Monday, January 31, 2011

Ain't this the truth

This line from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:
The easiest way to figure the cost of living is to take your income and add ten percent.

Happiness is spending ten percent less than your income.

Wish me luck

I'm starting my new job in a couple hours. I'll be doing similar work to what I've did for the last twelve years.

Friday, January 28, 2011

John Stossel has an essay contest

Much of the news today is on the problems in America.

John Stossel is having an essay contest on what is right with America.

Essays are due February 28th, 2011. Here are some of the details:

Simply have your students view John Stossel's recent special, "What's Great About America" (view the streaming video here), and write an essay on the following Essay Topic:

What qualities make America a great nation? Are the criticisms of America discussed in the video valid? Does the video successfully counter these charges? Support your analysis with at least two examples from the video.

More than 120 students will receive CASH PRIZES totaling $14,000. First and second place winners will also receive an all-expense-paid trip to New York City for themselves, an adult chaperone each, and the teachers who submitted their essays to see a live taping of STOSSEL. Click this link for complete rules and submission information.

The complete rules explicitly say that homeschoolers can participate!

Interesting milestone

Pretty amazing: Number of Internet users worldwide reaches two billion. Also amazing:

The number of mobile phone subscriptions also reached the symbolic threshold of five billion, the secretary general of the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) told journalists.

That is a lot of phones.

Did you ever stop to think that time is more valuable than money?

I hadn't thought about this before:

Time is more valuable than money.You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.
-Jim Rohn

Today is going to be a weird day

Today is the last day at my current job. I've been at this job over twelve years. I have learned a lot. Some of the best years of my whole career have been with this company.

But it is time to move on.

I will start a new job on Monday. It should also be a good job, but it is sad to leave my friends.

New edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

The latest edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival-Godey’s Lady’s Book Edition is up at Epi Kardia - At the Heart of Home Education.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Take a magic marker to school and go to jail

This is another case where I'm so glad we homeschool.

Paul Jacobs reports in The Kid With the Illegal Magic Marker about a teacher that had a student arrested because they had a magic marker at school.

Mind boggling.

We're often misplacing the remotes

Our children watch a couple hours of DVDs a week. The littlest watches a few more hours of PBS kids. All of the children seem to misplace the remotes fairly often.

Gestures that Your TV Will Understand reports that one company is trying to do away with the remote. Soon you may be able to pick your TV show merely by waving at the TV.

Cool idea.

Well we did it! 4000 posts

According to Blogger this is our 4000th post.

Blogging has been a lot of fun, and I hope useful to people.

I think we are up for at least another year.

John Stossel's gives his state of the union address

I like John Stossel's My State of the Union Address. I especially like this proposal:

All destructive laws must go. I again propose the Stossel Rule: For every new law passed, we must repeal two old ones.

(Hat tip: Derek Cate via Facebook)

Another study confirms the marshmellow test

Three 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. 

 My brother-in-law posted a link on Facebook to an article about a similar study. The study found: 

The results were startling. In the fifth of children with the least self-control, 27% had multiple health problems. Compare that with the fifth of kids with the most self-control -- at just 11%. Among the bottom fifth, 32% had an annual income below approximately $15,000, while only 10% of the top fifth fell into that low-income bracket. Just 26% of the top-fifth's offspring were raised in single-parent homes, compared with 58% of those in the bottom fifth. And 43% of the bottom fifth had been convicted of a crime, far outstripping the top fifth's 13% rate 

 I like my brother-in-law's summary: "No limits in childhood = lots of limits as an adult...

 One of the most important things we do as parents is to help our children learn self-control.

She's baaack!

A year and a half ago this funny video was placed on Youtube:

For almost a year the actress/producer did not put up any videos. With this video you understand why she has been distracted:

Another scary thing about our universities

In Our superficial scholars Heather Wilson bemoans a trend she has observed for the last twenty years. Students graduating from college, even America's top universities, seem unable to really think about complex thoughts.

Heather starts with:

For most of the past 20 years I have served on selection committees for the Rhodes Scholarship. In general, the experience is an annual reminder of the tremendous promise of America's next generation. We interview the best graduates of U.S. universities for one of the most prestigious honors that can be bestowed on young scholars.

I have, however, become increasingly concerned in recent years - not about the talent of the applicants but about the education American universities are providing. Even from America's great liberal arts colleges, transcripts reflect an undergraduate specialization that would have been unthinkably narrow just a generation ago.

Later in the aricle she gives some examples:

An outstanding biochemistry major wants to be a doctor and supports the president's health-care bill but doesn't really know why. A student who started a chapter of Global Zero at his university hasn't really thought about whether a world in which great powers have divested themselves of nuclear weapons would be more stable or less so, or whether nuclear deterrence can ever be moral. A young service academy cadet who is likely to be serving in a war zone within the year believes there are things worth dying for but doesn't seem to have thought much about what is worth killing for. A student who wants to study comparative government doesn't seem to know much about the important features and limitations of America's Constitution.

Personally I don't think this should start when our children go off to college at 18. We should be tossing them challenging problems when they are ten and fifteen. One of the ways I try to do this is to have my children read books about complex issues.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Reflections on being homeschooled.

Kate Fridkis wrote I Was Homeschooled: What it Taught Me That a Classroom Never Could. She starts with:

I didn't go to preschool. And then I didn't go to kindergarten. And after that I didn't go to elementary school. Or middle school. Or high school, even. I was homeschooled.

I say "unschooled" sometimes, to differentiate myself from the 80% of homeschoolers who educate at home for religious reasons. I was unschooled, and I felt really lucky.

People always ask me, "Which one of your parents taught you?"

That's still the way everyone thinks about learning. There's a teacher and a bunch of students. There's an adult who knows more, and some kids who know less. And the adult stands there and tells the kids things. And the kids learn.

It is a nice article. She makes many good points. If you have a friend who is thinking about homeschooling, they might find it helpful to read about what adult who were homeschooled think about homeschooling.

