Richard Feynman On Textbook Adoptions

Nobel Prize-winning physicist and all-around genius Richard Feynman was once asked to be on the committee that decides which textbooks will be used in a certain California district. He devoted a chapter to it in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman.

Obama Not Swayed By Spill; Still Loves Drilling

President Obama's weekly address closer:
One of the reasons I ran for President was to put America on the path to energy independence, and I have not wavered from that commitment. To achieve that goal, we must pursue clean energy and energy efficiency, and we’ve taken significant steps to do so. And we must also pursue domestic sources of oil and gas. Because it represents 30 percent of our oil production, the Gulf of Mexico can play an important part in securing our energy future. But we can only pursue offshore oil drilling if we have assurances that a disaster like the BP oil spill will not happen again. This Commission will, I hope, help provide those assurances so we can continue to seek a secure energy future for the United States of America. [emphasis mine]
I'm sorry, but this is not the guy I voted for. More drilling, Bagram/Gitmo, DADT, Afghanistan, and Arne Duncan do not bode well for America, Democrats or Obama. What to do? Vote for real Progressives, I guess.

Lies Of Omission

Speaking before about 1,000 cadets -- many of whom will be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan -- Obama cited continuing threats to the U.S. by violent extremists while proclaiming that American intervention has “brought hope” to the Afghan people.

“The war began only because our own cities and civilians were attacked by violent extremists who plotted from that distant place, and it continues only because that plotting persists to this day,” Obama said in prepared remarks at the military academy in upstate New York.
I'm sure certain that Obama gets briefings every day, and that those briefings inform him that there's no Al Qaeda in Afghanistan any more, that Al Qaeda and the various varieties of Taliban are not joined at the hip, that Al Qaeda's closest Taliban allies, like AQ itself, is now headquartered in and mostly concerned with Pakistan. Yet in front of 1,000 young Americans who will be asked to lay down their lives, if needed, for their nation - he lied.

I'm also sure that his briefings tell him that a vast majority of the residents of Kandahar would prefer that their "hope" not be brought at gunpoint, but by reconciliation - yet McChrystal's summer offensive operation, campaign process gesture will proceed there anyway. And that most Afghans beyond Kandahar would prefer that too. And that in any case the Kandahar gesture will now only begin after the 12 months that McChrystal said was the crucial period in Afghanistan, raising questions about the general's competence and honesty. Yet in front of 1,000 young Americans who will be asked to lay down their lives, if needed, for their nation, he mentioned none of this - he lied by omission.
From Newshoggers

Saturday Cartoon Fun: Beats Me Edition

Scraper Bikes

I used to live in Oakland. I am there often to see friends, eat at some favorites spots and occasionally work. I left only a few years ago, though it seems like a lifetime. Oakland, for those who don't know, is an awesome city. Here is one reason why:

Scrapertown from California is a place. on Vimeo.


Obama's Katrina? At Least.

Texas Board Of Education: Oxymoron

Texas board adopts new high school curriculum

...As the debate continued Friday, conservatives rejected language to modernize the classification of historic periods to B.C.E. and C.E. from the traditional B.C. and A.D.

Conservatives say the Texas history curriculum has been unfairly skewed to the left after years of Democrats controlling the board.

Democrats and a moderate Republican accused conservatives on the board of trying to stir up a needless controversy Thursday by using the president's full name, Barack Hussein Obama, saying his middle name was loaded with negative connotation.

Critics had complained that Obama's full name was conspicuously absent in a high school history course that referred only to the "the election of the first black president."

When a Democrat tried to fix the omission, Republican David Bradley said "I think we give him the full honor and privilege of his full name."...

"The War Is Making You Poor" Act

The war is making you poor:

Next year's budget allocates $159,000,000,000 to "contingency operations," to perpetuate the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s enough money to eliminate federal income taxes for the first $35,000 of every American's income each year, and beyond that, leave over $15 billion that would cut the deficit.

