Filed under: Education, Freedom, Fun n Games, Heartwarming, Humor | Tags: A Daily Surprise, Making Magic For the Kids, Sharpies & Sandwich Bags
In 2008, David LaFerriere decided to surprise his kids at school, drawing on the sandwich bags he packed in their lunches. The kids loved it, so he kept drawing. Every day they are greeted with a new creation their dad has made for them.Now, five years after the first drawing, he has created over one thousand lunchtime surprises, cataloging them all on Flickr.
Dave is a graphic designer, and his work has been featured on Sharpie’s website, but you don’t have to draw well to create magic for your kids. They will probably never remember the Christmas or birthday presents, but they will always remember the magic. Here’s the rest of the story.
Here’s another example of fatherly magic. The coolest tooth-pull ever! When this kid is old and grey, he will still remember the time his dad tied his tooth to a rocket, and laugh.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Education, Freedom, Health Care, Politics, Regulation | Tags: Anti-Childhood Obesity, Michelle Obama, School Lunches
It seems odd. but there are fads in issues as well as fashions. When’s the last time you heard a rant about childhood obesity? The First Lady took that one on as her personal project. First Ladies apparently must have a “project.” Lady Belle Johnson was enthusiastic about wildflowers, Laura Bush promoted childhood reading, Nancy Reagan took on drug abuse. I cannot remember what if anything was Hillary’s project. I remember that she was quite determined to be a “co-president” along with her husband — which didn’t go over well with the public at all.
Michelle Obama took on childhood obesity as her special project, and supported new rules that would restrict calories and limit portion sizes in school meals. Her ideas suffered from the same problems as her husband’s. “One size fits all” didn’t fit the nation’s school children. The calorie restrictions and smaller portions left kids who were active sports participants hungry. The food police rejected lunches prepared at home that did not fit the new USDA guidelines, making many parents furious. There was little recognition of the foods that kids like. If you have ever visited a school lunch room at lunchtime, you will have seen the enormous waste as kids throw away the foods that they don’t like.
I can sympathize. I still remember scraping the tomato aspic off my plate into the napkin in my lap while a confederate distracted the nun’s attention. I don’t know if she was fooled, but we all hated tomato aspic, and probably all still do till this day.
The modified meals, which took effect starting with the 2012 school year, were aimed to limit fat and salt, curb portion sizes and boost fruit and vegetable servings. Under the guidelines, half of breads and other grain-based foods offered must contain whole grains until the start of the 2014 school year, when all such foods must be whole-grain.
Schools that adopted the changes got more money back from the federal government, in part to offset the higher prices of “healthier foods.” Read that as the heavy hand of government will direct what your child eats, or you will pay! Children cannot possibly make proper choices without government control.
There is some question about governmental estimates of obesity and overweight. The guidelines may be all one size, but kids aren’t. Some kids are small and skinny by nature. Others are stocky, but not fat. Obesity estimates seem to have come from Body Mass Index (BMI) guesstimate or measurements which were not meant to serve such a purpose. Some kids get their growth early, and tower over others who are the same age.
Over time, those who produce school lunches have learned a lot about what kids like — pizza for example. Pizza can be healthy food, and a good way to get the vegetables down. The standards have not been ended, but “relaxed.” Kids will get more meat and increased weekly maximum amounts for grains and meat alternatives. School districts can serve larger portions without penalty.
The other part of the equation is recess and activity. For a while, at least, competition was out, as were competitive sports. It was thought that having ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ was bad for the kids self-esteem, which ended up reducing the activity in recess. That last sentence in the previous paragraph should cause any parent major anxiety. “School districts can serve larger portions without penalty.” How did we get here?
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Education, Energy, Health Care, Media Bias, Politics, Regulation | Tags: "Do-Nothing Congress", The American Dream, The Yearly Summing-Up
I always hate the week between Christmas and New Years. The Media does the “Great Summing Up.” Lists and rankings, best and worst, biggest news stories, best photos, most notable deaths, the best books, the worst books, the funniest cartoons and the best and worst movies. These are not exactly think pieces.
The American Dream is dying, or dead. Things are really bad and only getting worse. The Least Productive Congress in History? The Do-Nothing Congress has been good for America, and if they pass few new laws, we can breathe slightly more easily. Congress passed just 70 laws, which may be too many. But Obama and Congressional Democrats planned an array of Big Government initiatives — gun control, immigration reform, a higher minimum wage, more job creation, infrastructure (again!), climate change, and education, to name only a few. Congress ended the year with none of those initiatives signed into law. And we are far better for it. No major tax hike, and the probability of a major tax hike in the next year has fallen.
