thousand years to crack my password

My mom found a fun site:  How Secure Is My Password?

Because I am paranoid I didn't enter my exact passwords, but I tried similar types to what my passwords really are.  The web site says it would take a PC any where from 6 thousand to 408 thousand years to crack my passwords!

Some other homeschooling carnivals

The latest edition of a homeschooling carnival is up at Garden of Learning.

And there is a Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival up at Dewey's Treehouse.

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

Next week Janine and I will be hosting the 6th anniversary edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.  This will be the 314th edition.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Please send your submissions to the carnival via email!

Blog Carnvial is partially broken. It is accepting submissions, but not forwarding them. It would be easier if you just submitted your post directly via email. Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.


Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up!

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Corn and Oil.

The theme for the carnival is Passages. 

Susan explains:

2011 will be our family's last full year of homeschooling. Our youngest have steadily moved into their own educational goals and motivations. Their plan was always implanted with great fun such as zoo adventures, jamming with friends and traveling. Definitely not the last our family will see of homeschooling, but our twin boys and their parents will be on a different path come this time next year.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Go enjoy the carnival.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Homeschooling and vacation

My daughters are scattered around the house today reading books in various nooks. I started wondering if homeschoolers vacation differently than families with children in public schools?

When the topic of homeschooling comes up often we tout the academic advantages of homeschooling. For example we’ll mention that children can spend more time studying topics that interest them and being able to move at their own pace. One of the problems government schools really struggle with is how to cover the material in such a way as to engage the whole class. Too often some children mastered the material in the first couple minutes and are bored for the rest of the hour while others spend the full hour and still don’t understand the new material. Both groups end up frustrated and often cause trouble. In contrast homeschoolers can cover the material as fast as needed.

In pondering homeschoolers and vacation the first thing that jumped out at me is the flexibility. Over the years Janine and I have greatly enjoyed playing tourist in off seasons which prices are cheaper and lines are shorter. Disneyland is a lot more fun in March and April as compared to August when the lines are long and the weather hot.

Another thing I’ve noticed is frequently we try to tie some educational aspect of the vacation into the trip. Over the last the last ten years we have gone back East about five times. Every time we’ve hit historical sites. I’m sure some families with children in public schools try to leverage vacations to further an education purpose, but because education dominates the minds of homeschoolers I would be surprised if the average family with children in public schools comes anywhere close to what average homeschooling families do on vacation.

Do you think homeschoolers experience vacation in any other different ways?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Another variation on Bye Bye Miss American Pie

I'm always impressed by people who can craft words like this:

The Hobbit - waiting another year

Our family greatly enjoyed the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Peter Jackson will be releasing The Hobbit next year.  It will be a long twelve months:

Jury Nulification - in the New York Times

Paul Butler has a nice column in the New York Times: Jurors Need to Know That They Can Say No.  He starts with: 

IF you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.

The information I have just provided — about a constitutional doctrine called “jury nullification” — is absolutely true. But if federal prosecutors in New York get their way, telling the truth to potential jurors could result in a six-month prison sentence.

Earlier this year, prosecutors charged Julian P. Heicklen, a retired chemistry professor, with jury tampering because he stood outside the federal courthouse in Manhattan providing information about jury nullification to passers-by. Given that I have been recommending nullification for nonviolent drug cases since 1995 — in such forums as The Yale Law Journal, “60 Minutes” and YouTube — I guess I, too, have committed a crime.

The prosecutors who charged Mr. Heicklen said that “advocacy of jury nullification, directed as it is to jurors, would be both criminal and without constitutional protections no matter where it occurred.” The prosecutors in this case are wrong. The First Amendment exists to protect speech like this — honest information that the government prefers citizens not know.

As members of a jury we have the responsibility to listen to the evidence and make a decision on if the defendent is guilty of the crime.  But we also have a responsibility to decide if the law is a good law.  This jury can nullify the law.  Paul Butler explains how over time judges have tried to discourage citizens from realizing this.

Hat tip: The Libertarian Homeschooler

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

Note:  Please send your submissions to the carnival via email!  

Blog Carnvial is partially broken.  It is accepting submissions, but not forwarding them.  It would be easier if you just submitted your post directly via email.  Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.  

Please send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

Next week's carnival will be held at Corn and Oil.

This will be the 313th edition.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Holy Spirit-led Homeschooling.
This is Jamerill's first time hosting the carnival.  She has a lovely set of thoughtful quotes about family and homeschooling.  For example:

"The way you help heal the world is you start with your own family."
~ Mother Teresa


Carnival of Homeschooling

This is a game changer for higher education

For several years now many colleges and universities have been trying to understand how to take advantage of the internet.  Lots of them have been putting content up on the internet, for example making some of their classes available via streaming video.

But few universities have offered any kind of proof that a student has mastered the content.

MIT Will Offer Certificates to Outside Students Who Take Its Online Courses starts with:

Millions of learners have enjoyed the free lecture videos and other course materials published online through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare project. Now MIT plans to release a fresh batch of open online courses—and, for the first time, to offer certificates to outside students who complete them.

The credentials are part of a new, interactive e-learning venture, tentatively called MITx, that is expected to host "a virtual community of millions of learners around the world," the institute will announce on Monday.

Here's how it will work: MITx will give anyone free access to an online-course platform. Users will include students on the MIT campus, but also external learners like high-school seniors and engineering majors at other colleges. They'll watch videos, answer questions, practice exercises, visit online labs, and take quizzes and tests. They'll also connect with others working on the material.

