Thursday, March 29, 2007

Video on America, 1948

Alina S links a very fine video, made at Harding College in 1948, to show Americans why they didn't want to be commies.

Some lessons one notices:

1. Young man are idiots who hang out at malt shops when teenagers, but turn into bad golfers with anger management issues in middle age.

2. Young women move their hips in very suggestive ways to get young men to dance with them at the malt shop, but in middle age become obsessed with getting their children and husband to go to church.

3. Public schools were fully and peacefully 1948.

4. Juries were all male, and easily distracted from the trial by women in short skirts.

5. Given the way the film describes the Congress, and politics, it appears that Dennis Hastert was Speaker of the House in 1948. Politics never changes, only the names.

6. Capitalism is based not on financial intermediation, but on people who store money in their garters, or under their mattresses, or buried in their back yards.

7. The state chains up laborers, tyrannizes over farmers, and thumps capitalists in their plump bums.

8. The state is an enormous blue hand, with an iron bracelet, like Grouchy Smurf gone very wrong after a nuclear accident.

Since these observations are by and large correct (#3 is a bit of stretch, but #7 and #8 are completely accurate), I recommend the video most heartily.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bong Hits.....4 The Man

I had been following the "Bong Hits For Jesus" controversy, if you can call it that. I enjoy seeing Fascist tendencies unveiled. In fact, I have to admit to being a little obsessed. The complexities of the political coalitions....very interesting. (Check here, particularly "What would Jesus smoke?"). Anyway, it is pretty wonderful.

But, John Lott sends a nice lagniappe via email. You can find the entire case here....but the money quote, from Judge Andrew Kleinfeld, is this:

All sorts of missions are undermined by legitimate and protected speech -- a school's anti-gun mission would be undermined by a student passing around copies of John R. Lott's book,'More Guns, Less Crime;' a school's anti-alcohol mission would be undermined by a student e-mailing links to a medical study showing less heart disease among moderate drinkers than teetotalers; and a school’s traffic safety mission would be undermined by a student circulating copies of articles showing that traffic cameras and automatic ticketing systems for cars that run red lights increase accidents.

"Mission" is something good people have, don't you know. Don't go undermining it, just because you love to jabber about speech, assembly, petition, and perhaps even thinking the "mission" is a crock of old cheese. It is not enough to obey Big Brother; you have to love, really LOVE him.

The banner was not on school grounds, and the kids were released from school. The teacher made the kid a hero. Why not just laugh and shake your head? Of all the things that kids could be doing...

UPDATE: The first paragraph of the decision is delightful, for those of us who have teenage boys....

One January day, Coca-Cola and other private sponsors supported a “Winter Olympics Torch Relay” in Juneau, Alaska. Students were released from school so that they could
2464 FREDERICK v. MORSE watch the Olympic torch pass by. Joseph Frederick, then an
18-year-old senior at Juneau-Douglas High School, never made it to school that morning because he got stuck in the snow in his driveway, but he made it to the sidewalk, across from the school, where the torch would pass by. He and some
friends waited until the television cameras would catch it, then unfurled a banner reading “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” Deborah Morse, the school principal, crossed the street, grabbed and crumpled up the banner, and suspended Frederick for ten
days. He appealed the suspension administratively, but it was sustained. He then filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action in the Federal District Court seeking declaratory and other relief.

"Never made it to school...but he made it to the sidewalk." Yes, indeed. My older son can't find his own bum with both hands, though he is way smarter than I ever was, or will be. Navigational skills, "what time is it?" skills, those he has trouble with.