(Hat tip: Valerie Moon via Facebook)

I am so glad we homeschool

The 'Vagina Dance' Song Controversy is mind boggling to me:

Imagine you are a sophomore in high school and your sex ed teacher forces you to prance about your classroom singing and dancing to “The Vagina Dance” in a puerile attempt to teach the parts and functions of the female sex organ. Worse, imagine you are a male student in a classroom of such an unhinged teacher? Well, we don’t have to imagine it too hard because this exact situation has happened in a classroom in the Chicago, Illinois suburbs.

Some parents complained and the school protected the teacher.

I am so glad we homeschool.

(Hat tip: MiaZagora mentioned this on Facebook)

Is Cold Fusion real this time?

Almost twenty two years ago Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons excited the scientific world with the promise of Cold Fusion. They claimed to have achieved fusion at room temperatures producing a positive amount of energy. If true this could have lead to cheaper power. As more scientists tried to replicate the Fleischmann-Pons experiement the general consensus was Cold Fusion was not happening.

I remember one of the jokes being passed around at the time:

Cold Fusion: Looney Theory of the Week

"Hey Mike?"

"Yeah, Gabe?"

"We got a problem down on Earth. In Utah."

"I thought you fixed that last century!"

"No, no, not that. Someone's found a loophole in the physics program. They're getting energy out of nowhere."

"Blessit! Lemme check..."<>

"Hey, I thought I fixed that! All right, let me find my terminal." <>

"There, that ought to patch it."

The joke was that for a little while Cold Fusion did work, until someone fixed the Earth's operating system. (To really appreciate this you probably have to be a nerd.)

Well Cold Fusion is back in the news. This time Italian scientists claim to have demonstrated cold fusion:

Despite the intense skepticism, a small community of scientists is still investigating near-room-temperature fusion reactions. The latest news occurred last week, when Italian scientists Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi of the University of Bologna announced that they developed a cold fusion device capable of producing 12,400 W of heat power with an input of just 400 W. Last Friday, the scientists held a private invitation press conference in Bologna, attended by about 50 people, where they demonstrated what they claim is a nickel-hydrogen fusion reactor. Further, the scientists say that the reactor is well beyond the research phase; they plan to start shipping commercial devices within the next three months and start mass production by the end of 2011.

Rossi and Focardi say that, when the atomic nuclei of nickel and hydrogen are fused in their reactor, the reaction produces copper and a large amount of energy. The reactor uses less than 1 gram of hydrogen and starts with about 1,000 W of electricity, which is reduced to 400 W after a few minutes. Every minute, the reaction can convert 292 grams of 20°C water into dry steam at about 101°C. Since raising the temperature of water by 80°C and converting it to steam requires about 12,400 W of power, the experiment provides a power gain of 12,400/400 = 31. As for costs, the scientists estimate that electricity can be generated at a cost of less than 1 cent/kWh, which is significantly less than coal or natural gas plants.

This would be cool if it turns out to be true. We'll have to wait and see. (Maybe someone needs to patch Earth's Operating System again.)

Just don't take my books

I was talking with a friend today. The book Parkinson's Law came up. Cyril Northcote Parkinson is famous for having said that "Work expands to fill the capacity."

My friend and I got to talking about how stuff also seemed to expand to fill the capacity. I have a constand battle to declutter. My friend said as he had gotten older in life he had really simplified. Now he had a bed, couch and a TV. I was surprised he didn't mention books. I would have a hard time giving up my books.

This A.Word.A.Day thought captures some of my feelings about books:

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.
-Gilbert Highet, writer (1906-1978)

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

This is your weekly reminder to send in an entry to the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at The Informed Parent.

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,

Humor: Age-Activated Attention

Have you encountered this problem yet?

Another homeschooling carnival is up

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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I would like a pay raise of $50,000

This is amazing. Higher Ed, Higher Pay: Salary Increases at ASU and UA Go To Highest-Paid Administrators and Professors begins with:

When Kimberly de los Santos took on additional duties in her role as associate vice president of Arizona State University’s Office of University Initiatives, the promotion came with a hefty increase in pay. Her salary jumped from $130,000 in 2008 to $195,000 in 2009.

The increase is in keeping with a policy—in place at both ASU and the University of Arizona since the recession began in 2008—mandating that raises only be given to employees who are promoted, take on additional duties, or are likely to accept higher-paying positions elsewhere. Yet, as de los Santos’ case shows, when an employee does meet these qualifications, the raises can be substantial. Files obtained under Arizona’s public records law revealed numerous raises of $50,000 or more over the last three years.

The next time some public university complains they need more money and you should be happy with higher taxes I hope everyone asks about what kind of pay raise the university administrators have been getting.

$50,000, wow!

Interesting: Obama word cloud for his speech

Obama's "Sputnik Speech" Word Cloud has the most popular words in Obama's speech.

This comment about the speech is telling:

The most repeated words are "people," "years", "new", "jobs" and "make." Sounds about right. "Debt" is not even in the top 50.

(Hat tip: Judy Aron mentioned this on Facebook)

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up -

Misty is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at her blog HomeschoolBytes.

The theme this week is "World School." The carnival starts with:

Welcome to the “World School” edition of carnival of homeschooling.

We’ve been cooped up in our house by the blowing snow and freezing temperatures.

Here are some fun ideas of how homeschooling lets us explore the world (even if we can’t actually bask in the sun like we’d love to. )


Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

Should we apologize to sausage makers?

Otto von Bismarck said: Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.

Prickly City suggests we may need to apologize to sausage makers.

Interesting map of the US

The Economist has a fun map of the United States, showing comparable countries for each state, in terms of economic activity.

It helps give a perspective.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Another instance of zero intelligence

Toddlers on ‘hate registers’ for playground squabbles starts


Thousands of primary school children have been branded as racist or homophobic because of childish playground name calling.

Even some toddlers in nursery schools have had their names recorded on ‘hate incident’ registers.

In a twelve month period in 2008-09 teachers recorded more than 10,000 incidents of primary school children making homophobic or racist remarks


Just amazing.

