Sunday, June 24, 2007

Greedy Price Gougers?

Oil prices go up because of years environmental hysteria have us too paralyzed with fear to build refineries, dig for domestic oil, or build nuclear power plants. Our 21st century economy is in the hands of demented 7th century religious imperialist thugs, and our leaders are too afraid to loosen that grip. Rather than demonize the barbarians or environmentalists that hold our economy hostage, Congress and other ignorant dopes attack the oil industry because their profits are too high.

The Detroit Free Press was always on board, giving space to any idiot who was willing to attack the oil companies. Just as they've always been sympathetic to the Israel bashers, anyone targeting big oil was welcome company. Now our food prices are set to rise almost as high as our gasoline prices. Are we victims of price gouging from farmers or our local grocery stores? Heavens no.
Get ready to pay $4.50 a gallon this summer -- for milk.

Gasoline prices over $3 a gallon have grabbed consumers' attention, but dairy products and other corn-dependent foods are expected to rise at an even faster rate.

This is happening because of an explosion in the production of ethanol, a gasoline additive touted by the president, automakers and farmers as a way to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.

Up to 20% of the nation's corn crop -- 18% in Michigan -- is now being channeled to ethanol production. That increased demand means the price of corn used to feed cattle and pigs and to make cereals and sweeteners is going up -- 61% between September and May.

Together with the rising costs of wheat and other commodities, corn demand is pushing overall food prices up 4% this year, compared with 2% a year ago, and driving up the costs of breakfast foods -- eggs, bacon, cereal, milk and potatoes -- as much as 10%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Chris Galen, a spokesman for the Arlington, Va.-based National Milk Producers Federation, predicts that the price of a gallon of reduced (2%) fat milk in metro Detroit, which started the year at $2.97 and is now around $3.08, could spike another $1.50 a gallon by the fall.
They expect us to buy some wacky "supply and demand" explanation. Why don't they give the oil companies the same slack? Oh yeah. Oil isn't as environmentally correct as ethanol; except ethanol will cause an increase in pesticide use and a decrease in the natural landscape as more land has to be cleared for corn, not to mention using up more water from underground aquifers. From what I've read, ethanol is a losing proposition all the way around.

Even worse,
But in the past five years, four ethanol refineries have been built in Michigan, with another seven in construction or being proposed. The state has created 20 agriculture renaissance zones, which offer tax incentives for companies to build ethanol and other renewable energy facilities.

Michigan's automakers also have joined the push.

General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group have been touting the environmental virtues of flexible fuel vehicles that can run on an 85% ethanol fuel blend called E85. The automakers get credit for making such vehicles under the government's current fuel-economy standards. Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline and reduces auto emissions, although it produces less energy and reduces gas mileage.
It's not bad enough that Michigan's economy is in the toilet due to the decline of the American auto industry, now we in Michigan are pinning our hopes to a bigger loser. I understand Congress going for ethanol. They are buying votes from environmentalists and corn producing states. Why, in so many industries, though, are people who should know better working against their better interests?

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Reading and Prior Knowledge

One of the students I tutor just completed tenth grade. He wants help with writing so that he's prepared for the ACT. We've been working on his writing, both basic skills and style. Since he is almost an adult I can talk to him about things that don't make sense to an elementary school student. One of the things we discussed is the fact that except for car magazines, he spends no time reading. In order to write well, one must read.

He asked, so I gave him a short list of recommended books. The book he checked out of the library is Mark Twain's, Life on the Mississippi. I asked him to write about the first couple of chapters that he read. I read what he wrote, and it was obvious that he didn't understand what Twain wrote. I went back to reread the book, and discovered two things. The first is Twain's sense of humor and story telling. When he's giving a history of the Mississippi River over the first two chapters, it's not just a list of facts. It's anecdotes wrapped in sarcasm, with a bit of tall tale added. My student didn't get the jokes. Twain, in order to give historical perspective of the voyages of De Soto and LaSalle, who both traveled the Mississippi, De Soto, being the first European to do so, places other historical personages in the narrative. I assume any educated person living during Twain's time would know Shakespeare, Henry VIII, Luther, Rabelais, Oliver Cromwell, Cervantes, in addition to knowing events like the Spanish Inquisition and the council of Trent. Twain uses all of these and more as historical markers.

