Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Saturday, June 30, 2012

First We Have to Pass It to Find Out What's In It



We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders. - Chief Justice John Roberts, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Upgrade

So far, I've made it through life with almost all my standard equipment - I still have my tonsils and appendix, for instance. I did have my wisdom teeth removed when I was eighteen, but other than that, no surgery.

This morning, however, I'm getting an upgrade. My standard-issue eyeballs, Mk. I Mod 0 will be laser-modified to Mod 1. I'm getting custom LASIK to correct myopia and astigmatism.

Let's hope that tomorrow I'll be glasses-free for the first time since I was about six.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Deorbital Burn

The most recent XKCD:



As the rollover says, if the Earth were a basketball, in the last 40 years no human's been more than a half-inch from the surface.

But we have flying cat corpses!

Our Cold Civil War

A long time ago Jay Solo asked the question, "Do you expect the "reset button" to need to be used in our lifetimes?" I responded:
Do I expect it to be used? Yes. Will it be effective? I doubt it.

I think we've passed the point at which "using the reset button" would be useful.
Obviously, being me, I had a lot more to say on the topic, but that was the gist of it.

That may still prove out, though in the intervening years I have found the idea of another American Civil hot War to be less and less likely. However, yesterday's Quote of the Day brought up some thoughts that have been ongoing here since Jay asked that question back in December of 2003.

In September of 2004 I wrote How Divided ARE We? as George W. Bush ran for reelection and Bush Derangement Syndrome kicked into high gear. It seemed at the time that hostilities were imminent, but I link to that piece because of a quote from Thomas Sowell I put at the end of it:
The left takes its vision seriously -- more seriously than it takes the rights of other people. They want to be our shepherds. But that requires us to be sheep.
(This is where I'm really pissed that my Echo comments did not transfer to DISQUS, because there was a lot of excellent content in the comments that I would love to be able to mine today.)

On November 6 of 2005 I posted Tough History Coming, an exploration into just why we're in this handbasket and where we're going. In that piece I linked to a column at The Belmont Club, Terrible Slow Sword that linked to a post at the Syrian blog Amarji that not only accurate predicts today's events in Syria, but first raised the concept of our "Cold Civil War" to my attention:
Syria, barring a miracle, has the potential of turning into an ethnic and sectarian quagmire that will make Iraq and Lebanon in the heyday of its civil war look like a stroll in the park .... While neocons and liberals ... argue ... there are parts of the world that are going to hell in a hand-basket, reflecting the new cold war climate created by this internal debate. It looks as if America is having a nice cold civil war by proxy over its own identity and future.

The ideological components of this war might be taking place in the halls of academia and the congress and through US and international media, but the physical aspect is taking place in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, etc. Each camp here is producing, wittingly and unwittingly, its own allies there, both ideological and tactical. And like in all proxy wars, these allies are quite capable of furthering their own particularistic agendas by stoking the debate here. ... this new American civil war ... has to come to an end. Otherwise the war on terror can never be won and Iraq will be followed by Syria, then Lebanon then Sudan, then Saudi Arabia, then… You get the point.
(My emphasis.)  Someone from outside the country, with the proper perspective, diagnosed what was going on here. Wretchard discounted the diagnosis:
The political "civil war" described by Amaraji is hardly unique to America. The same kind of hesitation over how to deal with terrorism afflicts nations in Europe, Asia and Africa -- almost anywhere in the globe.
Before concluding:
It might even be possible to argue that what Amaraji calls the 'New American Civil War', instead of driving events in Syria and Lebanon, is itself being driven by the structural shifts of the new century. It would go a long way toward explaining why the political structures of the late 1990s have been so deranged by September 11. The United Nations, transAtlantic diplomacy, the doctrine of deterrence which underpinned Cold War strategy, the entire multicultural and globalizing agenda -- all of it -- has been called into question not by a small cabal of neo-conservatives -- that would be ludicrous -- but by the pent-up force of thousands of events in a world now striding to the center stage of history.
No, it wasn't "a small cabal of neo-conservatives," and it isn't just a war by proxy.

A few days after Tough History, I wrote March of the Lemmings, where I quoted several bloggers; Donald Sensing, the Geek with a .45, and one that I have quoted several times through the life of this blog, Ironbear from Who Tends the Fires (no longer online):
I have read a great deal of history. And I have read a great deal of past political debate and discourse. Like (Billy) Beck, the last time I recall that we were this irrevocably divided between major factions was in the 1850's and 1860's - and we actually went to war within ourselves over it.

The divide is once again that stark, and that bleak. It's not "1968 all over again", it's 1858.

Unlike the first one, the dividing lines don't cut across states. Like the first one, the dividing lines are drawn across views of the ownership of men.... of whether we are owned by ourselves or by The State.

It would be a mistake to paint the conflict exclusively in terms of "cultural war", or Democrats vs Republicans, or even Left vs Right. Neither Democrats/Leftists or Republicans shy away from statism... the arguments there are merely over degree of statism, uses to which statism will be put - and over who'll hold the reins. It's the thought that they may not be left in a position to hold the reins that drives the Democrat-Left stark raving.

--

This is a conflict of ideologies...

The heart of the conflict is between those to whom personal liberty is important, and those to whom liberty is not only inconsequential, but to whom personal liberty is a deadly threat.

At the moment, that contingent is embodied most virulently by the "American" Left. This is the movement that still sees the enslavement and "re-education" of hundreds of thousands in South Vietnam, and the bones of millions used as fertilizer in Cambodia as a victory. This is the movement that sees suicide bombers as Minute Men, and sees the removal of a brutal murder and rape machine from power as totalitarianism. This is the movement that sees legitimately losing an election as the imposition of a police state. This is the movement that believes in seizing private property as "common good". That celebrates Che Guevara as a hero. The movement who's highest representatives talk blithely about taking away your money and limiting your access to your own homestead for your own good. The movement of disarmament.

The movement of the boot across the throat.

Think about it. When was the last time that you were able to engage in anything that resembled a discussion with someone of the Leftist persuasion? Were able to have an argument that was based on the premise that one of you was wrong, rather than being painted as Evil just because you disagreed?

The Left has painted itself into a rhetorical and logical corner, and unfortunately, they have no logic that might act as a paint thinner. It's not possible for them to compromise with those that they've managed to conflate with the most venal of malevolence, with those whom they're convinced disagree not because of different opinions but because of stupidity and evil, with those who's core values are diametrically opposed to what the Left has embraced. There can be no real discourse, no real discussion. There's no common ground. There can be no reconciliation there - the Left has nothing to offer that any adherent of freedom wants. The only way they can achieve their venue is from a position of political ascendency where it can be imposed by force or inveigled by guile.

And all adherents of freedom have far too many decades of historical precedent demonstrating exactly where that Leftward road leads - to the ovens of Dachau.
Read that whole piece and the links that still work, it's worth your time. Not much has changed, but I think that one post illuminates the whole "Cold Civil War" we're engaged in.

Michael Walsh, writing under the pseudonym David Kahane published a piece at NRO in November of last year, Cold Civil War, in which he exhorted the Right to get off its ass and fight back:
Despite all the evidence of the past several decades, you still have not grasped one simple fact: that, just about a century after the last one ended, we engaged in a great civil war, one that will determine the kind of country we and our descendants shall henceforth live in for at least the next hundred years — and, one hopes, a thousand. Since there hasn’t been any shooting, so far, some call the struggle we are now involved in the "culture wars," but I have another, better name for it: the Cold Civil War

In many ways, this new civil war is really an inter-generational struggle, the War of the Baby Boomers. America’s largest generation, the famous “pig in the python,” has affected everything it’s touched, from the schools of the 1950s (not enough of them) through the colleges of the 1960s (changed, changed utterly), through the political movements of the 1970s and ’80s (revolution and counter-revolution), and into the present, where the war is still being waged.
Read that whole piece, too.

