Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Memorial Day Post

Patriotism 01 Innominatus

BREATHES there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
'This is my own, my native land!'
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung.

Sir Walter Scott

I was going to give this one to my class on Thursday to memorize over their four day Memorial weekend. I got a phone call Wednesday night that our school, along with two others in the district would be closed Thursday and Friday. Friday was to be a teacher in-service day. A student at the district school housing the 8th and 9th graders had swine flu. He (or she? I don't even know) has a sibling at our school. Can't be too careful . . . I guess.

My only worry was that our class lizard would starve over the five day weekend. Fortunately the building was open, so I rode over on Thursday and Friday to feed the critter. There was disinfectant on all of the desks. All of the affected buildings were disinfected. The lizard was fine. I don't think he contracted the flu. I'll know for sure on Tuesday.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Obama and the Press

Ever since Barack Obama hit the national scene, it's been painfully obvious that the press, rather than act in its proper role as inquisitor of public figures has degenerated into lapdog. But only for Obama. Collectively, they are his lapdog and are willing and eager to do his bidding. What is their thanks for this unquestioning obedience? Well, as this report, that I found at Subvet's blog, shows, their thanks is that they get treated like the dogs they've become.
On April 27, President Obama welcomed the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies, who had just won the NCAA women's basketball championship.

After the event, President Obama went to the White House basketball court to shoot hoop with the Lady Huskies. The White House press corps was not allowed to attend.

Reads the print pool report from that day: "After shaking hands with the team's parents and members of Congress who showed up, the president walked the team over to his basketball court and shot hoops. The pool was held back from the stroll down the drive and around the corner, and couldn't see the court. Poolers could hear periodic cheering coming from the other side of the bushes."
Can't you just hear the whimpering? See the tongues hanging out of the reporter's mouths?

And don't forget what happened when a member of the White House Press Corp dared ask Obama a real question when he paid them a surprise visit. At around 3:20 of this video of the event, the foolish reporter who forgot his place gets shown the rolled up newspaper.

Obama's attitude of disrespect reminds me of Macbeth, Act III, Scene I, where Macbeth is meeting with the murderers whom he hired to kill his friend, Banquo.
First Murderer

We are men, my liege.


Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men;
As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
Shoughs, water-rugs and demi-wolves, are clept
All by the name of dogs
: the valued file
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
The housekeeper, the hunter, every one
According to the gift which bounteous nature
Hath in him closed; whereby he does receive
Particular addition. from the bill
That writes them all alike: and so of men.
Now, if you have a station in the file,
Not i' the worst rank of manhood, say 't;
And I will put that business in your bosoms,
Whose execution takes your enemy off,
Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
Who wear our health but sickly in his life,
Which in his death were perfect.
As my students and I discussed when we read this scene, Macbeth knows that he has dipped his toe into the water of evil and is only going deeper. How can he have respect for men who make their living doing vile deeds? He holds his nose as he deals with them and hates himself as much as he despises them.

I don't think Obama despises himself. I do think that he has lost his respect for an obsequious press that has debased itself enough to willingly become cheerleaders for a man who is not qualified to be president of the United States. And as Eric Hoffer noted,
People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When Critical Thinking Skills are Allowed to Evaporate

The Detroit Free Press no longer questions the government. Now that The Obama is firmly ensconced in the White House with family and dog, any pronouncements that come from Washington D.C. contain nothing but the truth, even when he tries to rule by royal fiat. Regarding the new auto emissions mandate from the Obama administration for example,
But the sweeping deal announced Tuesday on auto emission and mileage standards does indeed appear to be good for just about everybody -- assuming the vehicles it spawns are appealing to consumers.
OK, so there is one caveat. However,
The requirements will add an estimated $1,300 to the cost of vehicles, but the government says that will be offset by savings in gasoline.
The government says? Wasn't it the job of newspapers, once long ago in the fading mists of time, to question what the government says? Especially now that they are telling the auto companies how to make cars and will soon be telling the consumer what to buy? Can I see the congressional engineering degrees? Can I see the grease under Obama's fingernails from endless hours working on the engine of his SUV? Or was it removed during his last manicure?
The upside for the nation is cleaner air, which could lead to lower health care costs, and less dependence on oil. At a time when this country is using 20 million barrels of oil a day, Obama said that the plan will yield a savings of 1.8 billion barrels by 2016, or about what America imported last year from Saudi Arabia, Libya, Venezuela and Nigeria combined.
Get that? Obama said. Yes, that Obama. And he says . . . so it must be true! It's Obama. If Obama mandates that all cars and trucks in the U.S. run on unicorn farts by 2017, the Free Press would fawn over that too. And this is a Detroit paper. Detroit and automobiles used to go together like lox and bagels. Now the auto industry has been replaced in the hearts of Free Press editors, by their one true love, Obama.