My student hadn't heard of any of these people or events. So now there is the problem of prior knowledge. As much fun as Twain is to read, you have to know a bit about American and European history. When Twain writes,
Henry VIII . . . was getting . . . his harem effectively started.
it makes no sense unless you know a bit about the six wives of Henry VIII, whether from a history class or from listening to Rick Wakeman's record. He did a little bit better with chapter IV, which was about Twain's childhood, but had to read it over twice. When I asked about his history education so far, he mentioned the Civil Rights Movement, Holocaust, and a few other politically correct tidbits from the previous century. From other research, this is standard in public schools. Others have commented on it, and yes, it shows an absurd lack of understanding by our education "experts" about what children should learn.

Adding to the "dumbing down and proud of it" attitude is the Michigan Education Association. They honored three Michigan teachers with "Human Rights honors". These three may be brilliant teachers. I don't know what goes on in their classrooms. However-
Bragg wants his students—who were born more than 30 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional—to understand and appreciate the roles they play in an evolving global society.

“Sadly, if we’ve been born in America, I don’t think anybody can escape race and prejudice,” says Bragg, who started teaching in Coloma about 24 years ago. “If we can’t live in harmony here, how can we hope to live in harmony with peoples from other parts of the world with different cultures?”
That doesn't sound like teaching to me. That sounds like an agenda.
“Diversity to us means much more than race or ethnicity,” Arnold explains. “It’s so much more than that. It’s age. It’s disability. It’s sexual orientation. It’s mental health issues. It’s diversity of thought. There are so many dimensions to diversity. We’re really proud of how we define diversity here.”
If there really is diversity of thought, it would be unique in the diversity racket.
“Our children are the totality of our future,” Peters says, adding that troubling disparities persist between children of color and white children. She believes that society must address these gaps—and work hard to eliminate them.

“When we talk about issues of equality or civil rights and human justice, in all measures of child well-being, there are disparities along racial and ethnic lines,” Peters says. “The strongest potential for addressing the inequalities that plague us as a society lies with our children.”
Nowhere is education actually mentioned as important. And by education I mean giving students the skills they need to become a productive American citizen, to understand why and how this country works, to appreciate how fortunate they are to be a citizen of the greatest country on Earth, to be able to read, understand, and enjoy authors like Mark Twain, to be able to succeed economically, on their own, without government help, to raise a family, and to want to help those who are less fortunate, not those who are lazy but expect a handout because they belong to a racially or ethnically approved "oppressed" group.

Did I forget anything?

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You Can Fool Some of the People Some of the Time

Both of Detroit's major newspapers run frequent puff pieces on Islam and on local Muslims. If something newsworthy (bad) happens in the Middle East, a Muslim voice, or two, or many, are given a few column inches to blame Israel for the problem. There is always at least one representative from CAIR. There may or may not be a response by a local Jewish milquetoast rather than a strong Jewish voice.

Last week's puff piece in the Detroit Free Press celebrated American Muslim women subjugating themselves by choosing to wear head scarves,
At 19, Sandra Jawad decided she wanted to wear an Islamic head scarf. Her mother's response: a long lecture on how that could draw prejudice and limit her career options. "She told me, it's going to be hard. ... It'll make things difficult," Jawad said, recalling a four-hour talk with her mom in their Dearborn home last July.

Jawad eventually convinced her family to let her wear the head scarf. And six months later, her 44-year-old mother began wearing one, too, spurred by her daughter's religious awakening.

The two are part of the growing number of Muslim women in Michigan choosing to wear the head scarves, known as hijab, with many donning them at increasingly younger ages.

The upswing is driven by increased attendance at local mosques and Islamic schools, where clerics often describe hijab as the flag of Islam.

