Sunday, February 29, 2004
So *eat* the damn things, for crying out loud: An invading army of 25-lb Pacific crabs has been marching through Norway, but apparently state regulations strictly limit hunting/fishing them. They're supposed to be quite tasty. No doubt if someone just came up to one on the beach and speared it, the animal rights activists would have him arrested.
Nothing here a little boiling water and butter sauce wouldn't solve.
Anne 9:30 PM
Oh, Lordy - Louis Farrakhan and I agree on something: He wants people to vote for Al Sharpton. Well, so do I. In fact, I was so passionately in support of Al Sharpton's candidacy that I passed up my usual Republican ballot during the recent primary and instead asked for a Democratic one. Of course I promptly punched Big Al's name (not being so senile yet that I don't know how to operate a punch voting machine.)
I figured a large slobbering contingent of Sharpton delegates would be just the thing to liven up the Democratic Party convention, but alas, my affections were unreturned and Big Al got not one delegate from Missouri. So I have to transfer my affections to Ralph Nader. It's just not the same.
Anne 9:08 PM
Who can we outsource next? Some ideas (I have a little list ... they never will be missed...):
College professors: People who want to take a class can rent space somewhere with wireless Internet. Everyone brings their laptop and logs in to Bangalore World University or wherever. After a few hours of online classes, students get together for coffee or donuts or beer.
Lawyers: How hard is it to look up statutes and compose briefs online? Why show up in court? For that matter, outsource the judges too, and just put the trials on the webcam.
Police: Implant a microchip in everybody's butt, and pay Chinese slave laborers 50 cents US a day to monitor each American 24/7. Make the implants 2-way so that if anyone does anything wrong, the laogai worker can administer a mild electric shock, call down an airstrike, whatever.
Anne 9:01 PM
Friday, February 27, 2004
From the Department of Newspeak Office: Georgia Latinos Object to "Illegal Aliens" Label. They compare it to using the delicately-censored "n--- word." (What a world - we can say "fuck" but not "n----.")
So now describing someone's lawbreaking is a "racial slur."
Anne 3:35 PM
Berkeley teens want to vote: They're picketing for a change in the law, to allow teens to vote at age 16. It seems a little moot, as young people 18-25 are far less likely to vote than older people, but the principle is right.
The usual knee-jerk conservative reaction can be seen on this thread at lucianne.com. Why is it that so many conservative sites/web commentaries are so hostile to teenagers?
Personally, I'm all for it. Make the legal age 16; end compulsory school attendance at age 14 or 8th grade (whichever comes later), and eliminate all child labor laws for those over the age of 14. Reduce the drinking age to 18 - it's ridiculous to put 18 year olds on the deck of an aircraft carrier or behind a howitzer, but deny them the right to buy a beer.
The only objection I can see to the Berkeley teens is that they're liable to vote Democratic.
Anne 3:26 PM
From the It's About Time file: A man in Norway has been convicted of interfering with his wife's "integration into Norwegian society." He's described as "African-Norwegian" and his wife as an immigrant from Algeria, so I'd lay any money they're Muslim. The wife was forced to remain in her home and cover herself completely if she did go out. Charges were filed after she managed to escape.
How alert are we to these problems in US society? We can be very cold and impersonal behind locked doors and shuttered windows. A growing Muslim home-schooling movement has the potential to keep children, especially girls, further isolated at home. How many Muslim-country immigrant women are kept inside their houses, prevented from driving, allowed out only with their husbands, and kept from enjoying their rights in a free society?
Anne 3:11 PM
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
More slander of teachers, this time from Jewish World Review's columnist Michael Graham. He calls American teachers "worse than Al-Qaeda."
This is just stupid. What is the point of a conservative "scorched-earth" policy toward public school teachers and teaching? The vast majority of Americans (including even some conservatives!) have their children in public schools. The vast majority of students at "prestigious" universities come from public schools. Most Nobel prize winners and others achieving high honors also went to public school - near as I can tell from reading occasional biographies.
I don't defend the National Educational Association's endorsement of reprehensible practices and educational methods. But No Child Left Behind is going to do as much, if not more damage to US public schools than the NEA's liberalism.
I'm also sick of the old anti-public school chestnut, regarding
... parents who care about children trapped in the wildly expensive, pathetically underachieving government-run school system. And why are these moms and dads trapped? Because of a political cell of heartless, vicious, ideologically-driven extremists who are willing to sacrifice the future of millions of American kids for the sake of their personal gain and ideological principles.