It is enough to make you want to homeschool.

(Hat tip: MiaZagora mentioned this on Facebook)

Another place America is declining: Innovation

My brother-in-law posted this link on Facebook over the weekend.

Eric Savitz wrote a column for Forbes with the warning: Danger: America Is Losing Its Edge In Innovation. Mr. Savitz starts with:

I’ve visited more than 100 countries in the past several years, meeting people from all walks of life, from impoverished children in India to heads of state. Almost every adult I’ve talked with in these countries shares a belief that the path to success is paved with science and engineering.

In fact, scientists and engineers are celebrities in most countries. They’re not seen as geeks or misfits, as they too often are in the U.S., but rather as society’s leaders and innovators. In China, eight of the top nine political posts are held by engineers. In the U.S., almost no engineers or scientists are engaged in high-level politics, and there is a virtual absence of engineers in our public policy debates.

Why does this matter? Because if American students have a negative impression – or no impression at all – of science and engineering, then they’re hardly likely to choose them as professions. Already, 70% of engineers with PhD’s who graduate from U.S. universities are foreign-born. Increasingly, these talented individuals are not staying in the U.S – instead, they’re returning home, where they find greater opportunities.

I agree with many of his points about the importance of technology and innovation. He focuses on the amount of money the US government is spending on innovation compared to other countries. I would like to know what our overall investment is, including universities and businesses. I don't believe his solution of more government investment would automatically improve things. I've seen too many instances of government misuse of our taxes.

I wonder if there is a special hell for bureaucrates with zero intelligence?

Things like this make me wonder if all people are really human. Parents of West Shore School District student fight truancy charges and fines starts with:

Chaz Tocci almost died last summer from an arterial blood clot.

The seventh-grader from New Cumberland was airlifted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and his doctors warn that a shove or bump could prove fatal, his parents said.

So they tried to withdraw him from the West Shore School District and enroll him in cyberschool, only to be charged with truancy.

It is enough to make you want to homeschool.

(Hat tip: Natalie posted on Facebook)

Fun: Interactive Scale of the Universe

This is both fun and educational: Interactive Scale of the Universe Tool.

(Hat tip: Natalie posted on Facebook)

A new Homeschool Showcase is up

The current Homeschool Showcase blog carnival is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. This is the 64th edition.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another movie on homeschooling!

Last week we mentioned Class Dismissed, a movie on homeschooling.

My Boys' Teacher left a comment about another movie on homeschooling: Home-Schooled?

It looks like they are expecting it to be out soon.

(Update I: 2 February 2011)

It is available!  You can get it for only $19.95 from

How to make an origami flapping bird

Fun project to do with your children:

MiaZagora mentioned this on Facebook.

Another homeschooling carnival

The recent monthly edition of the Classical Homeschooling Carnival hosted at Baby Steps was light this month.

If you are writing about classical homeschooling you might consider submitting to the next Classical Homeschooling Carnival.

First there was the opaque gorilla, now there is the moonwalking bear

Three and a half years ago we wrote about the Opaque Gorilla. Some researchers put together a video of people passing around some basketballs. A viewer is instructed to count the number of times the balls are passed. Afterwards the viewer is asked if they noticed the gorilla which walked across the screen. A surprising number never notice the gorilla. Here is the video:

If you are interested, here are more videos by the same research group.

Yesterday a friend posted on Facebook another video along the same lines. The instructions for this video is to count the number of times the white team passes the ball. Even knowing it was suppose to be there I missed the moonwalking bear:

How many miss the bear?

Humor: James Bond Squirrel

Someone posted about James Bond Squirrel yesterday on Facebook. I've lost track of who.

Here is the orginal video:

But this is more fun, because of the sound track:


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

This is your weekly reminder to send in an entry to the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at HomeschoolBytes.

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, January 21, 2011

Some news on Lab-on-a-chip

I've blogged a couple times about some new technology known as Lab-on-a-chip. Currently in development this product will allow cheaper blood diagnostics. A Forbes article I read years ago speculated that eventually we'd have dozens or hundreds of tests on a single silicon chip for pennies and you could run tests every day, at the same time you take your vitamins. There are a number of dieases and conditions that if you catch them early are much more manageable.

A lab-on-a-chip for fast, inexpensive blood tests provides an update on the current state of the technology. It starts with:

We’ve all experienced the frustrating experience of waiting hours at a doctor’s office, only then to go into a room with a nurse and have to give a test tube of blood. Your blood is then sent to a lab for tests. Again, you wait days for the results. Enough of the waiting game.
The good news? The slow diagnosis process might soon change, thanks to a certain lab-on-chip technology that has been developed in a lab in Rhode Island.


Later in the article it reports on some costs associated with this:

The sensor costs $3,200 and the tests cost $1.50.
The $1.50 price covers the cost of the credit-card sized cartridge and reagents that are needed to perform the test.


The $3,200 price is a bit steep, but I'm confident that over time, as demand increases and the technology improves, the price will fall.

Maybe it won't be too long before I'll be doing my daily blood test.

I like this thought on differences of being wrong

One of the tricks in life is recognizing that much of what we "know" may not be completely correct.

This line from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list does a great job of framing this thought:

The young specialist in English Lit, ...lectured me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the Universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern "knowledge" is that it is wrong.

... My answer to him was, "... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."

-Isaac Asimov (1920-1992),The Relativity of Wrong, Kensington Books, New York, 1996, p 226.

Why our country is in such bad shape

I thought today's Shoe was funny.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Alasandra's Garden

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

The carnival starts with:

Gardening and homeschooling have a lot in common. Most gardeners research what grows well in their area, have a plan for their garden, purchase plants, then water, fertilize and prune their plants as needed. Flower beds are weeded as needed.

Homeschoolers often research homeschooling, homeschooling methods and learning styles before embarking on their homeschooling journey. Plans are made for the school year, books and supplies are purchased, lessons are taught, school work is assigned and reviewed (graded) and plans revised as needed.

