Sunday, December 31, 2006
Here's a sampling:
- Debtors in New Hampshire – where the state motto is “Live Free or Die” – can no longer be subject to peonage, or holding a person in servitude or partial slavery to work off a debt. (So, those of you holding a mortgage or college loans please take note! hahaha)
- Pistol-packing judges in Kansas will be able to carry concealed weapons into their courtrooms. (Ya think Judge Judy packs heat?)
- In Arkansas, it will be illegal to display a Social Security Number or require someone to send it over the Internet (unless the information is encrypted). Maryland employers cannot print any part of their employees’ Social Security Numbers on the paycheck or stub.
- Meanwhile, identity thieves in eight states – Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin – will find it harder to defraud victims because new “security freeze” laws would ensure thieves cannot open new accounts under victims’ names. By Jan. 1, 26 states will have such a law.
- Gift cards in Kansas will have to be good for at least five years.
- Massachusetts will become the 50th state to require new hunters to pass a hunter-safety course before receiving a license. (Dick Cheney please take notice)
- It will become tougher for local governments to seize land for economic development in Florida, Illinois and Iowa, as the three states’ new eminent domain laws take effect. (oh, how I wish Connecticut would DO SOMETHING to protect landowners!)
- This year’s fierce immigration debate has led to a tough new law in Colorado, where employers will have to verify new workers’ identification in 2007 to ensure they aren’t illegal immigrants. Employers also must retain copies of the documents they’ve checked. (Let's give Colorado a huge round of applause for this one!)
Yup - I noticed that Connecticut had nothing to contribute to this list.. Apparently the "Land of Steady Habits" continues to vote in legislators who fail to accomplish anything meaningful except spending more money and taxing us more.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Originally uploaded by miqul.
"The Galveston County Sheriff's Department is the first sheriff's department in Texas and the 47th nationwide to join the Children's Identification Database, or CHILD Project.Yup - they want your kids to get their irises scanned so that they can be identified if they get kidnapped.. or if they run away.
The addition of Galveston County is part of an effort to image the irises of 5 million children into a nationwide database over the next few years, said Robert Melley, vice president and CEO of Biometric Intelligence & Identification."
"So far, the CHILD Project is in 26 states after more than 18 months, said Biometric President Sean Mullin. Children with an iris scan in the national database cannot be identified unless they are in a county that has the CHILD Project equipment, he said.So wait a second .. don't they have to find the kid first in order to match their eyes? or are they planning to check the kids eyes after they are found dead on the roadside?
The system can scan an eye and match an iris in 3 to 5 seconds after comparing it with stored images in a national database, Mullin said."
"Leonard acknowledged that some parents might see the iris scans as an invasion of privacy but said he is certain doubters could be won over.Oh - I am really comforted to know that they are making efforts to keep information private (Not!)
O'Reilly said the CHILD Project overcame privacy objections by programming the database to remove an iris scan automatically once a child turns 18, unless he or she is still listed as missing.
He also said that only enough information to find the parents, or the family in the case of an elderly person, would be entered. Personal information, such as Social Security numbers, would not be used, he said."
The least amount of biometric information that the government has on me or my family members the better.. because one can NEVER be assured that the information will be hacked into - or sold - or stolen.
Anyone recall Minority Report, and everyone having to be subjected to retinal eye scans? (hence the need to get eye transplants to fake one's identity)
Not so entirely far fetched now... eh?
Look where this has been installed already.
File this one under Big Brother.
Remember they are building a national database.
This is almost as bad a tatooing one's arm with a number..
Friday, December 29, 2006
Mine was :
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Northeast
|The Inland North|
|What American accent do you have?|
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The article says:
Five years ago, frustrated with the pace and depth of a Chicago Public School gifted program, Abby withdrew from eighth grade and entered uncharted territory -- a branch of home schooling often called "unschooling."
Now at age 18 she has been accepted to Princeton. Abby Stewart says this:
"I do exactly what feels right to me," says Abby. "If I want to just read literature for three weeks or three months, that's perfectly fine with my family."This just goes to prove that kids are quite capable of going after what they want, and learning what they need to know on their own terms. The best part of this to me, is that she has ownership of her own education. As a result she has become independent and has developed leadership abilities that most kids her age simply do not have. Bravo to her, and kudos to her parents who allowed her to explore and be who she wants to be.
(H/T Jackie O')
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Originally uploaded by ART NAHPRO.
Here is something that you may not know about Gerald Ford regarding education:
"Ford fought against expansion of the role of the national government. He consistently opposed federal aid to education, including funds for school construction, emergency school aid, and increased appropriations for higher education."
Now there was a man who understood the meaning of the Tenth Amendment, especially as it pertained to education.
Read more here
a WWII veteran
an Eagle Scout
a 33rd Degree Freemason (do you know how many other Presidents were Freemasons?)
Susan Ryan's blog post about Gerald Ford is definitely worth reading over at Corn and Oil
She posted a terrific quote from President Ford:
"A government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have."
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
The U.S. is planning a test of the draft system even though they (the White House) claims that there are no plans to bring back the draft.
The last test of the military draft system was conducted in 1998 — and this probably will not occur until 2009, but the Selective Service will start planning for the 2009 tests next June or July, unless budget cuts force the agency to cancel them. They claim that this is merely a "readiness exercise".