It's not a matter of "moms and dads" being "trapped." What makes these inner-city schools terrible is that there *aren't* "moms and dads," because most often *there is no dad.* If students are raised in single-parent homes, if their own mothers were part of a decades-long welfare culture, if drugs and crime and neglect are their experience from birth, and if they start school linguistically, academically, and intellectually behind because their mothers didn't provide those experiences for them, *why is this the teachers' fault?*
It's the culture, stupid.
Then there's another dimension of the whole "trapped" rhetoric. No one in this country is *forced* to go to a public school, not since the 1920s-vintage Supreme Court ruling (Pierce v. Society of Sisters) invalidated an Oregon law that closed private schools. Poor "moms and dads" (when dad's around, at least) are as free to homeschool or send their children to private schools as anyone else.
To object because "poor parents" can't afford private school is to adopt lock-stock-and-barrel a common *liberal Democrat* ideology - that the poor are somehow mysteriously "trapped" by poverty. If conservatives want to throw the "terrorist" label around, throw it at the globalizing multi-national corporations who have long since fled not only the cities but the US mainland entirely, leaving "the poor" to rot in unemployment while they chase Chinese laogai labor for pennies a month.
One gets the sense that nothing would please writers like Graham more than to see every inner-city public school teacher quit tomorrow. Thus the field would be opened to a whole new fleet of conservative recipients of welfare - the private for-profit schools that supposedly would come in, set up shop, and collect their heavy tax-funded subsidies. Meanwhile, the underlying conditions that make poor children so difficult to educate *will not have changed.*
Anne 9:43 AM
The Cincinnati Enquirer whimpers that black students "still" are disciplined more than white students at school. Every possible excuse for this discrepancy is trundled out: racism, poverty, culture, too many white teachers, subjectivity on the part of teachers. But what about the simple question, are black students actually breaking school rules more often? As one school administrator points out, what's the subjectivity in tardiness? "You're either in your seat when the bell rings, or you're not."
Anne 9:08 AM
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Feminist wants alliance with conservatives over the issue of "Islamic gender apartheid." Actually, long-time feminist author Phyllis Chesler has a point, in this interview with the always-on-target Jamie Glazov.
Anne 11:54 AM
President Bush weighs in on gay marriage: It took him even longer than Governor Schwarzenegger. Now President Bush is in favor of a Constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman. This would leave not only the gay rights activists, but the polygamists, Islamic fundamentalists, trans-species love promoters, and others in the dust - for now.
I'm not totally happy with the constitutional amendment approach, however. Yes, it wins votes for the Republicans in the short term, because a clear majority of Americans by both poll and referendum are shown to be opposed to gay marriage. Yes, it provides moral support to those in California trying to quell the anarchy still boiling in the San Francisco City Hall.
However, it gets around a fundamental problem that we've had for decades, even before the blatant judicial activism of Roe v. Wade.
The real issue is that activist judges are not impeached. Even when the Constitution is plain, judges interpret and twist the Constitution and its amendments to further their own agendas. The Constitution is not a self-interpreting document: it is *only* given legal "life" and activity by the decisive actions of the judiciary.
But ultimately "the people" are in control of the judiciary as well - if they act. There are two ways: some judges can be removed by legislative impeachment, and others can be voted out of office directly.
I want judges to stop running, and ruining this country. It's outrageous that two California judges would allow blatant and illegal actions such as the San Francisco marriage license fiasco to persist. But judges won't stop running this country until we - individually and through our legislators - throw them out.
Anne 11:07 AM
Just following the example of the Apostle Paul: I love to see Christians demanding their rights as "citizens of Rome." I also love to see conservative students standing up to the liberal nomenklatura that seems to run college campuses these days.
These college students are suing the (state-funded) University of Oklahoma because their request for funding for a Christian student newspaper was denied because of content. No doubt the university funds gay, feminist and other forms of propaganda. If one form of newspaper is funded, they *all* have to be funded, regardless of content.
Anne 10:53 AM
Why the upswing in female Islamonazi suicide bombers? This Palestina explains that she:
was told I would be as a mermaid, a beauty Queen in paradise if I became a martyr.
I know - back in the Cold War days we used to laugh at Pravda, but not anymore.
Anne 10:47 AM
Monday, February 23, 2004
Self-serving pedophiliac whiner wants social recognition for his "orientation." Claims he was born that way; can't help it, and wants our sympathy. Where have we heard this before?