The first course will begin around the spring of 2012. MIT has not yet announced its subject, but the goal is to build a portfolio of high-demand courses—the kind that draw more than 200 people to lecture halls on the campus, in Cambridge, Mass. MIT is investing "millions of dollars" in the project, said L. Rafael Reif, the provost, and the plan is to solicit more from donors and foundations.

Once top universities start making quality education at internet prices I think average universities are going to have to reevaluate what exactly they are providing, and many average and below average universities are going to see an implosion in enrollment.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm thinking of going over to the dark side

Ok, well maybe it is not that bad. But, I am considering using a public school independent study program next year.

When we first started homeschooling nearly 13 years ago, we started with a public school charter program. We were in that program for the first half of kindergarten with our first child. Our district was disqualified from the program and we have just filed the private school affidavit ever since.

Even when we were in the program (during kindergarten), I found myself not utilizing their services much. I mean who can't handle kindergarten? Through the program you could order materials from various vendors. The order process took weeks to a month or more. By the time my order had come in, I had moved on and used something else. Also, they prohibited the purchase of anything remotely religious. You could use religious materials. You just couldn't purchase them with the voucher money. The ES (Educational Specialist) would use a black marker to scratch out the any reference to God in the assignments we turned in.

Today, in our area, there is a good public school independent study program called Ocean Grove. A certified teacher comes to your house once a month and you turn in one sample for each subject for the 4 week period. You receive a spending allowance for products and services of $1800. They have an extensive vendor list which even includes my father-in-law who teaches Lego robotics and chess. Many of the classes and lessons that we now pay for would be covered.

The students are expected do standardized testing twice a year. That's not a problem for me. I currently pay a private school to do that.

Here's my problem. My children would technically not be homeschoolers. They would be independent study students in the public school system.

I just love being separate from the public school system. I just love withholding support from the teachers union. (Note: I don't know if the Ocean Grove teachers are part of the teachers union or not). I like not following the grade by grade curriculum decreed by the state. (Though Ocean Grove is pretty flexible about that.)

Many of my "homeschooler" friends utilize the Ocean Grove program and I still consider them homeschoolers (even if technically they are not).

Would we be selling out for $5400 (3 students x $1800)? That's a lot of music lessons.

Are we on the slippery slope to loosing educational freedom?

Not every soldier needs to carry a gun

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

Every citizen should be a soldier.  This was the case
with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.
                              -Thomas Jefferson

Hopefully we'll never be in a situation where every citizen needs to take up arms to defend our country.

But I do think we all should be actively involved in defending our freedoms by supporting good candidates and good causes.

Scary marriage trends

Ruth Marcus starts her column The marriage gap presents a real cost with:

If current trends hold, within a few years, less than half the U.S. adult population will be married. This precipitous decline isn’t just a social problem. It’s also an economic problem.

Specifically, it’s an income-inequality and economic-mobility problem. The steadily dropping marriage rate both contributes to income inequality and further entrenches it.

The latest numbers, from the Pew Research Center, are startling and disturbing. In 1960, nearly three-fourths of those 18 and older were married. By 2010, that number had plummeted to a bare majority, 51 percent. Four in 10 births were to unmarried women.

In 1960, the most- and least-educated adults were equally likely to be married. Now, nearly two-thirds of college graduates are married, compared with less than half of those with a high school diploma or less. Those with less education are less likely to ever marry and more likely to divorce if they do.

She covers some of the ways children suffer when being raised outside of marriage and she concludes with:

A different arm of Pew, its Economic Mobility Project, found that among children who started in the bottom third of income, only one-fourth of those with divorced parents moved up to the middle or top third as adults. By comparison, half of children with continuously married parents — and, somewhat surprisingly, 42 percent of those born to unmarried mothers — moved up the income ladder as adults.

Is marriage a magic-bullet solution to the broader problem of income inequality and lack of economic mobility? No, but fewer marriages will mean more inequality. Neither development is healthy.

She makes many of the same points Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age byKay S. Hymowitz covers.  You can read my review of this book here.

Hat tip:  Derek Cate

Some other homeschooling carnivals

The latest edition of a homeschooling carnival is up at Garden of Learning.

The recent Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival is up at Mountaineer Country.

A Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is up at Harmony Art Mom.

Homeschool Showcase #86 is up at Weird, Unsocilized Homeschoolers.

Should everyone go to college?

Janine and I value education.  It is one of the reasons we homeschool.  We want to make sure our children have a quality education. 

Yet more and more I am coming to think that not every should go to college.  As the cost of higher education continues to explode the economic argument for advanced degrees becomes weaker and weaker.

I found James Altucher's post on 8 Alternatives to College very thoughtful.

Hat tip: The Libertarian Homeschooler

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another study confirms the Marshmellow test

Over four years ago I wrote:

I first heard of the test from Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. The marshmallow test was conducted by Walter Mischel. He would test four year-old children to see if they could not eat a marshmallow that was one the table before them. The results of the test came out ten and twenty years later when they found that the children who had self control and resisted eating the marshmallow were successful in almost every facet of their lives.

Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents is a study which found the same conclusion.  Here is the abstract:

In a longitudinal study of 140 eighth-grade students, self-discipline measured by self-report, parent report, teacher report, and monetary choice questionnaires in the fall predicted final grades, school attendance, standardized achievement-test scores, and selection into a competitive high school program the following spring. In a replication with 164 eighth graders, a behavioral delay-of-gratification task, a questionnaire on study habits, and a group-administered IQ test were added. Self-discipline measured in the fall accounted for more than twice as much variance as IQ in final grades, high school selection, school attendance, hours spent doing homework, hours spent watching television (inversely), and the time of day students began their homework. The effect of self-discipline on final grades held even when controlling for first-marking-period grades, achievement-test scores, and measured IQ. These findings suggest a major reason for students falling short of their intellectual potential: their failure to exercise self-discipline.

This thought is captured in this poem:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

-Calvin Coolidge

One of the most important thing we can do as parents is to model persistence and encourage our children to have self-discipline.

Good discussion about some problems of public schools

This video starts off pointing out that public schools have a great need to change:

Much of the solutions suggested sound like homschooling.

Hat tip: Joyful Learner

You may never look at a Fortune Cookie the same way again

This is fun:

Makro Slavnic did a good job.

Hat tip: Journey Chronicles

Thursday, December 15, 2011

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

Blog Carnvial is partially broken.  It is accepting submissions, but not forwarding them.  It would be easier if you just submitted your post directly via email.  Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.  

Please send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

Next week's carnival will be held at Holy Spirit-led Homeschooling.

This will be the 312th edition.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up

The 311th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Teach Beside Me.

Karyn starts the carnival with:

I am excited to be able to host this week. Thanks to everyone who submitted their posts. We had some great entries that I would like to spotlight for you. I have truly enjoyed being able to read through all of them. I hope you all enjoy visiting a few new sites and learning from these fellow homeschoolers.

This is Karyn's first time hosting the carnival.  Pop over and see what a nice job she does.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, December 12, 2011

Teaching "everything" when homeschooling

Often when people learn we homeschool our children we are asked “How can you teach everything?” There is an assumption that we are the only ones involved in the process of educating our children. They don’t believe we are capable of teaching anything higher than 2nd grade. After all everyone knows that only the professionals know the subject material and can thus teach.

Homeschoolers have long learned that you don’t have to be a master of a particular topic to teach it. With a teacher’s edition of a math course it is fairly straightforward to help children master a topic. And as homeschoolers we frequently get others to help us. We call this the “General Contractor” approach to education. Janine and I don’t have to teach each topic. As the parents we are in charge and we may decide to have others help. 

An example of this happened recently. A local theater group is putting on a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. This is one of our favorite stories. We have watched the Linda Ronstadt version somewhere between twenty and fifty times over the last decade. Our children will often sing the songs and quote the lines. All three daughters decided they wanted to try out for the musical.

Our daughters have only been in a few plays. They are not seasoned performers. Many groups have performances on Sunday which we avoid. We are happy that this group will only have performances on Friday and Saturday.

I talked with Janine and we decided to hire the daughter of a friend who recently got her BA in theater. This young woman has been doing plays and musicals for almost twenty years now. She came over last week and again today. She had the girls do some cold readings. She explained what a typical tryout was like and gave a number of tips. Here are a few:

  • For monologues always state the author of the piece, set the stage and explain the motivation.
  • Dress: Be profession, have solid colors, blue and red are good, want flattering colors, no heals, don't do all black or white
  • OK to move about during the monologue
  • Cold readings - probably will do some from Pirates of Penzance, and the script will be different than the movie
  • And once in the play always check with the director before cutting your hair or changing your look
  • Bring lots of water, drink frequently, no sweets, bring lots of pencils, there will be changes to the script so need to be able to make changes, but also erase old changes

I was pleased with how the two sessions went.

As homeschoolers it is wonderful that we are in charge of the education of our children, and that we have so many options to get help. (A few other places we get help is with math tutoring and trumpet lessons.)

The tryouts are tomorrow so wish us luck.


Group pressure and supporting your local team

Janine and I were out walking Saturday with Baby Bop.  It was a beautiful day and there were a lot of people on the walking path.  Several people wore clothes supporting the local athletic teams.

The thought hit me, is supporting the local team another sign of the same principle of Group Pressure shown so well in this video about what happens in the elevator?

For example there are 32 teams in the NFL.  There are so many reasons people could use to pick a favorite team.  You might think one team is the best.  You might have gone to school with one of the players.  You might like the coach.  You might like the team colors.

Yet the vast majority of people who follow football support their local team.  Could it be any other reason than group pressure?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A free Stanford education?

Tuition at Stanford University can break the bank. 

But Stanford has been making some of their course available to the public, for free!  Molly Goossens reports in A Stanford education (free!):

This time they’re offering 7 computer science courses:

Computer Science 101
Machine Learning (one of the offerings this past fall)
Software as a Service
Human-Computer Interaction
Natural Language Processing
Game Theory
Probabilistic Graphical Models

And two entrepreneurship courses:
The Lean Launchpad
Technology Entrepreneurship

No tuition, no textbooks, no set class times (students get a week to complete the assignments). The only downside is that you probably don’t have time to do them all.

Hat tip: one of my cousins.

Capital Tour with David Barton

This video provides some insight into the Christian history of our nation:

Has anyone watched David Barton's 2 hour Capital tour? 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Pretty cool: Flight Assembled Architecture

This is impressive - Flight Assembled Architecture.  Flying robots built the tower:

Flying robots build 20-foot-tall tower has more details. The article starts with:

Robotic quadrocopters — that is flying machines with four rotors — have built a 20-foot-tall tower of polystyrene blocks at a museum in France.