The carnival continues with the posts from various blogs, along with some beautiful pictures of flowers.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Academically Adrift

I'm eager to read Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses which was written by a professor at New York University and another at the University of Virginia.

Here's a few key points from the book listed in my local newspaper:

Student tracking finds limited learning in college

Half of students did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.

After four years, 36 percent of students did not demonstrate significant improvement, compared with 45 percent after two.

Students who studied alone, read and wrote more, attended more selective schools and chose traditional arts and sciences majors posted greater learning gains.

Social engagement generally does not help student performance.

Students who spent more time studying with peers showed diminishing growth. (So much for the touted benefit of "group" projects.)

Students who spent more time in the Greek system had decreased rates of learning. (Isn't that a shocker!)

Here's a link to the study that backs up their claims: What Will They Learn, A Report on General Education Requirements at 100 of the Nation’s Leading Colleges and Universities by American Council of Trustees and Alumni, 2009.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Would you like to know the weather for some place in the United States

Part of my morning routine is to check the weather report. I put in my zip code on The Weather Channel.

My mother found another place which reports on the weather. The government has a map of the USA and you can just click anywhere to get a report. Pretty cool.

I would rather live in a free country

A good thought from A.Word.A.Day:

In a free country there is much clamor, with little suffering: in a despotic state there is little complaint but much suffering.
-Lazare Hippolyte Carnot, statesman (1801-1888)

Was this said with a whiny voice?

lyMy brother posted on Facebook about what Congressman Clyburn said:

We’ve had some incidents where TSA authorities think that congresspeople should be treated like everybody else,”

As my brother points out: "But if they are treated like everyone else, the problems of the TSA will be fixed."

I agree, if the TSA treated Congressmen exactly like the rest of us, then I think the full body scans and the agressive pat downs would disappear overnight.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Great arguement for Unschooling: Ted Talk on Child-driven education

Life seems to be a constant balance to find new habits and new rhythms. Over Christmas our family got a NordicTrack. Now three times a week I'll place our laptop in from of the elliptical. I've been working through some videos I've saved for months, just waiting for a few "spare" minutes to watch them.

Today I watched a link my mother sent me to a TED talk by Sugata Mitra on The child-driven education. Sugata may be best know for his hole in a wall experiment. He place a computer in a wall in the slums of New Deli and found children would educate themselves. These were children who had little formal education but were able to work together in groups and soon surf the web.

Sugata made several interesting and thoughtful statements.

He started off with: "There are places on Earth, in every country, where, for various reasons, good schools cannot be built and good teachers cannot or do not want to go..." These are places like slums where it can be dangerous to teach. He also made the point that these are often the same where trouble comes from.

Another point came from the "hole in a wall" experiment. They literally put a computer in a wall, with high speed access to the internet. He found that children will learn to do what they want to learn to do.

He shared several other experiments where children were given access to computers and problems to work on, and then left alone. He found the children would learn. He felt that it was important to have children in groups, four seemed to be a good size group. They would work together. The process of interacting seems to reinforce what they learn.

When his research started to become public Science Fiction author Arthur C. Clark invited Sugata to come visit him. Dr. Clark made a great statement: "A teacher who can be replaced by a computer should be."

As he worked to improve on his approach he started using what he called "The technique of the grandmothers." Some older person would peer over the children's shoulders and say things like: "Good job." "What is that?" This provided motivation.

One of the lessons homeschoolers can learn from this is that children can learn a lot on their own, we don't need "experts" who are masters in a particular subject for children to learn.

This 17 minute video is interesting and worth watching:

Purpose of education

Pam posted this on the CA HSC mailing list:

"The single most important contribution education can make to a child's development is to help him towards a field where his talents best suit him, where he will be satisfied and competent. We've completely lost sight of that. Instead we subject everyone to an education where, if you succeed, you will be best suited to be a college professor... And we evaluate everyone along the way according to whether they meet that narrow standard of success. We should spend less time ranking children and more time helping them identify their natural competencies and gifts, and cultivate those. There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to succeed and many, many different abilities that will help you get there."
- Howard Gardner 'Multiple Intelligences'

This reminds me of the recent video of Sir Kenneth Robinson.

I argue that in general parents who homeschool have a much better chance of recognizing a child's interesting and talents, and then providing opportunities for the child to flourish, then ever could be done in the factory setting of government schools.

The value of reflective listening

Early in our marriage Janine and I took a few marriage classes and seminars. We're were exposed to a concept called called "Reflective Listening." The idea is after one person says something, the listener tries to repeat back in their own words the main point(s) of the first person.

This helps in several ways. Maybe the most important is the listener isn't thinking of their great ideas, but really trying to take in what the speaker is saying. Another way reflective listening helps is the speaker is reassured that the listener got the message.

This quote captures the value of reflective listening:

"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
- George Bernard Shaw

Good thought from Martin Luthor King

From Determined To Be Free posted at Common Sense with Paul Jacob:

Years ago, on a past Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I played a video of his speeches for my children. Upon hearing the words King delivered in a Selma church in 1965, I was overcome with emotion. Who wouldn’t be?

“Deep down in our non-violent creed is the conviction there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they’re worth dying for. And if a man happens to be 36-years-old, as I happen to be, and some great truth stands before the door of his life – some great opportunity to stand up for that which is right.

“A man might be afraid his home will get bombed, or he’s afraid that he will lose his job, or he’s afraid that he will get shot, or beat down by state troopers, and he may go on and live until he’s 80. He’s just as dead at 36 as he would be at 80. The cessation of breathing in his life is merely the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true. . . .

“We’re going to stand up amid anything they can muster up, letting the world know that we are determined to be free!”

Moving. Inspiring. And common sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

The value of good literature

Janine sent this to me a couple years ago:

"The best safeguard against bad literature is a full experience of the good."

C. S. Lewis

This will be an interesting case to watch: Man faces charges for defying TSA agents

Man faces charges for defying TSA agents (it also has a two minute news video) starts with:

A Seattle man’s trial in Albuquerque on charges of making trouble at an airport security checkpoint is getting attention from civil liberties groups all over the country.