Meanwhile, there are places where clear and critical thinking is still the order of the day, where the official word of the government, even if it is the Obama government, is questioned. The editors at National Review Online understand what is passing over the heads of the sycophantic idiots at the Free Press.
Obama’s hard sell — “This is a winning proposition for folks looking to buy a car” — is premised on some sketchy math. For one thing, experts outside the administration say the added per-vehicle cost could go as high as $8,000. You can’t save money getting more miles to the gallon if you can’t afford the car in the first place. For another, those estimated savings are based on the administration’s ability to predict gas prices seven to ten years into the future. If gas is still as cheap as it is now, savings on better mileage could be minimal.

Even if gas prices go up, the savings Obama predicts might not materialize. Cars that are more fuel efficient are cheaper to drive, increasing the likelihood that people will drive more. That wouldn’t just offset the savings — it would also offset promised reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions and oil imports, to say nothing of adding to congestion.
There's more of course, but it's based on facts that the Free Press is willing to ignore in deference to the one they will not question.

And if Obama and his environmentalist pals had their way, this is what we'd all be driving.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

What? Words Have Meanings?

Do words have absolute meanings? Or do they only have relative meanings, only meaning what each individual wants a word to mean? When we speak of a person being "African American" we, in the U.S. mean a person who is black. But is that accurate, or is it merely politically correct? In a politically correct world, words are only allowed to have the meanings that the PC police allow, whether the meanings are accurate or not. According to this article,
Can a white person be an African-American? Paulo Serodio, a 45-year-old naturalized American of Portugese heritage born in Mozambique, says yes. He is suing the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey for discrimination that he says led to his suspension.

He told that his instructor, Dr. Kathy Ann Duncan, asked the students for self-definitions during a discussion on culture and medicine. Serodio identified himself as a “white African-American.” He says Duncan later told him never to refer to himself as that again, because it was “offensive” to others in the class.
In 2004, a white high-school student (born in Johannesburg) named Trevor Richards was suspended from an Omaha, Nebraska school after distributing posters that promoted him as a candidate for the school’s "Distinguished African-American Student" award. reported that this story sent “shock waves across America as debate rages over who can claim rights to the term ‘African-American.’”

What does “African-American” mean? Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines the term as “an American of African and especially of black African descent.”

So if only people of black African descent should be allowed to refer to themselves as African-American, what is Serodio? "There are people of all races who are African," Serodio told He said he had no problem identifying himself in that way until Duncan’s class.
In our quest to create a "color-blind" society, we have created a society based almost totally on race and ethnicity. On standardized tests in schools, students are always asked for their race. Race is a factor in deciding if schools have made Adequate Yearly Progress. Obama is facing pressure to name a Supreme Court justice based on ethnicity and gender rather than the quality of a nominee's jurisprudence. (Unfortunately, Obama agrees with the race/gender/sexual orientation based criteria.) The world's financial markets are in ruin due to congressional meddling in the housing market designed to give minority groups and "people of color" greater access to home ownership whether they could afford to buy a home or not.

And now, people get upset when a white immigrant to the United States from an African country dares to call himself "African American." Can't we just admit that this is an unintended consequence of the need for radical inoffensiveness? Can't we use this as a clue that if ethnicity truly doesn't matter, we need to stop defining everyone based on the criteria of skin color and ethnic origin?

My children are Russian and Polish (and Greek according to stories from my grandfather) on my side. Looking at photos of my mother's dark-eyed Russian family from the early 20th century, I'm guessing there is some Mongol in our blood. The Mongols did rule Russia for 300 years. On my wife's side, they are mostly Mexican and Polish - and Hungarian and Irish. So, in our enlightened Age of Obama, how are my children to be labeled?

