Friday, November 26, 2010

Who's the bigger turkey?


Angelina Jolie thinks Thanksgiving is disgusting. See: Gawker

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Juxtaposition V

Acknowledgment: Imus (in the Morning)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Wine Whiner

Oenophiles often wax poetic about their august wine tastings: "This Reisling has a buttery undertone." "This Chablis is quite flinty." "This Bordeaux has just the barest hint of cherries … or apricots … or almonds." I’ve always found this quite curious. If I am paying $85 for a bottle of wine, why can’t it just taste like a good wine? If I want the taste of cherries, I’ll just buy a $1.25 can of Dr. Brown’s.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Juxtaposition IV

Keep your chin up ...

Sean Hannity has a great line, "Next time Obama gives a speech I'm going to tug on his pant cuff and say, 'Mr. President, we're down here.'"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do Not Call

Years ago we put our home phone on the do-not-call list.  This has worked well for quite a while.  However recently, we have started to get numerous junk phone calls (which should be forbidden by this previous ukase) ... just a few minutes ago one from the Home Security Network.  And it seems that just about every mortgage financing company seems to know exactly what time we sit down to dinner.  How does this happen?  May I suggest that government regulations mean bupkus unless they are enforced ... just like our minimum-gas-mileage laws, mortgage-finance laws, and off-shore-drilling regulations haven't been.

So when things go wrong, our buffoons in Washington blame "deregulation," pass another 900-page law, create another agency, and fill it with high-priced bureaucrats (who watch porn on the Internet all day) ... all to no avail.  Why can't our government do what it is decreed to do?  The answer my friend is written in the windbags that populate all the marble buildings in the District of Columbia ... and I doubt that anything will change unless and until there is a real downside to such failings.  In China, bureaucrats who fail (like the one who allowed melamine in infant formula and sickened or killed numerous babies) have the good sense to attempt suicide.  Perhaps we could encourage such results in our country?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Oracle of Natick

Every New Year's eve a group of our friends get together to dine and celebrate, including a number of traditional events ... one of which is that each of us forecasts what will occur in the following twelve months.   Then the next New Year's eve we re-read these predictions and award a prize to our best oracle.  This year, I think I have exhibited remarkable prescience (if I do say so myself.)  Here were my predictions last time (6.3 right out of 10 ... and there is still a month and a half to go) which, if I were alllowed to win, surely would take the  prize:

• Democrats will lose their majority in the House but not the Senate

• Chinese stock market will collapse (-20%+)

• Obama will have a nervous breakdown

• Russia will shut off natural gas to the EU

• Scott Brown is elected to the Senate

• Gitmo will not be closed down

• Two new Supreme Court justices will be appointed (after much ado)

• Iran’s nuclear facilities will be shut down (or destroyed)

• Terrorist attacks in NYC, Los Angeles and Dallas

• General Motors will go public

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cut on the Bias

Related to my previous blog entry, here are some more instances of pedagogical bias I have uncovered during my tutoring time here in a suburban Boston high school:

- The English reading assignment of the Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem, “Bird with Two Right Wings’ – a more U.S.-loathing screed is hard to imagine. See: Hating the U.S.

- A multiple-choice English quiz which asked students to classify statements as good, bad, or ugly. Then they are asked to rewrite bad or ugly statements into good ones. Here are a few samples of these leading and (I think) inappropriate suggestions: “Transplant patients should not have to pay for their new organs,” “The reason I was rooting for Obama was because if McCain died, Governor Palin would become President; also, Obama would be a change for our country, and lastly, Obama’s vice presidential (sic) candidate Joe Biden has more experience than Governor Palin,” and “Mike Capuano should be our state’s new senator because he will bring the change our state needs.”

- A history quiz which asks students to classify statements as either Socialism, or Laissez-Faire (italics mine) Capitalism [only]. These statements include: “Bill’s 10 year old son has been working 14 hour shifts down at the factory 6 days a week,” “In [our town] each business has been allowed to break up and destroy any trade unions that have been forming,” and “In [our town] each business does not have to allow the Environmental Protection Agency come in and check their factories for chemical leaks.”

- Another multiple-choice history quiz in which the correct answer choice for Socialism was “What economic theory said that the public owns all factors of production and they are used for the good of everyone?”

Stay tuned for more bias cuts over the next year …

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

You’ve Got to be Taught

In my recent tutoring I have come across numerous instances of the indoctrination of our little skulls full of mush by agenda-driven authors/teachers. Here are two recent examples I detected in Modern Biology by Albert Towle (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, copyright 1999, ISBN 0-03-01744-803. According to Google, Albert Towle is a Professor of Biology at California State University.)

On page 421 Prof. Towle states, “Evaporation adds water vapor to the atmosphere. Heat causes water to evaporate from the oceans and other bodies of water, from the soil and from the bodies of living things. At least 90 percent of the water that evaporates from terrestrial ecosystems passes through plants in a process called transpiration.”

Other than the fact that this is clumsily written, it is just wrong. In rebuttal -- The U.S. Geological Survey of the Department of the Interior states: “Studies have revealed that about 10 percent of the moisture found in the atmosphere is released by plants through transpiration. The remaining 90 percent is mainly supplied by evaporation from oceans, seas, and other bodies of water (lakes, rivers, streams).” See: Department of Interior  In other words, Professor Towle has it ass backwards. (I strongly suspect on purpose.)