Many high schools are the target of demands to get "sexual orientation" added to the anti-discrimination laundry list of race, sex, ethnic origin, etc.
If schools aren't supposed to discriminate against sexual orientation, should a student who expresses pedophiliac desires be allowed to work as a student assistant in a high school's on-site preschool? If not, why not? Isn't pedophilia just another "sexual orientation?"
(By the way: this isn't a "gay issue" as this guy is not gay; he prefers little girls to little boys.)
Anne 9:20 AM
Why is this movie rated R? Movie theaters need to scrap the rating system for Mel Gibson's The Passion. As this article points out, many teens want to see this movie and should be able to, without the rating system standing in their way.
Meanwhile, the Brits have decided to deliver the "kiss of death" to The Passion by rating it for "18 and over" only.
Unfortunately we're harvesting the fruits of so many gauzy, dreamy, over-orchestrated "Jesus movies" of the past. The Crucifixion wasn't tea and crumpets on the lawn.
By the way, why *couldn't* Mel Gibson have played Christ himself? He's no way "too old" - what do people think 33-year olds looked like in those days, when the average life expectancy was 25-30 years?
Anne 9:12 AM
Fire her: The University of North Carolina English instructor who harassed a heterosexual Christian student in an e-mail directed to the class *should be fired.* Apparently she is not tenured, which means the university can at best fire her at will; at worst can refuse to renew her contract for the following academic year.
You can bet any money that a non-tenured instructor who called a gay student a "flaming faggot" would be summarily fired for cause.
Conservative or at least not flaming liberal college students need to stand up for themselves on campuses. If they're from middle-class families without debt, or upper-middle class families, they are paying through the nose for a university education that increasingly subjects them to abuse. They are going into debt for the privilege of being harassed, called sexist, racist, homophobic, whatever.
What students need to do is use the universities' own "non-discrimination" policies against the universities themselves. If on-campus review boards fail to satisfy, they should sue in the civil courts.
By that reasoning, adding "sexual orientation" as a category to discrimination / disciplinary codes *could* be made to work far more often for heterosexuals - simply because there are so many more straights on campus than gays. If every straight student demanded disciplinary and/or tort relief for being called a "homophobe," "breeder," and so on, the officials would rue the day they ever set such codes up in the first place.
Anne 8:52 AM
The Germans have it right: Islamic headscarves on public officials, especially, are *political* symbols, not religious, and therefore should be banned.
I guess they should know.
Anne 8:44 AM
Governor Schwarzenegger weighs in: finally! What took him so long? The only social unrest he should fear is that which he caused, by allowing the circus to stay in town as long as it did.
As I understand it, it's a misdemeanor for a California public official to issue a marriage license to someone legally incapable of marrying in that state. Every official who is participating, and the mayor who's allowing it to happen, should be *arrested* summarily.
My question is, in the open-season anarchistic free-fall that is San Francisco, why haven't the polygamists, four-wife Muslims, brother-sister couples, etc. also turned up for their own "marriage licenses?"
Answer: because *they* would not receive one.
All law-breaking is equal, but some law-breakers are more equal than others.
Anne 8:35 AM
Go, Ralph, Go! Anyone hands you a petition to get Ralph Nader on the 2004 presidential ballot, sign it!!! It's the best thing you could do for the Bush candidacy right now. Better yet, carry a petition around yourself - sign up here.
I'm doing my part: I voted in the Democratic primary and punched the little punch card (yes, we still have them here in Missouri) for Al Sharpton. Unfortunately he didn't get any delegates from my fair state, though. Too bad: the prospect of a yapping mob of Sharpton delegates showing up at the Democratic Convention was delicious to contemplate.
But Nader - that's just sweet. Obviously the Democrats are worried, as this web ad shows.
Anne 8:13 AM
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Outsourcing: it's not just for engineers anymore: Tax preparation firms are outsourcing tax returns to accountants in India. The Indian accountants make 10% of what an American accountant makes ($300 a month versus $3000.)
So do they sign as "tax preparer" on the 1040? What is the IRS supposed to do, extradite one if he messes up? I also doubt that the 90% cost savings is passed on to the customer.
Anne 8:36 PM
Saturday, February 21, 2004
Good milk and good politics: Go buy some Oberweis Dairy milk. Yum.
Anne 9:37 PM
They should just fly to San Francisco: How oppressive it is in the Antipodes, where these siblings are forbidden to marry each other. It's downright discriminatory.