Of course we all know that Charlie Rangel (Dem) NY, introduced a bill in Congress to bring back the draft... but that was just to get attention... actually many say that Rangel did this to prove a point, namely, that he believes that the "elite" in this country don't serve.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
On the 12th day of the Eurocentrically imposed midwinter festival, my potential-acquaintance-rape-survivor gave to me: - Twelve males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming. - Eleven pipers piping (plus the 18-member pit orchestra made up of members in good standing of the Musicians Equity Union as called for in their union contract even though they will not be asked to play a note...) - Ten melanin-deprived testosterone-poisoned scions of the patriarchal ruling class system leaping, - Nine persons engaged in rhythmic self-expression, - Eight economically disadvantaged female persons stealing milk-products from enslaved Bovine-Europeans, - Seven endangered swans swimming on protected wetlands, - Six enslaved fowl-Europeans producing stolen nonhuman animal products, - Five golden symbols of culturally sanctioned enforced domestic incarceration, Note: after member of the Animal Liberation Front threatened to throw red paint at my computer, the calling birds, French hens and partridge have been reintroduced to their native habitat. To avoid further animal-European enslavement, the remaining gift package has been revised. - Four hours of recorded whale songs, - Three deconstructionist poets, - Two Sierra Club calendars printed on recycled processed tree carcasses - And an Animal Rights activist chained to an old-growth pear tree.
Happy Holidays !
belated Hannukah Greetings !
May you all have a very happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful New Year !
This homeschooler's got it going on.. read the article.
(H/T Susan F.)
Photo originally uploaded by digitalgrace.
Irish rocker and humanitarian, Bono will become a knight of the British empire - but the U2 lead singer won't be called "Sir." The Dubliner, whose real name is Paul Hewson, won't be entitled to use the title "Sir" because he is not a national of Britain or the Commonwealth of former British colonies. Britain confirmed Saturday Bono will receive his honorary knighthood from the British ambassador to Ireland, David Reddaway, in a Dublin ceremony shortly after New Year's Day.
The Daily Mail mentions that the announcement came through on email. Yes, the official notification revealing that Tony Blair had awarded an honorary knighthood to his friend, rock star Bono, lead singer of U2, came in an email which began: "Hi folks." The award was seen as Mr Blair's reward to Bono for organizing last year's Live8 concerts in the run-up to the G8 summit in Gleneagles, where the Prime Minister persuaded the world's eight leading economic powers to take more action to combat global poverty.
Personally, I'm happy for him. He does some good work and deserves recognition. This is almost as exciting as when the Beatles got their knighthood, and I wonder what glasses he'll sport for the event.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Wagner sold about 250 poles in 2005, and earned a few thousand dollars from Festivus pole sales, with around 100 sales coming from the firm's 120 employees. This season, it sold about 300 poles by mid-December and was on pace to sell twice that number by Saturday.
Wagner offers a 6-foot Festivus pole for $38 and a 2-foot-8-inch tabletop model for $30. The setup is simple: a hollow pipe, 1.9 inches in diameter, inserted into a collapsible aluminum base.
Now there's some entrepreneurial spirit!
According to Seinfeld, Festivus is celebrated each year on December 23, but many people celebrate it other times, often in early December. Its slogan is "A Festivus for the rest of us!" An aluminum pole is generally used in lieu of a Christmas tree or other holiday decoration, shedding holiday materialism. Those attending the celebration, participate in the "Airing of Grievances" in which each person tells each and everyone else all the ways they've disappointed him/her over the past year, and after a Festivus dinner, the "Feats of Strength" are performed. Traditionally, Festivus is not over until the head of the household is wrestled to the floor and pinned.
Parents are being advised to limit kids' use of noisy toys because some toys can emit noise at a high enough level to cause permanent hearing damage if held too close to the ear. This conclusion comes out of new research from the UK.
Noise levels of 15 popular toys for children aged 3 months to 15 years were tested. The recommended top noise limit for toys is 85 decibels. Prolonged exposure to noise above this level can cause permanent hearing damage. Noise of 140 decibels or above can cause immediate hearing damage.
Anyone for a nice quiet game of Junior Monopoly, Milles Borne, or Uno?
Friday, December 22, 2006
For those of you who celebrate - I hope it was a good one..
Ours was quiet and happy, and we certainly had our fill of potato pancakes!
My only regret was that I did not have the chance to make soufganiot (jelly filled donuts) this time around.
Well, the Graduation Report is out and the news doesn't look too great for the government schools. The national average is 70%. "When 30 percent of our 9th graders fail to finish high school with a diploma, we are dealing with a crisis that has frightening implications for our country’s future,” said EPE Research Center Director Christopher B. Swanson, who oversaw the development of the report.
Heck, in Hartford CT alone, where we dump huge sums of money into urban schools (at the great expense of suburban taxpayers), the graduation rate is a mere 29% .. Yes, you heard me right, it's a mere 29% .. pathetic is the word.
In Hartford, Superintendent of Schools Steven J. Adamowski and board members were ecstatic with the news.. because they long believed the reality was more grim than the figures the public school system typically reports to the state, except that they didn't have the data to back up their hunches. (Good thing they had Editorial Projects in Education Research Center do the real investigating for them).
Check this out:
For the 2005-06 school year, for example, Hartford reported an annual graduation rate of 89 percent to the state, using criteria that appear to meet state standards. But Adamowski, at the board's request, took his own approach and broke down the data differently. By Adamowski's calculation, 29 percent of the students who started together as freshmen made it to graduation in the 2005-06 school year; 10 percent dropped out; 27 percent remained enrolled but attended school only sporadically; and 34 percent transferred out of the district.Um... hello.. can't anyone see these kids obviously think the programs they have there are crap, which is why they are leaving to go to other programs that work for them?
The largest number of students who transferred "out of the district" actually transferred to the city's adult education program, which is not accredited as a high school program, so students can't use their diploma from the program to go to college. Adamowski showed the board data revealing that more students graduate from adult education than from any of the accredited high schools. "Our high schools may be pushing out the most challenging students or we may be providing an incentive for kids to go to the adult school because it's easier," Adamowski said.