Everybody Draw Mohammad Day

Here are the top 3 cartoons submitted for Everybody Draw Mohammad Day:

The homage to Rene Magritte below states "This is not a pipe. This is Muhammed," playing with the surrealist's famous statement about the necessary disjuncture between a picture and the thing it seeks to represent. Just as the drawing is not a pipe (it's a drawing of a pipe), it cannot be Mohammed even as it insists it is. Even more, it is plainly not even a drawing of Mohammed or of any human figure.

Similarly, the invocation of the popular Where's Waldo? series forces the viewer to ask Where's Mohammed?, and to begin a hunt for a figure in the midst of an overstuffed scene. One assumes the black-robed character in the upper right-hand quadrant of the image is our quarry, but then what does it mean to confer on a small dot any significance whatsoever?

And the winner:

...each of the images forces the viewer to actively participate not simply in the creation of meaning but of actually constructing the image itself. This is clearest in our grand prize winner, the image below, which pushes iman and infidel alike to do the work that would condemn them to death under the most extreme reading of injunctions against representing Mohammed.

There is a deeper lesson here: Connect the dots and discover that we all must be Spartacus on Everybody Draw Mohammad Day. And that in a free society, every day is Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.


I Think I Am Going To Be Slick

NASA's Aqua Satellite Sees Sunglint on Gulf Oil Slick

At 3 p.m. EDT on May 18, NASA's Aqua satellite swept over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill from its vantage point in space and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument captured sunglints in a visible image of the spill.

The visible image showed three bright areas of sunglint within the area of the gray-beige colored spill. Sunglint is a mirror-like reflection of the sun off the water's surface. In calm waters, the rounded image of the sun would be seen in a satellite image. However, the waves in the Gulf blurred the reflection and created an appearance of three bright areas in a line on the ocean's surface.

According to the May 18 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) web update of the Deepwater Horizon incident, "satellite imagery on May 17 indicated that the main bulk of the oil is dozens of miles away from the Loop Current, but that a tendril of light oil has been transported down close to the Loop Current."

The May 18 NOAA update also noted that "NOAA extended the boundaries of the closed fishing area in the Gulf into the northern portion of the loop current as a precautionary measure to ensure seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers. The closed area is now slightly less than 19 percent of the Gulf of Mexico federal waters."

Image credit: NASA/Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response Team
Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Wednesday Cartoon Fun: Graduation Edition

Jim Horn Resurrects Gerald Bracey

Jim Horn reminds us how completely vacuous the reformers are:
[Gerald Bracey said in 2007:]

All those august organizations have rejected the NAEP achievement levels because the process is confusing to the people who try to set the levels and because the results are inconsistent: Children can't answer questions they should be able to and can answer questions they shouldn't be able to. The levels also give what the National Academy of Sciences called "unreasonable" results, including the fact that only 29 percent of U.S. fourth-graders were considered proficient or better by NAEP, yet America ranked third among 26 participating nations.

Other evidence is easy to come by. In 2000, 2.7 percent of American high school seniors scored 3 or better -- the score at which colleges begin to grant credit for the course -- on Advanced Placement calculus. Almost 8 percent of seniors (including those who did not take the test) scored above 600 on the math SAT; nearly a quarter (24 percent) of those who took it scored over 600. Yet NAEP said that only 1.5 percent of the nation's seniors reached its "advanced" level.

So why does the government continue to report such misleading information? The "Leaders and Laggards" report illustrates why: The numbers are useful as scare techniques. If you can batter people into believing the schools are in awful shape, you can make them anxious about their future -- and you can control them.

Religion: What Is It Good For?

From Jonathan Turley come some allegations of abuse by Scientologists. Do religions exist so adults can abuse people? Sure seems to be an important part of religion these days...


"Let's Explode This, Collapse The Well..."