Of course, it turns out that the student not going to school is germane, or possibly so, for the decision. What if the kid had gone to school, been released to go to the school parking lot, on school grounds, and had had that same poster? The principal could have taken it, then. The school can regulate such displays on school grounds, particularly when school is in session and during a school activity. But none of those things were true. As the decision says (and this made me chuckle, also):

This is no case of ignorance. The law was clear, and Morse was aware of it. The law of this circuit has provided explicit directives such that officials may
determine which Supreme Court standards govern which types of potential student behavior. No novel question is posed on the basis urged by defendants—that “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” promoted a view contrary to government policy—because the armbands in Tinker raised the same concerns. The law of Tinker, Fraser, Kuhlmeier, Burch, and McMinnville is so clear and well-settled that no reasonable government official
could have believed the censorship and punishment of Frederick’s speech to be lawful.62 In fact, there is nothing in the authorities that justifies what the school did, and no reasonable official could conclude otherwise. Morse fails the
third prong of the Saucier test.

(For Morse's reaction, or my speculation on that reaction, repeat this to yourself, using your best Homer Simpson voice: "STUPID third prong of the Saucier test!")

I Told You So. Yes, I Did.

Large Guns Man sends this link, and these thoughts:

And the Bush Reich promised that they wouldn't abuse the powers granted under the "Patriot" act...

The founding fathers are weeping.

The constitution is apparently written on toilet paper.

But, LG! They promised, right?

An excerpt from the article:

My National Security Letter Gag Order

Friday, March 23, 2007; A17

It is the policy of The Washington Post not to publish anonymous pieces. In this case, an exception has been made because the author -- who would have preferred to be named -- is legally prohibited from disclosing his or her identity in connection with receipt of a national security letter. The Post confirmed the legitimacy of this submission by verifying it with the author's attorney and by reviewing publicly available court documents.

The Justice Department's inspector general revealed on March 9 that the FBI has been systematically abusing one of the most controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act: the expanded power to issue "national security letters." It no doubt surprised most Americans to learn that between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands under this provision -- demands issued without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval -- to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. citizens and residents. It did not, however, come as any surprise to me.

Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand -- a context that the FBI still won't let me discuss publicly -- I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled.

Rather than turn over the information, I contacted lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, and in April 2004 I filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the NSL power. I never released the information the FBI sought, and last November the FBI decided that it no longer needs the information anyway. But the FBI still hasn't abandoned the gag order that prevents me from disclosing my experience and concerns with the law or the national security letter that was served on my company. In fact, the government will return to court in the next few weeks to defend the gag orders that are imposed on recipients of these letters.

Living under the gag order has been stressful and surreal. Under the threat of criminal prosecution, I must hide all aspects of my involvement in the case -- including the mere fact that I received an NSL -- from my colleagues, my family and my friends. When I meet with my attorneys I cannot tell my girlfriend where I am going or where I have been. I hide any papers related to the case in a place where she will not look. When clients and friends ask me whether I am the one challenging the constitutionality of the NSL statute, I have no choice but to look them in the eye and lie.

Well, now, that's nice.

Now, Why Didn't TOFE Send Me This Link?

Schilling has a blog.

so there.

(Nod to RL)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Say it, brother!

I have nothing to add to Steven T's series of posts on the U.S. Attorney charade.

So, I'll just link to him, and say, "Yup."

Monday, March 19, 2007

So I couldn't have a plate that said, "Donna"

From the Wall Street Journal:

"The Associated Press reports that Salt Lake City resident Glenn Eurick's
1996 Mercedes will be forced to roll with a new tag after having a license
plate reading 'merlot' for 10 years. Mr. Eurick says the plate never got a
lot of notice -- that is, until the Utah Tax Commission informed him last
week that he had to remove it because the state doesn't allow the names of
intoxicants to be used on vanity plates. His plate managed to glide right
past the censors for more than a decade, so how was he finally caught? An
anonymous caller apparently rang up the state and ratted him out. The car
that carried the offending plate was dark red, like the wine. Mr. Eurick
plans to challenge the state's decision."

I think this means I could not have a plate that said "Donna" if I lived in Utah.

Because my wife (who has started reading my blog, GOTT IN HIMMEL!) is an intoxicant. Aren't you, honey?

(Nod to KL, who has three daughters, and that is intoxicating enough for anyone).