Of course this good-horrible news allows them the best reasons why they need more resources to deal with this "crisis" - except their solutions are to make the kids stay in those horrible programs longer, and to tax the citizens of CT even more.
Hinted proposals to address this "crisis" is of course more funding, and increasing the school year by as much as a month - with one board member noting that European nations that outperform the United States have longer school years. Also under attack is the school calendar that starts the school year after Labor Day and gives students a week off before they take the all-important Connecticut Mastery Test.
Aren't you glad we now have all those expert "degreed" people working on $olving thi$ "cri$i$"?
Letter to the Courant: 12/30/06
Adult Education Diplomas Accepted
The new superintendent of the Hartford public school system is sadly mistaken. Adult education programs in Connecticut are accredited by the state [Connecticut section, Dec. 20, "Report: 29% Of Students Graduate"]. He is totally wrong when he says that adult education students cannot use their diplomas to go to college.
It is a legal state of Connecticut-approved diploma, and students from Middletown's adult education program have gone on to Southern Connecticut State University, Central Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, the University of Connecticut, Middlesex Community College and many out-of-state schools including the University of Southern Florida, Salve Regina University, Johnson State in Vermont, etc.
James Thomas Melley
The writer is a guidance counselor for the Middletown adult education program.
This is how it works:
If a company offers what the public wants, then it gets to stay in business (the odds are even better if they have decent management).
If it doesn't offer what the public wants then it goes out of business. (horse and buggy whips or Edsels anyone?)
Make it cheaper, make it better, make it what someone needs and presto - you got a money making hit on your hands. Everyone wins.
We don't need the food police, and we don't need the government stepping in to subsidize failing businesses and keep them on life support.
For the record, Americans also know very well how to boycott companies for every reason from animal testing to selling offensive T-shirts.
Free Market Capitalism - the key to economic growth, innovation, and economic freedom.
This one's for you Milton Friedman !
Oh.. and of course this applies to education as well..
Not satisfied with the government schools? You can leave them as well; and many are doing just that to the tune of about 15% a year growth in homeschooling.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Well, I can't say as I blame the poor woman. Susette Kelo has literally been kicked out of her home for private development's gain, so she decided to send city officials and members of New London's development agency, a little holiday message. OK, so it wasn't in the spirit of Christmas, but seeing as she was forced against her will to accept a settlement, I can see why she would be bitter.
I took this photo at the State Capitol in Hartford in May 2006, at a rally in support of the New London residents. I had the pleasure of meeting Susette Kelo as well as Michael Christofaro. Both are very nice people who were thrust into the national spotlight by being tossed out of their homes for the gain of private development. The misery and aggravation (and legal costs) that they had to endure is not something anyone should have to live through.
Those municipal leaders and developers just don't get it that sometimes the money doesn't matter, sometimes it's the principle of the thing, and sometimes it's about one's Constitutional right to their property. People are still reeling from the Supreme Court's decision to allow the taking of private property in order to give it to private developers so they can make money on this real estate deal thinly disguised as a "public benefit". Susette Kelo may have settled for more than $400,000, but I will wager that those developers will reap many many millions more from that prime piece of real estate.
Here is the text of the holiday card (which showed a lovely picture of her home on the front) that Susette Kelo sent to members of the New London Development Corp., city officials, and others involved in taking her house to make way for private development:
Here is my house that you did take
From me to you, this spell I make
Your houses, your home
Your family, your friends
May they live in misery
That never ends.
I curse you all
May you rot in hell
To each of you
I send this spell
For the rest of your lives
I wish you ill
I send this now
By the power of will
Well, I suppose if Babe Ruth can curse the Red Sox, Susette Kelo can curse the folks who took her property from her.
"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If `Thou shalt not covet' and `Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free."
It is the shortest day of the year, and it is when night has its greatest dominion, but it also from this day on that light begins to grow.
Take a peek at FactMonster and check out all the neat information about this interesting day on our calendar.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Research shows that the most accurate predictor of a student's achievement in school is not income or social status, but the extent to which that student's family is able to
1) Create a home environment that encourages learning,
2) Express high expectations for their children's achievement and future careers,and
3) Become involved in their children's education at school and in the community.
So... homeschoolers do just that and more... and yet the NEA hypocrites see homeschooling as an undesirable evil. Maybe if they collected dues from us homeschool parents (perish the thought), then we'd be ok in their book.
The NEA has a "continuing resolution" on homeschooling that includes the following statements
B-75. Home Schooling The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used. The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools. The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting. (1988, 2006)Oh puh-leeze.... looks like they talk out of both sides of their mouths..
They want you to be really involved because you are so key to the whole education experience but don't do it yourself because you are incapable of teaching anything except whatever lame curriculum they want you to teach. You know what folks - teaching one's own children (or any other child) is NOT Rocket Science .. unless you are teaching rocket science (big grin). Their whole resolution is so self centered and stupid, that it is amazing any person with a brain would vote yes to accept it. But, that's the NEA for ya.
Suicide is always an overwhelming tragedy for the family involved, but it is a myth that there is an epidemic of childhood suicides. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control the suicide rate among children, including teens, fell about 25 percent in the last decade. The overall rate of suicide among youth has declined slowly since 1992 (Lubell, Swahn, Crosby, and Kegler 2004.)
Mental Health Screening is a marketing ploy by Big Pharma, and the links can be seen if you "follow the money". Unfortunately the government has also gotten involved with mandates for screening programs and funding the agencies that are pushing this nonsense on us and our children.