And the local trend mirrors an increased use of hijab among women in the Middle East and Europe, where Islamic beliefs in Muslim communities have intensified. In the past, women often waited until reaching their teenage years or middle age before putting on hijab, but now, even elementary school-age children are wearing them.
There is some controversy because,
Some "look at us, smirk, stick out their tongues or shout out the window, 'Why do you have that on?' " said Arrwa Mogalli, 29, of Dearborn, who has worn hijab since she was 11. "You have nuns totally covered ... and no one questions it. But when a Muslim does it, we're from outer space."
Drat those accursed Islamophobes! Don't they know that:
. . . regardless of style, the underlying concept is the same: "A woman is like a pearl that needs to be hidden,"
A few days later in the Free Press letter section, most of the responses were not proper dhimmi responses. Readers wrote in with comments like:
In response to your June 12 article "A return to tradition: More Muslim women in metro Detroit defy stares and prejudice by wearing head scarves": Wearing of hijab is not a return to tradition, but an anachronism and a throwback to a time when religious differences were at their zenith and bred hatred, warfare, crusades, jihad and abuse of women, requiring them to be hidden from the sight of conquering hordes.

A nation's level of civilization is best measured by how safe its women feel in expressing themselves without fear of being attacked. The nations where the practice of covering women is most rampant are precisely the ones where women are treated like property and attacked for educating themselves, seeking financial independence, and finding a mate on their own by freely showing their full nature and intellect.

Cultural diversity is all very fine, but the ones that negate enjoyment of life, encourage withdrawal from others, signal that you cannot make contact with me -- even look at me -- should not be encouraged. Such diversity is not expression of culture but of subtle hatred and undermines core American traditions.
So women are analogous to pearls that you have to keep hidden. At one Muslim meeting, it was said that that they are like flowers. What about women are persons who can stand up to men and don't have to hide behind their own skirts?
and especially,
There is no comparison between a covered nun and Islamic hijab. No one living in a Christian community has to worry about armed gangs breaking into a family home to threaten, beat or kill them because their daughters haven't become nuns. Islamic women have to worry about that daily in the Islamic world, and even in European countries Islamic women are subject to "honor killings."

Dressing modestly is a worthy ideal in any religion, but the traditional Islamic hijab is not a command from God; it's a command from Islamic men trying to preserve what they perceive to be the value of a woman as property. If free Islamic women truly want to honor the ideal of modest dress yet break the thought process of women as property, then they'll innovate new fashions that are modest yet don't look like the traditional dress that is associated with female oppression.
So even though our backstabbing MSM and other deluded opinion leaders are working overtime to force a benevolent impression of Islam, some Americans refuse to be fooled. Call us Islamophobes or anything you want. We don't care.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Power, Faith and Fantasy, by Michael B. Oren

The Israel bashers want us to believe (as someone else, although I forget who, pointed out) that Middle Eastern history began with the Six Day War in 1967. We are supposed to ignore anything that came before that date. And if we are part of the U.N. so-called Human Rights Council we are expected to ignore a lot more than that. Michael Oren's new book, Power, Faith, and Fantasy, really is well done. I learned a lot. I learned a lot of things I didn't know. I also learned that the United States government doesn't always learn from its mistakes, since current leaders are still making the same blunders past leaders made. The biggest blunder is pandering to Islamic supremacists who really don't want the same things we want, you know, like peace on Earth and a happy prosperous future for our children.

It's interesting that in the early days of our country's independence, when the U.S. chose to appease the (Muslim) Barbary pirates by paying tribute for hostages, and to buy their "protection" the pirates kept increasing their demands. The Barbary pirates had no respect for a weak United States that succumbed to blackmail, but they did respect American firepower when the U.S. fought back. As Oren points out, it cost more financially to fight back than it did to pay tribute, but self-respect is priceless. And with the example set by the United States Navy, the European countries decided to flex their muscle instead of folding to Islamic demands, thereby putting an end to that set of pirates.

Since Israel declared its independence in 1948, our European "allies" have been for the most part, just as traitorous and backstabbing as they are today.

Some of the reviewers on object to Oren's description of the past 60 years. It seems his bias doesn't match their bias.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Words of Wisdom

My kids were watching this episode one day when they were young. I got sucked in and it's been stuck in my brain ever since.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Al Gore Still Doesn't Get It

And neither do his glassy-eyed followers. From the KnoxNews by way of FallbackLGF:
NASHVILLE -- Al Gore, the environmental activist stung by criticism over his house's energy efficiency, says renovations are nearly complete to make it a model "green" home.
Once his upscale neighborhood changed zoning laws earlier this year, Gore was able to place solar panels on his roof, and he's now preparing to install a geothermal system that will, among other things, drastically reduce the cost of heating his pool.
And the Left claims that Republicans are out of touch.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Teaching Kids Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Edition

I read Julius Caesar with my fourth graders. It turned out not to be such a good choice. It wasn't awful, but kids have done better with Romeo and Juliet, with Macbeth, and with Hamlet. I don't want to get stuck in a rut teaching the same play every year, so I had to try Caesar.