You see, there are three groups involved in this Cold Civil War: the political Left, which is heavily engaged; the political Right, which hasn't recognized it as a war for the soul of the nation, and (I would hazard to guess) the Tea Party people who finally have. This isn't a blanket statement, there are surely people on the political Left (the useful idiots) who don't understand what "fundamentally transforming" the nation really means. There are those few on the political Right who do understand what it is, and there are Tea Party members who are completely clueless other than understanding that something is very, very wrong.

Then there's the overwhelming majority of the population that just wants to know when the next episode of Jersey Shore will air.

But the rise of the Tea Party is, I think, a visceral response to the inaction of the political Right (in the form of their weak doppelgänger, the Republican Party) in the face of this war.

Thomas Sowell is right, the Left's ideology requires them to be our shepherds - controlling our soft-drink, salt and nicotine intake, providing our health care, taking away our guns, telling us what kind of cars we ought to drive and where we should live - but that requires us to be sheep. Ironbear was right - to that ideology, personal liberty is a deadly threat.

And the Geek with a .45 is right when it comes to not only domestic, but world events:
Entire Societies Can and Have Gone Stark Raving Batshit Fucking Insane.
We're watching Europe and the Middle East do it right now.

How long before it spreads here?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quote of the Day - Paradigm Shift Edition

From Michael Walsh's PJ Media column, First Principles:
Now we are engaged in a great Cold Civil War. But the decision American voters will make in November is far more than merely an ideological clash about what the Constitution meant or means. For that supposes that both sides are playing by the same rules, and have a shared interest in the outcome. That presumes that both sides accept the foundational idea of the American experiment, and that the argument is over how best to adhere to it.

That is false.

For some, this is a difficult notion to grasp. To them, politics is politics, the same game being played by the same rules that go back a couple of centuries. The idea that one party — and you know which one I mean — is actively working against its own country as it was founded seems unbelievable.

But that is true.

Don’t take it from me, take it from Barack Hussein Obama who famously said on the stump in 2008: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

The election of Barack Obama was the culmination of efforts that began near the turn of the 20th Century.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ah, Um, Er, Uh....


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I Wonder if This One Will Be There

The Gun Blogger Rendezvous occurs the same weekend as the Reno Balloon Races.


Think I'll see this one?
UPDATE (from comments): Yes, this one's better.

Bacon!




Yep, I resemble that remark.

That's What Unions are For

I'm just going to quote the whole piece:
Nine students have been suspended from a San Diego middle school after classmates claimed they were watching porn on cell phones and masturbating in class.

The U-T San Diego says the suspended students were in an all-boys English class at Bell Middle School in Paradise Hills.

The school told the newspaper on May 29 the reason for the suspensions could not be released. Parents of students in the class say they haven't been told anything.

The paper has obtained and reviewed testimonials written by 22 students in the class.

Several said they raised their hands to report the behavior but the teacher kept reading a book.

The teacher has not replied to a newspaper request for comment but a union representative is rallying support for him.
Does California have "rubber rooms" for its useless, unfireable teachers?

Once a Month Until the Election

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kids and Guns

And "safe-storage" laws.

The anti-gun, er, gun control, ah, gun-safety supporters tell us that guns and children are a dangerous mix, and that all guns should be locked up, separate from their ammunition.  In addition, any parent that leaves a loaded firearm unattended where kids can get to it are (or ought to be) criminally negligent.

I don't think so:
Phoenix boy, 14, shoots armed intruder while watching three younger siblings

A 14-year-old Phoenix boy shot an intruder who broke into his home while brandishing a gun as the teenager watched his three younger siblings, police said.

The teen and his brothers and sisters were at home alone at their residence at 55th Avenue and Baseline when a woman rang the doorbell Friday. The teen didn't open the door because he didn't recognize her, Police Officer James Holmes said Saturday.

Soon after, the teen heard a bang on the door, rushed his siblings upstairs and got a handgun from his parent's bedroom. When he got to the top of the stairs, he saw a man breaking through the front door and point a gun at him.

The boy shot the 37-year-old man, who is in critical condition but expected to survive and be booked into jail.
Sounds to me like mom and dad did a helluva job raising their kids, and if that handgun hadn't been available and loaded, things could have been much, much worse.

UPDATE: According to this report, the intruder was armed with a rifle.

Roku Won't be Getting Any More of My Money

I bought my first Roku box on the recommendation of Instapundit back in April of 2011.  Streaming Netflix to my TV!  How cool! 

But in February, 2012, it croaked, and Roku's warranty is 30 days - period.  Including shipping, $95.26 and ten months of life.

Well, OK, sometimes you get a bad piece, and in the mean time new models with higher performance had come out, and I didn't see a competing device that was any better so I popped for an upgrade - $98.18 with free shipping.

It's dead, Jim.  Four months old and it's a paperweight.

I'm done.  No more Roku anything.  Apparently "Roku" means either "junk" or "sucker!"  Either way, once is happenstance; twice is coincidence.  Three times is enemy action. 

UPDATE:
One of these is on order. With my Amazon.com points, it was $87.50. And I can watch YouTube videos on it, which Roku doesn't allow.

Fast & Furious and Executive Privilege

Bill Whittle opines in seven minutes:




Bill?  They smuggled semi-automatic rifles, not "assault rifles."  Just sayin'.

Dave Kopel goes into much greater detail over 47 minutes.

Both are worth your time.

Atheist President?

Primeval Papa links to a recent survey that says that atheists are no longer the most distrusted people on the planet. For the first time since the question has been asked, a majority of people would be willing to vote for an atheist for president.

As I noted in my comment, being an atheist myself (small "a" version) I don't have a problem with someone who does not hold a belief in a divine creator still being a moral and trustworthy individual. However, the Big "A" evangelical Atheists who hold the belief that THERE IS NO GOD! rub me the wrong way. With sandpaper. Just like Fred Phelps does. So it depends on what kind of "avowed atheist" is running.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

That Should Leave a Mark Scar

Tell On Me

God, I love the new media. You won't see this on SNL:


Found at Theo Spark.

THIS SHALL NOT STAND!

Today is the seventh anniversary of the resurrection of Maj. Chuck Zeigenfuss, who was blown up by an Iraqi IED in 2005. Chuck is the creator of the Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT program that provides technology to help wounded service personnel adapt to their injuries.  Project Valour has been the designated charity that the Gun Blogger Rendezvous has supported since the second gathering in 2006, and Chuck himself has been guest of honor three times. But in this morning's post, Chuck asks:
I would appreciate it if you would consider making a donation today to Project Valour-it; the silver lining to this story. We're currently out of funds to provide wounded troops with the same tech that helped me recover.
This shall not stand. Please, if you can spare it, dig deep and contribute whatever you can.



Click on the picture to go to the donation page. And please spread this around.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Watergate Didn't Have a Body Count"

Drudge today is BRILLIANT:




I just wanted to save that image.