Drug companies have a vested interest in Signs of Suicide, TeenScreen, and similar "mental health testing" groups. It's all in the marketing. Screening introduces a new market for the drug companies. The more people these groups test, the more customers become life-long users of their drug products, which means billions of dollars in profits for the drug companies. The basic purpose of drug companies is to formulate, create, and sell drugs. People who are diagnosed with "mental problems" become customers when they are referred by the testing groups into the mental health system. That these drugs have so many adverse side-effects, including violence, suicidal ideation and death doesn't seem to be part of the equation in the eyes of the drug companies or their shareholders. We are seeing everyday more and more articles coming out about the deception in the drug testing and marketing of these psychotropic drugs.
A warning to school administrators and school board members:
By administering mental health screening in your schools you are putting your schools in a position of liability, for if one child goes through screening without full disclosure and active parental consent, you will subject to an enormous lawsuit by some parent - and this is already happening to school systems in this country. If a child is screened and somehow gets funneled into ultimately taking medication for an illness that they do not have, the school will also become liable because of your referrals which lead to the subsequent destruction of the child's health, and/or life.. these types of lawsuits are also emerging. You should be reminded that the school is not responsible for the child's health, the parent is. No child in our school system should be screened or surveyed without complete disclosure and active parental consent. No parent should be forced or coerced into having their child subjected to screening, therapy or drugging, and their decision not to engage in those activities do not represent neglect.
Please educate yourselves about where these "wellness initiatives" are coming from. Stop enabling the pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatric industry to have access to our children. We must stop this nonsense of "disease mongering" and get back to the business of educating our youth. It would serve us all well if we got the psychiatric industry out of the schools altogether.
Originally uploaded by yonniee.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Originally uploaded by margejames.
An article in the Hartford Courant mentioned the recent outbreaks of food poisoning in restaurants as well as food recalls, and how many government agencies are involved in the investigations.
The E. coli outbreak linked to Taco Bell restaurants peaked last month, but no precise cause has been determined - and one reason for the lag, critics say, is that too many agencies are involved.... In all, 12 to 15 federal agencies are responsible for different aspects of food safety.Olive Garden is the latest casualty. Take a look at the list of food recalls as listed by the Courant and also check out the government websites. For further recall updates, visit the FDA website at or the USDA website.
Some people are beginning to think that some forms of bioterrorism may be at work, otherwise it's just a case of careless workers contaminating the food. I'd hate to think that some small scale tests of purposeful food contamination have been carried out, just to see what happens. In any case, clearly some things have to be done to protect the integrity of the food supply. (and yes, I know that we already have enough "poisons" in our food like neurotoxins in additives, preservatives, and food colorings).
Here is yet another interesting article on agricultural bioterrorism and an interesting blog, plus this report on food borne illnesses and how they get to your table.
As always, consumers can protect themselves by washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water, peeling produce and removing the outer leaves of leafy vegetables.
Monday, December 18, 2006
From making English the official language of local government to banning foreign flags, more than 30 cities or municipalities across the country in recent months have adopted anti-immigrant measures. Many have also passed laws banning landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants and penalizing local businesses that hire illegals.First of all - it's not anti-immigrant ..it's anti-illegal alien.. Illegal aliens are lawbreakers pure and simple. People intentionally confuse illegal immigration with legal immigration such that you are deemed “anti-immigrant” if you think federal law should be enforced (including deportation) .Attaching the euphemistic term "undocumented" to purposeful lawbreakers does not make their breaking the law any less true. Calling an illegal alien an "undocumented immigrant" is like calling a burglar that breaks into your home an uninvited house guest. I am glad to see that some towns and municipalities have the back bone to say "enough already". Businesses should not be hiring non-citizens unless they have proper documentation.
People who are here illegally put a strain on our schools, our social services (including health care), and some are involved in criminal activities. Our taxes pay to put some illegals through college, and pay for their health care. Illegals working on your home can pose a liability to you.
My ancestors came here from Europe and followed the rule of law. Nobody was waiting for them on the shores of Ellis Island with free healthcare. Some folks are comparing that immigration to what is happening on our borders now. To compare our parents’ and grandparents’ immigration with what has been happening now on our borders is absolutely outrageous, historically incorrect, and incredibly insulting to any immigrant who came here legally.
Abiding by the law, and enforcing it until it is changed by the people, is the approach by which our Republic is supposed to work. It is neither "Right" nor "Left". Apparently some legislators condone illegal immigration and would even reward it with programs like in-state tuition breaks for "undocumented immigrants".
UPDATE: Jobs once held by illegals at Swift will now be filled by legal US residents .. and I think that's a good thing. Who says we don't have enough unemployed people who could use those jobs? Who says that illegals are taking jobs that Americans do not want?
Sunday, December 17, 2006
In Texas, the Attorney General is suing alleging that the State's mental facilities were duped into using specific drugs. AG Greg Abbott, along with Allen Jones, a former investigator for the state of Pennsylvania, alleges that a state official pushed certain drugs and was rewarded with money. This is a case of alleged fraud regarding Medicaid.
Georgia State Senator Nancy Schaefer spoke out against mental health screening and this is a speech you really should read.
Some say TeenScreen's Evil Sister - Texas Medication Algorithm (guidelines) Project (TMAP) is a plan concocted by drug companies to influence government officials to push the newest most expensive antipsychotic drugs. Update: Video available on the Texas case. (see: Drug Company Sued).
It is claimed that mental health screening is actually a marketing ploy designed to bring new customers to Big Pharma. Both TMAP and TeenScreen were "recommended" by the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Both are engaged in the first of many lawsuits. There is great national controversy regarding TeenScreen asking kids as young as 9 years old questions about suicide and then referring them to "treatment" (drugs). Lawsuits have been initiated over the fact that screening was done without parental consent. Kids were referred to therapists and put on medications that they did not need. Check out the online petition against TeenScreen, which over 500 doctors have already signed. Check out what schools in your area use TeenScreen.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
One such proposal is:
Oversize clothes should have obesity helpline numbers sewn on them to try and reduce Britain's fat crisis.