Phil Mocek was arrested at the Albuquerque Sunport in November of 2009 after he refused to show I.D. to TSA officers at the security checkpoint. Police say Mocek became disruptive. They arrested him and charged him with disorderly conduct, refusing to obey an officer, criminal trespassing, and concealing his identity. After many delays, his trial in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court was scheduled to begin this morning, but the judge ordered it postponed until January 20.

Representatives from several civil liberties groups were at the courthouse this morning, including Edward Hasbrouck of the San Francisco-based Identity Project.

I wonder if there is a video of the event with Phil Mocek and the TSA agents.

I find the TSA recent decisions to do the full body scans and the agressive pat downs to be unacceptable. Currently I don't plan to fly until these policies are recinded.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

One of Daniel Hannan's speeches

Last year my father sent me the URL to one of Daniel Hannan's speeches:

Daniel Hannan is a writer and journalist, and has been Conservative MEP.

He makes some good points about the problems the UK is facing.

I've been part of Toastmasters International for six years now. I'm just amazed by how effective Daniel is in the 3.5 minute speech. He makes many of his points with an analogy of sailing a ship into a storm.

Interesting thoughts about where good ideas come from

My mother sent my family the URL for this video:

I enjoyed it and found the video worth watching.

The speaker, Steven Johnson, is author of the book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.

The video seems to have the highlights of his book. He has spent five years trying to understand the environments that create good ideas.

He started off talking about coffee houses around 1650 in England. Up till then most people drank beer for breakfast, wine for lunch and gin for dinner. This was because the water could be deadly. Coffee houses did a couple things. One people's brains were clearer. A second thing was it brought people together. Steve said many good ideas are the result of a network of people and ideas, not the result of a mad scientist along in his lab.

Steve said that also many good ideas are not the result of an Eureka moment, but the result of a long slow hunch. People would worry about a problem for days, weeks, months, maybe even years, before they finally came up with the breakthrough idea.

He said it was also good to connect hunches. That often people would come up with great ideas as they shared what kinds of problems they were struggling with.

If this sounds interesting, but you haven't watched the above video, you can check out this four minute version of his ideas:

Penn And Teller with a video about a petition to ban water

I think this video makes a good point that people often take action without really thinking about what they are doing. (Be warned there is one swear word.)

I wonder if we could get a petition to stop people from voting who don't understand petitions?

(Hat tip: Watts Up With That?)

Would you like to walk on water

Non-Newtonian Fluids are materials which act both like liquids and solids. You can easily put them around like water, but if you give them a sudden impact they'll act like a solid.

This video shows a small pool filled with the stuff with people walking on it:

I found the link to this video at Our Life in Words: Non-Newtonian Fluids, which has details on how to make a smaller batch of the stuff.

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

This is your weekly reminder to send in an entry to the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Alasandra’s Homeschool Blog.

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,

We're trying to teach both kinds of knowledge

From A.Word.A.Day:

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
-Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

When our children are young we focus on teaching them various subjects. As they grow older they'll learn how to find information.

A few other homeschooling carnivals

Kris is hosting the recent Homeschool Showcase #63 at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Deborah Jean is hosting the recent Hands On Homeschooling Blog Carnival at Dandelion House Homeschool.

Brenda is hosting a homeschooling carnival at Garden of Learning.

Cute homeschool video

This is fun:

MiaZagora mentioned this on Facebook.

Homeschooling on the frontier

The Last Frontier is about a homeshcooling family up in Alaska who live way off the grid.

Here is a description of the blog:

This site is about life in the Alaskan Wilderness --- The Last Frontier. My husband and I are bringing up and homeschooling our boys on our remote homestead in the Alaskan bush. There are no roads to this part of the state. We charter a bush plane a couple of times a year for mail and supplies. We haul our water from a spring, cook on an antique woodburning cookstove, hunt, fish, grow a large garden, put up food, and gather wild plants for food and medicine. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to live in the Alaskan wilderness, then read on. It's remote. It's peaceful. Sometimes it's a hard life, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

It is a different world.

(Hat tip: Consent Of The Governed)

One of my favorite songs: The Impossible Dream

The first time I ever heard this song was when I watch the musical Man of La Mancha:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up

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

The Headmistress had a whole challenge yesterday getting the carnival built. She writes:

I have just about decided that agreeing to host a blog carnival is an invitation to bad karma, and I don't even believe in karma. Yesterday morning I had the first of two different calls to come help out with a family member in need. The second came half an hour after returning home with the first, and involved spending five hours or so in the Emergency room with my grandson The Dread Pirate Grasshopper and his mommy. The DPG had taken a tumble off a footstool and landed on his arm funny. It was swollen and he refused to use it.

It's still swollen and he still refuses to use it, and we have another doctor we know never, ever to consult for anything. I have also made myself a stench in the adorable nostrils of the DPG by holding him down for the even more dreaded x-ray machine, which he was sure would eat him alive (he is only 15 months old), because his pregnant mother could not come back to help with that task.

My son had a similar problem once. The doctor showed us how to pop the elbow back into place. A couple people have made similar comments so hopefully The DPG is doing fine now.

The Headmistress does a great job with the carnival. Hopefully she will be willing to host again.

Anyone use "College SAT Prep Course Genius"

The ClepForHomeschool recently had a discussion about helping our children prepare for the SAT test. Several posts had good things to say about the College SAT Prep Course Genius.

For $99 you get a set of DVDs and workbooks.

I was wondering if any of our readers have used this product?

Interesting question: Can Congress make you buy broccoli?

Instapundit had a link to an article titled: Can Congress Make You Buy broccoli?

The article starts with:

Is it constitutional for Congress to make you buy broccoli for your own good, ask three professors of health law at Boston University in the New England Journal of Medicine for December 22nd. The ringing answer that they give to this question is “We don’t know.” They have decided to sit on the fence until others, in the shape of the Supreme Court, decide for them.

My answer is Congress don't have the authority, but then I don't get to make the final decision.