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 12)

One more, and I think I'll give it a rest for awhile:
Do you think class size, teacher compensation, and school revenue have much to do with education quality? If so, the conclusion is inescapable that we are living in a golden age. From 1955 to 1991 the U.S. pupil/teacher ratio dropped 40 percent, the average salary of teachers rose 50 percent (in real terms) and the annual expense per pupil, inflation adjusted, soared 350 percent. What other hypothesis, then, might fit the strange data I’m about to present?

Forget the 10 percent drop in SAT and Achievement Test scores the press beats to death with regularity; how do you explain the 37 percent decline since 1972 in students who score above 600 on the SAT? This is an absolute decline, not a relative one. It is not affected by an increase in unsuitable minds taking the test or by an increase in the numbers. The absolute body count of smart students is down drastically with a test not more difficult than yesterday’s but considerably less so.

What should be made of a 50 percent decline among the most rarefied group of test-takers, those who score above 750? In 1972, there were 2,817 American students who reached this pinnacle; only 1,438 did in 1994—when kids took a much easier test. Can a 50 percent decline occur in twenty-two years without signaling that some massive leveling in the public school mind is underway?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Every word out of their mouth was, 'We don't care.'

RCoB™ time:

Woman Sues City of Tulsa For Cutting Down Her Edible Garden

A Tulsa woman is suing the city's code enforcement officers after she said they cut down her garden with no cause.

Denise Morrison said she has more than 100 plant varieties in her front and back yards and all of them are edible and have a purpose.

She knows which ones will treat arthritis, which will make your food spicy, which ones keep mosquitoes away and treat bug bites, but she said none of that matter to city inspectors.

Last August, Morrison's front and back yards were filled with flowers in bloom, lemon, stevia, garlic chives, grapes, strawberries, apple mint, spearmint, peppermint, an apple tree, walnut tree, pecan trees and much more.

She got a letter from the city saying there had been a complaint about her yard.

She said she took pictures to meet with city inspectors, but they wouldn't listen, so she invited them to her home so they could point out the problem areas.

"Everything, everything needs to go," Morrison said they told her.

When she heard they wanted to cut it all down, she called police. The officer issued her a citation so it could be worked out in court.

She said she went to court on August 15, and the judge told them to come back in October. But the very next day, men were cutting down most of her plants.

They even cut down some of her trees -– ones that bore fruit and nuts -– and went up next to her house and basically removed everything in her front flower bed.

"I came back three days later, sat in my driveway, cried and left," Morrison said.

Morrison said she had a problem at her last property with code enforcement, so this time, she read the ordinance, which says plants can't be over 12-inches tall unless they're used for human consumption. She made sure everything she grew could be eaten, which she told the inspectors.

"Every word out of their mouth was, 'we don't care,'" Morrison said.

Morrison said she used many of the plants that were destroyed to treat her diabetes, high-blood pressure and arthritis.

"Not only are the plants my livelihood, they're my food and I was unemployed at the time and had no food left, no medicine left, and I didn't have insurance," Morrison said. "They took away my life and livelihood."

Morrison finally went to court last week for the citation she got last August at another property. The garden portion of the citation was dismissed and she pleaded no contest to having an inoperable truck in her driveway.

She filed a civil rights lawsuit this week, accusing the inspectors of overstepping their authority.

The City of Tulsa said it hasn't received the lawsuit yet, so it couldn't comment.
She's lucky they didn't send her a bill for the "gardening work." Luckier still the FDA isn't coming after her for self-medicating with unapproved medicines.

Oh HELL No!

I'm an electrical engineer. I work on industrial electrical systems up to 138kV, but I do my work pretty close to ground level.

I do NOT climb 1760-foot transmission towers! (But I'm glad there are people out there who do!)



This Just Made Me Smile



Now I want to see it (and Serenity) again.

Quote of the Day - Education Edition

Via Ann Althouse:
Homeschool. Your kids will be screwed if you don’t.

The world will not look kindly on people who put their kids into public school. We all know that learning is best when it’s customized to the child and we all know that public schools are not able to do that effectively. And the truly game-changing private schools cost $40,000 a year.

It’s clear is that homeschooled kids will rule the world when Generation Z enters the workplace. So figure out a way to alleviate mommy guilt by homeschooling your kids to get them on that path. You don’t have to do the teaching yourself. You can pay someone. But you need to get your kids out of a system that everyone knows does not work. -- Penelope Trunk, Blueprint for a Woman's Life
Can't say I agree with many of her other recommendations, but I think she's spot-on with this one.

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Wonderful Theory. Wrong Species." - E.O. Wilson


Yes, that's a real MasterCard, being offered by the (formerly East-) German bank Sparkasse Chemnitz after asking its customers to vote for what image they wanted on their new cards. Karl Marx won handily.
As Richard Muirhead tweeted:
Che Guevara t-shirt: $15. Annotated copy of the Communist Manifesto: $10. Being able to demonstrate your ideological confusion every time you make a purchase: Priceless.
EUrope is doomed, and they're taking us with them...

Quote of the Day - Mark Steyn Edition

Taking another break from John Taylor Gatto, this one's from Mark Steyn's latest:
Obama can urge us all he wants to band together because when we dream big dreams there's no limit to what Big Government can accomplish. But these days we can't build a new Hoover Dam, only an attractive new corner office for the Assistant Deputy Assistant Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Secretary of Deputy Assistants at the Department of Bureaucratic Sclerosis, and she'll be happy to issue a compliance order that the Hoover Dam's mandatory fish ladders are non-wheelchair accessible, and so the whole joint needs to close. That we can do! If only we dare to dream Big Dreams!! Together!!!
RTWT.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Well, This Kinda Changes the Narrative...

Authorities say hitchhiker shot himself

A West Virginia man who claimed to be the victim of a drive-by shooting along a rural Montana highway while working on a memoir called “Kindness in America” has confessed to shooting himself, authorities said Friday.

Valley County sheriff’s officials said they believe 39-year-old Ray Dolin shot himself as a desperate act of self-promotion, but they offered no further details.
I thought the story smelled a bit ripe.

I wonder if he's a supporter of the Brady Campaign....

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 11)

During WWII, American public schools massively converted to non-phonetic ways of teaching reading. On the matter of violence alone this would seem to have impact: according to the Justice Department, 80 percent of the incarcerated violent criminal population is illiterate or nearly so (and 67 percent of all criminals locked up). There seems to be a direct connection between the humiliation poor readers experience and the life of angry criminals.

---

Back in 1952 the Army quietly began hiring hundreds of psychologists to find out how 600,000 high school graduates had successfully faked illiteracy. Regna Wood sums up the episode this way:
After the psychologists told the officers that the graduates weren’t faking, Defense Department administrators knew that something terrible had happened in grade school reading instruction. And they knew it had started in the thirties. Why they remained silent, no one knows. The switch back to reading instruction that worked for everyone should have been made then. But it wasn’t.
In 1882, fifth graders read these authors in their Appleton School Reader: William Shakespeare, Henry Thoreau, George Washington, Sir Walter Scott, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Bunyan, Daniel Webster, Samuel Johnson, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and others like them. In 1995, a student teacher of fifth graders in Minneapolis wrote to the local newspaper, "I was told children are not to be expected to spell the following words correctly: back, big, call, came, can, day, did, dog, down, get, good, have, he, home, if, in, is, it, like, little, man, morning, mother, my, night, off, out, over, people, play, ran, said, saw, she, some, soon, their, them, there, time, two, too, up, us, very, water, we, went, where, when, will, would, etc. Is this nuts?"

