Half-Fish, Half Black Homeschool Princess?

31 03 2007

It makes a difference who you are — and whoever gets to create your character.

Favorite Daughter defines herself as her own reflection, says she has a “Disney Princess Complex.”

But I don’t think this fake news videoclip of “Frog Princess” is quite what she had in mind, guess homeschool princesses better be careful what we wish for and who gets to grant it. Anybody for popcorn? —

Thanks Ample Sanity!

31 03 2007

A very third-millennium blog find for Snookering —


WordArt. Scarabokkio Freebies. Cocking A Snook. Stripe Generator.
. . . Way harsh, dude!

For a s-ample of the in-s-anity, check out this calendar of events.  
(Today is National Clams of the Halfshell Day. )


Here’s the REAL Concern If We’re Smart

30 03 2007

Yet another reason why the vague yet closely clutched “concerns” of random elitist university researchers and regulatory advocates (who aren’t the parents of MY kids) are of greater concern to Thinking Parents and Citizens, than are whatever words public charters put in their ads and program descriptions . . .

This educational research was high-minded, meant to help children generally with speech problems. Whether it contributed anything to that goal is debatable, but it did apparently harm, not help, the specific children it involved. Children who — talk about Power of Story! — literally had no chance for any form of parent-directed or parent-protected education, because they were orphans.

Where is the accountability for what was taught and learned in this “story?” The radio says orphans often were used by this university for such human experiments, precisely because there were no parents taking primary responsibility for the best interests of each specific child, as opposed to this generalized “whatever is for the social good and the benefit of my own reputation and/or guilt assuage” approach to working with children.

I’m not sure how far working with children has come since 1939. . .

Thanks to Ben in Indiana, also Betty Malone and Jane Casey there, for respecting this concern enough to help publish this essay originally and to leave it up to the present, where newly inclined busybodies can read it and perhaps stop themselves — for the good of the kids of course.

Firing Stephen Foster, Promoting Uncle Ben

30 03 2007

What follows is completely true and yet unreal.
Stephen Foster met Uncle Ben in my radio reverie this morning. For real, or so it seemed. (Y’all know I hear odd connections in that place between asleep and awake.)

Two southern stories that seem literally black and white, but turn out to be anything but!
Radio news reported that the Southland’s good old-fashioned composer is on his way out; our conservative and affable new governor actually refuses to have our state song played in his presence (yet in the same breath he says, “whatever the people want satisfies me” . . .which sure sounds unreal to me.)

Nobody said anything unmannerly or politically correct about unpopular language, although that’s likely the truth behind it. One legislator did mention the word “darkies” but to hear them tell the story, it’s not that, just that the times they are a’changin’ . . .hey, now THAT would make a great state song!

Meanwhile good old-fashioned Uncle Ben got a promotion to Chairman of the Board. He isn’t the kindly kitchen rice-cooker anymore, now he’s the Donald Trump of Rice, with his own fancy penthouse office, jet-setting schedule and authoritative rice-education curriculum. (You can poke around his empty office, open his travel journal, it feels almost like corporate espionage, with him hanging on the wall watching your every move!)

One a real human, the other made up as marketing image. (Although real and made up aren’t “really” opposites either, see Straight Dope’s “Were Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima real people?”.)

One going down for the last time, the other movin’ on up.

One dead and therefore dismissed; the other never alive in the first place and therefore lives on (hmm, an apt juncture to consider all the meanings of “immortal” fitting together. . .)

And silly me, I thought “Uncle Ben” was already made over by the Spiderman blockbusters anyway.


But what the composer and the kitchen help do share, and why my mind connected them unbidden, is that these famous identities were both born of vague cultural stereotyping, human belief embodied in “art” that first captures our imagination but grows real enough to threaten us and thus need killing or elevating to higher power, (either is risky in itself). . . Read the rest of this entry »

One Down

30 03 2007

. . . how many more to follow?

U.S. family planning head resigns after state agency acts against him

Thursday, March 29, 2007

WASHINGTON: The head of the federal office responsible for providing women with access to contraceptives and counseling to prevent pregnancy resigned unexpectedly after officials in a government medical program took action against him.

President George W. Bush had appointed Dr. Eric Keroack only five months ago to head the Office of Population Affairs of the Health and Human Services Department.

The department provided no details about the nature of the action in Massachusetts, where Keroack practices, that led to his resignation Thursday.

Bush’s selection of Keroack to oversee the population affairs office and its $283 million (€210 million) annual budget angered birth control advocates Planned Parenthood and abortion rights groups that viewed him as opposed to birth control and comprehensive sex education. Keroack had worked for an organization that opposes contraception.

. . .

Keroack’s office oversees federally financed family planning services that include screening for breast and cervical cancer as well as treatment for sexually transmitted disease. Services are provided on a sliding scale based on income, and no one is refused service because of an inability to pay.

. . .

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which advocates women’s right to have pregnancies aborted, asked the Bush administration to appoint as Keroack’s successor a “medical professional who actually believes in birth control to lead the nation’s family planning program.”


According to this writer, it’s just a matter of spinning the wheel to find worthy contestants!

Rooty-toot-toot for Smoot!

