Sunday, September 30, 2007

If you ever want to see photos here again...

Photos that I took. Of the grandkids. Of the house. Of the grandkids. Of our summer vacation. Of the grandkids. Of our move. Of the grandkids. Of the campus. Of the grandkids. Did I mention the grandkids?

If you want to see them again (or ever) send this:



Immediately.

Oh, and help me find our digital camera... since that's where our vacation, moving, and campus pics are. On the memory card in my camera, and I can't find the camera anywhere. Poof! It's gone.

Now, I have to admit that I am not the best finder of things. (I couldn't find a container of leftovers in the fridge the other day and was getting really aggravated when Frodo pointed out that I was holding it in my hand. Sigh.) BUT Frodo and Primo are excellent finders of things, and they can't find it either. And Secondo, who desperately wants to take a picture of the tree frog we caught and thus will benefit greatly by its being found, has spent hours looking. Nada. Zip. Nothing. Can't find it anywhere. (I even checked the fridge! And my hand.)

We did find a good deal on a disposable camera. It was ten bucks and comes with free film for the life of the camera (which is guaranteed for two years). We can get our photos on a CD for $3. I took photos of the house (except the bedrooms, they need to be cleaned up a bit first), and I hope I can get the pics from the CD on here so you all can see our new place. (It's really cool.) It is a disposable camera, however, so the pics probably won't be that great.

Ugh. I just wish I could find my camera.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Happy Place

Sometimes I wish for an all-Feist-all-the-time station. Listening to her just puts me in my happy place. Wanna join me there?






Monday, September 24, 2007

An Unhealthy Appetite

You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act — that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?
-C.S. Lewis


Thoughts?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

HSLDA Shouldn't Endorse Federal Candidates

I learned this evening, through the MeetUp group Homeschoolers for Ron Paul, that the Home School Legal Defense Association Political Action Committee (HSLDA PAC) has endorsed a candidate in the GOP Presidential Primary race... former governor Mike Huckabee. This endorsement by HSLDA President J. Michael Smith and HSLDA Chairman Michael P. Farris was actually made in July via a letter to member voters prior to Iowa's Ames Straw Poll. (Obviously, the news took a while to trickle down here. Probably couldn't stand the heat.) I searched the HSLDA website, and could not find any mention of the endorsement. HSLDA is a 501(c)3 non-profit and prohibited by law from making political endorsements; HSLDA PAC is not a non-profit and can endorse candidates to their hearts content even though they have ties to HSLDA. Nice little loophole there, huh? (This would be so much simpler if the government would simplify the election process, but that is a post for another day.) I was able to find a copy of the letter here if you are interested in reading it.

As a member of HSLDA, I felt I should write to them and express my disappointment at their endorsement. Here is what I wrote:

Greetings!

I am writing to express my disappointment at HSLDA's endorsement of former governor Mike Huckabee for the position of Presidential Candidate in the 2008 GOP primary.

I agree that former governor Mr. Huckabee is a friend of homeschooling families, however, I do not believe that HSLDA should be endorsing ANY candidate on the federal level. Using the rule of subsidiarity, education of any kind (government school, private school or home school) should be handled on the local level. When national education organizations, such as HSLDA, promote a Presidential candidate, it is not only purporting its favor of a specific candidate but also condoning the federalization of the education system in America. This federalization is a losing situation for homeschoolers. In the event that HSLDA feels it must endorse a candidate on the federal level, it should reserve that endorsement for a candidate who supports the de-federalization of America's educational system.

HSLDA could be a better resource to its members by educating them on the stands of every candidate and pointing out which are friends of homeschooling by emphasizing their voting records and other actions in this realm.

Please take a constitutional stand and help reduce the interference of the federal government in the lives of homeschooling families by refusing to endorse candidates for federal positions based on issues that should not be handled at the federal level.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to seeing a list of all homeschool friendly candidates for races at all levels of government on HSLDA's website in the near future.

Blessings,


Seriously, I think that they should not endorse any federal-level candidates, and that includes Ron Paul. The only possible exception that I could think of would be if they endorsed a candidate who was determined to eliminate the Department of Education for being unconstitutional, but since that is obviously not something they plan on doing, I would rather that they endorse no one.

Some interesting tidbits that I uncovered while I was preparing my letter to HSLDA:

1. According to The American Spectator, the Federal Election Commission is investigating HSLDA's endorsement of Huckabee saying:
"It doesn't appear from the materials we've been given that HSLDA PAC was involved in any way with the planning of this endorsement," says an FEC staffer. "Everything was through the nonprofit arm. It doesn't appear that these folks even attempted to build a firewall, so it makes us wonder about coordination."