From C&L:
...[Shepard] Smith originally brought on Christopher Brownfield to discuss the potential for using a nuclear bomb to stop the leak

Brownfield: If we demolish the well using explosives, the investment's gone. They lose hundreds of millions of dollars, from the drilling of the well, plus no lawmaker in his right mind would allow BP to drill again in that same spot. So basically, it's an all-or-nothing thing with BP: They either keep the well alive, or they lose their whole investment and all the oil that they could potentially get from that well.

Brownfield: Yes, I think -- stopping the spill immediately. And the reason why we haven't seen that option is because, frankly, BP is still at the helm. I think President Obama needs to take charge of this, bring all the assets of our military to bear, bring the U.S. Army Corps of engineers, bring the U.S. Navy, and bring in all the private-sector organizations that have the equipment for deep-sea operations to make this happen. Let's explode this, collapse the well, and put an end to it...

Lock 'Em Up And Throw Away The Key

Indefinite Detention - Now good for more than terrorists!

By BJ Bjornson

You know, for the “Land of the Free”, you all sure do like the idea of putting people behind bars forever.
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that federal officials can indefinitely hold inmates considered "sexually dangerous" after their prison terms are complete.

The high court in a 7-2 judgment reversed a lower court decision that said Congress overstepped its authority in allowing indefinite detentions of considered "sexually dangerous."

"The statute is a 'necessary and proper' means of exercising the federal authority that permits Congress to create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned but who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others," said Justice Stephen Breyer, writing the majority opinion.
As John Cole puts it, why even bother with a sentence? I suppose it will make folks feel better to say they’re tossing these guys away for a few years when in actual fact as soon as they’re behind bars, the key’s going to get thrown away.

And I can’t wait to see what the reaction will be to the fact that the lawyer arguing the government’s case was Elena Kagan, now Supreme Court nominee Kagan, and that the dissenters were Thomas and Scalia.
No links here. Go to the link for links.

Pesticide / ADHD Link Found

Scientists identify link between pesticides and ADHD

A new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, links pesticide exposure to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the U.S. and Canada.
Led by Maryse Bouchard in Montreal, researchers based at the University of Montreal and Harvard University examined the potential relationship between ADHD and exposure to certain toxic pesticides called organophosphates.
The rest at the link.

Clarity Is Not Shrillness

Richard Dawkins on being called shrill when he is merely being clear:

Central Falls Teachers Rehired Updated

Sorry, Arne, Bill, Eli, Barack and the rest:
CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (AP) — A school district that gained the support of President Barack Obama for promoting accountability after it fired all its teachers from a struggling school announced on Sunday it had reached an agreement with the union to return the current staffers to their jobs.

The two sides said a transformation plan for Central Falls High School for the coming school year would allow the roughly 87 teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and other staffers who were to lose their jobs at the end of this year to return without having to reapply. More than 700 people had already applied for the positions.

The agreement calls for a longer school day, more after-school tutoring and other changes.
h/t GFB

Update: Arne Duncan's response (remember he was all for the firing when it happened):
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today issued the following statement on the Central Falls agreement.

"On behalf of the Obama administration, I salute the administrators, union leadership and teachers in Central Falls and Rhode Island for working through what has been a very difficult period and coming to agreement on a plan to improve their school. Turning around a high school is very tough work that asks more of everyone -- students, parents, staff, administrators and the community. It is clear from this agreement that everyone is willing to give more in terms of time, training and tutoring. It provides for more engagement among students and teachers, more support and collaboration among the staff, more meaningful evaluation for teachers, and a greater voice for teachers in managing the school and driving reform. Now the hard work begins, but we can look forward to a day soon when the students in Central Falls High School will be getting an education that truly prepares them for college and a career."
Put your outrage in comments.


Spectrum Humor

From McSweeney's:



Dear [Family Member/Friend/Relative Stranger/Jackass],

I'm sorry my nine-year-old son disrupted your...
a) beach vacation.
b) trip to the grocery store.
c) soccer game.
d) appointment with Doctor Vestergaard.

As you may/may not know, my son has Asperger's Syndrome. It is a form of autism which impacts...
a) how he communicates.
b) his gross motor skills.
c) his fine motor skills
d) his sense of smell, taste, and hearing.
e) his ability to learn from his mistakes.
f) all of the above.