Congress’ approval rating fell to a new low in a November Gallup poll at 9%, and 72% of Americans agreed that “big government” was the nation’s Number One threat. That is an encouraging opinion.
It used to be that a limited government with only modest aims was the guiding principle of nearly every Congressman. Until some sanity is restored to Congress, gridlock may be the best thing we can hope for. A year spent thoughtfully repealing useless laws, wretched excess, and governmental duplication would do us a world of good.
Markets have been encouraged by governmental inaction. Businessmen are not quite so frightened about what government might do next. In 2013, the growth oriented NASDAQ has surged 40%. Markets look six months to a year on down the road.
The EPA is facing real questions about just what ‘science’ they are relying on in their push for power and control. They are backing off their attempt to require 15% corn ethanol in gasoline, which will save many cars and all sorts of small engines. Inaction from the EPA would be a real boon to the economy.
The Democratic majority is running scared from the ObamaCare disaster and its potential influence on the 2014 election. The President is not going to win back the approval of the American people easily. The economy might survive after all. Let’s hear it for gridlock, and root for another do-nothing year in the nation’s capitol.
Filed under: Capitalism, Education, Freedom, History, Law, Politics, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Philadelphia 1787, Separation of Powers, The U.S. Constitution.
From Bernard Bailyn’s The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution:
“At the Philadelphia convention, with exquisite care and with delicate nuances, they devised a complex constitution that would generate the requisite power but would so distribute its flow and uses that no one body of men and no one institutional center would ever gain a monopoly of force or influence that would dominate the nation.”
In every generation, we need to remind the people of the care and wisdom that went into the making of the Constitution. It has worked for 286 years, and remains unique among nations in its establishment by “We the People,” and the limited powers that it grants to the government. And it is up to us to remind our representatives in government of its meaning, and to insure that our schools teach its history and its meaning .
See also: Catherine Drinker Bowen’s Miracle at Philadelphia
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Energy, Freedom, History | Tags: The American Founding, The Experts Keep Getting it Wrong, Transforming a Nation
Particularly when there is vast discontent with the way things are, there are voices that assure us that it will always be this way. The nation is changed forever by these policies that you hate, and we can’t go back to the way it was.
Of course that’s what Barack Obama promised when he dazzled Americans with his mellow baritone voice and lofty promises — it was all about Hope and Change. In the thrill of the moment people forgot to ask just what it was he meant by ‘hope’ and ‘change’. His answer was that he wanted to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” We really should have asked for a straightforward definition of that as well.
What is it that ‘fundamentally transforms’ a nation? The two big inventions that brought the European medieval world to an end by the beginning of the sixteenth century and made the settlement of the New World possible were the printing press and the full-rigged ship. In the mid-fifteenth century there were only around fifty thousand books in all of Europe, most of them controlled by the church. By the end of the century, there were more than ten million. That is an explosion of knowledge, many books were technical and agricultural and in the hands of the growing merchant class. The full-rigged ship pushed out the boundaries of the world as it was known to Europeans.
The colony at Jamestown was founded, not by the English state, but by a profit-seeking corporation. Two intellectual inventions were vital to the development of the United States — the corporation and double-entry bookkeeping. Because of double-entry bookkeeping, it became possible for people to invest in distant enterprises and still keep track of how the investment was doing. Ferdinand and Isabella sent an accountant along with Columbus on his first voyage to ensure they got their share of the profits.
Partnerships had long been around, but in a partnership each partner is liable for the debts of the entire enterprise, a large risk. The joint-stock company solved that problem by limiting each investor’s liability to the amount that he had invested. This was completely different from the Spanish and French who sought to control all aspects of their subjects’ activities and to convert Indians to the Catholic religion.
The profit-seeking Virginia Company’s investment in America desperately needed something to sell profitably in England to defray the costs of maintaining a settlement. In 1612, a man named John Rolfe obtained some tobacco seeds in the West Indies, and brought them back to try in Virginia soil. In 1618 twenty-thousand pounds of tobacco were grown in Virginia and shipped to England. In 1629 it was one and a half million pounds.
In New England, both Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay were founded by joint stock companies.The members of the corporations who came to New England were called planters. Those who remained in England and invested money were called adventurers — which gave rise to today’s term venture capitalist.
There were already fishermen in villages like Marblehead and Gloucester in Massachusetts, and the banks off New England were a perfect habitat for cod that grew to 200 pounds. Cod exports soon became a mainstay of the economy, but the cod waste — the bones, skin and guts — went to fertilizing New England fields — which made a big difference in the thin rocky soil.