They Cite....the WIKI? ICKY!

Good lord. Surely there was some real sociologist to cite. Lots of folks can jabber about the larger meaning of the "Magic Negro" in THE GREEN MILE, or a dozen other movies. (This is a little different from the black crewman on STAR TREK, the guy you had never seen before, who would be eaten as soon as they beam down to the planet by some papier mache blob.)

Instead, LATimes cites the freakin' WIKI. The apocalypse.

I guess the WIKI doesn't have to return the reporter's call. And the WIKI loves you. It really, really loves you.

(Nod to AV, who would cite the WIKI too, if he could type better. But I hear Yalies have neighborhood kids to do that stuff for them...)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Gasoline: Not Kosher?

UPDATE: Apparently, I was fooled, and the post below simply reflects my own credulity, and ignorance. In any case, it appears to have no basis in fact. My apologies, and my thanks for the timely correction. The "newspaper article" link was sent to me by a Jewish friend, and I was taken in. Whether RL was likewise taken in, or was having a little fun with me, I do not yet know.(though see update II, below)
Interesting; I had no idea this was a problem.

Kosher for Passover Gasoline
By Danielle Wolfbergand and Henry Lorman

Bergen County Jewish Times
Teaneck, New Jersey, March 1, 2007

Yaniv Ban-Zaken, a local gas station owner, will be selling Kosher for
Passover gasoline during the holiday this year. The move, Ben-Zaken says,
has become necessary due to the increased ethanol content in gasoline
required by the government. The ethanol is typically derived from corn,
which is a forbidden food for Jews on Passover. And, according to Ben-Zaken,
under Jewish law, it is also forbidden to derive any benefit from corn.
"We will be providing a number of services to anyone interested in making
their motor vehicle Kosher for Passover," Ben-Zaken says. Services will
include siphoning off the non-Kosher gasoline and replacing it with the
Kosher gasoline. The entire process will be supervised by Rabbi Yitzchok
Mendelbaum. A special exemption to the EPA rule regarding the plant ethanol
content of gasoline had to be obtained from the government to allow for the
use of this gasoline. The move has created some controversy among local
community leaders. Rabbi Shalom Silver, of Congregation Ohel Emeth in
Teaneck, has recommended to his congregants that they not buy the gasoline.
"Although Jews of Ashkenazi descent are not permitted to eat corn on Pesach,
they are permitted to derive benefit from corn byproducts, such as gasoline
with ethanol additives," he said.
However, Rabbi Mordechai Silver (no relation to Shalom Silver), of Yeshivas
Torah Ohr in nearby Englewood, disagrees, and maintains that while it might
technically be acceptable to use mass-produced gasoline, those who can
afford to purchase the new alternative should. "In Jewish law, we have a
principle of lifnim mshuras hadin--going above and beyond the basic
requirements of the law," he explained in an email. "Thank G-d, many people
in the area can afford to do so in this case."
Some local Jewish leaders have also complained about the high price of the
ethanol-free gas, which Ben-Zaken estimates will be $9.69 per gallon, but
Ben-Zaken insists that it is necessary. "The Kosher gas is made in small
quantities and not mass produced, so the costs are high." In fact,
Ben-Zaken, an immigrant from Israel who is not himself religious, claims
that he will not be making any profit on the sale of the Kosher gas. "I'm
doing this more as a community service. My hope is that people will be more
likely to patronize my station the rest of the year." Julio Sanchez, one of
Ben-Zakens employees, also expressed some concern over the high price,
explaining that it might drive away customers and reduce his income from
tips. Co-worker Naveen Samhari disagreed, because, as he says, "Orthodox
Jews are among the best tippers in the area."
Ben-Zaken also says he will be contracting with a local car rental agency to
provide customers with a Kosher for Passover car if they would prefer not to
use their own. This will also save the time of having to clean chametz from
the car before Pesach--time that many local two-income families do not have.
"Jews use different dishes for Passover. They ought to be able to use a
different car, as well." Ben-Zaken says.