28 03 2007

 ”You want your mind to be boggled,” Perlmutter says. ”That is a pleasure in and of itself. . .”

(see Forbiddenlibrary.com for my headline reference — Favorite Daughter thought of this to go with the science story and dug it up, from a 1931 Ogden Nash poem skewering the censorship of a politician named Charles Smoot, spelling the taunt rooti-ti-toot — I’ll take George instead, thanks! )

We’ll all be Kansas by and by . . .
but meantime what an AWESOME universe we can think about!

March 11, 2007
Out There

Richard Panek is the author of ”The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud and the Search for Hidden Universes.”

Three days after learning that he won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics, George Smoot was talking about the universe. Sitting across from him in his office at the University of California, Berkeley, was Saul Perlmutter, a fellow cosmologist and a probable future Nobelist in Physics himself. Bearded, booming, eyes pinwheeling from adrenaline and lack of sleep, Smoot leaned back in his chair. Perlmutter, onetime acolyte, longtime colleague, now heir apparent, leaned forward in his.

”Time and time again,” Smoot shouted, ”the universe has turned out to be really simple.”

Perlmutter nodded eagerly. ”It’s like, why are we able to understand the universe at our level?”

”Right. Exactly. It’s a universe for beginners! ‘The Universe for Dummies’!”

But as Smoot and Perlmutter know, it is also inarguably a universe for Nobelists, and one that in the past decade has become exponentially more complicated. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Daughter Peels Off Virgin Seal

24 03 2007


Standing in line at a fancy grocery store, I spotted a display among many :


Excuse me? I thought. Extra extra? Isn’t that a little unnecessary?

That is to say, I never really understood the concept of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to begin with. Is it made from olives that aren’t allowed to touch other olives? Are they modestly shielded from life’s elements by tarps?

And Extra Extra Virgin Olives – what on earth does that entail?

Or does the “virgin” refer to the oil itself? Has it never been mixed with another oil, commingling and developing new, brassy flavors? I certainly hope not, one takes for granted when one buys olive oil that it is, in fact, olive oil, and not some other hybrid. But then it seems that they shouldn’t have to bellow about its virginity so explicitly.

Having all these thoughts in the line at the store, I suddenly reached a breaking point. I wanted to tap the older woman in front of me on the shoulder and ask her my question, maybe she’d know the answer. But no, that wasn’t enough. I wanted to stand up in a shopping cart, I wanted to address the store at large, I wanted to shout it to the heavens: “Isn’t just being a virgin enough for you people anymore?”

Read the rest of her oily prose, and lots more, at Cocking a Snook Too . . .

Stephen Hawking Is a Fun Guy

23 03 2007


Q: Do you think Einstein would have done “The Simpsons”?

A: I think Einstein had a sense of fun.

Stephen Hawking in a Seattle Times interview published today

Science: How the Thinking Parent Experiences Risk

23 03 2007

Nance and I have been over at Greg Laden’s blog a few times this week because of home education, but science is the main thing there, it seems. The tagline is “Evolution: not just a theory anymore” and so I figured education and evolution together were reason enough to link his place on the Snook roll for handy visiting.

Here’s something from his front page earbox today, via Wired News: Read the rest of this entry »

There’s Been Some Homeschool Talk . . .

23 03 2007

about matters of ultimate concern (to quote Scott Somerville) again online, thanks to that wascally wabbity not-a-homeschool-blogger Chris O’Donnell — you know, the horseschooling dad and Red Sox fan? This time he found a real pip of a homeschool discussion. Nance splashed into the main pool with a cannonball here. I inched into the inviting spa waters here.

True, no one form of schooling is perfect. But this engaged, eclectic, experimental approach to parenting each child’s best possible personal education (as detailed above) comes close!

We’ve passed through similar stages in our often surprising learning together. I should probably update this pre-blog diary, now that our kindergarten daughter who wouldn’t nap because she wanted storytime all day, is turning 17 and enjoying college power of story — English, literature, theatre — so much. )

Jon Stewart and Religious Literacy

22 03 2007

New on The Revealer, published by NYU’s Center for Religion and Media —

“We Don’t Need No Education!” — Jon Stewart talks to Boston University
Religious Studies Chair Steve Prothero about religious literacy. Prothero
apparently thinks it’d be a good idea for American students, and even
American politicians.

Doesn’t this dude know we’re living in the space age? How could understanding the difference between a Sunni and a Shia possibly effect our modern world? Watch the show to find out. Or, better yet, buy the book.

Schooling As “Sincere Ignorance and Conscientious Stupidity”

22 03 2007

Isn’t it pretty much irrelevant to reform educational methods, once you ignore the real elephant in the civic classroom? Can true education of any kind exist within the framework of legal compulsion to attend and perform, or does the choice of non-choice define everything after that, limit it to mere schooling and not education?

Seems to me many points of “the moral compass” such as respect, initiative, not to mention the vaunted democratic “values of equality and individual rights” are much harder to teach captives than free citizens. It might be flat impossible. How can you “educate” kids to volunteer their own service by REQUIRING it of them? Animal trick training is far short of developing human compassion, respect, love, character and good citizenship among real live autonomous boys and girls.

Does compulsion teach any kind of tolerance other than tolerance of authority?

Read the rest of this entry »