The worst parts were the acts leading up to Caesar's murder. Kids were complaining of boredom. I had taken a day to give background of the play, so everyone knew what was coming, but this is a very talky play. As the murder got closer, interest rose, some even read ahead to the murder. We had a lot of good discussions, and good papers were written on the motives of the assassins and on Antony's funeral speech. Interest stayed petty high through the rest of the play. We were able to discuss and write about better themes than the ones the kids were supposed to read in their basal readers.

Of course, not everyone understood everything. When asked to write why Shakespeare killed Brutus' wife, Portia off-stage, one student wrote that Portia probably did something bad to Shakespeare. I spoke to him in private.

I tried to emphasize throughout the reading that this play is based on historical fact, but just like with movies that are based on actual events, the playwright adds drama and dialogue that probably didn't really happen. We talked about omens, and how the Romans (and sometimes people today) still believe in them. I read them a bit from Seutonius' The Twelve Caesars to show where Shakespeare may have gotten his information, and the difference between historical fact and fiction.

Since they were concerned with what happened to Octavius and Antony after the play, I told them about Octavius becoming Augustus Caesar and of Antony's ill-fated "alliance" with Cleopatra, which of course, Shakespeare also wrote about.

As much as many students claimed they were bored, when I pulled out multiple copies of a collection of Shakespeare's poetry for children, everyone wanted to read them. One student accepted my challenge to memorize Antony's funeral oration and recite it in front of the class.

After the reading, we watched the 1953 movie version with Marlon Brando, James Mason, and John Geilgud. I haven't seen any of the other versions, but this one is really good, and it was rated higher than any of the other versions on Netflix. Brando does an amazing Antony. We visited some Shakespearean websites for kids, and worked in groups to find answers to questions about the play. I bought pizza for the class from . . . I hate to admit it since there is really no connection . . . Little Caesars.

All in all, I think it worked, and I think the class got a lot more out of reading it than they would have if we had just continued to follow the basal. But because the other plays I've read with other classes are more personal and less political, and have more action in them (the battle scene in Caesar suffered from a high "cheese" factor), I will probably use them more often than this one.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Call Me Islamophobe

This Detroit News article actually appeared a few days after the scandal was
first reported by Debbie Schlussel, who wrote,
Forget about the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state . . . at least when it comes to mosque and state.

When students return in the fall, the University of Michigan-Dearbornistan is set to have Muslim footbaths in at least two locations.

And your tax funds are paying for it.
The News may never have brought this outrage to our attention except that,
. . . critics hit conservative blogs and radio airwaves Monday to argue public money shouldn't cover the cost.
A similar controversy erupted in April in Minnesota, when Minneapolis Community and Technical College officials were bombarded with thousands of angry e-mails after announcing plans to build foot wash stations.

The issue was fueled by criticism from conservative Internet bloggers. In Metro Detroit, Southfield attorney Debbie Schlussel is leading the charge against U-M Dearborn's plans, writing: "Forget about the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state at least when it comes to mosqueand state."
The University of Michigan-Dearborn plans to spend $25,000 for foot-washing stations, making it easier for Muslim students to practice their religion but sparking questions about the separation of church and state.

The university claims the stations are needed to accommodate Muslim students, who must ritually wash their bodies -- including the feet -- up to five times each day before prayers.
If you read Schlussel's lengthy piece, you get a lot of needed information. She took the time to speak to some of the dhimmis responsible for this small acknowledgment of Islamic supremacy.

If you read the News article, you are left with,
The Internet has created the fuss at U-M Dearborn, argued Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"To my knowledge, none of the students or staff have made any complaints about the foot-washing area," Walid said.