Danielle Wolfberg is a freelance writer and reporter. Henry Lorman has
published several novels and is currently working on a memoir, to be
published by Random House.

(Nod to RL, whose grandmother told him: "Kosher is as kosher does." Or, maybe she didn't tell him that.)


First, RL noted in comments that he had NOT seen it as a hoax. And, it WAS well done. So, I still gratefully acknowledge the assist from RL, though of course I am going to break him in half next time we meet.

Second, a great comment from Elizabeth over on the relevant post on KOSHER BLOG. Here it is:

[The content of the hoax "article" is] not completely absurd though–I have a friend with a biodiesel car. He gets the biodiesel from the discarded cooking oil of a local restaurant. They fry breaded food in that oil, so there is chometz in his engine. Last year, he was worried about whether he would be able to drive the car during Chol HaMoed, as the chometz was sold… (the solution: add regular diesel to the fuel, rendering it no longer food and thus no longer chometz).

I have to admit that I don't understand why non-Jews make fun of dietary laws like this. It is simply a sign of observance. If one's point is to make fun of religious observance of ANY kind....well, I don't admire aggressively evangelical atheists. Let those of us who believe have a little space, and you atheists can all go out and burn question marks on the lawn, and let your kids play with the matches.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sweetie? Want Some Milk? Dear?

You may have seen this milk commercial. I hadn't.

And I laughed.

Three things to say here:

1. PMS is real. Not made up. Women may not be a raging mass of hormones, but sometimes their hormones make them rage.

2. My wife forwarded me this link. So, don't blame me for it. She was complicit. So do NOT be sippin' on that HATERade, and crisping me up in comments.

3. On the other hand, PMS just makes women act, for three or four days a month, like men act ALL THE TIME. So, guys, think about that the next time you want to fight the jerk in that SUV that just disrespected you on the highway, when traffic isn't moving anyway and there is no actual harm. Just pour some milk on your big ol' head, and you will feel better.

(Nod to Scott Rope, for putting up that commercial on his blog nearly two years ago. Looks like he hasn't posted for a while, tho. Another voice gone silent...).

A Milepost....and a "Free Prize": Mug for a Mug Shot

I love the idea of free prizes. The prizes that cost money, well, they really aren't prizes.

As of this morning, ME has had more than 99,000 visitors (thanks, visitors!)

If YOU are visitor 100,000, and are willing to admit it, you will get a free (that's FREE!) "Munger for NC Governor" stainless steel mug, mailed to your home address!

These mugs are already much sought after. One was recently offered on Ebay for $2.70! No one bought it at that price, but I'm sure the bids will go up as the word gets out.

Seriously, I will contact the person who is visitor number 100,000, and if they are willing to give me their name, home address, and a picture (to be posted on the ME site), I will do a post honoring them, and SEND THEM A MUG for their mug shot.

Private Bus Systems

How long before the public transit authorities try to outlaw this? After all, if the public monopoly starts to lose ridership...well, there ought to be a law!

March 10, 2007 NEW YORK TIMES
Google’s Buses Help Its Workers Beat the Rush
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The perks of working at Google are the envy of Silicon Valley. Unlimited amounts of free chef-prepared food at all times of day. A climbing wall, a volleyball court and two lap pools. On-site car washes, oil changes and haircuts, not to mention free doctor checkups.

But the biggest perk may come with the morning commute.

In Silicon Valley, a region known for some of the worst traffic in the nation, Google, the Internet search engine giant and online advertising behemoth, has turned itself into Google, the mass transit operator. Its aim is to make commuting painless for its pampered workers — and keep attracting new recruits in a notoriously competitive market for top engineering talent.

And Google can get a couple of extra hours of work out of employees who would otherwise be behind the wheel of a car.

The company now ferries about 1,200 employees to and from Google daily — nearly one-fourth of its local work force — aboard 32 shuttle buses equipped with comfortable leather seats and wireless Internet access. Bicycles are allowed on exterior racks, and dogs on forward seats, or on their owners’ laps if the buses run full.