And on page 422, he says’ “In the last 150 years, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen nearly 30%. Almost half this increase has occurred in the last 40 years. Human activities are responsible for the increase.”

Prof. Towle sounds convincing enough, eh? Poppycock!  In rebuttal -- The U.S. Department of Energy is referenced when it is stated: “Water vapor is 99.999% of natural origin. Other atmospheric greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and miscellaneous other gases (CFC's, etc.), are also mostly of natural origin (except for the latter, which is mostly anthropogenic). Human activities contribute slightly to greenhouse gas concentrations through farming, manufacturing, power generation, and transportation. However, these emissions are so dwarfed in comparison to emissions from natural sources we can do nothing about, that even the most costly efforts to limit human emissions would have a very small-- perhaps undetectable-- effect on global climate.” See this interesting publication for the source of this data (Table 1 in particular): Department of Energy  I strongly suggest it’s worth a few minutes of your study.

Why do such egregious errors pepper our High School textbooks and teachings?  Stay tuned ... as I intend to display other examples of how the charlatans in our classrooms are trying to shape (warp?) the minds of our children.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

An Oldie but Goodie (org. published 12/13/2006)


A while ago a very bright liberal daughter of some friends said that she didn’t like the religious elementary school that she had attended because they had been “judgmental.” I then engaged her in a short colloquy about this subject (I, being in favor of drawing conclusions) and didn’t make the slightest dent in her social armor. So I have decided to try to memorialize my feelings on this issue in order to argue my case further and perhaps even open her mind a little.

The definition of “judgmentalism” I would like to use here requires a little visualization. Imagine that you are sitting in the middle of a large circle drawn on the ground and that you are metaphysically sorting through all the thoughts and things of life. You place those thoughts and things that you find acceptable inside the circle and those that you don’t, outside. I think we all perform such a chore with some regularity and even pleasure. For instance, you might place “fouling the environment” outside the circle, or unacceptable; and “the smell of baby powder” inside, or acceptable. At some point you must make such a placement decision on “being judgmental.” Aha, now comes the conundrum! Can you place this behavior outside the circle without being hypocritical? And if you do, then you are denying the very process you may savor.

The best path off of this uncomfortable paradox might be for this young lady to admit that she just didn’t like this elementary school because its value system differed from hers. In fact, her put down of people and institutions for being “judgmental” is nothing more that an easy pejorative, a semantic substitution for ideas too weak or embarrassing for social expression. Such pejoratives (for example, “homophobe” or “knee-jerk liberal”) have become, at least to the unthinking, a way of quickly winning arguments with a backward wave of the hand and the nodding approval of one’s clique members. In other words, they are a dialectic code for “the social norm is to find this behavior unacceptable and, if you don’t comply, then we will think less of you.” Notice, I say “we” since such tête-à-têtes are usually sprinkled with such aphorisms as a way of testing newcomers to see if they have enough common receptor sites to be considered as someone to whom we will pay attention. Of course, this newcomer may also be applying a similar Rorschach to the testers to decide whether they too are worth a fiddler’s fart. Then the ridicule-or may become the ridicule-ee.

Historically these code words shift and jive. The older, cruder forms were often short and stabbing, such as “pinko” or “crybaby” or “bum.” Today, our salon societies have evolved much more subtle and sophisticated membership applications ... polysyllabic (and often humorous) aphorisms that slip off the tongues of our dilly dandies like cheap oil off of freshly-opened sardines. There are even those who seem to coin such terms for a living. Those that quickly come to mind are Rush Limbaugh (“femi-nazi” -- a hyper-radical feminist), Tom Wolfe (“x-ray” -- a socialite whose skeletal-look seems to be her only claim to self worth), and James Carville (“sexual McCarthyism” -- daring to pass judgment on President Clinton’s peckerdilloes).

Therefore, I am here pontificating on nothing really new. I’m old enough to remember, in the 1950s and 1960s, when similar semantic weapons, which are now so capably used against the right, were leveled at liberals with equal efficacy. However, I do not recall conservatives denying their left-wing foes the ability to think or form judgments. This is the insidious demagoguery against which I now rail. I honestly hope that this one flicker of liberty is not snuffed out as tribute to our current worship of feelings over consequences.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Unhappy Meals

San Francisco has banned toys in fast-food meals which are considered by the nabobs there as being unhealthy … specifically the McDonald's “Happy Meal.” See: No No McDonald's 

Now, if the powers-to-be at Baghdad by the Bay can intrude on the lives of their citizens to this extent to keep them healthy, why could they not drop a pall over the myriad of other unhealthy social practices there … such as sodomy, marijuana usage, panhandling, designer drugs, street gangs, sea-lion invasions, and re-electing Nancy Pelosi?

Me thinks that those on the San Francisco's Board of Supervisors who voted for this ukase are all, as they say, "a toy short of a Happy Meal"

Extra comments:
- In China they let their citizens eat bugs, cats, shark fins, bird's nests, and rotten eggs ... and we call ourselves a free society!

- Someone on talk radio suggested today that McDonalds put condoms in their Happy Meals if it wants to pass San Francisco muster.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Massachussets -- Barney Frank, Suzanne Bump, John Tierney, Deval Patrick, Jim McGovern, Bill Keating, Martha/Marsha Coakley
California -- ("Call me Senator") Boxer, Governor Moonbeam
Connecticut -- Michael Blumenthal
Nevada -- Harry Reid (polling, -4 percentage points; election, +5 percentage points ???)

Pretty much the rest of the Nation