The value of experience

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

Experience is what causes a person to make new mistakes instead of old ones.

Three marbles

Awhile back my uncle sent me this story (which turns out to be by W. E. Petersen)

During the waning years of the depression in a small Southeastern Idaho community, I used to stop by Brother Miller's roadside stand for farm fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used extensively.

One particular day Brother Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Brother Miller and the ragged boy next to me. "Hello Barry, how are you today?"

"H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. Sure look good."

"They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?"

"Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time."

"Good. Anything I can help you with?"

"No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas."

"Would you like to take some home?"

"No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with."

"Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?"

"All I got's my prize marble here."

"Is that right? Let me see it."

"Here 'tis. She's a dandy."

"I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?"

"Not 'zackley, but almost."

"Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you, and next trip this way let me look at that red marble."

"Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller."

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said, "There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps."

I left the stand, smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Utah but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys and their bartering. Several years went by each more rapid than the previous one.

Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Brother Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon our arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an Army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts...very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling and composed, by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket.

Each left the mortuary, awkwardly, wiping his eyes. Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket. "Those three young men, that just left, were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim "traded" them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size...they came to pay their debt. We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world," she confided, "but, right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho."

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three, magnificently shiny, red marbles.

Great story. Great point.

I did a search for the source and this site directed me to the October 1975 edition of The Ensign.

The importance of penmanship

How writing by hand makes kids smarter is an interesting article about why it is important children learn to write. The article starts with:

With the ubiquity of keyboards large and small, neither children nor adults need to write much of anything by hand. That's a big problem, says Gwendolyn Bounds in The Wall Street Journal. Study after study suggests that handwriting is important for brain development and cognition — helping kids hone fine motor skills and learn to express and generate ideas. Yet the time devoted to teaching penmanship in most grade schools has shrunk to just one hour a week.

Here are some reasons:
Writing by hand can get ideas out faster
Writing increases neural activity
Good handwriting makes you seem smarter

Read the article for more details.

(Hat tip: Valerie Moon posted a link on Facebook)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cool picture from Astronomy Picture of the Day

It has been awhile since I posted a picture from the Astronomy Picture of the Day web site.

This one is from awhile back:

Don Goldman, the photographer, gave me permission to post his picture.

Would you like a supercomputer for the afternoon?

Did Amazon Just Move Supercomputing to the Cloud? reports:

Perhaps it was inevitable: the cloud is already parsing enormous quantities of information at a high speed for the world's webmasters; why not diversify its processor types and apply that power to problems that previously required in-house supercomputing resources?

That's the pitch behind Amazon's new GPU-powered Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) on-demand computing resources, powered by NVIDIA's Tesla GPUs. Amazon's on-demand computing resources have long been used for processing chunks of data too large for in-house resources--famously, the New York Times used EC2 to parse 405,000 giant TIFF files in order to make 71 years of its archives available to the public.

Making GPU-based servers that can accomplish the same thing is a logical extension of Amazon's existing CPU-based server technology. Amazon has also taken extra steps to make sure that these servers are well-suited to high performance computing applications, including 10 Gbps Ethernet interconnects "with the ability to create low latency, full bisection bandwidth HPC clusters."

Cloud computing fascinates me. There seems to be great potential.

The idea of rent a supercomputer for a couple hours seems cool.

We live in an amazing world.

Great point about Government's use and misuse of money

As many of our readers know I head down to Arizona each year to catch the annual Space Access conference. I enjoy following what is happening in private space businesses.

Rand Simberg does a great job in Transterrestrial Musings of reporting on space.

In one of his recent posts was this profound comment:

To the private sector a half a billion dollars is enough to start a whole new industry. To the federal government it is a rounding error. How many new industries will be lost due to a wasteful spending of a totally dysfunctional federal government?

Many of the big high tech companies were starts with just a couple million dollars.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Passwords on the internet - Details on the Gawker break-in

I am fascinated by the Gawker break-in. One of the messages from this event is it is good to have a variety of passwords.

The post The Gawker hack: how a million passwords were lost has details on what happened, how it happend and what it means.

Interesting reading.

Another case of Zero Intelligence

Instapundit has had several links to another classic case of Zero Intelligence.

About two weeks ago an article came out that a Lunchbox mix-up leads to charges for Sanford student:

An athletic and academic standout in Lee County said a lunchbox mix-up has cut short her senior year of high school and might hurt her college opportunities.
Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox.
Smithwick said personnel found the knife while searching the belongings of several students, possibly looking for drugs.
“She got pulled into it. She doesn’t have to be a bad person to be searched,” Smithwick’s father, Joe Smithwick, said.
The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick, who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.


This story has picked up a bit of buzz on the internet. For example this post has over 200 comments.

The blogger for An NC Gun Blog lives locally and has posted frequently about this. For example in Ashley Smithwick and the Paring Knife Incident he reports about how the school board called a meeting, then had a closed meeting and finally published a press release saying they couldn't give details because of privacy but they claimed the media report was inaccurate.

All of this illustrated one of the problems with public schools, there is little room for reason and judgement. Because of events like the Columbine shooting many schools have passed rules outlawing any kind of knife. They have "Zero Tolerance" for knifes. But this leads to zero intelligence responses. It doesn't appear the paring knife was a threat to anyone. A more reasoned response would have been to ask Ashley to be more careful and not bring the knife again.

I am so glad we can homeschool.

The Battle of New Orleans: another fun music history video

I think I've seen this before, but I couldn't find it on our blog.

(Hat tip: Ann Kerchner)

Another homeschooling carnival

Brenda Emmett is posted the recent a homeschooling carnival.

Class Dismissed: a movie on Homeschooling

Just last week I wrote about another public school documentary produced in 2010, bringing the total to four that I'd heard about. I asked if there were any movies on homeschooling.

Last night Natalie posted on Facebook a link to a trailer for Classed Dismissed:

Here is the film's official web site. From their blog it looks like they are in the midst of creating the movie, so it will be awhile before it is available.