Riders can sign up to receive alerts on their computers and cellphones when buses run late. They also get to burnish their green credentials, not just for ditching their cars, but because all Google shuttles run on biodiesel. Oh, and the shuttles are free.

But if the specifics sound quintessentially Googley, as insiders call the company’s quirky corporate culture, it is the shuttle program’s sheer scale that befits Google’s oversize ambitions. This is, after all, a company whose stated goal is to organize the world’s information — and whose founders’ corporate jet is a Boeing 767.

“We are basically running a small municipal transit agency,” said Marty Lev, Google’s director of security and safety, who oversees the program.

Not that small, really. The shuttles, which carry up to 37 passengers each and display no sign suggesting they carry Googlers, have become a fixture of local freeways. They run 132 trips every day to some 40 pickup and drop-off locations in more than a dozen cities, crisscrossing six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area and logging some 4,400 miles.

They pick up workers as far away as Concord, 54 miles northeast of the Googleplex, as the company’s sprawling Mountain View headquarters are known, and Santa Cruz, 38 miles to the south. The system’s routes cover in excess of 230 miles of freeways, more than twice the extent of the region’s BART commuter train system, which has 104 miles of tracks.

Morning service starts on some routes at 5:05 a.m. — sometimes carrying those Google chefs — and the last pickup is at 10:40 a.m. Evening service runs from 3:40 p.m. to 10:05 p.m. During peak times, pickups can be as frequent as every 15 minutes.

At Google headquarters, a small team of transportation specialists monitors regional traffic patterns, maps out the residences of new hires and plots new routes — sometimes as many as 10 in a three-month period — to keep up with ever surging demand.

Many employers run programs for commuters, including van pools, shuttles to and from transit hubs and subsidies for public transit and alternative modes of transportation, but several transportation experts say Google appears to have built an unparalleled transit network.


(Nod to Tofe. And good job with those Butterburgers. The grass looks greener already)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Men Time

On Sunday, a wonderful day. Great NC spring weather, mid-60s, sunny, a breeze.

Went down to our Pittsboro property, for some work and weapons.

Stopped at the Hardees on the way down, and got two "Monster Biscuits," one for me and one for fuzzy younger younger Munger, who came along. Not a food item approved by the Heart Association. YYM couldn't finish his, which tells you a lot. (Yes, I managed to choke mine down, but didn't finish his, which was a victory).

We get to the property, 30 acres of forest plus a baseball field. Every man needs his own baseball field, but I actually have one. YYM mowed and ran the aerator behind the tractor, while I spread 400 pounds of Milorganite. Organic fertilizer, made from sewage in Tofe's new adopted home town. (Nice video on the link, don't miss it).

The grass had a little dew on it. In no time the aroma...well, let's just say I love the smell of composted, dried, and pelletized human excrement in the morning.

We dragged the infield, worked a little on the drainage (some big ruts from heavy rains), and then got out the guns. A terrific exercise in optics for the YYM: I took a Hardee's cup, an EXTRA LARGE so it would be fair, and placed it on the far side of the baseball field, about 120 yards away, in right field.

YYM's job was to make sure his Ruger 10/22 scope was sighted in correctly. Took about 40 shots, but then he started nailing the cup every time. Interestingly, the following things are true:

1. If you leave the Hardee's cup empty, the 22 round goes through both sides of the plastic without knocking the cup over. Pretty high velocity. Cool, actually, like a magic trick. He said he was hitting the cup, and I told him he was nuts, the cup should go flying. But when we went downrange and looked, he was right: the cup was riddled. An empty cup is pretty light, but a small, pointed shell moving at 1000 feet per second (almost exactly the speed of sound, just under) goes through pretty fast.

2. On the other hand, if you put a limestone rock in the bottom of the cup, and hit that with a shell, the cup explodes. The shell broke the rock into high speed shards, and the bullet itself broke up into shrapnel. Very cool, and exremely satisfying.