That's just what you want to hear about the organization that you pay in case you have need of legal representation, huh?

2. I did a search on HSLDA's website for "Huckabee" and came up with 11 hits. Six of these were for interviews with the former governor on HSLDA's radio spot Homeschool Heartbeat. The remaining 5 pertained to Mr. Huckabee's thoughts and policies on education (with homeschooling implications) or homeschooling specifically, generally all pro-homeschooling. (If you do your own search - for anything - on their site, ignore the hit count in the upper right-hand corner of the window. It is not accurate. You have to scroll through and hand count.)

3. I also did a search on HSLDA's website for "Ron Paul" and came up with 25 hits. All 25 hits pertained to legislative decisions or opinions of Dr. Paul. All were in support of less government intrusion into the lives of homeschooling families. None were related to interviews. (As with the hits for Mr. Huckabee, some of the hits for policy were for a single piece of legislation or issue that was being discussed multiple times.)

4. A search for "Fred Thompson" at the HSLDA site yielded one hit. It was for a vote HSLDA found favorable (in 1997).

5. A similar search for "Giuliani" yielded no hits.

6. A search for "Mitt Romney" yielded one hit. It was in regards to sex education in Massachusetts schools. HSLDA mentions in the alert that the purpose of sending the alert is not directly related to homeschooling but to "family issues in Massachusetts."

7. And just a little FYI... there is no constitutional right to education stated (explicitly or otherwise) in the US Constitution. (This has been upheld in numerous Supreme Court decisions, including the case of San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez- see Section II,B, paragraph 9 of Justice Powell's court opinion.) Therefore, education falls under the stipulations of the 10th Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.


I am definitely against HSLDA endorsing any candidate, but I am a little disturbed that they don't even seem to be logical in their endorsement. Given my discoveries in #2-6 above, HSLDA has mentioned Ron Paul more times when speaking of legislators who support freedom for homeschoolers than of any other candidate. So why aren't they endorsing Ron Paul instead? The lack of logic all-around on the behalf of HSLDA just astounds me.

If you are a member of HSLDA, please go to their website and send them an email (you'll need your login information) letting them know that you believe their endorsement of Mr. Huckabee, or any federal-level candidate, is an endorsement of federalized education which is bad for homeschoolers.

If you are not an HSLDA member but would like to make them aware of your disapproval of their endorsement of federalized education via their endorsement of federal candidates, go to their website for contact information. (If you can't find it, let me know and I'll dig it up for you.)

And no, I won't ban you or anything if you contact them and give a different point-of-view than I have expressed here. Why? It's your right.


For purposes of full disclosure, please note that I am a member of both HSLDA (although not of HSLDA PAC which is, as far as I can tell, a separate entity) and of Homeschoolers for Ron Paul. I am also a member of a local Ron Paul MeetUp group.

Update: (09/20/07 @ 8:09pm) I have added a link to HSLDA PAC's website above. Also, according to HSLDA's "About & FAQ" page, they are a 501(c)4 non-profit, not a 501(c)3 as stated in the American Spectator article that I referenced above. What's the difference? I haven't a clue, really. All I learned about 501(c)s I learned on Wikipedia, here and here.

COH - Week 90

Avast! Grab yer eyepatches and a grog of yer finest ale!

Ahoy, Mateys! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Let me introduce ya t' the crew of the Hades' Deceit:
(Landlubber names are first, in case yer feelin' a bit shaky from the ale. Arrrrr!)

Frodo: "Fancypants" Sid Dawkins
Tutor: Dancin' Agnes Cooke
Primo: Jelly Legs Lindsey
Secondo: Rough-Sailin' Jasmine
Terzo: Epileptic Bobby Barbossa

And our venerable captain:

Quarto: Cap't Quincy Cannonbait

Still usin' yer sissy landlubber name, are ya? Then get yer sea legs over here t' get yer pirate name.

Forgot the name of yer ship? Happens t' the best of pirates! Cap't Cannonbait never leaves without his trusty sextant! Arrr! Ya got me off on a tale, and I lost me point... Ah! Ships! That's right! If'n ya need t' find yer ship, go here.

Need t' brush up on yer pirate lingo? There's classes here.

I need t' be shovin' off. Big day here on the Hades' Deceit... we got diet soda and mentos t' be settin' off.






Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Okay, I get it... I'm Libertarian...