More information on the Gawker password break-in

This is a follow up on my post Advice on protecting your password. If you are interested in the technical details of how the hackers were able to get over a million passwords The Dirty Truth About Web Passwords is a good place to start. Jeff makes the point that if you use the same password at multiple sites you are only as safe as the weakest site.

I am not sure I trust his conclusion that we need a central place which provides a "trusted" indentity services. I'd worry that some random site could pretend to use Facebook or Google but provide an layer between that captures passwords.

The bottom line is you want to be very careful with passwords. I have a different password for each site.

How do you get a better perspective?

A.Word.A.Day has an interesting quote:

Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.
-Ben Hecht, screenwriter, playwright, novelist, director, and producer (1894-1964)

I think Ben Hecht has some truth, and I wonder what he would suggest as a better way to understand current events?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Emergency prepardness

Instapundit has had a couple good posts recently about Emergency Prepardness.

Here is the January 1st post and here is the January 2nd post.

It really doesn't take that much money to build up a couple weeks supply of extra food and supplies. Then if an emergency hits, you will be a lot less stressed and have a greater chance of survial, if you are prepared.

Chicken little may be wrong, it appears the sky isn't falling

There has been some buzz lately that the oceans are becoming covered in plastic. Some people have even claimed that there is a "Great Garbage Patch" twice the size of Texas between California and Japan.

Turns out this is false.

Oceanic 'garbage patch' not nearly as big as portrayed in media: researchers explains:

Further claims that the oceans are filled with more plastic than plankton, and that the patch has been growing tenfold each decade since the 1950s are equally misleading, pointed out Angelicque "Angel" White, an assistant professor of oceanography at Oregon State.

"There is no doubt that the amount of plastic in the world's oceans is troubling, but this kind of exaggeration undermines the credibility of scientists," White said. "We have data that allow us to make reasonable estimates; we don't need the hyperbole. Given the observed concentration of plastic in the North Pacific, it is simply inaccurate to state that plastic outweighs plankton, or that we have observed an exponential increase in plastic."

We have a problem. It is a problem worth working on. But it isn't an end of the world type of problem.

History music videos

Teachers Gaga over history on YouTube starts with:

On the video-sharing website, Hawaii residents Amy Burvall and Herb Mahelona are known as the "history teachers." And their lessons, masked as music videos for chart-topping tunes, are quickly gaining views and national attention.

One of their latest videos — "The French Revolution" — is set to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and features Burvall, dressed in period costumes and wigs, singing lines like, "La la liberte," and "Walk, walk scaffold baby."


Here is the video:

It was fun. Kind of a Weird Al teaches history. Currently they have 50 videos at the History Teachers channel. I checked out a few others. They were also fun.

It wouldn't replace real mastery of history from books and instruction, but it could be a fun supplement. And it might be a good way to intice more students to study history.

(Hat tip:

A great line about public schools

Heather at Special Needs Homeschooling has a link to this short video:

The Youtube introduction says: "Dr. Voddie Baucham, author of the new book "Family Driven Faith," talks about home education."

I hadn't heard of him before, but I love the last line of the video (starting at about second 35) where he says:

"If we continue to send our children to Ceasar for their education they'll continue to come home as Romans"

I would like to check out his book.

Good advice on protecting your password

Last month hackers captured emails and passwords from Because many people use the same passwords at more than one site, much is at risk.

How to Prevent a Gawker-Style Hack From Endangering You has more information about what happened, and a great suggestion on what to do to protect yourself.

The basic approach is to "Guaranty Your Security By Memorizing Four Passwords and Using Them in Tiers."

Go read the post for the details.

Last month's Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

Last month's Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is posted at Homeschooling Kiwi Style.

The next one will be held at See Jamie Blog next Tuesday. You can submit via Blog Carnival.


I looking through some old email I came across the gem below. I did a little searching, but couldn't find who was the author.

Read it, and then go hug your children.


I ran into a stranger as he passed by,
"Oh, excuse me Please" was my reply.
He said, "Please excuse me too;
Wasn't even watching for you.
We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our way and we said good-bye.

But at home a different story is told,
How we treat our loved ones, young and old.
Later that day, cooking the evening meal,
My daughter stood beside me very still.

When I turned, I nearly knocked her down.
"Move out of the way," I said with a frown.
She walked away, her little heart was broken.
I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken.

While I lay awake in bed,
God's still small voice came to me and said,
"While dealing with astranger, common courtesy you use,
But the children you love, you seem to abuse.

Look on the kitchen floor,
You'll find some flowers there by the door.
Those are the flowers she brought for you.
She picked them herself, pink, yellow and blue.

She stood quietly not to spoil the surprise
and you never saw the tears in her eyes.
"By this time, I felt very small
and now my tears began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by her bed;
"Wake up, little girl, wake up," I said.
"Are these the flowers you picked for me?"
She smiled, "I found 'em, out by the tree.

I picked 'em because they're pretty like you.
I knew you'd like 'em, especially the blue."
I said, "Daughter, I'm sorry for the way I acted today;
I shouldn't have yelled at you that way."
She said, "Oh, Mom, that's okay. I love you anyway."
I said, "Daughter, I love you too,
and I do like the flowers, especially the blue."

Are you aware that:
If we die tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days. But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than to our family

-An unwise investment indeed. So what is behind the story?
You know what is the full word of family?

FAMILY =(F)ather (A)nd (M)other, (I) (L)ove (Y)ou?
It is worthwhile to share more time with them as they are getting older. Make balance among all things. Fill life with love and bravery and we shall live a life uncommon.

Great news - TSA may be out the door

I decided not to fly until TSA changes its policies about full body scans and groping.

It looks like there is a good chance TSA may become irrelevant!

TSA: Living on Borrowed Time? explains that the Aviation and Transportation Security Act gives airports the right to switch to private security firms. Because of the reset offensive policies more and more airports are considering switching.

Instapundit references a recent survey which found "one in four of the nation’s airports expressed interest in switching to private security firms."