This may come as bad news for unemployed construction workers hoping for a bright future building next-generation skyscrapers, but it's yet another way robots are aiming to re-shape the global workforce.

In this case, an architect still draws up a blueprint for the building, but computers and robots do the rest — interpreting the blueprint and controlling the crew of robotic copters, for example.

Hat tip: Instapundit

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

Blog Carnvial is partially broken.  It is accepting submissions, but not forwarding them.  It would be easier if you just submitted your post directly via email.  Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.  

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

Next week's carnival will be held at Teach Beside Me.

This will be the 311th edition.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

Another cool APOD picture: NGC 7822 in Cepheus

Manuel Fern├índez Suarez gave me his permission to post his picture of NGC 7822 in Cepheus:

Another Cello piece - Nearer My God to Thee

This is very well done:

I am very impressed by The Piano Guys

More videos - the expanding table

My brother found this cool video of The Most amazing Table Ever:

The 5 Best Toys of All Time

People get that the basics work better than the fancy. 

The 5 Best Toys of All Time explains why the simple toys are better than more expensive toys.

More and more people are coming to realize that homeschooling is a tried and true way to educate children.

Hat tip: a brother-in-law

Humor - Cello Wars

This is pretty cool:

I think we would have more boys playing the cello if they could do it with light sabers.

Hat tip: a nephew

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Well we did it! This is our 1000th post for the year

Blogger reports that this is our 1000th post for the year.

Kind of amazing.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Relevant Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at The Homeschool Post

The carnival starts with:

Each carnival writer has the option to put their compilation to a ‘theme’ if they so choose. And around here, we like themes. A couple of months ago, many of our authors went to the Relevant conference… so we decided to share what we loved about Relevant (and blog conferences in general). Did you know that there were over 70 homeschooling moms in attendance at Relevant (out of 200 attendees)? Homeschool mom bloggers are our favorites!


Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Power consumption as surveillance

I am don't know just how much information people can get from watching your eletricity usage, but I do think it is a good idea to tell the power company not to use smart meters to gather data on you.

Use the letter below to forbid smart meter installation (or modify the letter to demand the meter be removed).

Energy Customer's Name
Street Address
City State Zip

Energy Provider
Street Address
City State Zip

Date of letter


Dear (Energy Provider) and all agents, officers, employees, contractors and interested parties,

If you intend to install a "Smart Meter" or any activity monitoring device at the above address, you and all other parties are hereby deny consent for installation and use of all such devices on the above property. Installation and use of any activity monitoring device is hereby refused and prohibited. Informed consent is legally required for installation of any surveillance device and any device that will collect and transmit private and personal data to undisclosed and unauthorized parties for undisclosed and unauthorized purposes. Authorization for sharing of personal and private information may only be given by the originator and subject of that information. That authorization is hereby denied and refused with regard to the above property and all its occupants. "Smart Meters" violate the law and cause endangerment to residents by the following factors:
1. They individually identify electrical devices inside the home and record when they are operated causing invasion of privacy.
2. They monitor household activity and occupancy in violation of rights and domestic security.
3. They transmit wireless signals which may be intercepted by unauthorized and unknown parties. Those signals can be used to monitor behavior and occupancy and they can be used by criminals to aid criminal activity against the occupants.
4. Data about occupant's daily habits and activities are collected, recorded and stored in permanent databases which are accessed by parties not authorized or invited to know and share that private data by those who's activities were recorded.
5. Those with access to the smart meter databases can review a permanent history of household activities complete with calendar and time-of-day metrics to gain a highly invasive and detailed view of the lives of the occupants.
6. Those databases may be shared with, or fall into the hands of criminals, blackmailers, corrupt law enforcement, private hackers of wireless transmissions, power company employees, and other unidentified parties who may act against the interests of the occupants under metered surveillance.
7. "Smart Meters" are, by definition, surveillance devices which violate Federal and State wiretapping laws by recording and storing databases of private and personal activities and behaviors without the consent or knowledge of those people who are monitored.
8. It is possible for example, with analysis of certain "Smart Meter" data, for unauthorized and distant parties to determine medical conditions, sexual activities, physical locations of persons within the home, vacancy patterns and personal information and habits of the occupants.
9. Your company has not adequately disclosed the particular recording and transmission capabilities of the smart meter, or the extent of the data that will be recorded, stored and shared, or the purposes to which the data will and will not be put.
10. Electromagnetic and Radio Frequency energy contamination from smart meters exceeds allowable safe and healthful limits for domestic environments as determined by the EPA and other scientific programs.

I forbid, refuse and deny consent of any installation and use of any monitoring, eavesdropping, and surveillance devices on my property, my place of residence and my place of occupancy. That applies to and includes "Smart Meters" and activity monitoring devices of any and all kinds. Any attempt to install any such device directed at me, other occupants, my property or residence will constitute trespass, stalking, wiretapping and unlawful surveillance and endangerment of health and safety, all prohibited and punishable by law through criminal and civil complaints. All persons, government agencies and private organizations responsible for installing or operating monitoring devices directed at or recording my activities, which I have not specifically authorized in writing, will be fully liable for any violations, intrusions, harm or negative consequences caused or made possible by those devices whether those negative consequences are justified by "law" or not..