Drove home, but stopped at Pizza Hut. YYM and I were hungry (Monster Biscuits at 8:30 am, pizza at 3 pm), so we each ordered our own large pizza. Waittress tried to argue, counseling mediums, but we just stared at her. I was trying to be virtuous, so ordered the "Veggie Lovers" pizza. But the waitress rallied, showing she was a fine and sensitive young woman after all. She brought me the "Meat Lover's" pizza instead, which has four kinds of pork products and four kinds of beef products, all heavily salted and laden with fat. She got an extra tip for that. As I told my son, "I hate to make trouble. I'll just eat the one she brought."

Got home, took a nice nap, mowed the lawn at home, and then went with wife, the YYM, and the elder younger Munger, to see Blue Man Group. Very nice, funny and entertaining.

An excellent Sunday in central North Carolina.

The Anniversary of the Lacrosse....What?

This is the 1 year anniversary of the Duke lacrosse party incident/event/whatever you want to call it.

Much (too much?) has been written on this. But too much suffering has taken place also. I don't know what happened; maybe no one really knows what happened that night. But a lot of lives have been ruined, from the accuser to the players, the coach, and a lot of people in Durham.

My commemoration of the anniversary will simply be what I believe to be the single best piece done on the whole affair.

And that is: The Saturday Night Live Skit, with Amy Poehler sending up that idiot Nancy Grace from Headline News. The line in the skit where Amy points out that it must be harder for false victims, because they have to make up consistent stories that people then pick apart, was brilliant. Easier for actual victims, Amy says, because "they just have to remember stuff."

The audience didn't know whether to laugh or not at many points, and so just tittered nervously. And I don't blame them. This is as savage, and well-conceived, a piece of social satire as any I have seen in years.

(Nod to DiW for the link to Jumpcut. The original link on YouTube was taken down)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Life as a Married Lifer

I got an email from my wife.

No, no: Pay attention, please. An EMAIL from my wife. I see her pretty often, but I got an email.

"Have you been using my toothbrush? It was moved from its usual place."

We have been married nearly 21 years. But, according to her, late in life, I have developed a fetish that requires me to use another person's toothbrush. I'm glad it is finally over, all the deceit, the lies, the cover-ups. I don't know how much longer I could have gone on, living a double life.

Sigh. Vive la difference, et vive l'amour.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Planet is Hot, But You Are Hotter....

Green boxers, or green briefs?

An article on....well, it's hard to say.

(Nod to Anonyman, who tries to save the planet one ironic observation at a time...)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Okay....NOW I'm Mad.

A child is not revenue. She's a child.

This gem of statist reasoning, from the Raleigh NEWS AND OBSERVER, got me thinking about school choice, and "revenue":

Some excerpts from the story by Samiha Khanna, Staff Writer for N&O, with my most insightful comments in caps:

DURHAM - ...The opening of Durham's eighth charter will expand a $6 million dent in the school system's budget.

Though charter schools are public schools, they operate independently from the local school district. They receive money from the state, and for each student from the Durham school district who enrolls in a charter, a certain per-student allowance follows him. (BUT...BUT...BUT THE SCHOOL DISTRICT ALSO DOESN'T HAVE TO PROVIDE A SEAT FOR THAT STUDENT, OR SCHOOL BUS SERVICES! AT A TIME WHEN SCHOOLS ARE OVERCROWDED, HOW CAN THIS BE A COST? UNLESS...UNLESS YOU JUST THINK THE LOSS OF CONTROL OVER CITIZEN CHOICE IS A COST, RIGHT?)

This will make difficult several projects coming up for Durham Public Schools, including the opening of a new middle school and three small high schools in the fall. (AGAIN, THEY ONLY NEED TO DO THAT IF THEY ARE OVERCROWDED. AND SENDING KIDS TO CHARTERS RELIEVES OVERCROWDING. FURTHER, CHARTERS SAVE THE STATE MONEY, BECAUSE THEY DON'T PROVIDE LUNCH, OR BUS SERVICE, AND GET MUCH LESS PER STUDENT THAN THE STATE-RUN SCHOOLS.)