The Puritans believed firmly in reading the Bible, and had the highest literacy rate in the Western world, and as soon as they built a church they were apt to build a school. Harvard College was founded just six years after the Puritans landed.
New England exported lumber, ships masts, soap, butter, cheese and the produce of the farms. By the end of the seventeenth century New England had become one of the great shipbuilding centers of the world, and a truly diverse economy. The innovations came from ordinary people in an extraordinary land, creating what was needed to improve their lives. Far distant from an interfering government, people were free to follow their ideas and dreams. A heritage that is as natural to Americans as breathing.
Which brings me to an article in the Wall Street Journal about “The Outsiders Who Saw Our Economic Future.” “In both America’s energy transformation and the financial crisis, it took a group of amateurs to see what was coming.”
Part of Barack Obama’s transformation of America for the 21st century was reaching back to our most ancient sources of energy to save us from global warming. His election was “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the planet began to heal.” Obama was cutting the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters. These two quotes are not from the same speech, but capture the drift.
We’re offering a better path, a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy.
And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future.trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy.
Around the same time a few little-known wildcatters began pumping meaningful amounts of oil and gas from U.S. shale formations. A country that was once running out of energy is now on track to become the world’s leading producer.
The resurgence in U.S. energy came from a group of brash wildcatters who discovered techniques to hydraulically fracture—or frack—and horizontally drill shale and other rock. Many of these men operated on the fringes of the oil industry, some without college degrees or much background in drilling, geology or engineering.
Federal Reserve chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke failed to foresee the financial meltdown. Top banking executives were stunned, and leading investors such as Bill Gross, Jim Chanos and George Soros didn’t fully anticipate the downturn.
John Paulson began researching housing and scored a record $20 billion for his hedge fund by betting against subprime mortgages. as did Jeffrey Greene a Los Angeles playboy, and an out-of-work 35 year-old, and a doctor turned stock investor who did not subscribe to the common wisdom that the Fed would not let housing crumble and the real estate boom would continue. A fabulously successful bet against common wisdom.
The “experts” don’t always have the answers. Progress does not only not move in a straight line, it doesn’t move along party lines. It does not come from wise all-knowing experts in government who know just what to do. They don’t. Americans are free people in an extraordinary land, and they do pretty well without excessive regulation and regimentation. There is a point at which the ‘experts’ overreach. We’re almost there.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Education, Humor, Religion | Tags: Classic Put-Down, Getting Out of Hand, Silly Educators
David Gerlernter is professor of computer science at Yale. His books include America Lite; How Imperial Academia dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats) ; Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion; and Judaism, A Way of Being.
Today Professor Gelernter writes in response to news that Halloween has been called off at the Inglewood Elementary School because it has “religious overtones.”
Of course Halloween is “religious,” you officious airheads of Inglewood Elementary School! And so is Valentine’s Day, and Thanksgiving far more so! And so is Christmas! And who on earth ever told you that this was an atheist nation? Who ever told you that “religious” things were forbidden in American schools? Such an idea is breathtakingly ignorant, staggeringly destructive.
This nation, created by devout Christians, derived its creed of liberty, equality and democracy straight from the Hebrew Bible. The flag of this biblical republic stands for “one nation, under God.” Do you Inglewood Airheads know more about what’s good for this nation than Abraham Lincoln did? “Under God” is his phrase; he was profoundly religious, and lived his whole life close to God and the Bible.
This nation learned tolerance from the Bible!–“The stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God!” (Leviticus 19:34). America the biblical republic invited agnostics and atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, pagans, to live here. Welcomed them all. This is the most tolerant nation on earth. But the day it no longer tolerates its own proper self, the day it allows public school know-nothings to suppress religion, is the beginning of the end of American toleration.
Americans, please: do not permit it. Do not let this stand!
I really love a good take-down.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Education, Immigration, National Security, Politics, Science/Technology, The United States | Tags: A Shortage of STEM Graduates?, Governmental Myths, Not Enough Jobs
You know the litany. There aren’t enough young people studying scientific or technical subjects. America’s technical edge is threatened. The shortfall of workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is so important that i has received its very own acronym — STEM graduates. And it is not only the United States, but Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, China, and many more countries. The predicted shortfall us supposed to number in the hundreds of thousands.