I checked the "Hispanic" box on their birth certificate. Yep, if playing the race derangement syndrome game will give my children an advantage, I'll go along with it. Why shouldn't my kids be compensated because some of their ancestors, back in the mists of the past, may or may not have faced oppression and prejudice from that racist, Whitey? If we are truly intent on creating the mythical level playing field, shouldn't all participants be judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin? (That last line sounds familiar. I must have written it at some time in the past. I hate when I plagiarize myself.)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

This is Progress?

Perhaps some would consider this progress. It seems more regressive to me.
Decades ago, Muslims could dance, listen to rock music and intermingle with the opposite sex inside the American Moslem Society mosque in Dearborn.

But all that ended after new leaders, influenced by a revival in the Middle East, adopted a more rigid interpretation of Islam.

As the mosque -- believed to be the oldest in Michigan -- celebrates more than 70 years today, local Muslims see it as an opportunity to reflect on past changes and its future.

"This mosque has been the seed for the Muslim community in Michigan," Mahdi Ali, 37, of Detroit, president of the mosque's board, said of the building near the historic Ford Rouge plant.

The mosque was opened in 1938 by Arab immigrants who hailed from what now is Lebanon and Syria, said Sally Howell, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn who studies the Muslim communities of metro Detroit. Today the mosque is predominately Yemeni-American.

From the early 1950s until the late '70s, the mosque was considered the main Islamic center of metro Detroit -- a symbolic place visited by Muslims across the region, visiting Arab leaders and non-Muslims seeking to learn about Islam.

But as immigrants from Yemen and the Palestinian territories started to move into the south end, they pushed out the old board members and took over leadership of the mosque in 1978.

The newcomers were concerned with what they saw as permissive attitudes and banned old practices such as sock-hop dances for teens, Howell said.

"They weren't quite comfortable in their Americanness yet," Howell said.

They also required women to enter through separate entrances and wear headscarves when entering the prayer hall -- practices that continue today.

The mosque is believed to be the first in Michigan to broadcast over outside speakers the Muslim call to prayer, Ali said. Over the years, it has seen several expansions, the last one in 2000, and now is 48,000 square feet.
Are Muslims becoming less comfortable in their Americanness as they are compelled by "a more rigid interpretation of Islam" to support jihad? Are any feminists going to question the mosque's practice of requiring women to enter through separate entrances? In the future, will this mosque become even more rigid as the city of Dearborn continues its transformation into a piece of the ummah?

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A Grizzly Anniversary

On this day in 1974, Arab Muslim terrorists carried out the Ma'alot Massacre. According to Wikipedia,
The Ma'alot massacre[1] was an attack on May 15, 1974 in Ma'alot, Israel, in which 22 Israeli high school students, aged 14–16, from Safed were killed by three members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.[2] Before reaching the school, the trio shot and killed two Arab women, a Jewish man, his pregnant wife, and their 4 year old son, and wounded several others.[3]
There have been so many brutal acts committed by Islamic terrorists since then, that this attack is almost forgotten. Our society has become morally inverted enough to elect Barack Hussein Obama as president of the United States. He is "reaching out" to the same kinds of minds that planned an perpetrated this massacre and thousands of terrorist attacks since. He is pressuring Israel to submit to the demands of Islamic terrorists. How is that supposed to work to our or Israel's benefit? How will that advance civilization?

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Chimpanzees are so Cute

Chimps, monkeys, and gorillas are cute. That's what we are supposed to think. We've seen chimps at circuses and fairs, on TV in the movies, and they're always doing the darnedest (and cutest) things. Occasionally we're given a truer view. They are wild animals. They can't really be domesticated. They are strong and unpredictable. They are also fairly sophisticated hunters. I stumbled across this video of a group of chimps attacking another group of chimps and eating one that they've killed. It isn't very graphic, but it is disturbing. It can't be embedded, so you will have to link to it if you're interested in watching. It is fascinating. And there are other videos of chimps on the attack.

Oh yeah, they have big sharp teeth too. Other than all of that, sure, they're cute.

Just like nature is beautiful, as long as you have a nice comfortable home to return to when you are done enjoying the beauty of nature.


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