This is legal notice. After this delivery the liabilities listed above may not be denied or avoided by parties named and implied in this notice. Civil Servant immunities and protections do not apply to the installation of smart meters due to the criminal violations they represent.

Notice to principal is notice to agent and notice to agent is notice to principal. All rights reserved.


Hat tip: Consent of the Governed.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Christmas letters and homeschool progress

One of our family traditions is an annual Cate Christmas letter. We tend to be a bit obsessive about it. Year after year Janine and I spend anywhere from forty to eighty hours. It is a major production.

Part of why we invest so much time into each letter is because we are writing for two audiences. The first audience is our family and friends that we are staying in touch with. But the second audience is the next couple generations. Around the time that the first set of grandchildren start to read, we’ll gather up thirty to forty years worth of these Christmas letters and bind them into a book. Our hope is the grandchildren and beyond will enjoy the letters. We want them to have some idea on just what it was like in the Cate household around the turn of the century.

Another facet of this Christmas letter tradition is we reread the old letters. Around Thanksgiving we start from 1992, when we got married. Every day before breakfast we read another year. Our children love it when we start reading about them. It is great to remember the good times and the changes. It is also a bit hard to be reminded about the passing of loved ones.

We have just started working on the 2011 Christmas letter. I have been rereading journal entries for the last eleven months and updating our address list. While it is a ton of work, but I am sticking to it because I will be very happy once the letter is down.

Doing all this work focused on Christmas letter I’ve been struck by the progress we are seeing in our children. While reading the letters this last week I’ve been reminded of all the books our daughters have read. The children themselves have reminisced on the good times we had traveling.  Way more important is that I am pleased to notice our children are turning out to be wonderful people.  They aren't perfect, but they are pretty good.  They work hard; they are self directed.  They are kind to each other most of the time.  They have good hearts and are trying to follow the Lord.

Our Christmas letters help me to see the growth in our children and remind me that I am so glad we homeschool.

This is what homeschooling is all about

I noticed this in my Franklin/Covey planner:

"We seem to want mass production, but we must remember that men are individuals not to be satisfactorily dealt with in masses, and the making of men is more important than the production of things."

Ralph W Sockman

Friday, December 02, 2011

Powerful thoughts on The Chain of Obedience

The Chain is Obedience is a powerful video:

Hat tip: Boycott Flying

Humor - Middle Ages Tech Support

Middle Ages Tech Support is pretty funny:

Bill Cosby on Chocolate Cake Breakfast

I have fond memories of watching this is as a youth:  Bill Cosby on Chocolate Cake Breakfast:

A lot of truth to this

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

It isn't what we don't know
that gives us trouble,
it's what we know ain't so.

-Will Rogers

Amazing history of straws

The Amazing History and the Strange Invention of the Bendy Straw is a fun short read.

Cute: Fun suggestions on Budget Cuts

This is is funny, and I would be happy if all ten suggested cuts were implemented (Chuck Woolery on Budget Cuts):

Did I miss a memo? Are we now on Bizarro World?

In the Superman comics there is a planet often referred to as Bizarro World.  Everthing there is backwards and nothing makes any real sense.

I wondered if I had been moved to Bizarro World after reading Teen stopped at airport for design on purse:

Vanessa Gibbs, 17, claims the Transportation Security Administration stopped her at the security gate because of the design of a gun on her handbag.

Gibbs said she had no problem going through security at Jacksonville International Airport, but rather, when she headed home from Virginia.

"It's my style, it's camouflage, it has an old western gun on it," Gibbs said.

But her preference for the pistol style didn't sit well with TSA agents at the Norfolk airport.

Gibbs said she was headed back home to Jacksonville from a holiday trip when an agent flagged her purse as a security risk.

"She was like, 'This is a federal offense because it's in the shape of a gun,'" Gibbs said. "I'm like, 'But it's a design on a purse. How is it a federal offense?'"

After agents figured out the gun was a fake, Gibbs said, TSA told her to check the bag or turn it over.

Reread the last line, the agents finally figured out a little image on a purse was not a real gun.  I wonder how long it took them?  A news video shows the purse is small and the image of the gun is only two inches.

Because of the TSA investigation the teenage girl missed her plane. 

What happen to common sense? 

Can we just ship TSA to Bizarro World?  I'm sure people there would be happy with the lack of common sense.

Hat tip:  Boycott Flying

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

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

Next week's carnival will be held at The HSBA Post.

This will be the 310th edition.

Blog Carnvial is partial broken.  It is accepting submissions, but not forwarding them.  It would be easier if you just submitted your post directly via email.  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

Some other homeschooling carnivals

Homeschool Showcase #85 is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

The recent HandsOn Homeschool Blog Carnival is up at Talking to Myself.

The latest Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is up at Piney Woods Homeschool.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Homeschool Open House

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at NerdFamily Blog.

This is the 309th carnival!

The NerdMom is hosting a Homeschool Open House:

I am so honored to be hosting this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling! Welcome to my Homeschool Open House!!! So come on in and relax for a while. There are some great entries into the carnival this week.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A 314 point Lego League run on the 2011 Food Factor

My father coached four or five teams for the Lego League contest this Fall.  This years challenges were harder than many pass years.  Yet some teams still did amazing.  Here is a one impressive run:

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo and the value of quantity

Each November thousands push many activities to the back burner to focus on writing a novel. The National Novel Writing Month challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Four in my family accepted the challenge. My second daughter is doing the best. She is up to about 45,000 words. She is determined to make the full 50,000 words by the end of this Wednesday.