Prof Sattar is calling for more political intervention, like mandating that food manufacturers should display energy content of all meals and snacks at retail and catering outlets, and that new urban roads should only be built if they have safe cycle lanes. He also thinks that new housing complexes should be constructed only if they have sports facilities and green park areas.
One reader responded:
Just preclude fat people and smokers from using government funded health care services, or go back to private health care.
Another said: Ban high calorie foods? Raise taxes on fat and calories? Forbid obese people from riding public transportation? You people need to wake up and smell the fascism. If a person wants to over-eat, they should have a right to do so. If it's driving up health care costs, then discontinue socialized health care. You guys are practically goose-stepping; it's scary.
And this is the health care model and ideas that some people in the USA wish to model?
Friday, December 15, 2006
The Jewish Festival of Hannukah begins at sundown tonight. Happy Hannukah to those of you who celebrate, and may this season bring you and your loved ones health, happiness, peace and prosperity.
Here are some fun links:
Celebrate with all kinds of good stuff.
Hannukah in Cyberspace
Ski Dubai - Skiing on snow in the Middle East
Originally uploaded by mytravels0.
Ski Dubai is claimed to be one of the largest indoor ski resorts in the world, with 22,500-square meters of indoor ski area. It is a part of the Mall of the Emirates, the largest shopping mall outside of North America, and the third largest mall in the world. Ski Dubai has 5 runs that vary in difficulty, height and gradient, the longest run being 400 meters with a fall of over 60 meters. A day pass is approx. $62 for an adult and a 2 hour pass is approx. $38 and that includes clothing and equipment rental.
3,500 barrels of oil are consumed every day by power generators to maintain the low temperature of -1...-2 degrees Celsius consistently.
Why is gasoline $2.95 a gallon for regular unleaded?
So people can ski in the desert, that's why!
(Actually, I hear tell that China is creating the gas/oil scarcity due to their expanding economy)
Can someone please get alternatively fueled cars on the road already!
(H/T: Joe V.)
Now it is being reported that the FDA is going to require drug companies to expand antidepressant warning labels to include increased suicide risk for young adults. Warning labels--first required in 2004--apply only to children and adolescents currently. An FDA review, released last week, of more than 372 studies of 11 drugs, including Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil and Lexapro, showed that the drugs may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among adults younger than 25. The study found that 4 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds who took the drugs reported suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, as opposed to 2 percent of patients who took a placebo. What's more is that it is being reported that because these drugs make the person feel a bit better (deemed 'the rollback phenomenon"), that they then have the ability to actually carry out their suicidal intentions.
"If you have a very depressed unhappy person and you start them on medicine, the first one or two weeks on therapy when they're feeling a little better is when they're at highest risk of wanting to kill themselves," child psychiatrist Adelaide Robb told the NewsHour in a 2004 interview.Labelling is one thing, but perhaps we ought not be dispensing this poison to our kids in the first place. Whatever happened to teaching people how to cope with their problems? The fact that we have preservatives, additives, and other garbage in our food supply (as well as the vaccines we are pumping into our kids' arms), which are creating havoc with our brains and nervous systems is something that we (and the FDA) ought to be addressing. We have major problems surfacing with these psychotropic medications, and black box labels will not make them go away. What's worse is that prenatal and postpartum depression are getting press and this has severe implications for moms to be, their unborn children, and new moms as well.
"And the reason is they finally have enough energy to get out of bed and go to the store and buy the Tylenol or the razor blades. Not because the medicine makes them worse, but because the medicine makes them well enough to finally do it."
The facts are in: keep children, teens, young adults, and pregnant women away from psychotropic medication.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The CT Department of Children and Families spoke to the fact that they have no real authority over the schools, (that's a relief, eh?) but that they felt they (DCF), were doing a fabulous job of reducing the use of restraints in their own facilities, although they still have a ways to go. (oh my, what an understatement). The entire hearing was taped by CTN. It is certain that CT will see legislation come out this year on this issue. (HT: Noelle T. who attended).
Here is an excerpt of the Courant article:
When Jill Ely's autistic son tried to hit a high school aide one day last year, the aide pinned him to the floor, leaving him bruised and shaken, Ely said. Wilton High School later developed a behavior plan that included a "safe place" where her son, who also is mentally retarded, could calm down when he became upset, she said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that the safe place would be a room with a door that would be held shut until [he] was completely quiet."Can someone please explain to me why these kids are in public school to begin with; I mean other than nonsensical federal mandates? This is so not what public education was designed to be. Teachers are not equipped to deal with these severe handicaps. Children who are not special ed, should not have to be exposed to the outbursts and extreme behaviors of some autistic students. It is frightening and upsetting to them as well, and it interrupts their own instruction. Some autistic children clearly cannot handle the situation well either. It really isn't fair to everyone all around.
Although state law imposes strict limits on the use of force or seclusion in programs operated by various state agencies, the law does not apply to public schools, said James D. McGaughey, executive director of the protection and advocacy office.
Children's advocates asked for a revision of the law and called for better training of educators and public school staff members who deal with students with behavioral problems.
In Connecticut, the settlement of a lawsuit five years ago required the state to monitor compliance with a federal law requiring schools to educate children with disabilities in regular classrooms whenever possible. But advocates say schools are unprepared to deal with the emotional and behavioral problems that some of those children bring with them.
"The result of the settlement ... is mixed," said Stacy Hultgren, co-director of the Connecticut Autism Spectrum Resource Center. "The settlement did not enforce training and supports to help kids succeed. Not all children with autism should be included in typical settings - the sensory overload of noise, movement, bombardment of language, complex social demands ... can make the classroom a hell on earth for some kids with autism."