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 10)

At the start of WWII millions of men showed up at registration offices to take low-level academic tests before being inducted. The years of maximum mobilization were 1942 to1944; the fighting force had been mostly schooled in the 1930s, both those inducted and those turned away. Of the 18 million men were tested, 17,280,000 of them were judged to have the minimum competence in reading required to be a soldier, a 96 percent literacy rate. Although this was a 2 percent fall-off from the 98 percent rate among voluntary military applicants ten years earlier, the dip was so small it didn’t worry anybody.

WWII was over in 1945. Six years later another war began in Korea. Several million men were tested for military service but this time 600,000 were rejected. Literacy in the draft pool had dropped to 81 percent, even though all that was needed to classify a soldier as literate was fourth- grade reading proficiency. In the few short years from the beginning of WWII to Korea, a terrifying problem of adult illiteracy had appeared. The Korean War group received most of its schooling in the 1940s, and it had more years in school with more professionally trained personnel and more scientifically selected textbooks than the WWII men, yet it could not read, write, count, speak, or think as well as the earlier, less-schooled contingent.

A third American war began in the mid-1960s. By its end in 1973 the number of men found noninductible by reason of inability to read safety instructions, interpret road signs, decipher orders, and so on—in other words, the number found illiterate—had reached 27 percent of the total pool. Vietnam-era young men had been schooled in the 1950s and the 1960s—much better schooled than either of the two earlier groups—but the 4 percent illiteracy of 1941 which had transmuted into the 19 percent illiteracy of 1952 had now had grown into the 27 percent illiteracy of 1970. Not only had the fraction of competent readers dropped to 73 percent but a substantial chunk of even those were only barely adequate; they could not keep abreast of developments by reading a newspaper, they could not read for pleasure, they could not sustain a thought or an argument, they could not write well enough to manage their own affairs without assistance.

Consider how much more compelling this steady progression of intellectual blindness is when we track it through army admissions tests rather than college admissions scores and standardized reading tests, which inflate apparent proficiency by frequently changing the way the tests are scored.

Looking back, abundant data exist from states like Connecticut and Massachusetts to show that by 1840 the incidence of complex literacy in the United States was between 93 and 100 percent wherever such a thing mattered. According to the Connecticut census of 1840, only one citizen out of every 579 was illiterate and you probably don’t want to know, not really, what people in those days considered literate; it’s too embarrassing. Popular novels of the period give a clue: Last of the Mohicans, published in 1826, sold so well that a contemporary equivalent would have to move 10 million copies to match it. If you pick up an uncut version you find yourself in a dense thicket of philosophy, history, culture, manners, politics, geography, analysis of human motives and actions, all conveyed in data-rich periodic sentences so formidable only a determined and well-educated reader can handle it nowadays.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 9)

In 1973, Catherine Barrett, president of the National Education Association, said, "Dramatic changes in the way we raise our children are indicated, particularly in terms of schooling...we will be agents of change." By 1989, a senior director of the Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory told the fifty governors of American states that year assembled to discuss government schooling. "What we’re into is total restructuring of society." It doesn’t get much plainer than that. There is no record of a single governor objecting.

Two years later Gerald Bracey, a leading professional promoter of government schooling, wrote in his annual report to clients: "We must continue to produce an uneducated social class." Overproduction was the bogey of industrialists in 1900; a century later underproduction made possible by dumbed-down schooling had still to keep that disease in check.

And from A Nation at Risk (1983):
If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.

Well, Part of it is Here!

My York Arms stripped AR lower receiver is finally in my hands. (Looks just like the picture!) Perhaps this weekend I'll be able to put it together with the DPMS lower parts kit I have.

Brass is here, dies are here, case gauge is here, bullets are coming. The upper is still the better part of two months out, though. I really hope it comes in time for me to take it to the range once or twice before the Gun Blogger Rendezvous.

"New" and "Improved"

I received this email this morning:
I don’t know if you realize this, but I do not think your comments are working the way you expect. When I try to view them, I get the following message:
Nothing for you here ... yet. But as you comment with Disqus and follow other Disqus users, you will start to receive notifications here, as well as a personalized feed of activity by you and the people you follow. So get out there and participate in some discussions!
I switched yesterday to the NEW! and IMPROVED! DISQUS 2012! Anybody else getting this message? Drop me an email. Supposedly I can still switch back.

UPDATE:

Oh hell, now it's doing it to ME!

Commenting (or reading the comments, anyway) is now a THREE-step process:

1) Click on the "Comment" button, then
2) Click on the "Discussion" pulldown menu, then
3) Click on "Oldest"

And the message thread will appear, oldest post first.  I'm hoping it's a glitch on Disqus' end.

UPDATE II:  The "upgrade" has been rolled back for at least the time being.  Commenting seems to be working properly now.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

That's Unpossible!

They're from San Francisco!  They can't know how to shoot!
S.F. couple kill daughter's alleged pimp, cops say

A San Francisco couple whose teenage daughter was allegedly being pimped by a Southern California man tracked him around the state, failing at one attempt to kill him before shooting him to death near Candlestick Park, authorities said Wednesday.
Pretty sad. Couldn't they get help from the authorities?
The couple have been together since middle school and live with their three other children in San Francisco. Their daughter disappeared some time ago and after searching for her, Gilton and Mercado discovered that she was turning tricks and that Sneed was her pimp, their attorneys said.

"They had gone out to local police agencies, agencies in Southern California - they had even tried talking to national organizations," said Eric Safire, Gilton's attorney. "Every place they turned to turned them away."
Guess not.

It seems the evidence is mostly circumstantial:
On June 4, Sneed was in San Francisco, driving his Toyota Camry at Meade and LeConte avenues at 2 a.m., when someone - prosecutors say it was Gilton - shot him with a .40-caliber handgun. Sneed crashed into a parked car and died a short time later at San Francisco General Hospital.

A few hours later, police questioned the girl at the Bayview Station, Safire said. On Saturday, her parents were arrested.

--

Sneed was a victim of a drive-by shooting in South Los Angeles last year, according to Los Angeles police. An appeal filed in a murder case involving a friend of his said that both the friend and Sneed were members of the Nutty Block Crip street gang.
Apparently the daughter fingered the parents, but really, how reliable a witness can she be? And the victim was a gang member previously involved in two drive-by shootings. Sounds like reasonable doubt to me.

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 8)

Between 1896 and 1920, a small group of industrialists and financiers, together with their private charitable foundations, subsidized university chairs, university researchers, and school administrators, spent more money on forced schooling than the government itself did. Carnegie and Rockefeller, as late as 1915, were spending more themselves. In this laissez-faire fashion a system of modern schooling was constructed without public participation. The motives for this are undoubtedly mixed, but it will be useful for you to hear a few excerpts from the first mission statement of Rockefeller’s General Education Board as they occur in a document called Occasional Letter Number One (1906):
In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple...we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.
This mission statement will reward multiple rereadings.
And I will now quote Henry Louis Mencken from the early 1930's on the subject of public education:
That erroneous assumption is to the effort that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence....Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues, and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.

--

And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 7)


The secret of American schooling is that it doesn’t teach the way children learn, and it isn’t supposed to; school was engineered to serve a concealed command economy and a deliberately re-stratified social order. It wasn’t made for the benefit of kids and families as those individuals and institutions would define their own needs. School is the first impression children get of organized society; like most first impressions, it is the lasting one. Life according to school is dull and stupid, only consumption promises relief: Coke, Big Macs, fashion jeans, that’s where real meaning is found, that is the classroom’s lesson, however indirectly delivered.