You scored as Libertarian, For you, government has no right to limit personal or economic freedoms whatsoever. You want government off your back and out of your pockets! For you, national government should be as small as possible, providing only essential services, such as mail delivery and national security. Local authorites have a better understanding of the needs of its citizenry.

Libertarian


92%

Anarchist


83%

Conservative


67%

Socialist/Marxist


33%

Liberal


25%

Environmentalist (Green)


17%

Fascist


17%

Centrist




What is your true Political Ideology?
created with QuizFarm.com


HT: Heather at Stepping Heavenward

Why do I take these quizzes? I already know the answer. Well, the "anarchist" thing threw me a bit (I'm just a jumble of contradictions, huh?), but generally, I knew what was coming. I guess I should just admit that I am a political junkie and I think stuff like this is fun. So sue me.


On a related note:

Have you joined your local Ron Paul Meetup Group yet?

Want some Ron Paul gear? My personal favorites:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
This one is proudly displayed on our fire-engine-red Suburban.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Again, hat tip to Heather. I've gotta get me one of these!


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


And don't forget to order your official "Ron Paul 2008" signs, buttons, and literature at the campaign website. Order enough to hand out and spread the word!



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Blast Those Chondrichthyes!

They're just too darned interesting! I've written and written and written, and just when I think I've got it all wrapped up in a neat little bow, I think, "Drat! I forgot to mention..."

So, I have pages of stuff (I am trying to keep it to two, max) and a LONG list of don't-forget-to-mentions following that.

I put it away.

I can't look at it any more.

I'll write about something boring. Like Reptilia or Aves. Should I put the dinosaurs with reptiles or birds? Drat!

Maybe I'll write about Arachnids instead.

Yeah, I don't like them. They're scary.

I'll think about sharks another day.

Fiddle-dee-dee.

COH - Week 89

Thursday, September 06, 2007

School Officials Fail Constitution 101

Apparently the first amendment doesn't apply in government schools. I must have missed the "Caution: You Are Entering A Constitution-Free Zone" signs.

Mom defends daughter's right to blog speech

By Brigitte Ruthman
Waterbury Republican-American
Sept. 5, 2007


NEW HAVEN -- Poised, intelligent and articulate as she may be, 17-year-old senior Avery Doninger was outside her legal bounds when she used derogatory language to describe administrators at Lewis S. Mills High School, a federal judge has found.

U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz's precedent-setting decision Friday to uphold the school administration's decision to punish Doninger for a blog entry she made outside of school in April chips away at First Amendment rights, her mother Lauren and her attorney Jon L. Schoenhorn said.


Wait... it doesn't stop there.

As punishment, school officials at the 2,843-student kindergarten through 12 school district covering Burlington and Harwinton prohibited Doninger from running for class secretary for a year, a position she had held since her freshman year. Despite the ruling, Doninger would have won her seat back this year because so many students voted for her as a write-in candidate. The school ignored the write-in support, a decision her supporters claim violated their right of free choice. Students were prohibited from wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "Team Avery."


You can read the article in its entirety here.

So, what are the lessons that the school is teaching to its students (and the the court apparently believes should apply to everyone)?

1. You have a first amendment right to free speech as long as you don't offend someone in authority. (Assuming that said authority works for the government.)
2. If you offend someone in authority, that authority has the right to openly discriminate against you and use their power to enforce that discrimination.
3. You may not stand in support of anyone who has offended a shared authority or you will be treated like a co-offender and have your constitutional and positional rights
(in this case, the right to participate in school elections and the right to free speech) taken away.
4. The judicial power of school authorities is equivalent to that of local police and magistrates and extends to all spheres of life and not just the area over which they have been hired, appointed or elected to oversee.
5. That we are a government of the government, by the government and for the government.
6. It takes a government to raise a child.


What do the parents of Avery Doninger and the other students at Lewis S. Mills High School have the opportunity to teach their children?
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?

...The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to — for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well — is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it. The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which I have also imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.
- from "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience"
by Henry David Thoreau

HT: Judy at Consent of the Governed

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Creed by Steve Turner

Creed
by Steve Turner

This is the creed I have written on behalf of all us.

We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don't hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy is OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything is getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there's something in
horoscopes, UFO's and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man
just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher
although we think His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same--
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it's compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What's selected is average.
What's average is normal.
What's normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It's only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
and the flowering of individual thought.


"Chance" a post-script

If chance be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.


as heard on The Search for Absolutes in a Pluralistic Society (Part 3 of 3) on "Let My People Think" featuring Ravi Zacharias (I downloaded the series free from iTunes)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It's because of days like this...