Maryann Lombardi, also from Wilton, said her autistic son was routinely sent to what she described as "a padded cell called the timeout room." She said such rooms "are creating a culture within the public school system where employees believe that if you have a disability label, locking you up is OK."
I really don't mean to be prejudicial, but I really believe that since the idea of "mainstreaming" has been incorporated, our school system has served the general mission of educating kids less and less, as instructor time and resources are gobbled up by "emotionally high maintenance" children.
Autism is tragic and we really need to give better support to children and families who deal with it. It seems to me that the kids would really be much better served in schools designed with their specific needs in mind, and with educators who are specifically equipped and trained to handle their needs. Then we certainly would not have a need for restraints, or padded rooms in schools, to hold any child.
Because your time is valuable, I'd like to help you in your quest to economize. Here's a nifty little web page. Just enter your zip code on this site, and it tells you which gas stations have the cheapest prices (and the highest) on gas in your zip code area. It's updated every evening. You will see a map of your area and then scroll down and you will get a listing of gas prices in your area with addresses and brands starting with the cheapest and going up.
(HT: Jeannie S.)
Just do me a personal favor - don't buy CITGO (controlled by Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez).
George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, died of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old. His friend Henry Lee provided a famous eulogy: "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."
With regard to the United Nations, UNESCO, NAFTA, CAFTA and the coming of the North American Union, this day we ought to remember his words:
'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign world. - Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to believe me fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. - Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
But if we are to be told by a foreign Power ... what we shall do, and what we shall not do, we have Independence yet to seek, and have contended hitherto for very little. - letter to Alexander Hamilton, May 8, 1796
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
"Republican leadership's choice to chair the Montana House Education Committee next session has riled public school advocates and leaders, who said Thursday it's a clear message that the GOP considers education funding a low priority.Read it here from the Billings Gazette. This truly merits some watching... and I think I'll join Izzy for some air.
The chairman of the committee for the 2007 Legislature will be Constitution Party Rep. Rick Jore of Ronan, who wants to abolish compulsory attendance of public schools and believes federal funding for education is unconstitutional."
In the first place God made idiots.Read more Twain quotes here
This was for practice.
Then He made school boards.
- Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar
Many public-school children seem to know only two dates--1492 and 4th of July;
and as a rule they don't know what happened on either occasion.
- "The Game" instruction sheet for Mark Twain's Memory Builder.
and visit the Twain House (which is about a mile from where I live)
I am glad to see Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials (ICE) hard at work. Illegal aliens (please stop calling them immigrants) were rounded up in a raid.
An excerpt of the news report:
ICE chief Julie L. Myers told reporters in Washington that agents had uncovered a scheme in which illegal immigrants and others had stolen or bought the identities and Social Security numbers of possibly hundreds of U.S. citizens and lawful residents to get jobs with Greeley-based meat processor Swift & Co.And yet, No charges had been filed against the company! The company claims that they did not know they were illegal, and they do not hire illegals as a matter of practice.
"Swift has never condoned the employment of unauthorized workers, nor have we ever knowingly hired such individuals," Swift & Co. President and CEO Sam Rovit said in a statement.Since 1997, Swift has been using a government pilot program that confirms whether Social Security numbers are valid. Company officials have previously said one shortcoming may be the program's inability to detect when two people are using the same number.
If you'd like to know what businesses are hiring illegal aliens, check out We Hire Aliens. And yes, Swift was on the list.
UPDATE: An article in USA Today.
The National Education Association is working with Congress to get a two-year extension on the tax deduction, said Al Campos, a lobbyist for the organization.They ought to present their receipts to the school administration and demand reimbursement. Perhaps the Superintendents, and their legions of assistants and curriculum specialists, should take a pay cut so that teachers can put the money in the classroom where it really belongs.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Today, Dec. 12 1901, Guglielmo Marconi sent the first Atlantic wireless transmission. His message, which was the Morse-code signal for the letter "s", traveled more than 2,000 miles from Poldhu in Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland, Canada.
The transatlantic transmission won him worldwide fame. Ironically, critics of his project were correct when they said that radio waves would not follow the curvature of the earth, as Marconi believed. What really happened was that the transatlantic radio signal had been headed into space when it was reflected off the ionosphere and bounced back down toward Canada. Of course this was the start of something big!
Marconi continued to make major advances in this field of study. On the day of his funeral, in 1937, all of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) stations were silent for two minutes. It was a fitting tribute to Marconi's contributions to the development of radio.
Think of him today when you are listening to the car radio or adjusting your BlueTooth headset. Can you imagine what he'd say if he saw what communication is like now?
Here's and excerpt:
On December 13, 2006 the FDA's Psychopharmaceutical Drugs Advisory Committee (PDAC) is meeting in Silver Spring, Maryland to discuss antidepressant-induced suicidal behavior in adults. In 2004 the FDA held similar hearings on children and concluded that antidepressants do in fact cause suicide in humans under age eighteen..snip..
The data used to evaluate antidepressant-induced suicidality in adults is not reliable. This is a fact the FDA has yet to face. The data has been pruned, culled and manipulated by the drug companies before being tabulated and released.This pretty much confirms what NJPIRG had testified to in Hartford last week (see my previous post) regarding the misleading marketing and testing of these drugs. There is also an interesting clip on YouTube showing a former pharmaceutical representative speaking out about young children being given these anti-depressants. (HatTip: LarryB)
Monday, December 11, 2006
Cupcakes have now joined the game of tag in the list of banned things from elementary schools, and parents at George Mason Elementary School in Alexandria are pretty upset.
"A lot of people are really angry," said Karen Epperson, a George Mason parent. "They think this is really stupid."This year, schools across the country began enforcing new federally mandated "wellness policies," and many are banning the little treats. Some parents are really annoyed and upset with the policies being put into place.