The decisive dynamics which make forced schooling poisonous to healthy human development aren’t hard to spot. Work in classrooms isn’t significant work; it fails to satisfy real needs pressing on the individual; it doesn’t answer real questions experience raises in the young mind; it doesn’t contribute to solving any problem encountered in actual life. The net effect of making all schoolwork external to individual longings, experiences, questions, and problems is to render the victim listless. This phenomenon has been well-understood at least since the time of the British enclosure movement which forced small farmers off their land into factory work. Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy—these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another.

As I watched it happen, it took about three years to break most kids, three years confined to environments of emotional neediness with nothing real to do.

Well, Hell.

Back in 2010 when HaloScan/JS-Kit/Echo decided to raise their fees for providing a commenting service by a factor of about twelve, I switched to DISQUS.  I was assured that I could import my Echo comments into DISQUS - all 40,000+ of them.

Well, I could, but DISQUS didn't know what to do with them.  You see, there was no way for DISQUS to figure out what posts the comments attached to.  Echo left that information out, apparently, or at least didn't place it where the importing program could find it. 

Those old threads are still out there on the Echo servers, but I have links to very few of them.  I didn't figure Echo would continue to support comments for bloggers who weren't paying them, and I was right.  Apparently even more right than I thought.  Echo won't be supporting comments for anybody other than major commercial customers, apparently.  On October 1, they're going to all go away.

There's a lot of good stuff in those comments, and it pains me to know that it's all lost.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Three Months Out

The seventh annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous is three months away. Derek at The Packing Rat has put together an EXCELLENT promo video for the event:


Now, I've got to make my reservations!

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 6)

...between 1967 and 1974, teacher training in the United States was covertly revamped through coordinated efforts of a small number of private foundations, select universities, global corporations, think tanks, and government agencies, all coordinated through the U.S. Office of Education and through key state education departments like those in California, Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Important milestones of the transformation were: 1) an extensive government exercise in futurology called Designing Education for the Future, 2) the Behavioral Science Teacher Education Project, and 3) Benjamin Bloom's multivolume Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, an enormous manual of over a thousand pages which, in time, impacted every school in America. While other documents exist, these three are appropriate touchstones of the whole, serving to make clear the nature of the project underway.

Take them one by one and savor each. Designing Education, produced by the Education Department, redefined the term "education" after the Prussian fashion as "a means to achieve important economic and social goals of a national character." State education agencies would henceforth act as on-site federal enforcers, ensuring the compliance of local schools with central directives. Each state education department was assigned the task of becoming "an agent of change" and advised to "lose its independent identity as well as its authority," in order to "form a partnership with the federal government."

The second document, the gigantic Behavioral Science Teacher Education Project, outlined teaching reforms to be forced on the country after 1967. If you ever want to hunt this thing down, it bears the U.S. Office of Education Contract Number OEC-0-9-320424-4042 (B10). The document sets out clearly the intentions of its creators — nothing less than "impersonal manipulation" through schooling of a future America in which "few will be able to maintain control over their opinions," an America in which "each individual receives at birth a multi-purpose identification number" which enables employers and other controllers to keep track of underlings and to expose them to direct or subliminal influence when necessary. Readers learned that "chemical experimentation" on minors would be normal procedure in this post-1967 world, a pointed foreshadowing of the massive Ritalin interventions which now accompany the practice of forced schooling.

The Behavioral Science Teacher Education Project identified the future as one "in which a small elite" will control all important matters, one where participatory democracy will largely disappear. Children are made to see, through school experiences, that their classmates are so cruel and irresponsible, so inadequate to the task of self-discipline, and so ignorant they need to be controlled and regulated for society's good. Under such a logical regime, school terror can only be regarded as good advertising. It is sobering to think of mass schooling as a vast demonstration project of human inadequacy, but that is at least one of its functions.

Why We're Winning

I may have another mom hooked on the idea of shooting. After getting the hang of the pellet rifle, she pointed at my pistol and asked if she could shoot that as well. I explained that there wasn't a safe place in my little yard to do so, but that there was talk of getting a "Mom Shoot" together for beginners and she should really come to that. I kept a calm and neutral tone, but inwardly I was jumping up and down clapping my hands yelling "WE'VE GOT ANOTHER ONE!!!" -- Nancy R. at Excels at Nothing
As Robb Allen says, what have the anti-gunners got? Anti-gun ranges?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Automotive Whimsy

I saw a couple of things in the last few days that caused me to whip out my cell phone and snap some shots.  This first one made me laugh:





The second one made me do a double-take:





Don't see it?  (Always wanted to use this, since I first saw it used at Rachel Lucas' place):





Yes, those are eyelashes - not paint, fake eyelashes. Ooookay.

Here We Go Again

Well, Mitt Romney (actually the RNC) sent me another begging letter - a two pager, telling me about Mitt's stellar "conservative business principles" and "fiscal discipline."  I guess they didn't get the message last time.

So I wrote a bit longer letter in reply:
Dear Mitt (or other RNC politbot – not that I have any illusions that someone will actually read this missive):

I received your letter recounting your record as governor of Massachusetts and asking for my monetary support of the RNC. I noted, after studying the letter thoroughly, that while you spoke highly of your "conservative business principles" and "fiscal discipline," you made absolutely no mention of "Romneycare" and what it has done to your state’s economy.

I find I am reminded by the current race for President of the 2003 recall election of California governor Gray Davis, wherein several candidates vied for the captaincy of the Titanic and then the titular Republican victor proceeded to rearrange the deck chairs – for two terms. This is that election, I think, writ an order of magnitude or two larger.

President Obama, ex-Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid have been boring holes in the bilges of the Ship of State. I have no illusions that you as President can plug them. So no, Mr. Romney, I won't be sending you or the RNC any money this year, or in 2014. At best, I will vote "Republican" because it will slow the rate at which this nation sinks, but at this point I don't think there's much chance of saving the old girl. We're past that, I think. As someone recently said, when your last Republican opposition dropped out,
"Given how the GOP field has been winnowed, this has really just been a race to determine the form Gozer the Traveler takes.

"So this just means the giant Slor is off the table and we're choosing between the moving Torb and the Staypuft Marshmallow man." (Ghostbusters reference, look it up.)



That’s a T-shirt design now, if you weren’t aware. They sell it at Despair.com. I bought one.

Sincerely,

Kevin Baker
It goes out in tomorrow's mail in the RNC's postage-paid envelope. Useless, but it makes me feel better.

Is the Fat Lady Clearing Her Throat?


Stocks End at Lows on EU Woes

Stocks accelerated their selloff in the final minutes of trading to close down more than 1 percent across the board Monday, as initial euphoria over Spain's bank bailout fizzled and amid ongoing fears over a global economic slowdown.

The S&P 500 fell 16.73 points, or 1.26 percent, to end at 1,308.93. The Nasdaq dropped 48.69 points, or 1.70 percent, to close at 2,809.73.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, jumped above 23.
The pin's not pulled out quite yet, but...

UPDATE:  Here's some more:
The only problem with the deathbed conversions of the sort that Ken Livingston is metaphorically experiencing is that it often happens at the stage when a crisis is cascading. It happens too late. The damage is widening exponentially. There won’t be years or months left to change course. What Spain illustrates is the compression of time within a crisis. Things are not only happening, they are happening faster than anyone believed was possible.