Technically, we have a schedule. It’s a loose one (a living document of sorts), but it’s a schedule… goals for the year, for the semester, for the week, for the day. Some days, the schedule bends and twists and some days we just put our fingers in our ears, hum, and pretend we don’t know it’s there. These days may be light on “school” but they’re heavy with education. Today was one of those days.

While checking the news for a weather update, a story came on about the conviction of a high school student (the first of 6 to go on trial) after a series of escalating race-related violence at the high school in Jena, LA that ended in the beating of a student. Tension at the school began a year ago when black students apparently sat under a tree where white students traditionally sat. The next day, there were three nooses hanging in the tree. From behind me Terzo asks, “Mom, what’s a noose?”

“Remember the end of Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? when the four men are standing under the tree and there are ropes with loops above their heads hanging from the tree? Those are nooses.” (Praise God for movies! They can be such a great teaching tool.)

“But why were the kids mad about the nooses in the tree?”

Thus began our impromptu lesson on the American involvement in the slave trade, the Civil War, the KKK (with more references to Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Civil Rights Movement… the elementary level, Cliff Notes version.

During lunch, Primo mentioned the movie Flushed Away, which we watched over the weekend. “What other movies have we seen that take place in England?” she asked. Secondo is happy to answer with her favorite movie, “Peter Pan!” This begins a brief listing of movies (mainly cartoons) set in England: The Great Mouse Detective, Winnie the Pooh. Beauty and the Beast?” someone asks. “No. That’s France.” Thus begins the game of calling out movies and seeing if we can figure out where they are set… or if we can stump everyone else. Seizing the chance to test deduction skills, I ask, “What about The Emperor’s New Groove?” (Sneaky Mommy.) Frodo goes to get our copy of The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History while I begin giving hints:

“Where do llamas live?”

“Where are ponchos part of the traditional costume?”

“Who built step temples?”

We finally have it narrowed down to ancient Central or South America… probably Inca, Aztec, or Maya. Frodo reads the pages covering “The People of Ancient Peru”, “The Olmecs”, “Ancient Cities of the Americas”, and “Empires of the Andes”. In this last, we read about the city of Cusco, Peru (in the movie, the Emperor’s name is Kuzco) and see a picture of a knife shaped like a ChimĂș noble (the headpiece on the noble looks like Kuzco’s crown). Therefore, we conclude that the story takes place in what is now Peru, but we aren’t sure if the characters are supposed to be ChimĂș or Inca.

Secondo hops up from the table to go check the world map that we have posted in the hall. I assume she is going to find Peru on the map, but when she comes back she announces, “I know where Aladdin takes place! Agra Bah!” I ask her if she can find it on a map. (To be honest, I wasn’t even sure how to spell Agra Bah; I thought it was Aggraba. I had to look it up and found out that the Taj Mahal is in Agra... no “Bah”. Who knew?) Frodo reminds the kids that the original story of Aladdin is from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. “So it takes place in Arabia! Where’s Arabia?” Back to the map we go and discuss what modern countries now cover the area known as Arabia.

This leads to a discussion of the coolest sounding place names (which, of course, we look-up on the map). Addis Ababa. Djibouti (which is ruled by a president, but Frodo, in his 3rd grade humor mode, wishes was ruled by a sheik… Sheik of Djibouti. Get it? *snort* Hee hee.) Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Yes, we had “school” today, too. Latin finally clicked… yay! And Quarto stunned us all during our Bible time. For Bible, we alternate time between Veritas Press Bible Cards and Training Hearts, Teaching Minds (which goes through the Westminster Shorter Catechism). Today, we reviewed question 21. Secondo answered first (only getting stuck once), but I noticed that Quarto’s mouth was moving along with Secondo’s answer. Terzo’s turn came next, and again Quarto’s mouth was moving through the answer. When Terzo was done, I asked Frodo to let Quarto go next:

Frodo: Who is the redeemer of God’s chosen ones?

Quarto: The only redeemer of God’s chosen is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God… um

Me: Wh…

Quarto: …who became man. He was and continues to be God and man in two dis… dis…

Me: Tuh

Quarto: … distinct natures and one person forever.

Ha! He did better than I did!

I love days like this! This is why we homeschool.


Note: Frodo felt the need to add to our "adult education" by sharing with me what a merkin is. Apparently, this came up in the Shakespeare class he is TA-ing. (BTW, from now on I am calling Shakespeare the "Baudy Bard".) There are just some things you don't need to know. Seriously, if you feel the need to look it up, I don't recommend having the kids around. Aren't you glad I mentioned it? *wry grin*

COH - Week 88