(Actually, there's really no reason to forbid this particular couple from marrying, as they're man and woman, and not blood relations.)
Anne 9:23 PM
Hurts our feelings, precious, yes, it does: The Indians are calling us "protectionist" because H-1B visas are suspended until October. Wonder what the market for US goods is in India? From the Heritage Foundation:
Despite years of reform, India maintains the highest tariff barriers in the noncommunist world, with average rates at nearly 30 percent. The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal 2001 Index of Economic Freedom ranks India in the bottom quintile of its 161-country survey, categorizing India’s economy as "mostly unfree." The BJP recognizes the need to open India’s markets to foreign business but is characteristically long on rhetoric and short on results. There are numerous areas in which trade barriers could be eliminated...How about a little reciprocity here? Let India open itself to US goods, without tariffs - or let us impose massive tariffs on all those companies which outsource to India.
Anne 9:13 PM
Isn't non-judgmentalism grand? Just don't try this at home, kids.
Anne 9:05 PM
The bad boys at Princeton Review graded three "essays" by famous writers according to the grading standards for the new and "improved" SAT test's essay requirement.
The new SAT will have a maximum of 2400 points total, up from 1600. The 800-point essay will be graded in less than two minutes by moonlighting high school teachers.
How to get a high score? Easy: just sound like a droning academic worker bee:
To receive a high score a student should write a long essay of three or more paragraphs, with each paragraph containing topic and concluding sentences and at least one sentence that includes the words "for example." Whenever possible the student should use polysyllabic words where shorter, clearer words would suffice. The SAT essay will not be a place to take rhetorical chances. Flair will win no points; the highest-scoring essays will be earnest, long-winded, and predictable.
How they fared: Shakespeare: 2/6; Hemingway; 3/6, Gertrude Stein: 1/6; Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber): 6/6.
I guess Stein's low score would have kept her out of Radcliffe. Hemingway started his writing career as a 17-year old cub reporter, and Shakespeare definitely didn't require a university education. Kaczynski got into Harvard - supposedly the American dream of every SAT crammer.
There's a moral here somewhere...
Anne 2:56 PM
The Law is an Ass Department: A 29-year old man in Detroit, MI, will be forced to pay child support for a child he fathered 15 years ago, at age 14, as a consequence of what the Detroit Free Press euphemistically called "hav[ing] sex with a married woman."
While the man at 14 was young enough to have been considered a victim of statutory rape, no charges apparently were filed.
Initially a lower court ruled that the child's father didn't have to pay, but that ruling was reversed.
There's clearly been a sea-change in attitudes about sex involving young teenage boys over the past decades. In 1971, the film Summer of '42 gave a dreamy, romantic portrayal of a 15-year old boy in a one-night-stand with a war widow in her 20s. I already mentioned the 1972 novel Man Without a Face, lauded when published for its "sensitivity" describing a similar one-night-stand between a 14-year old boy and his 40-something male tutor. The 1971 French film Murmur of the Heart makes a comedy out of a boy being seduced by his mother.
You can't have it both ways. Either the boy was (wink, wink) simply enjoying sexual initiation by an older woman, and should then pay the consequences for his promiscuity, or he was a victim of statutory rape (even if unprosecuted), as much a victim as the unborn child himself. There's more than a bit of culture clash in the second court's decision.
Anne 11:49 AM
Friday, February 20, 2004
No Child Left Behind regulations were eased by the Federal Department of Education as schools were cut some slack on the pace of achievement testing for limited-English students. From the article:
The federal changes, to take effect this year, will allow schools to exempt all students who are in their first year of attending a school in the U.S. from taking the reading test. These first-year students would take the math test, but schools would not be required to report those scores.
The U.S. Department of Education (news - web sites) also will broaden the definition of limited-English students so that some of the higher achieving students are included. Now, the only students counted in this subgroup are those in bilingual or English-as-a-second-language programs, not those who have transitioned to mainstream classes.
The change would allow schools to keep such children in the limited-English subgroup for up to two years after they are considered proficient in English, a move that is expected to boost the subgroup's scores and give schools more credit for helping them progress.
Now if only the law would stop trying to repeal the laws of biology, and give school districts equal consideration when it comes to special education students. Their scores are also figured into the average, even if they can't speak, write, or are severely retarded or otherwise mentally handicapped.