I have to chuckle at what our legislators are spending their time on. can you believe that Texas tried to ban cupcakes in schools last year? Their was such an uproar, that legislators passed the "Safe Cupcake Amendment" to protect the right of parents to tote cupcakes to school. After the vote, one lawmaker remarked, "We didn't realize how important cupcakes were." It's apparently part of the American landscape, and our collective childhood psyche. Cupcakes are apparently one of the gauges of good parenting; every good mom bakes cupcakes to bring to school at some point in her child's life.
But alas, with childhood obesity and diabetes, and kids' with allergies and all, the cupcake was doomed to go. Betty Crocker better be busy figuring out what to do about this because I can foresee a downward spiral of their sales of cupcake mixes. This could affect our economy big time!
On the other hand if they let the kids play tag, maybe the kids will just burn off those cupcake calories - just like we did when we were kids.
Take a moment to do this, and I am sure it'll brighten some soldier's day. Interesting too is the gallery of cards already sent, including those penned by some celebrities.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
According to a Hartford Courant article,
"Connecticut should spend as much as $100 million over the next two years to expand children's services, including preschool classes, to make the state "a national model for early childhood education," a state committee said Wednesday."They want to spend
$31 million next year and nearly $72 million in 2008 to a range of programs covering education, social services and health programs now estimated to cost the state about $539 million annually, according to a report issued earlier this year by the Connecticut Early Childhood Education CabinetThis plan is the first stage of a five-year proposal which will more than double the number of low-income children in preschool classes, to train more preschool teachers and aides, and to bolster the quality of preschool programs statewide. In CT , they say that already about 77% of our kindergartners attend some type of preschool, although it is lower in urban cities.
Now I am not against preschool entirely; my two eldest children attended preschool for a short while. They played with blocks and Legos and sang songs. I paid for their preschool out of my husband's and my own working wages. I hated that they were there, because I wanted to be with them; but I succumbed to huge local peer pressure to have my kids in preschool. I also have a child who did not attend preschool,because by then I decided to make an unpopular choice at the time and I left the corporate world to raise my own children. My youngest child is no different in intelligence or ability compared to my two oldest, and I don't think they had any advantage in attending preschool over my youngest. But I guess because I am not a stereotypical lower income minority parent considered uneducated and uncaring, my results have varied.
What I object to here is state/taxpayer funded preschool, which is really designed to add more legions/members to the teacher's unions, and raise the salaries of preschool teachers. The move for early childhood education to be part of the public school system, is really being pushed by those who want more teachers on the taxpayer dole, by creating the "certification programs" to be able to employ preschool teachers by public schools. Additionally, the intention is to put the infrastructure in place and then lower the compulsory attendance age to make sure that all 3 and 4 year olds attend public school, just like in European countries (and follows the UNESCO agenda). The UK has even instituted a national curriculum for babies. To me that is nothing more than encouraging the outsourcing of parenthood, and allowing the state to raise the majority of our children.
Offering pre-school for lower income families across the state is not a bad idea entirely. We have Headstart programs that do just that, as well as vouchers available for lower income families to use in private preschools. That seems to be working fine for those families who need this type of resource. It's probably necessary to increase the number of slots available, but I don't believe that we ought to be making families dependent on the state for childcare, and I don't believe that taxpayers ought to be shelling out millions for "preschool for all", and I don't believe that Pre-K should be administered by the public school system.
Preschool is advertised to be a mechanism used to "close the education gap", that is supposedly created by kids who don't attend preschool and those who do, or as most people would have us believe, by lower income minority parents who don't give a whit about their kids, and us rich suburban folks who send junior off to formal education in a limousine. You know, we've heard the horror stories of those minority parents on crack leaving their babies in a playpen in front of the TV set all day. Proponents of Universal Pre-K make it sound like that's the norm. If I were a minority parent in an urban city I'd be outraged, especially in light of the fact that these parents are the very parents who are fighting tooth and nail to get a decent education for their kids. The notion that urban parents are a bunch of dolts needing the state to raise their kids for them, evaporates when you look at the superb results of places like Jumoke Academy and Amistad Academy. Are there people that need help? Sure, but there are programs by the busload in place already. What is really needed is an audit to see which ones are working.
The folks going around preaching the gospel of Universal Pre-K (like the League of Women Voters) are telling everyone that kids need credentialed professionals to teach these kids how to use a public restroom, how to make eye contact, how to get along and be able to express themselves to someone other than a family member. They are upset that there still exists Kith and Kin care where, heaven forbid, kids are being cared for by unlicensed and unregulated family members/relatives. Additionally, they are trying to use science to state their case, making sure you can see the difference between a brain scan of a child on Pre-K and one not on pre-K. It's nonsense, but by golly they will even tell you that government funded Pre-K is a good investment for our country because "the kids make better citizens".
The truth of the matter is that states (like Illinois and Georgia) that have implemented Universal Preschool and have spent millions of dollars doing so, have found that the results are really not worth the money. Any gains made early on virtually disappear by 3rd grade. This has been documented in several places. CT policy makers are already balking at the cost of this preschool proposal and wondering where all the funding will come from, especially at a time when school budgets are being scrutinized, and taxpayers are already screaming about increases.
In CT, our own chairman of the Education Committee, Thomas Gaffey, had written a letter in July 2006, to Allan Taylor, chairman of the State Board of Education lamenting the fact that despite the offering of "school readiness" programs in his district they had failed to make the gains in 4th grade reading that they had hoped for. He questioned the efficacy of the programs. Even Edward Zigler, one of the founders of Head Start and a longtime academic advocate of preschool programs, stated in 1987 (during the late 1980s push for federal babysitting):
"This is not the first time universal preschool education has been proposed . . . The arguments in favor of preschool were that it would reduce school failure, lower dropout rates, increase test scores, and produce a generation of more competent high school graduates. . . Preschool education will achieve none of these results."An article written by the Cato Institute offers some interesting insights on Universal Pre-K as does this one.