This experience had an unexpected side effect. She told my wife she has noticed that both her spelling and writing has gotten better.

This reminds me of a favorite story of mine:


The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups.

All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A," forty pounds a "B," and so on. Those being graded on "quality," however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A."

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

From Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles, Ted Orland

I am often critical of public schools which assign two and three hours of homework each day to students in elementary school.  Studies have found that boring repetitious homework does nothing to improve the long term education, and can often destroy a child's interest in learn.

But I recognize that there is a time and place for volume.  It is nice that as homeschoolers we have the option to pick and choose what works best for our children.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A homeschool mention in the comics

Close to Home has a homeschool mention today.

And as much of my family is sitting around in front of computer screens I thought today's Calvin and Hobbes was pretty good.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving

Janine and I feel greatly blessed.  We have wonderful children, good friends, a place to live, good food and the list goes on. 

We hope all of our readers are having a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I just watched this video on the Origin of Thanksgiving by Paul Harvey and thought others might like it:

Hat tip: The Libertarian Homeschooler

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

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

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, it might be best to send in a submission for the next Carnival of Homeschooling right now, right this moment.  That way it gets done.

Next week's carnival will be held at the NerdFamily Blog.

This will be the 309th edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

Currently Blog Carnival is not forwarding submissions.  We can dig them out, but it would be easier for me and the host if you submitted your entries directly to  Learn how here.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The latest Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is up

The latest Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is up at Piney Woods Homeschool.

Some of our best posts from July 2006

Janine and I have been blogging about homeschooling for over six years now. If you missed some of our early posts, you have missed some of our best thoughts. Here are some highlights from July 2006:

Janine wrote a Rants, Raves and Comments series: part 1, part2 and part3.  She then wrote a series of posts on Anti-homeschooling Views: part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.  These posts generated dozens and dozens of comments.

Janine gave some advice in response to a request for help in deciding if a parent should homeschool.

We had a nice interview with Scott Somerville – HSLDA Attorney/Activist.  This might have been the last interview we did.  They were fun, but they were a lot of work.

Janine wrote about how Study shows benefit of play time with mom.

This was first time we posted about the Opaque Gorilla video.  It is such an interesting video I'm posting it again:

Maybe I should buy a house on the beach

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

You never know how many friends you have
until you rent a house on the beach.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Being thankful

Jamie is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at momSCHOOL.

She starts the carnival with:

Have you ever noticed how thankfulness is waning in our culture? From t-shirts to sit-coms the prevailing attitude is “me first.” I hope during this Giving Thanks holiday… that we can each find gratefulness and thanksgiving in our hearts. I for one am very thankful for all the great submissions I received this week. Take time to read through them, there is a lot of great stuff here… and it might even inspire a bit of thankfulness for that great endeavor we each have in common… homeschooling!

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, November 21, 2011

Follow up on "Don't Talk to Police"

There is some good advice here:

I thought I had posted this: Don't Talk to Police

I remember watching this awhile back and being impressed by it.  I thought I had posted it to our blog, but I couldn't find it on Why Homeschool.

After watching this video I think everyone will always take the fifth.

Hat tip: Maria C. Mitchell

You may be committing "Three Felonies a Day"

I've been meaning to read the book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.

Here is a six minute summary of the book by its author, Harvey A. Silverglate:

Hat tip: The Libertarian Homeschooler

Another bully just happens to be a teacher

Last week we wrote about a teacher who was a bully at a school in Ohio. The parent of special-needs student had her daughter wear a wire to record the abuse.

This week I read about another special-needs student who was being verbaly abused by his teacher, in New Jersey.  The parents of this student didn't believe their son, so on his own the son videotaped the teacher.  And now the teacher is on paid leave. 

One article starts:

A special education teacher in New Jersey unloaded a profanity-filled tirade on a special needs student - telling the 15-year-old he would 'kick his a**.'

No one believed Julio Artuz that his teacher at Bankbridge Regional School in Gloucester County, New Jersey, was bullying him, so he used his cell phone to secretly record a rant two weeks ago.

'What’s gonna happen to me? ... I’ll say whatever I want to say. You don’t like it, oh well,' the teacher taunts the teen.

Two thoughts occur to me while reading articles about this teacher:

1) Hopefully teachers will stopped berating their students, as the teachers recognize they could easily be taped.

2) I'm so glad we homeschool, so we don't even have to worry about some out of control teacher being near one of our children.

Hat tip: Spunky Homeschool

Good introduction to Trade

This is a good video for your children to watch.  It is clear and basic.

Hat tip: The Libertarian Homeschooler

3 Reasons We Shouldn't Bail Out Student Loan Borrowers

The first reason for opposing foregiving Student Loans is because the loans are voluntary.  Check out the video for the other two reasons:

Hat tip: Instapundit

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Interesting: Some Silicon Valley Executives send their children to a low tech school

Why Are Silicon Valley Executives Sending Their Kids to a Tech-Free School? starts with:

You'd think executives at Silicon Valley's top tech firms would be keen to enroll their children in schools chock-full of the latest education technology: one-to-one laptops, iPad programs, digital textbooks, and teachers engaging students using Twitter. But according to The New York Times, some Silicon Valley parents—including the chief technology officer of eBay and execs from Google and Apple—are doing a 180 and sending their kids to the area's decidedly low-tech Waldorf school.