Quote of the Day - Belmont Club Edition

A short break from excerpts of John Taylor Gatto's The Underground History of American Education, today's QotD comes from Wretchard, and this weekend's Who Will Bell the Cat?
Let's spell out it again for emphasis. "The Obama administration can't do a damn thing." So too bad about the Syrian people. Too bad about the real and dire consequences of Syria falling apart, watching its WMDs (are you sure? Where did they come from?) fall into the wrong hands, become a locus for regional instability. Too bad about everything. Because "the Obama administration can't do a damn thing."

And that's all she wrote.

All these years the Euroleft has wanted to see a chastened America. One incapable of acting. An America that was just another country; a hamstrung giant. Well they have it now. So they must like it. Someone once said, be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Match Report - Bowling Pins, 6/10/12

Well, I've heard the expression "Won the whole shootin' match," but I've never actually done it.

Until today.

Seven other shooters showed up for the June Bowling Pin match.  Two brought Major guns, four brought Minor guns, six brought revolvers, and six brought .22's.  There were too few of us to break out Major vs. Minor, so we shot centerfire pistol as one class.  There were a lot of malfs.  Still, I managed to win all three divisions.  (No malfs on my part, except for the loose nut behind the trigger.)

Note:  Eight shots in the revolver class really helps.  I only managed to clear a table in six shots or less twice.  The rest of the time it took seven, and once it took all eight.

The next match is July 8.  Hope to see you there.

I Can't Figure Out if Ted Rall...

...has given up on Obama, or is covering for him:


I just know he'd NEVER say the same thing about Bushitler.

Of course, it could be BOTH.

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 5)

From the beginning, there was purpose behind forced schooling, purpose which had nothing to do with what parents, kids, or communities wanted. Instead, this grand purpose was forged out of what a highly centralized corporate economy and system of finance bent on internationalizing itself was thought to need; that, and what a strong, centralized political state needed, too. School was looked upon from the first decade of the twentieth century as a branch of industry and a tool of governance. For a considerable time, probably provoked by a climate of official anger and contempt directed against immigrants in the greatest displacement of people in history, social managers of schooling were remarkably candid about what they were doing. In a speech he gave before businessmen prior to the First World War, Woodrow Wilson made this unabashed disclosure:
We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.
--

I know how difficult it is for most of us who mow our lawns and walk our dogs to comprehend that long-range social engineering even exists, let alone that it began to dominate compulsion schooling nearly a century ago. Yet the 1934 edition of Ellwood P. Cubberley’s Public Education in the United States is explicit about what happened and why. As Cubberley puts it:
It has come to be desirable that children should not engage in productive labor. On the contrary, all recent thinking...[is] opposed to their doing so. Both the interests of organized labor and the interests of the nation have set against child labor.
The statement occurs in a section of Public Education called "A New Lengthening of the Period of Dependence," in which Cubberley explains that "the coming of the factory system" has made extended childhood necessary by depriving children of the training and education that farm and village life once gave. With the breakdown of home and village industries, the passing of chores, and the extinction of the apprenticeship system by large-scale production with its extreme division of labor (and the "all conquering march of machinery"), an army of workers has arisen, said Cubberley, who know nothing.

Furthermore, modern industry needs such workers. Sentimentality could not be allowed to stand in the way of progress. According to Cubberley, with "much ridicule from the public press" the old book-subject curriculum was set aside, replaced by a change in purpose and "a new psychology of instruction which came to us from abroad." That last mysterious reference to a new psychology is to practices of dumbed-down schooling common to England, Germany, and France, the three major world coal-powers (other than the United States), each of which had already converted its common population into an industrial proletariat.

Arthur Calhoun's 1919 Social History of the Family notified the nation’s academics what was happening. Calhoun declared that the fondest wish of utopian writers was coming true, the child was passing from its family "into the custody of community experts." He offered a significant forecast, that in time we could expect to see public education "designed to check the mating of the unfit." Three years later, Mayor John F. Hylan of New York said in a public speech that the schools had been seized as an octopus would seize prey, by "an invisible government." He was referring specifically to certain actions of the Rockefeller Foundation and other corporate interests in New York City which preceded the school riots of 1917.

The 1920s were a boom period for forced schooling as well as for the stock market. In 1928, a well-regarded volume called A Sociological Philosophy of Education claimed, "It is the business of teachers to run not merely schools but the world."


Saturday, June 09, 2012

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 4)


Sometimes the best hiding place is right in the open. It took seven years of reading and reflection for me to finally figure out that mass schooling of the young by force was a creation of the four great coal powers of the nineteenth century. It was under my nose, of course, but for years I avoided seeing what was there because no one else seemed to notice. Forced schooling arose from the new logic of the Industrial Age—the logic imposed on flesh and blood by fossil fuel and high-speed machinery.

This simple reality is hidden from view by early philosophical and theological anticipations of mass schooling in various writings about social order and human nature. But you shouldn't be fooled any more than Charles Francis Adams was fooled when he observed in 1880 that what was being cooked up for kids unlucky enough to be snared by the newly proposed institutional school net combined characteristics of the cotton mill and the railroad with those of a state prison.

After the Civil War, utopian speculative analysis regarding isolation of children in custodial compounds where they could be subjected to deliberate molding routines, began to be discussed seriously by the Northeastern policy elites of business, government, and university life. These discussions were inspired by a growing realization that the productive potential of machinery driven by coal was limitless. Railroad development made possible by coal and startling new inventions like the telegraph, seemed suddenly to make village life and local dreams irrelevant. A new governing mind was emerging in harmony with the new reality.

The principal motivation for this revolution in family and community life might seem to be greed, but this surface appearance conceals philosophical visions approaching religious exaltation in intensity—that effective early indoctrination of all children would lead to an orderly scientific society, one controlled by the best people, now freed from the obsolete straitjacket of democratic traditions and historic American libertarian attitudes.

Forced schooling was the medicine to bring the whole continental population into conformity with these plans so that it might be regarded as a "human resource" and managed as a "workforce." No more Ben Franklins or Tom Edisons could be allowed; they set a bad example. One way to manage this was to see to it that individuals were prevented from taking up their working lives until an advanced age when the ardor of youth and its insufferable self-confidence had cooled.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Three Points on the Bell Curve





Found at ARFCOM.

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 3)

Another excerpt from The Underground History of American Education:
By standards of the time, America was utopia already. No grinding poverty, no dangerous national enemies, no indigenous tradition beyond a general spirit of exuberant optimism, a belief the land had been touched by destiny, a conviction Americans could accomplish anything. John Jay wrote to Jefferson in 1787, "The enterprise of our country is inconceivable"—inconceivable, that is, to the British, Germans, and French, who were accustomed to keeping the common population on a leash. Our colonial government was the creation of the Crown, of course, but soon a fantastic idea began to circulate, a belief that people might create or destroy governments at their will.

The empty slate of the new republic made it vulnerable to advanced utopian thinking. While in England and Germany, temptation was great to develop and use Oriental social machinery to bend mass population into an instrument of elite will, in America there was no hereditary order or traditional direction. We were a nation awash in literate, self-reliant men and women, the vast majority with an independent livelihood or ambitions toward getting one. Americans were inventors and technicians without precedent, entrepreneurs unlocked from traditional controls, dreamers, confidence men, flim-flam artists. There never was a social stew quite like it.