Major metropolitan areas frequently have more than one airport. We have one airport fifteen minutes away from home and two more that are about thirty minutes. The first one to switch would be the one we'd start using. It would be interesting to see if this became a nation wide trend.

More on saying NO to tax breaks

Judy explains why we should Say NO THANKS To Federal Tax Breaks For Homeschoolers.

It is a long post with a lot of good information.

How true

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

Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.
~Peter Marshall

Do you know what the ethnic and racial breakdown in your neighborhood is?

The New York Times has a cool tool showing the distribution of racial and ethnic groups. Mapping America: Every City, Every Block explains:

Browse local data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, based on samples from 2005 to 2009. Because these figures are based on samples, they are subject to a margin of error, particularly in places with a low population, and are best regarded as estimates.

To see your neighborhood just click on the link and enter your zip code. I was surprised to see dramatic differences in my city from one area to another.

(Hat tip: Clayton Cramer's Blog)

Friday, January 07, 2011

Are your children wondering about what careers are out there?

Homeschool Bytes has a post with Online Resources to Help Kids Explore Future Careers.

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

This is your weekly reminder to send in an entry to the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at The Common Room.

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,

Much of life is finding the right balance

I like this thought from A.Word.A.Day:

You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. Yes, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.
-James M. Barrie, novelist and playwright (1860-1937)

Facebook is now the top web site on the internet

A recent study found that Facebook tops Google in website hits:

The social-networking juggernaut's was the top-visited website for the first time and accounted for 8.93 percent of all US visits between January and November 2010, Experian Hitwise said.
Google, the world's Internet search leader, slid to second place. drew 7.19 percent of visits, followed by Yahoo! Mail (3.52 percent), Yahoo! (3.30 percent) and YouTube (2.65 percent).
Facebook led arch-rival Google in the number of hits per month since March.
However, taking into account all of Google's websites, such as YouTube and Gmail, the Mountain View, California-based company drew 9.85 percent of the US visits, ahead of Facebook's 8.93 percent and the 8.12 percent garnered by Yahoo! sites, an Experian Hitwise spokesman said Friday.


What an amazing world.

Would it be a tragedy if you lost your email?

This is not a good way to start the new year: Some Hotmail users report missing e-mails. The article starts with:

"Please help me get them back," wrote one user under the moniker 'Zacgore' in a post dated Saturday. "All my kids' info and pictures are in there!"

Others complain that the majority of the e-mail in their inboxes was sent to their deleted mail folders instead. It is unclear from the posts how widespread the problem is. The free Web-based e-mail service is the world's most used with about 360 million users globally, according to comScore Inc.


Today many of us use free email services like GMail, Yahoo, Hotmail and so on. The price is right. And in general the service is fine. But there is a risk you might lose your email. Would that be a problem? For most of us, yes!

I'm kicking around a solution and wondered what other people thought of it. Much of my private email goes through a GMail account. GMail has an option to forward the email and still keep the original.

This is what we do for the Carnival of Homeschooling. All the entries goes through a GMail account and are forwarded to the host for the current week. This way if there is a problem I can wade into the emails. So far we've only had one type of problem. Every once in awhile a host's spam filter will block an entry to the carnival. I go into the GMail account and dig it out.

So I am thinking of something similar. While Google is a pretty solid company and I expect they are trying to provide perfect service, there is a chance my GMail account might have troubles. Hotmail is run by Microsoft, which I am sure was trying to provide perfect service.

My solution is to enable the forwarding feature on my GMail account to a second service, like Yahoo, while keeping the original email in my GMail account. That way anything sent me to my GMail account would automatically be backed up. The odds of two major email services having trouble at the same time are pretty low.

Does anyone see a problem with this approach?

Related to Spunky's warning on tax breaks for homeschooling

Valerie Moon posted a link on Facebook to a HEM column on the Privatization of Education.

In the column Helen references a article in the Home Education Magazine: Beware of Privatization of Education: It Reduces Our Homeschooling Freedoms.

I love this line from the article:

Homeschoolers can’t assume that as long as they as individuals refuse to accept government money or favors, they won’t be required to comply with state regulations written for homeschoolers who do accept them.

Both the column and the article are worth reading.

Helen and Spunky are right. We need to keep the government out of homeschooling. Even if they start with something that will "help" us, down the road they will expand and expand their control.

To any suggestion that the government help homeschoolers, just say no!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Another Tim Hawkins Homeschool video

Tim Hawkins did the hilarious Homeschool Family. If you have never watched, check it out.

Here is Tim talking about homeschooling:

(Hat tip:

Interesting way to motivate yourself

The New Year is typically a time of creating goals. We step back to review the process of the last year and then look for ways to do better. But it takes efforts, sometimes supreme effort, to change habits and get out of a rut. The result is very few resolutions made in January last till July.

How to Stick to New Year's Resolutions reports on a new way to provide additional motivation:

Ian Ayres, a behavioral economist at Yale, developed a website called, on which users set a specific goal and then pledge a sum of money to forfeit should they fail to achieve it. Unlike other sites that track weight loss and fitness goals and offer support via social networking, StickK leverages another discovery from behavioral economics: our extreme dislike of losing money.

This year "more than 50,000 users who have put about $5 million at risk."

What a cool idea.

Good point on evaluating teachers

In Value-added isn't evil Dave quotes some of a recent opinion piece and then writes:

I have to admit that I'm puzzled by people who argue that we shouldn't use a value-added analysis as part of teacher evaluations in favor of the system we currently have where nearly everyone gets an above average rating. How can they argue that our current system is better? Not only doesn't it serve students well because it does little to try to remove poor-quality teachers, but it doesn't serve teachers well either. Excellent teachers receive the same rating as ineffective teachers. For the ineffective teachers, it does nothing to inform them of how they compare to their peers and to suggest that they should review their teaching practices in order to better serve their students.

I remember reading that one study concluded that if the worse ten percent of the teachers were laid off that there would be huge improvements in public schools. Bad teachers are a huge drain on money and moral. It can take years for students to recover from being taught poorly or even worse the wrong information.