President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology reported in 2012 that over the next decade we would need one million additional STEM graduates. Governments are pouring billions of dollars into programs to train 10,000 new U.S. engineers every year as well as new STEM teachers. Until those new graduates arrive, big tech companies like Facebook, IBM and Microsoft are lobbying to raise the number of H-1B visas — temporary immigration permits for skilled workers —from 65,000 per year to as man as 180,000. The EU is similarly attempting to bring in skilled workers from outside the EU. India’s government says it needs to add 800 new Universities to avoid a shortfall of 1.6 million university-educated engineers by the end of the decade.
Yet the IEEE Spectrum magazine from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers says firmly that there are more STEM workers than there are suitable jobs. Wages have largely stagnated since 2000, and STEM workers at every career state struggle to find employment as many companies, including Boeing, IBM and Symantec, continue to lay off thousands of STEM workers.
Every year U.S. schools grant more STEM degrees than there are available jobs. When you add in the H-!B visa holders, existing STEM degree holders it is hard to make a case for the fabled shortage. In trying to understand the disparity, the author of the article says that there is indeed a STEM crisis, but it is one of literacy. Today’s students are not receiving a solid grounding in science, math and engineering. Counts of the numbers of STEM jobs depend on different metrics. The Department of Commerce says 7.6 million individuals worked in STEM jobs in 2010. The National Science Foundation (NSF) counts 12.4 million science and engineering jobs in the U.S. but includes health care workers, psychologists and social scientists.
Of the 7.6 million STEM workers counted by Commerce, only 3.3 million possess a STEM degree. New grads surveyed in 2006 and 2007 found that 2 out of 10 were working in non-STEM fields. And 10 years after receiving a STEM degree 58 percent of STEM graduates had left the field. So you don’t necessarily need a STEM degree to get a STEM job.
More than 370,000 science and engineering jobs in the United States were lost in 2011, according to the BLS. Many jobs are targets for outsourcing or replacement by automation. In many cases a job is not linked to a company, but to a funded project, which can end quickly when a project ends.
The alarm over graduates seems to be a phenomenon that started in World War II, and runs in cycles of “alarm, boom, and bust.” Governments push the STEM myth because an abundance of scientists and engineers is perceived as an important engine for innovation and for national defense. STEM skills seem more important in the decline of the humanities, but conversely many STEM graduates are lacking in the ability to think broadly and read and write clearly.
Well, yes. Our education system has become much more concerned with political correctness, diversity, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference and leftist politics while disparaging the Humanities and the Great Books which endeavored to teach that which was best and true in all that man had thought and done — and how that informed the present. And governments always seem to be operating on the wrong information — that’s just what bureaucracies do.
Filed under: Education, Freedom, Politics, The United States | Tags: Fixing the Schools, K - 12 Education, The New Self-Esteem
I am troubled by our K-12 education system. I don’t think the teacher’s unions have the welfare of the kids in mind, but just good pay for teachers and more union dues for political purposes. I don’t like the administration’s “Common Core” national curriculum, but believe that better education comes from intense competition among schools and school districts.
Political correctness, the self-esteem movement, and diversity, are noxious ideas that have done enormous damage to our kids. It’s well known that our kids are confident, have high self-esteem, and don’t know anything about math and history, or how to write a paper. And it’s unsurprising that home-schooled kids do better than public school grads.
One of the major problems with education is that everybody has participated in it, and thus has a better idea about how to fix education. I plead guilty.
This article just appeared in our local paper:
The School District will launch a new social and emotional learning curriculum in grades three through five to help children work well together.
Called the RULER approach — an acronym for Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing and Regulation emotion —the curriculum teaches skills to promote effective personal, social and workplace success. The idea is based on decades of research from Yale University.
Research shows that emotional literacy skills support academic success and promote school engagement, school officials say. Data also shows that students who recognize and regulate their emotions are more focused on instruction and invested in their learning. Those social and emotional skills create a foundation for taking academic risks. Over the school year, students and staff will learn four “anchor tools” to develop skills:
- Emotional Literacy Charter: Students create and sign charters t o describe how they want to feel in class, what needs to happen to support those feelings and guidelines for handling uncomfortable conflict.
- Mood Meter: Students learn to use a tool for recognizing and labeling their feelings.
- Meta-Moments: Students learn strategies for expanding the “space in time” between an emotional trigger and a response.
- Blueprint: Used to problem-solve conflicts and disagreements, with students and adults considering each other’s (sic) feelings and perspectives to identify healthy solutions.
The RULER approach will be built into lessons throughout the school year. While the RULER approach will be introduced to students in grades three through five this year, school staff and administrators across the district also have been trained to use the tools.