"This whole thing came to light through some right-wing Islama-phobic bloggers that want to promulgate the idea that the university is being Islama-fied."
There we are again, if Walid isn't aware of complaints, there weren't any. And of course, if you refuse to submit to being a dhimmi, you are an Islamophobe. OK, I will try to be as Islamophobic as Debbie Schlussel. There is no future in the alternative. Give them an inch, and as we see throughout the world, they will take your freedom as an individual.

I've already written to my local newspapers and all of my elected representatives. I have yet to hear back from any of my reps. That's to be expected, Michigan is a blue state. All of my reps are Democrats.

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Two Murderous Covenants

I swiped this little comparison chart from the invaluable Smoothstone. It should be posted everywhere.


Palestine is an INDIVISIBLE part of the homeLAND of the ARABS and the Palestinians are an INTEGRAL part of the ARAB NATION

We demand the UNION of all GERMANS to form a GREAT GERMANY
Palestine is the home LAND of the Palestinian PEOPLEWe demand LAND and TERRITORY for our PEOPLE
The Palestinians are those ARABS born of a Palestinian FATHER

The Palestine CHARACTERISTIC is TRANSMITTED from PARENTS to children
None but those of GERMAN BLOOD whatever their creed, may be MEMBERS of the NATION or CITIZENS of the STATE
JEWS who had resided in Palestine UNTIL the BEGINNING of the invasion of the ZIONIST invasion (Aliyah 1882) will be considered PalestinainsJEWS therefore, may not be a member of the RACE
NON GERMANS are forthwith required to DEPART from the REICH
and requires ALL States to consider ZIONISM illegitimate and to OUTLAW its EXISTENCEWe demand the DEATH of the CRIMINALS against the nation
The Balfour Declaration the Mandate and Partition of Palestine are illegal and deemed NULL and VOIDWe demand the ABOLITION of the PEACE TREATIES (Versailles)
The Palestine Liberation Organization is responsible for the struggle and will perform its ROLE in the realization of the GOALS of this CharterThe LEADERS of the NAZI Party demand unquestioned AUTHORITY and swear to go on to secure fulfillment of the POINTS of this Programme
The COVENANT shall NOT BE AMENDEDThis Covenant is declared to be UNALTERABLE

Article 2 Defines Palestine as an indivisible territorial unit with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate 1920 including Trans Jordan





UPDATE It's kind of messed up when I read it on my computer (due to this template, I think), so I'm going to assume that everyone else is going to have the same problem. Your best bet just might be to read it here.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007


We've finally begun going through my mother's things. Going through the house, I've discovered why I am such a pack rat. It's genetic. She saved everything; well not quite everything, but enough stuff to make it feel like everything. I've heard of people whose houses were impossible to walk through because all of the floor space was taken up by stuff. It wasn't nearly that bad. There were a lot of old report cards, vases, wrapping paper, clothes, books, and . . . stuff. Since it wasn't my stuff, I felt comfortable throwing a lot of it away; even some of my old MAD Magazines that I somehow missed when I cleared the last of my junk from their house years ago. The clothes will be donated. Jewelry was divided up. I'm going to take the books from the basement to a used book store. We are still debating about what to do with her collection of children's books, which is upstairs. I'm told there are around 1500 volumes. Some of them are signed by the author. I've already swiped the ones I wanted. We could donate the rest to a school, but the thought of these beautiful books being torn apart over the years by careless readers offends the collector in me. So they will sit on the shelves for a while longer.

Someday my children are going to have to go through this. I'm hoping it's easier for them. The only things I horde are books and music. All of the books and music are in one room . . . except for the comic books. They're upstairs in the closet, packed away in boxes and plastic bags. They are another story. Some day I will have to make a list of the items that have value, just so the kids know. Most of it won't mean anything to them though. I think. My daughter might want the Billie Holiday CDs. The music of mine that my son likes is mostly on vinyl, and he won't touch my vinyl. They might want some of the books; the Cynical Man and Sandman comics will be taken by my daughter. They'll split the Calvin and Hobbes. They can sell the rest.

This is morbid, isn't it. I didn't mean it to be, I was just thinking in this direction.

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New Math?

Over at
Mindless Math Mutterings there are some links to some very important math lessons. When I say important, I mean parents, kids, and teachers should watch them and discuss them.

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