The practical difficulties these circumstances posed to utopian governing would have been insuperable except for one seemingly strange source of enthusiasm for such an endeavor in the business community. That puzzle can be solved by considering how the promise of democracy was a frightening terra incognita to men of substance. To look to men like Sam Adams or Tom Paine as directors of the future was like looking down the barrel of a loaded gun, at least to people of means. So the men who had begun the Revolution were eased out by the men who ended it.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (Pt. 2)

From his Underground History of American Education:
The official use of common schooling was invented by Plato; after him the idea languished, its single torchbearer the Church. Educational offerings from the Church were intended for, though not completely limited to, those young whose parentage qualified them as a potential Guardian class. You would hardly know this from reading any standard histories of Western schooling intended for the clientele of teacher colleges.

Intense development of the Platonic ideal of comprehensive social control through schooling suddenly reappeared two-thousand years later in eighteenth-century France at the hands of a philosophical cultus known to history as philosophes, enthusiastic promoters of the bizarre idea of mass forced schooling. Most prominent among them, a self-willed man named Jean Jacques Rousseau. To add piquancy to Rousseau’s thought, you need to know that when they were born, he chose to give away his own five offspring to strangers at birth. If any man captures the essence of enlightenment transformation, it is Rousseau.

The Enlightenment "project" was conceived as a series of stages, each further leveling mankind, collectivizing ordinary humanity into a colonial organism like a volvox.

--

The ideal of a leveling Oriental pedagogy expressed through government schooling was promoted by Jacobin orators of the French National Convention in the early 1790s, the commencement years of our own republic. The notion of forced schooling was irresistible to French radicals, an enthusiasm whose foundation had been laid in preceding centuries by utopian writers like Harrington (Oceania), More (Utopia), Bacon (New Atlantis), Campanella (City of the Sun), and in other speculative fantasy embracing the fate of children. Cultivating a collective social organism was considered the ingredient missing from feudal society, an ingredient which would allow the West the harmony and stability of the East.

Utopian schooling (was) never about learning in the traditional sense; it’s about the transformation of human nature.
(My emphasis.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto

From his Underground History of American Education, which I will be quoting from for the next several days, I think:
The word pedagogue is Latin for a specialzed class of slave assigned to walk a student to the schoomaster.  Over time the slave was given additional duties, his role was enlarged to that of drill master, a procedure memorialized in Varro's instituit pedagogus, docet magister:  in my rusty altar-boy Latin, The Master creates instruction, the slave pounds it in.  A key to modern schooling is this:  free men were never pedagogues.  And yet we often refer to the science of modern schooling as pedagogy.  The unenlightened parent who innocently brings matters of concern to the pedagogue, whether that poor soul is called schoolteacher, principal, or superintendent, is usually beginning a game of frustration which will end in no fundamental change.  A case of barking up the wrong tree in a dark wood where the right tree is far away and obscure.

Pedagogy is social technology for winning attention and cooperation (or obedience) while strings are attached to the mind and placed in the hands of an unseen master.  This may be done holistically, with smiles, music, and light-duty simulations of intellection, or it can be done harshly with rigorous drills and competitive tests.  The quality of self-doubt aimed for in either case is similar. 

Pedagogy is a useful concept to help us unthread some of the mysteries of modern schooling.  That it is  increasingly vital to the social order is evinced by the quiet teacher-pay revolution that has occurred since the 1960's.  As with police work (to which pedagogy bears important similarities), school pay has become relatively good, its hours of labor short, its job security first rate.  Contrast this with the golden years of one-room schooling where pay was subsistence only and teachers were compelled to board around to keep body and soul together.  Yet there was no shortage then of applicants and many sons of prominent Americans began their adult lives as schoolteachers.

With the relative opulence of today, it would be simple to fill teaching slots with accomplished men and women if that were a goal.  A little adjustment in what are rationally indefensible licensing requirements would make talented people, many performance-tested adults in their fifties and sixties, available to teach.  That there is not such fluid access is a good sign the purpose of schooling is more than it appears.  The year-in, year-out consistency of mediocre teacher candidates demonstrates clearly that the school institution actively seeks, nurtures, hires, and promotes the caliber of personnel it needs.
And I quote this as the brother of a woman who has been teaching in the public education sector since 1980. Her work hours are not short, and her pay is not exhorbitant, but the same cannot be said of many of her coworkers or administrators. Nor, I would add, would this have been true of the author prior to his resignation from the NYC public school system, exceptions proving the rule.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Still Winning


In Lewisville, Texas:
Family-friendly gun range offering birthday parties for kids

Eagle Gun Range will host birthday parties for kids

"One of the reasons we're doing this is, when I had my boys, I didn't have a place to take them and educate them about how to handle a gun safely," Prince explained. "I really want families to be able to take their kids here and teach their young shooters how to shoot safely."

Two rooms will be available for birthday parties.

"The age limit is eight years old. You have to be tall enough to get above the shooting table," Prince said. "They're not gonna be left unattended. Parents are gonna be one-on-one, or if there's not enough parents we'll have range safety officers here to show them how to do it safely."
Of course, panty-twisting is occurring:
But some see things in a different way. Dawn McMullan is a mom raising two sons in East Dallas, and she's done some gun control advocacy in the past.

"It makes me very nervous," she said. "I think eight-year-olds, developmentally, can't tell the difference between play and reality sometimes."

"And also to put it in a party or game atmosphere just seems to not respect a gun as much as we should respect guns," she said.
Still winning, though.  RTWT.  Opinions?

Well, Bummer.

As I have noted previously, I have a Rock River AR upper chambered in .458 SOCOM coming to go with my new York Arms lower.  I have brass, primers, powder, and dies in hand, and a case gauge coming.  What I need are bullets.

The one I want to try most is the Remington .458 405 grain softpoint, but I have been unable to find it at any retailer.  So, I emailed Remington:
Could you inform me as to when Remington will be making a production run of the .458 caliber 405 grain softpoint projectile?  I cannot find this bullet in stock at any retail outlet, and it's the one I am most interested in trying in my .458 SOCOM.  From what I've read, this is a once-a-year product for Remington, and from all appearances not enough were made last year to keep up with demand.
Thank you for your attention.
They responded:
There are no scheduled runs for the bullets alone. We have two runs scheduled for 45-70 loads that have the 405 grain bullet however.
I replied:
Am I to gather from this response that Remington does not intend to produce this projectile as a reloading component in 2012, then?
And the conclusion:
There are non(sic) on the schedule and that is the conclusion that we would come to as well. Our apologies.
Well, damn.

One of the reasons I chose the .458 over the .50 Beowulf was bullet selection. I guess not so much anymore.

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto

His short essay "I Quit, I Think" published in The Wall Street Journal after
...my thirtieth year as a school teacher in Community School District 3, Manhattan, after teaching in all five secondary schools in the district, crossing swords with one professional administration after another as they strove to rid themselves of me, after having my license suspended twice for insubordination and terminated covertly once while I was on medical leave of absence, after the City University of New York borrowed me for a five-year stint as a lecturer in the Education Department (and the faculty rating handbook published by the Student Council gave me the highest ratings in the department my last three years), after planning and bringing about the most successful permanent school fund-raiser in New York City history, after placing a single eighth-grade class into 30,000 hours of volunteer community service, after organizing and financing a student-run food cooperative, after securing over a thousand apprenticeships, directing the collection of tens of thousands of books for the construction of private student libraries, after producing four talking job dictionaries for the blind, writing two original student musicals, and launching an armada of other initiatives to reintegrate students within a larger human reality....
and after being named New York State Teacher of the Year:
Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents. The whole blueprint of school procedure is Egyptian, not Greek or Roman. It grows from the theological idea that human value is a scarce thing, represented symbolically by the narrow peak of a pyramid.

That idea passed into American history through the Puritans. It found its "scientific" presentation in the bell curve, along which talent supposedly apportions itself by some Iron Law of Biology. It's a religious notion, School is its church. I offer rituals to keep heresy at bay. I provide documentation to justify the heavenly pyramid.

Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating the laity to the priesthood. School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be "re-formed." It has political allies to guard its marches, that's why reforms come and go without changing much. Even reformers can’t imagine school much different.

David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can't tell which one learned first—the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I label Rachel "learning disabled" and slow David down a bit, too. For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, "special education" fodder. She’ll be locked in her place forever.

In 30 years of teaching kids rich and poor I almost never met a learning disabled child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never examine because they preserve the temple of schooling.

That’s the secret behind short-answer tests, bells, uniform time blocks, age grading, standardization, and all the rest of the school religion punishing our nation. There isn’t a right way to become educated; there are as many ways as fingerprints. We don’t need state-certified teachers to make education happen—that probably guarantees it won’t.

How much more evidence is necessary? Good schools don’t need more money or a longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every need and runs risks. We don’t need a national curriculum or national testing either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn or deliberate indifference to it. I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know. Come fall I’ll be looking for work.
If you have not read his book The Underground History of American Education and you have children or grandchildren, I strongly recommend you do so.  It's available in its entirety online.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Quote of the Day - Mark Steyn Again

From the same NRO piece as yesterday:
In the twilight of the West, America and Europe are still different but only to this extent: They've wound up taking separate paths to the same destination. Whether you get there via an artificial common currency for an invented pseudo-jurisdiction or through quantitative easing and the global decline of the dollar, whether you spend your final years in the care of Medicare or the National Health Service death panels, whether higher education is just another stage of cradle-to-grave welfare or you have a trillion dollars' worth of personal college debt, in 2012 the advanced Western social-democratic citizen looks pretty similar, whether viewed from Greece or Germany, California or Quebec.

That's to say, the unsustainable "bubble" is not student debt or subprime mortgages or anything else. The bubble is us, and the assumptions of entitlement.
Can I get an "AMEN!"?

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Quote of the Day - Mark Steyn Edition

One recalls the 1990 Eurovision finals in Zagreb: "Yugoslavia is very much like an orchestra," cooed the hostess, Helga Vlahović. "The string section and the wood section all sit together." Shortly thereafter, the wood section began ethnically cleansing the dressing rooms, while the string section rampaged through the brass section pillaging their instruments and severing their genitals. Indeed, the charming Miss Vlahović herself was forced into a sudden career shift and spent the next few years as Croatian TV's head of "war information" programming.

Fortunately, no one remembers Yugoslavia. So today Europe itself is very much like an orchestra. The Greek fiddlers and the Italian wind players all sit together, playing cards in the dressing room, waiting for the German guy to show up with their checks. -- NRO, Twilight of the West

2 + 2 = DUH!

A while back I quoted from a piece written by one Barry Garelick as a Quote of the Day, and later in The George Orwell Daycare Center.  He has a new piece out, linked at the Education News website, entitled Mathematics Education: Being Outwitted by Stupidity. Excerpt:
In a well-publicized paper that addressed why some students were not learning to read, Reid Lyon (2001) concluded that children from disadvantaged backgrounds where early childhood education was not available failed to read because they did not receive effective instruction in the early grades. Many of these children then required special education services to make up for this early failure in reading instruction, which were by and large instruction in phonics as the means of decoding. Some of these students had no specific learning disability other than lack of access to effective instruction. These findings are significant because a similar dynamic is at play in math education: the effective treatment for many students who would otherwise be labeled learning disabled is also the effective preventative measure.
He includes this graphic:






Preceded by this:
Over the past several decades, math education in the United States has shifted from the traditional model of math instruction to "reform math". The traditional model has been criticized for relying on rote memorization rather than conceptual understanding. Calling the traditional approach "skills based", math reformers deride it and claim that it teaches students only how to follow the teacher’s direction in solving routine problems, but does not teach students how to think critically or to solve non-routine problems. Traditional/skills-based teaching, the argument goes, doesn't meet the demands of our 21st century world.

As I've discussed elsewhere, the criticism of traditional math teaching is based largely on a mischaracterization of how it is/has been taught, and misrepresented as having failed thousands of students in math education despite evidence of its effectiveness in the 1940's, 50's and 60's.
(My emphasis.)  You know, the time period that produced the scientists and engineers who took us to the moon using slide-rules.
Reacting to this characterization of the traditional model, math reformers promote a teaching approach in which understanding and process dominate over content. In lower grades, mental math and number sense are emphasized before students are fluent with procedures and number facts. Procedural fluency is seldom achieved. In lieu of the standard methods for adding/subtracting, multiplying and dividing, in some programs students are taught strategies and alternative methods. Whole class and teacher-led explicit instruction (and even teacher-led discovery) has given way to what the education establishment believes is superior: students working in groups in a collaborative learning environment.
Remember that John Taylor Gatto placed "the great transformation which turned schools from often useful places (if never the essential ones school publicists claimed) into laboratories of state experimentation" at 1965 - at least in the major metropolitan areas. I graduated from high school in 1980. This essay, and that graphic is just further evidence that I got out while the getting was still good.  Read the whole thing.

Oh, and the comments, from which comes this from reader Caroline:
I have three kids and am a veteran mom of nine Fairfax County VA public schools. The math teaching here has been uniformly abysmal, but as a parent who bought into the FCPS public relations mantra that we're the BEST, I wasn't sure why my kids struggled (I'm pretty sure now). They are all gifted (one went to Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology).

Example: In third or fourth grade, my daughter "got" how to calculate an irregular area using multiplication, but was told she had to do the math several different ways, one of which was something to do with counting all the little lines that extended from the area on a grid. I didn't even get it. All it did was totally confuse her, and then lay the groundwork for many cries over the years of "I HAVE to do it the TEACHER'S way, or she'll be MAD. I can't do it YOUR way or MY way!" What a lesson!!
That's what my grandkids are subjected to.  Then there's this, from reader "wintertime":
After spending several years working with the cub scout and tutoring programs in our church, I am convinced that the **only** children in our county who are learning to read, and do basic arithmetic ,have parents who aggressively **”afterschool**! Honestly, in working with these kids who do **not** have parents who are literally homeschooling after school ( “afterschooling”) it is like watching a train wreck in slow motion.



You May Be a Gun-Nut If...

...you bring a sheet of pre-printed self-adhesive address labels to the Arizona State Rifle & Pistol Association annual banquet, properly sized, to put on the back of the tiny raffle tickets you bought for that really neat gun you really, really want to win.

And there's photographic evidence of this.

I'm looking at you CapitalistPig.

Someone send me the picture, and I'll post it.

So, who won the Sharps? And I'm assuming I didn't win the coach gun.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Seen in a Restaraunt Parking Lot Tonight

The sheer chutzpah of the Left never ceases to amaze me. Seen in the parking lot of a Cheesecake Factory restaurant tonight:





If you can't read the fine print, it's a bumper sticker made in 2009 by "Northern Sun Merchandising."

What's the irony?

What it was attached to:





It's not just the administration. The entire Left is tone-deaf.

Busy

I put in 32 hours in the last two days at work.  Tomorrow I'm going to the Arizona State Rifle & Pistol Association annual banquet (thanks to CapitalistPig).  And on top of that, my CenturyLink DSL modem is up and down like a yo-yo, so blogging has been and will remain light for a few days.  Please peruse the archives while you wait....