Waldorf's computer-free campuses—teachers use old-school chalkboards and students learn cursive writing with pen and paper—are a sharp contrast from most schools, where access to technology is seen as key to getting kids college- and career-ready. Advocates of Waldorf education say they're not opposed to technology, but there's a time and a place for everything. There are no iPads in kindergarten classrooms at Waldorf schools—instead you'll find plenty of play-based learning and storytelling.

"The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or to do arithmetic, that's ridiculous," Alan Eagle, an executive communications employee at Google, told the Times. His fifth-grade daughter attends a Waldorf school and "doesn't know how to use Google," and his middle school-age son is just learning to use the search engine. Instead, his daughter's class is honing their knitting skills in the hopes of eventually producing socks.

Hat tip: Simple Single Mom

Did you know there is a South Africa Carnival of Homeschooling Blogs?

Pretty cool:  South Africa Carnival of Homeschooling Blogs.

Friday, November 18, 2011

For the tenth anniversary of the TSA let's abolish it

Ten Years Of The TSA (Yes, It Seems Much Longer) recounts a few of the many abuses the TSA has committed over the years and then concludes with this:

Let’s give ourselves a present on the TSA’s tenth birthday: let’s demand Congress do more than merely wring its hands over this horrific boondoggle. Abolish the TSA.

I agree.

Hat tip: Boycott Flying

I feel sorry for Europe

EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration:

EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.

Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.

Last night, critics claimed the EU was at odds with both science and common sense. Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said: “This is stupidity writ large.

“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true.

I wonder if next the bureaucrats will deny the existence of gravity.

Just amazing.

Hat tip: My brother, who posted on Facebook a link to: EU Bans Claim.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

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

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

Next week's carnival will be held at momSCHOOL.

This will be the 308th edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.
Currently Blog Carnival is not forwarding submissions.  We can dig them out, but it would be easier for me and the host if you submitted your entries directly to  Learn how here.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nuture your child's curiousity

A recent study found that Curious Children Perform Better Academically:

Intelligence is an influential factor that helps determine a child’s performance at school. But what about curiosity? Psychological scientists have started looking at factors other than intelligence that could influence how some students do better than others, writes Yahoo News.

A new study has found that curiosity has a large effect on academic performance. Having gathering the data from about 200 studies with a total of about 50,000 students. The researchers found that when put together, conscientiousness and curiosity had as big an effect on performance as intelligence.

The Hallelujah Chorus from Quinhagak, Alaska

A friend sent me a link to this fun version of the Hallelujah Chorus:

I had posted it last year.  Here is what I found out about Quinhagak:

About two thirds of the way down this report on Quinhagak is a chart on the modes of transportation to work. Between 5% and 10% drove a car alone to work. A little over 10% carpooled to work. Close to a third walked to work. But over half of them had some other mode of transportation. Given this is a fishing village I'm guessing they went by boat. But maybe in the winter most of them use a dog sled to get to work?

An anonymous comment posted out that many may use snow machines.

It sure would be a different world.

Bullies at public schools aren't always students

Ohio Special-needs Student Wore Wire to Tape Aide's Caustic Comments starts with:

The mother of an Ohio teenager with special needs had her daughter wear a wire to secretly record a barrage of disparaging comments from a classroom aide, officials and the family's lawyer said.

On the four days of tapes, made last spring, the aide Kelly Chaffins is heard telling the 14-year-old girl that she is "dumb" and "a liar" and saying, "No wonder you don't have any friends."

"Don't you want to get rid of that belly?...Go for a walk. Do you know how to? You are just lazy and your family is lazy," she castigated the child, according to the complaint in a lawsuit filed by the girl's family.

The school paid the family $300,000, but the teachers didn't really suffer.  Chaffins resigned and will probably get a job at another school.  The teacher is on maternity leave and has agreed to take eight hours of training about bullying and recognizing child abuse.  This is just a slap on the wrist, after all the teacher will probably get paid for the training.

Hat tip: Natalie Winningham

Why did we have an explosion in standard of living in the 1800s?

I like this Introduction to the Industrial Revolution:

Here is a summary:

What was the industrial revolution? According to Dr. Stephen Davies, it was an extraordinarily innovative period in history that generated the highest living standards the world had ever seen. For instance, over the course of the 19th century, average per capita income in the United Kingdom rose by a factor of six. To put this in perspective, prior to the industrial revolution, it typically took 300-400 years for the standard of living to rise by a factor of 0.5. Why did this explosion of human flourishing take place? Dr. Stephen Davies claims that people began to embrace an engineering culture along with a respect for trade and business. It was this synergy of trade and engineering that led to a revolution in production and business organization.

Hat tip: The Libertarian Homeschooler

I think the answer is NO!

Do Failing Schools Deserve a Second Chance? makes the argument that just because a school is in the dumps and children aren't learning that we shouldn't close the school. 

After all "A school building does not cause low achievement."

The claim is that transfering students to another school doesn't always prompt better performance and better education.

But if a school has been consistently destroying the lives of the students, then we have a known quantity, and I would take the chance of improvement over a hope that some day the school will improve.  A broken school has a broken culture.  It is almost impossible for a few good teachers to come in and turn a poorly functional school around.