Anne 1:44 PM
Gay Agenda Watch: At the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, a student was singled out and ridiculed before a "Literature and Cultural Diversity" class for voicing his views opposing homosexual practices.
Professor Elyse Crystall posted an e-mail message to the class, saying that the student was "a white, heterosexual, [C]hristian male ... [who] ... can feel entitled to make violent, heterosexist comments and not feel marked or threatened or vulnerable."
A couple of points here. It would have been highly amusing if the professor had instead said, "So-and-so is a black, homosexual, pagan male who can feel entitled to make violent comments about breeders..." But I forgot - "victims" can never be bigoted.
While the student needs to be vindicated (and probably should sue, just to keep the administration and everyone else on their toes), all the same, one does have to wonder about the wisdom of signing up for a class called "Literature and Cultural Diversity."
Anne 10:11 AM
Since Mel Gibson is in the news so much these days, I thought I'd dig out the original novel upon which his 1993 directorial debut was based, Man Without a Face.
Written in 1972 by Isabelle Holland, the novel's deeply disturbing. In Gibson's film version, the boy and his tutor (a seriously scarred former teacher played by Gibson) develop a close *working* relationship as the man prepares the boy for an entrance exam. Their relationship is marred by a *false* accusation of child abuse.
In the novel, however, the tutor is indeed homosexual, and when the fourteen-year-old boy ends up staying the night at his house, he brings the boy into bed with him and some kind of sexual act occurs (it's not written clearly.) The author conveniently kills the scholar off at the end, and the boy ends up inheriting his entire estate. It's held in trust for him by the family lawyer, who not-so-coincidentally remarries the boy's mother, and who is known as "Barry Rumble Seat." You get the impression the lawyer might or might not be a bit lavender around the edges himself.
One gay website mentioned that Mel Gibson himself had tried to exert pressure to get further editions to edit out the homosexual references.
The book also appears on any number of gay-rights "recommended for gay youth" book lists.
Anyway, it was interesting but weird to take this little jog in the literary "wayback machine." Today, any adult who spent 4-6 hours a day alone with a child behind his parent's back; took that child for picnics and swim parties, and then let the child spend the night with him (again, without the parent knowing), and *then* brought him into bed would be nailed to the wall - even *without* the sex.
It's also inconceivable that gay-rights groups would even want to be remotely associated with this story, with its obvious pedophiliac overtones.
Anne 9:35 AM
A prophetic letter to the editor from a technology sales executive appeared in today's Wall Street Journal. In part it said:
As more low-to mid-level professional jobs are offshored, more of the middle class will disappear, just as occurred when manufacturing jobs went offshore. [The] argument that new jobs are being created in "next-generation" industries such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, although true, fails to also say that these new jobs generally require master's and PhD-level educations in science, math, physics, and chemistry.
... The real reason corporate America is offshoring these jobs is cost - plain and simple cost reduction. At the current rate, I envision a two-class society within 10 years. It was the middle class that made this country the envy of the world. If we lose that, what's left? A class of people working for minimum wage barely able to get by and a class of executives in ivory towers.
There's no reason why biotechnology jobs can't be outsourced as well.
Anne 9:16 AM
Furniture makers look to China as US wooden-furniture employment drops by 1/3 in five years, according to today's Wall Street Journal.
Furniture makers used to be skilled craftsmen. Now they're factory workers whose "efficiency index" is quantified and used to weed out the stragglers.
I suppose Chinese laogai (slave prison camp) laborers are more efficient - they have to be.
While upholstered pieces like sofas and chairs are still largely made in the US, we have to just look a little harder for US-made wooden furniture (chairs, tables, bedroom sets.) The Amish are still making furniture, often in small family businesses. We can try to find local craftsmen in our area and either buy their wares, or pay them to repair old but quality wooden furniture we may have in our attics or basements. We can buy used furniture from estate sales, second-hand stores, etc.
We can learn to refinish old furniture or even make some pieces ourselves.
We can even, perhaps, ask ourselves if that piece is really necessary, and if it's not, try doing without it.
Handmade or locally-made items may be "more expensive" in the short run. In the end we will have a better-quality piece, and the satisfaction of knowing that we've either helped a US worker (in the case of the Amish or local craftsmen.)
If we've made or repaired something ourselves, we have the satisfaction of knowing that we've done far more than obtained a "consumer good" - we've made the transition from "consumer" to "producer" (or at least partial producer) ourselves, and the value is beyond the extra money we've spent.
Anne 9:10 AM