I’m inclined to say I think it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.
Old but famous cartoon from the New Yorker, probably in the 1930s.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Education, Freedom, History, Humor, Law, Politics | Tags: Civil Rights Issues, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream", Progress on Civil Rights
And from James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal:
Every Problem Looks Like a Nail
- “Activists Call Drug Sentences Civil Rights Issue”–headline, Deseret News (Salt Lake City), Aug. 10, 1993
- “Census Is Civil Rights Issue”–headline, Deseret News, Dec. 20, 2000
- “Bush Calls Education ‘Civil Rights Issue of Our Time’ “–headline, CNN.com, Jan. 19, 2002
- “School Choice Is the Current Civil Rights Issue”–headline, Cedartown (Ga.) Standard, June 27, 2002
- “Same-Sex Couples Call Gay Marriage a Civil Rights Issue”–headline, Miami Herald, Aug. 10, 2003
- “Is Abortion a Civil Rights Issue?”–headline, Salon.com, Jan. 8, 2008
- “Legalizing Marijuana Is Civil Rights Issue, California NAACP Says”–headline, CNN.com, July 7, 2010
- “Unions Frame Bargaining as Civil Rights Issue”–headline, Oakridger.com (Oak Ridge, Tenn.), March 15, 2011
- “Are Lower School Achievement Levels a Civil Rights Issue?”–headline, WGCU-FM website (Fort Myers, Fla.), Aug. 7, 2013
- “Health-Care Costs Are a Civil Rights Issue”–headline, Washington Post website, Aug. 28, 2013
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Freedom, Progressivism | Tags: Unions Don't Like Vouchers, Victims Vote For Benefits, Why Not Put Kids First?
Late last week, the Justice Department asked a federal court to stop 34 school districts in Louisiana from giving private-school vouchers to minority children to help them escape failing public schools. Justice Department lawyers claim the voucher program appears “to impede the desegregation process” required by federal law. They didn’t come up with much in the way of evidence to support that claim. Is this a return to the 1950s? Or does fidelity to teacher’s unions trump the well-being of kids?
Louisiana’s state-wide program guarantees a voucher to students from families with incomes below 250% of the poverty level and who attend schools graded C or below. The point of the program is to let kids escape the segregation of failed schools. About 90% of the children who benefit from the program are black. Justice is more concerned with the skin colors of the school’s student body than with their failure to actually educate the kids.
If you can follow the logic, it seems to run like this. During the 2012-2013 school year about 10% of voucher recipients came from 22 districts that remain under desegregation orders that are around 50 years old. In several of those 22 districts “the voucher recipients were in the racial minority at the public school they attended before receiving the voucher.” So Justice is claiming that the voucher program is illegal because minority kids made these failing schools more white by leaving those schools to go to better private schools.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when many schools were destroyed, Louisiana has become a leader in school reform. New Orleans has city-wide charter schools, and now vouchers for poor kids. According to the Wall Street Journal, sources in Louisiana think it’s about helping the teachers union to repeal the voucher law by any legal means. Justice accidentally gives this away by claiming “jurisdiction over Louisiana” even for vouchers for students in districts without desegregation orders.
In Washington D.C. it took a real fight to get this administration to agree to extend the Opportunity Scholarships program. Teachers unions are more important to the administration than poor black children.
The administration has insisted that efforts to reduce voter fraud by requiring photo I.D. to prove that voters are indeed who they claim to be — is somehow meant to keep black citizens from voting. Since photo I.D. is required to cash a check or open a bank account, to buy beer, to travel, or— especially to enter the Justice Department in Washington D.C. or most court houses — the attempt to portray the requirement as racist is absurd, but blacks are susceptible to that kind of propaganda, because blacks were once kept from voting, and it took strong civil rights laws to rectify the situation. But they were passed, and we have a black president, black senators, black cabinet members, and black justices. Those who are Republicans are called “Uncle Toms.”
Yet to listen to the speeches from the commemoration of the original March on Washington, our black citizens are increasingly victims of racism. We need new laws to keep black children in failing schools, to prevent anyone from asking to see a black person’s I.D. because that might be racist.
Martin Luther King Jr. famously said: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Oddly enough, the President of the United States, his Attorney General and the prosecutors were not interested in judging Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman by the content of their character, but did everything they could to see that unfortunate case was decided by the color of their skins,
Unemployment rates for Black Americans remain in double digits, and unemployment rates for black youth are double that. It would seem to be more important that our Black citizens remain victims — than that they be provided with opportunity.