"We're trying to do a lot of things that require revenue," said Hank Hurd, associate superintendent of administrative services for Durham Public Schools. "Charters are depleting some of the resources that we need to address the student population at large." (STOP DOING THOSE THINGS! THAT'S NOT "REVENUE!" THAT'S MONEY TAKEN AT GUNPOINT FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE DESPERATE TO SEND THEIR CHILDREN TO BETTER SCHOOLS!)

When it opens in the fall, Voyager will serve about 320 students in grades four through seven. Its home will be the 40,000-square-foot former Little River Elementary School in the northern Durham town of Bahama. (NO NEW BUILDING, AND NO STATE COSTS, EXCEPT THE RENTAL. LESS THAN HALF AS EXPENSIVE FOR TAXPAYERS, AND HIGHER QUALITY EDUCATION.)

The school will expand to eighth grade the following year, and eventually cap growth at 500 students, according to a plan the school's board of directors submitted to the state.


...At Voyager, the emphasis will be on hands-on projects and other interactive activities, said Christy Whiteside, a contractor who worked with the school's board to create its education plan.

Teachers also will focus on character education and public speaking. Directors are still trying to solidify a partnership with the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, Forsyth said.

Parents and students won't know until March 31 who will attend Voyager. If the school gets more applications than there are spaces available, it will choose by lottery. (I'M GUESSING THEY ARE GOING TO NEED A LOTTERY. SOUNDS LIKE A PRETTY GOOD EXPERIMENT IN EDUCATION, AND IT WILL CUT COSTS TO TAXPAYERS.)

Most of Voyager's students are likely to come from Durham, so administrators with the school system can expect to send at least an additional $800,000 to the new school in per-student allowances, plus state resources allotted based on enrollment, Hurd said. (AAARGH! WHERE DO YOU START HERE? IT IS NOT DURHAM'S MONEY TO LOSE! THAT IS TAXPAYER MONEY. CHARTER SCHOOLS JUST LET PARENTS MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICES WITH THEIR OWN MONEY! HOW DARE DURHAM BUREAUCRATS TALK ABOUT "LOSING" MONEY? THEY HAVE LOST THE SENSE THAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO SERVE THE PUBLIC, THAT'S WHAT THEY HAVE LOST!)

....Durham administrators tried to drive home the point last fall, when enrollment in traditional public schools in Durham increased less than 1 percent and charter enrollment soared by almost 22 percent.


After reading that story, I had to just go sit on the floor in the corner, hugging my knees, rocking back and forth, and making little whimpering sounds.

Remember, charter enrollment is capped by capacity. That 22 % growth is not the number of people who WANT to send their kids to charters. That is the actual number of seats filled by parents who are going crazy with worry about how their kids are treated in the schools runs by teachers' unions and indifferent, revenue-maximzing bureaucrats.

If more charter schools were available, thousands of parents would transfer their kids. Some would be good schools, some not so good. But what would happen to the bad ones? They would lose enrollment, and close? What happens to Durham PUBLIC schools that are bad? We all spend more money on them. They never close, because there is no competition and no standard of quality to meet.

Anything that improves choice, improves education. Charters, and vouchers, are a good start. Let's get started!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Those....Those Swiss! I thought they were neutral....

Swiss troops, who had no ammunition, invade Lichtenstein, which has no army.

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein.

According to Swiss daily Blick, the 170 infantry soldiers wandered 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back.

A spokesman for the Swiss army confirmed the story but said that there were unlikely to be any serious repercussions for the mistaken invasion.

''We've spoken to the authorities in Liechtenstein and it's not a problem,'' Daniel Reist told The Associated Press.


(Nod to LC, who knows things)