But what riles me most is comments like, "You are not serving your child properly if you are waiting till age 5 to educate your child." This implies that parents are incapable of teaching their children anything, and that everyone should hand over their children to the credentialed "professionals" as soon as possible, or risk ruining their children's chances for a fulfilling and successful life forever. Don't forget that in addition to adding more teachers to the NEA's membership, that what is really going on here is that they need your kids so they can collect and track data on their health and development, in order to develop more public policy! There is a war going on over your children.
Kindergarten was always intended to be the setting for "school readiness". Everyone who attended kindergarten came from different levels of knowledge, and kindergarten was supposed to make sure everyone was on the same page before beginning school in 1st grade. That notion has only changed because there is much money to be made in early childhood education, a lofty euphemism for nursery school.
The question remains, will taxpayers be convinced that they need to pony up for this?
I'm not convinced this is a worthwhile expense or that it is healthy for our kids, and I plan to tell you more about this in upcoming blog posts. Rest assured, the push for Universal Pre-K is happening all over our country. Some states, like California, have already said NO (Proposition 82), and others are still wrestling with it.
Friday, December 8, 2006
Today, back in 1993, The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The agreement created the world's largest free-trade zone and was intended to encourage other nations to work toward a broader world-trade pact. This trade pact between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, eliminated virtually all tariffs and trade restrictions between these three nations. Clinton considered the passage of NAFTA as a major victory for him and his party.
During its planning stages, NAFTA was heavily criticized by Reform Party presidential candidate Ross Perot. He argued that with the passage of NAFTA, Americans would hear a "giant sucking sound" of American companies fleeing the United States for Mexico, where employees work for less pay and without benefits.
Well, Mr. Perot need not have worried. Those workers have instead fled here illegally. They have come over our largely unprotected borders, and nothing much has been done about it. Instead, private citizen "Minutemen" stand guard. Our government has done little to strengthen the borders, and the reason is simple. The plan is to pretty much erase our borders by 2010. We'll be part of the "North American Union" - complete with a new currency called "the Amero".
The idea to form the North American Union, knitting together Canada, the United States and Mexico into a super-regional political and economic entity was a key agreement resulting from the March 2005 meeting held at Baylor University in Waco, Tex., between President Bush, President Fox and Prime Minister Martin.
It hasn't gotten much press.. and this has been moving forward very quietly. Texas Congressman Ron Paul and a few others have spoken out about how this "agreement" (versus a treaty) is being done outside of established Congressional oversight.
A joint statement published by the three presidents following their Baylor University summit announced the formation of an initial entity called, “The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America” (SPP). The joint statement termed the SPP a “trilateral partnership” aimed at producing a North American security plan as well as providing free market movement of people, capital, and trade across the borders between the three NAFTA partners. The NAFTA highway going from Mexico to Canada will utilize existing US highways, with thousands of acres of land to be taken via eminent domain for expansion. It is called NASCO, North America's Super-Corridor Coalition.
The North American Union is envisioned to create a super-regional political authority that could override the sovereignty of the United States on immigration policy and trade issues. In his testimony, given in June 2005, to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Pastor, the Director of the Center for North American Studies at American University, stated clearly the view that the North American Union would need a super-regional governance board to make sure the United States does not dominate the proposed North American Union once it is formed. Pastor was a vice chairman of the CFR task force that produced the report “Building a North American Community.” He also spoke before the Canadian House of Commons saying that we should identify ourselves as "North Americans". Pastor’s 2001 book, “Toward a North American Community” called for the creation of a North American Union that would perfect the defects Pastor believes limit the progress of the European Union. Much of Pastor’s thinking appears aimed at limiting the power and sovereignty of the United States as we enter into this new super-regional entity. Pastor has also called for the creation of a new currency which he has coined the “Amero,” a currency that is proposed to replace the U.S. dollar, the Canadian dollar, and the Mexican peso.
I kid you not, this is in the works, and you can check out the government websites, as well as other websites, for yourself. Happy birthday NAFTA... your present is our future.
You see.. the problem with cellphones now is that they can provide video documentation.
Greece's educrats have banned cell phones in their schools in response to a flurry of reports where students have used their cellphones to film sexual activity and violent behavior going on in school.
"Pupils are not allowed to have mobile phones in their possession inside school grounds," the education ministry stated in a letter sent to primary and secondary schools.
Recently, educators and psychologists have argued that the videotaping of unruly behavior encourages further disorder, with pupils in some cases competing to create increasingly shocking footage. The issue is also being discussed in our country. Some school systems have already adopted policies to ban cellphones, or are considering them.
I think that perhaps they just don't want the public to know what really goes on in the schools.We had an incident here in my own quiet suburban home town, at Conard High School. A melee broke out, the police were called in, and a young man used his cell phone to capture kids being subjected to police violence. The police were furious and confiscated his cellphone and arrested the boy, claiming he created a breach of peace and interfered with a police officer
Do you recall that the Civil Rights movement here in our country had a big push because the racial violence was being brought into living rooms across America? It is one thing to read about abuse, and quite another to actually see it. Perhaps if kids can videotape what's being perpetrated on them in school, people might wake up to why we have the problems that we have there. Why should there be a double standard; that we can have video surveillance in place by a school system but that kids can't take their own pictures to document what happens there?
Thursday, December 7, 2006
The blogosphere just won't be the same without Spunky. She's decided to call it quits and move on to other pursuits. I want to thank her for her wit and wisdom and lots of really great posts which left us pondering and debating the issues.
I applaud her and wish her the best in life, and Godspeed in following her new paths.