I'm sure you noticed one or more of these when he started screaming during the...
a) outdoor wedding.
b) estranged uncle's funeral.
c) family photo shoot.
d) Yom Kippur service.

I can tell from your comments that you think I'm...
a) too strict.
b) too smothering.
c) too permissive.
d) not spanking enough.

In the heat of the moment, though, it was hard to hear your...
a) self-serving psycho babble.
b) succinct analysis of my flaws.
c) concerns about the state of my [marriage/mental health/recent weight gain, etc.].

Incidents of the type you witnessed used to happen in our family about twice a week. This is why we now employ the services of (including, but not limited to)...
a) a specialist in pediatric neurological development.
b) a speech-language pathologist.
c) a special education teacher.
d) an occupational therapist (who in addition to weekly appointments currently has us brushing his arms, legs and torso 5 times/day).

We have learned that his crying and wailing can be due to...
a) over-stimulation.
b) under-stimulation.
c) sibling rivalry.
d) anxiety.
e) who the hell knows.

In addition to your event, he has stormed out of...
a) Tryon State Park's wilderness camp.
b) Congregation Shir Tikvah's religious school.
c) ACCESS Academy (an alternative program for highly gifted youth).
d) all of the above.

For the record, he never stormed out of religious school. He put himself in the corner when he grew scared and overwhelmed. The teacher had to come and find me because he was starting to bang his head against the wall in front of eight other children.

We no longer take him to...
a) movies (too loud).
b) sports practices (he can't keep up with other kids).
c) hiking (when he stops halfway through we can't get him back to the trailhead).

I'm sorry he turned down your offer of...
a) yogurt.
b) hot cereal.
c) crackers (except Goldfish).
d) cheese (except on pizza).
e) salad with dressing (except Ranch).
f) cooked vegetables (except broccoli).
g) parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, salsa, or avocados.

He won't eat them at home either. He used to adore canned pineapple and peaches, peanut butter sandwiches, and tuna fish. Not anymore. There was one brand of tomato soup that he loved, but I can't figure out which one it was.

In the [days/months/years] since his diagnosis and the [years/decades/lifetimes] before that, I have been trying to figure out my beloved child. Things have definitely improved, due to...
a) medications (they may cause permanent metabolic damage, but lessen the temper tantrums).
b) a change in our expectations (if he needs help putting on underwear, I'm going to goddamn dress him).
c) what I hope (keep your fingers crossed) may be maturation and growth in the structure of his brain.

Unfortunately, he is still largely unable to...
a) make eye contact.
b) understand that others have feelings.
c) plan ahead.
d) do schoolwork on his own.
f) stop smearing his fingers compulsively in the mashed potatoes and gravy on his dinner plate.
e) refrain from blurting out every random thought he has about Super Mario Brothers.

So forgive me if I seem...
a) bitter.
b) frightened for his future.
c) exhausted.

It's only because I am.

a) Yours truly,
b) Love,
c) So screw you and your ill-informed advice,

Katie Schneider

No More Rainbows In The Dark

Ronnie James Dio has died.
American heavy rock singer Ronnie James Dio, who replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath, has died at the age of 67, his wife and manager have said.

Dio had been suffering from stomach cancer.

Before joining Black Sabbath he sang in Rainbow - formed when Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple - and later in Heaven & Hell and the self-titled band Dio.

Dio's wife Wendy paid a loving tribute to her husband on his website, saying: "Today my heart is broken."

Test Prep Company Voluntarily Stops Lying

Princeton Reviews takes down ad claims

The Princeton Review test prep company has voluntarily agreed to stop making certain advertising claims about how many points it can help students improve on various school admissions tests.

The move was taken after a review by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which reviewed claims made in print, direct marketing, social media and Internet advertising. The division declared the Princeton Review’s actions as “necessary and appropriate” and released the decision to the public.
The rest at the link.

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