Hat tip: Waiting for "Superman"

I have asked my daughters to read this

Cal Newport asserts that If You’re Busy, You’re Doing Something Wrong: The Surprisingly Relaxed Lives of Elite Achievers.  He recounts a study which found average and elite violin players spent about the same amount of time practicing, but that the elite players were both more focused and more relaxed.  They were more focused when they practiced and more relaxed the rest of their day.

He summarizes the results as:

  • The average players are working just as many hours as the elite players (around 50 hours a week spent on music),
  • but they’re not dedicating these hours to the right type of work (spending almost 3 times less hours than the elites on crucial deliberate practice),
  • and furthermore, they spread this work haphazardly throughout the day. So even though they’re not doing more work than the elite players, they end up sleeping less and feeling more stressed. Not to mention that they remain worse at the violin.

This is a good article for students to read.  I've asked my daughters to read it.

Hat tip: My brother-in-law.

Another beautiful picture from the Astronomy Picture of the Day

Ken Crawford (Rancho Del Sol Obs) gave me permission to post his beautiful picture of IC 59 and IC 63 in Cassiopeia:

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Tweet edition

Dave is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at HomeSchool Dad.

He explains the theme:

My response to twitter when I first heard of it was exactly the same as my response to Facebook when I first heard of it was about the same. Why would I ever do that. With twitter I was intrigued about the process of condensing my thoughts and even did a few twitter sized posts on my blog. Finally I warmed up to the idea of twitter and started using it from time to time.

Earlier this year it dawned on me that about the only time I read all the carnival of homeschooling articles is when I host the carnival. I even read other hosts say the same thing. Each time I have hosted I get so much out of the carnival since I do read each post. So as a writing challenge to myself and a chance to read an entire carnival I tweeted every post of COH#286 that was hosted @ As For Me and My House this past summer.

I really enjoyed all aspects of the experiment, I got to read every post and I got to work on my writing chops by reviewing each post in twitter sized chunks. So when my turn came up to host the carnival I decided to tweet the entire carnival. As each submission came in I tweeted intro and even made up a hash tag for the carnival, #CH307. Most of these tweets came on Monday night because like the title of the aforementioned COH 286 there were technical difficulties in getting all the links to me in a timely manner.

So, for your enjoyment, enlightenment, entertainment and 3 other words that don't start with an "e" or end with a "t", here is the Twitter edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling:

You can read his tweets at #CH307.

What is going on here?

"Meet Blue Jay, probably the greatest talent to come along in 200 years. At age 12, he has already written 5 full length symphonies."

Just amazing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Homeschooling might have saved a life

Bullying and Suicide -- 10-year-old Takes Her Own Life is a sad story about a ten-year-old girl who saw no way out of the bullying that made her life hell.  (Think of the paragraphs we could write about the importance of "socialization" that occurs in government schools.)

Just days before Ashlynn Conner had: "begged her mother to pull her out of Ridgefarm Elementary School, and to put her in homeschooling."

If a child is suffering this kind of abuse there is no good reason to force them to go back to public schools.

Hat tip: Spunky Homeschool

Some of our best posts from June 2006

Janine and I have been blogging about homeschooling for over five years now. If you missed some of our early posts, you have missed some of our best thoughts. Here are some highlights from June 2006:

Janine wrote about how Friendship is in decline and then shared some more thoughts about Friendship.

I shared a few lessons learned from hosting the Carnival of Education.

Janine explained Why Gender Matters in Education.

Money was a popular topic in June. We had a post on Teaching Children to be the Master of Money, a post on How to teach basic economics to children and a post about Ways homeschooling can save you money.

We had two interviews.  One was with Jennifer James - Director of National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance. The second was with the author Beverly K. Eakman.

One of the family stories we often share is when our youngest daughter told Janine "I want to be smart!"

We also wrote about a short cruise we took out of LA.

It isn't just the miles

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:
Some people try to turn back their odometers.
Not me; I want people to know 'why' I look this way.
I've traveled a long way,
and some of the roads weren't paved.

-Will Rogers

A little science: Laughter really may be the best medicine

Maybe along with our daily vitamins we need to take a daily dose of jokes.

The Reader's Digest runs a section titled Laughter is the best medicine.  A recent scientific study found that Happiness contributes to longer life:

Previous studies on happiness and longevity have looked at how people felt in the past. These recollections of feelings are not always accurate. Not everyone can remember exactly how they felt last Tuesday, so the information is a bit faulty.

For this study, researchers led by Professor of Psychology at the University College London, looked at 3,800 participants between the ages of 52 and 79. They were asked to record their levels of happiness, anxiety and a variety of other emotions at four specific points throughout one particular day.

Based on answers, the researchers divided the participants into three groups based on their level of happiness and positive feelings. Each group was comparable in ethnic makeup, employment status, overall health and education but varied in terms of age, wealth and whether or not they smoked.

After a period of five years, the researchers discovered that within in the groups, seven percent of the least happy group had passed away compared to only four percent in the happiest of the three groups. The middle group was at five percent.

Researchers then looked at each group again and controlled for age, chronic diseases, exercise, alcohol consumption, depression and socioeconomic factors. With these factors taken into consideration, they discovered that 35 percent of the happiest group was less likely to have died and the middle group of happiness was 20 percent less likely.

So don't worry, be happy: