American Elephants


Our Self-Infatuated President Speaks About Himself by The Elephant's Child

Barack Obama

It has frequently been noticed that President Obama’s speeches most often focus on himself. No matter what the location, no matter what the topic, the words will mostly be about him.

Earlier today, Obama delivered  a short speech in New Delhi, wrapping up his visit. John Hinderaker over at Powerline noted that “the speech was only 33 minutes long, yet…Barack managed to work in references to himself no fewer than 118 times. The folks at Grabien write:”

Today in New Delhi, the president of the United States delivered an address to the people of India. Topics ranged from Obama’s pride in being the first U.S. president to visit India twice, to the historic nature of his attendance at India’s Republic Day Parade, to his grandfather’s occupation as a chef, to his graying hair, to his daughters … to his struggles against political critics back home. If this is starting to sound like the president spoke quite a bit about himself, that’s because he did. Somehow in the span of just 33 minutes, Obama referenced himself 118 times. (For those keeping score at home, that’s 3.5 Obama references per minute.)

We have often noticed that he seems to live in a fantasy world that excludes any opponents or any disagreement. It’s true!



Handwriting, Printing, Cursive or Keyboard? by The Elephant's Child

24993103

The late Richard Mitchell, the ‘underground grammarian’ wrote that “the business of writing is to stay put on the page, so you can look at it later and see where you have been stupid.”

I learned in college that handwritten notes help you to learn. The act of writing helps to fix things in your mind. Now comes a study from researchers at Princeton and UCLA that shows that taking notes on the computer is detrimental to learning. Handwritten notes are dramatically more effective at helping students retain information. Laptop use can negatively affect performance on educational assessments, even when the computer is used for its intended function of easier notetaking.

The majority of students would tell you just the opposite. Yet the study shows that students who take direct notes retain significantly less information. In recent years, the public schools have decided that children will do all their writing on a computer and they need only learn keyboarding. Cursive is out. Children not only don’t learn to write, they don’t learn to read handwriting.

Most adults who have learned cursive as children abandon it as adults for a mixture. The fastest, clearest handwriters join only some letters, making the easiest joins, skipping others, using print-like forms of letters whose cursive and printed forms disagree. I switched to a mixture in sixth grade—I remember distinctly because I got in trouble for it with a teacher who was a Palmer-method purist. I was lucky to have a father and an aunt with impossible handwriting, which I mastered, and I have seldom been stymied by anyone’s handwriting.

The benefits of handwriting, learning cursive, is shown to improve brain development in the areas of thinking, language and working memory. The physical act of writing leads to increased comprehension and participation. The College Board found a few  years ago that students who wrote the essay portion of the SAT in cursive scored slightly higher than those who printed, which experts believe is because the speed and efficiency of writing allows students to focus on the content of their essays.

If you are an opponent of Common Core, cursive is no longer included in the Common Core State Standards, which I believe to be an important mistake.



Increased Communication: Blessing or Burden? by The Elephant's Child

4986d76bc1365c018aa601e6a4ed1a52 It was just 100 years ago Sunday that the first commercial transcontinental phone line opened on January 25, 1915. Alexander Graham Bell made the call to his assistant Thomas Watson.

Only 39 years earlier, Bell had spoken to Watson in the first phone call ever, in Boston — just after Bell had  patented the telephone.

By 1915, the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. network crossed the continent with a single copper circuit 6,800 miles long. It could only carry one call at a time — but hearing another person’s voice from the other side of the continent was truly astonishing. There were already 8.6 million phones served by AT&T, but the first intercontinental call was a major public event. The call went from New York to San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition., where they were celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal.

We are inclined to forget that, for example, our founding fathers if they wanted to communicate with someone at a distance, had to send a rider carrying a message. Their days were uninterrupted by such things as the telephone, a radio, TV, computer, cell phones that we take with us so we don’t spend a moment unconnected.

We are so accustomed to multi-tasking and a constant flow of voices and opinion, sales and entertainment, that we don’t recognize the loss of silence, uninterrupted contemplation, time to think deeply. That blessing greatly contributed to the care that went into the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution itself, and that clear thought, perhaps impossible today, may well be why it has lasted so well.

The current presumption is that all our equipment will go away and we will have wearable technology or implants so that we are never, never disconnected.

That must be contrasted with what seems to me our increasing inability to deal with the information age. What has come along with the increased flow of information is too much choice, and way too much stuff for which the word “information” does not really apply. Our educational system is not yet directly addressing information management, how to select that which is important, how to tell truth from falsehood, sense from nonsense, and how to form, from that flow, a life-enriching body of knowledge.



The Dark Ages? They Really Weren’t That Dark! by The Elephant's Child

Professor Anthony Esolen for Prager University. We’ve been told that the Middle Ages, also known as the Dark Ages, were characterized by oppression ignorance and backwardness in areas like human rights, science, health and the arts? We have been misled.



“Middle Class Economics” Also Known as Income Redistribution by The Elephant's Child

Obama is in the sixth year of his presidency, and he has just discovered that the middle class is not doing so well. So he wants to take up what he calls Middle Class Economics. He seems to describe his economic programs based on their origin, so middle class economics begins with the middle class and expands outward to benefit everyone. Just how this works is unclear.

The number of food stamp beneficiaries exceeds 46,000,000 for the 38th straight months. Republicans consider this a shocking comment on the continued slow recovery. Democrats consider it to be a remarkable accomplishment. It ‘s worthwhile to keep that difference in mind.

Another problem afflicting the middle class is stagnant wages. We are just not seeing the growth in wages that we should  six years after the official end of the Great Recession. Some would attribute that fact to a plentiful supply of workers looking for jobs, but the Obama administration wants to go directly to the cause. They will just force employers to pay workers more.

Hence Obama plans a massive expansion of overtime, raising the cut-off for overtime from the current $23,600 to $50,000, a significant jump— time-and-a-half for anything over 42 hours, and of course he’s got the employers over a barrel on the other side with ObamaCare penalties.

Have you been saving money for the kids’ college education? The money (already taxed) that you put into a  529 plan might have had the audacity to grow, so it’s only fair that you tax the growth — Right? And just in case they have missed anything, they want to raise taxes on capital gains. And he ‘s still plumping for an increase in the minimum wage.

Republicans would consider any request to raise taxes dead in the water, but just what Mr. Obama might attempt to do by executive order remains an unknown.

Nobody thought he’d try to do the things he already has done by executive order or executive memo which is the same thing and carries the same force of law.

Nobody is quite sure what to do with a president who deliberately ignores the constitutional separation of powers. He’s supposed to see that the laws are carried out, and the Congress is supposed to make the laws. The Judicial branch is not supposed to be making laws either, but that’s a separate story.




%d bloggers like this: