Friday, December 31, 2004

Educational Chuckle

Classroom A No Go
Today's Educational Chuckle involves an enterprising young man in England who had submitted an unusual project in his English class. James Petchey, all of 14-years-old, had selected the model Jordan (aka Katie Price) as his topic for

Students had been tasked with finding information about their favorite celebrity on the internet.

Not surprisingly, the lad included in the finished project numerous photos of Jordan's unclothed artificial enhancements that he had found on the internet.

The educational bureaucracy was not amused, and suspended the red-blooded youngster after he submitted his project for a grade. The suspension was for 1 day. A spokeswoman for the Hertfordshire County Council Education Department declared, "It was an appropriate punishment."

James' father, Keith protested, "At no point was he told Jordan was an inappropriate topic and I'd rather he was researching her than gangsta rap artists."

Duh. We think that Jordan's unnaturally large sweater puppies are a subject of more than one young school boys....thoughts.

For the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, click here.

Main Page/Latest Posts

Student's Classroom Beating Caught On Videotape

Brazen Miscreant
When I saw this story on the local news, I couldn't believe what I was watching. A fifteen-year-old tenth-grade bully had an accomplice videotape his brutal assault upon a 14-year-old ninth-grade student at Midview High School, which is located in Eaton Township, (Lorain County) Ohio. Amazingly, this crime occurred while class was in session, just before winter vacation. The Morning Journal newspaper gives additional details of the incident, and a shortened version of the videotape itself can be seen here: WEWS TV 5. (Be sure to scroll down to "More Video Archive," which is listed below "News Video." They don't have permalink.)

This is what the full-length tape shows:

The clock on the classroom wall read 12:42PM, and students are at their desks apparently working on math problems. While two students distract the teacher on the other side of the room, and without any provocation whatsoever, a large male student approaches another student that is seated at his desk and begins attempting to slap the victim about the head. All the victim can do is attempt to block the blows.

After tormenting his defenseless victim for some time, the assailant begins punching his victim in earnest. The criminal administers at least 10 hard blows to the victim's head. Meanwhile, laughter can be heard coming from other students sitting in the area.

All the while the teacher remains distracted, apparently oblivious to what is occurring on the other side of the classroom. [EdWonk- How on earth could any teacher be unaware of this going on?]

Finally (probably because of the laughter) the teacher becomes aware of the situation and moves rapidly to stop the assault. The teacher then escorts the two miscreants to the office.

The school's response to this criminal act was to suspend the delinquents, and refer the matter to the police. They have been charged with battery and stalking. And the students may face expulsion.

After the incident, the student said that the bullies had been harassing him for the better part of the year.

Why, might you wonder, didn't the student come forward earlier?

After all, the unedited videotape featured an exasperated
Superintendent Jim Rykaceski of Midview Local School District who indicated that the teacher was not at fault for the incident. (His explanation differs substantially from the paper's account.)

Sadly, Rykaceski insinuated that it was the victim's fault because he had not come forward earlier to report the stalking.

I guess Superintendent Rykaceski has probably not been in the classroom for a while... So I (Humble classroom teacher that I am.) will attempt to shed some light on the matter.

There is an unwritten "code of silence" that every student knows, as does almost every public school teacher, as do most public school administrators. The code simply states, "If you go to the authorities, sooner or later we are gonna make you pay."

In other words, the bullies do not fear (nor respect) school authorities. And the victims know that the school will not protect them.

As an actively serving classroom teacher, I can affirm that this is the type of criminal behavior that is occurring everyday in classrooms around the country. There have been numerous classroom fights in my own mid-sized California school district. The difference, of course, is that this particular malefactor (obviously lacking any brains whatsoever) had an (equally idiotic) accomplice videotape the crime.

Expulsion for these two offenders will not even be automatic. There is a good chance that the school will find an "alternative placement" for these vicious predators. In other words, the school system will probably "pass the buck" and enroll these disgusting little creatures on another campus.

This will happen because there will be many in the educational bureaucracy that will be sympathetic to the assailants. Without a doubt, some will soon be uttering psycho-babble such as: "these kids have issues, they need help, we can put them on a behavior contract, let's give them another chance. Etc."

And when they get to their new campus, they will be free to terrorize other victims.

And this is the sort of thing that happens all the time in our public school systems. And nobody does a thing to change it.

Latest Posts

The Council Has Spoken!

The Watcher's Council
The Watcher's Council has met and voted on this week's entries. There were a number of excellent posts that were considered by the Council.

Council Member Entries:

In the winning entry, "
Spinning the Numbers" Alpha Patriot takes a thoughtful look at the statistics associated with successful presidential re-election campaigns.

This week's Council Member runner-up was The Sundries Shack, with an entry called "
Some Thoughts on Iraq" which does an excellent job of reminding us what our country is fighting for in Iraq.

Non-Council Entries:

La Shawn Barber won with her entry, "
Academic Freedom, Hate Mail, And David Horowitz" which examines the constant struggle that conservative college students must wage in order obtain the freedom to express their views.

The runner-up was One Hand Clapping with an entry titled, "
A Top Sergeant Reports On Rumsfeld" which is a first-hand response to Rumsfeld's critics by a soldier that was there.

Special Mention:

The Devil's Advocate garnered support (in a very strong field) with his entry called, "
Get Your Snake Oil Here, Folks!" which examines issues surrounding controversial D.C. elected-official-for-life, Marion Barry.

Main Page

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Extra Credit Reading Assignment: Immigration Reform Roundup

Digger's Realm has published the third installment of an excellent series of pieces about some of the problems that are currently confronting us regarding immigration. Here is a taste:
An estimated 10 million immigrants live in the United States illegally; the vast majority are from Mexico, with an additional million arriving every year.

Estimates are that three million may cross our borders this year because of the chance for an amnesty program being put in place by the President. This has increased border hopping and illegal aliens making the trek.
Education-related issues are also addressed. Here is a sample:

A state Board of Education member [Kansas] says students studying immigration should learn about the effect illegal immigrants have on crime rates, education costs, and language barriers.

Digger offers a comprehensive diagnosis of the various challenges that the Nation must address if it is ever restore some sort of control over runaway immigration, and offers some viable solutions. The whole series makes for a most engaging read.

Jay Leno Should Not Have Gone There

El Chin-O
I've never really spent too much time watching the late-night "talk" shows. Even though I usually like stand-up comedy and silly stunts, I've never been a fan of watching "celebrities" come in, answer a few ridiculous softball type questions from the fawning host (Leno, O'Brien, Letterman, and promote pimp the "guest's" latest... fill-in the blank here (movie, tv series, book, baby, comic-book, whatever).

But here in our home in the east, my television-watching choices are, as they say, limited. And even though we have plans for New Year's Eve, we were at home last evening. The WifeWonk and TeenWonk were in another room reading, and I was at this computer, visiting some of my blogging friends.

As back ground noise, I could hear a pre-Christmas re-run of Jay Leno. He was giving his front-of-the-show monologue. I really wasn't paying any attention until he started "cracking-wise" about child-molester (and ex-teacher/model) Debra Beasley Lafave and what she did to her 12-year-old victim.

(We have extensively profiled predator Lafave here at the 'Wonks, and so you can
refresh your memory by clicking here.)

Essentially, Leno was making light of the fact that Lafave's former-student-now-victim had been having sexual relations with his teacher. By the time I had reached for my writing pad, Leno had already made a number of remarks, but I did have time to write down a couple of his last absurdities, which gives you a pretty good idea about what the "joke-line" was all about. Leno said:

  • "Since Lafave has now plead "not guilty due to insanity," this young man has been having sex with an insane woman." *insert canned laughter here*
  • "Who says that school doesn't prepare one for the real world?" *insert more canned laughter here*

Now I know that tasteless jokes are the stock in trade for these late night so-called "talk show" hosts/celeb pimps. In fact, before Letterman became an arrogant multi-zillionaire pin-head, (in his NBC days) I used to think he was sometimes funny.

But some topics really should be considered out of bounds, even for them and child molestation is one such area. We wonder if Leno would have thought that Lafave's crimes would have been so hilarious if it had been his son that had been molested. We don't think so.

And would he dared to have made these tasteless remarks if the molester had been a male teacher and the victim a 12-year-old female student? Can you imagine the public's outrage?

But Leno is another very rich Hollywood entertainer, so nothing will be said. In our society, those people do and say as they please.

On old broadcasts of Saturday Night Live, Adam Sandler used to refer to Jay Leno as "El Chin-O." In the guise of his "Opera Man" character, Sandler would sing that El Chin-O was "Not Funny 'O." We concur in Sandler's assessment.

Main Page (With Latest News)

Fact-Checking The Los Angeles Times

For several years, I lived in Hacienda Heights, which is located in the Los Angeles area. As such, I was subjected to the mis-information routinely peddled as news by The Los Angeles Times. I always used to wonder why nobody ever publicly called them on their partisan liberalism.

Patterico has done just that. He has published the
first part of a comprehensive examination of the liberal bias of this newspaper.

Patterico demonstrates to the world what any objectively-thinking person that has ever lived in the Los Angels basin has known for decades: That The Los Angeles Times is not a journalistic endeavor at all, but nothing more than some type of propaganda organ for far left-wing liberalism.

It would be a very good investment of your time to closely read Patterico's thoroughly-researched piece, which demonstrates to what lengths this representative of the legacy media will go in order to manipulate the thoughts of its un-suspecting readership.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Teachers Cheating Down In The Lone Star State?

Joanne Jacobs is telling us about teachers that may be cheating down in Texas. It seems that there are in the test scores of several hundred Texas schools. Her site has the details, and links to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times.

What concerns us here at the 'Wonks is that we believe cheating on these tests by both teachers and administrators to be fairly common-place.

This cheating ranges from teachers having "little helpers" (placards with spelling rules, math formulas etc.) posted on the walls around the classroom, teachers "helping" students understand the meaning of difficult words, and sometimes even the out-right changing of student responses.

It is said that some administrators knowingly allow such shenanigans to go unchecked, especially when the teachers involved are favorites of the administrator. Such administrators are just as guilty as if they had done the cheating themselves.

As an actively serving classroom teacher, I have heard of all three going on in my medium-sized California school district.

Some teachers and administrators will attempt to justify the cheating, using as an excuse the increased pressures caused by high-stakes government-mandated testing.

There is never an acceptable rationale for cheating.

When cheating occurs, it not only invalidates the test results, (which is a disservice to the child and parents) but is a slap in the face of all honest and hard-working teachers and administrators that are striving so earnestly to serve the needs of children.

All individuals that work in the field of education should be fully informed of the seriousness of cheating on these tests, as well as the consequences for being caught. Then any individual caught actively cheating should have his or her license to teach or administrate in the public school system revoked.

A Piece Of Americana Takes A Long-Overdue Permanent Vacation

Bye Bye!
The Chicago Sun-Times has a story about those little paper half-pint milk cartons that we all grew up with. It seems though a milk-industry study says (what the kids and teachers always knew) that children don't like them.


When I was a KidWonk many years ago, in the central Florida town of Winter Haven, neither me nor my school-mates could stand the things. Day after day, year after year, we were forced-fed plain whole-milk. Chocolate milk or juice were not options, and would not be for some years.

I can still remember the tiny red and white cartons, each one marked, "Velda Farms."

Many times, the milk that they contained was rancid. (This is a word that we used, and is still used by my students today. Seemingly, the word rancid is used only to describe the taste of milk.) The schools served us the stuff anyway.

Before I obtained my full-time teaching job in California, I did a little substitute teaching in the lower grades. I spent quite a bit of time opening those little paper cartons for students in kindergarten and first grade.

These demonic little cartons are being phased out in favor of plastic bottles with easy to open tops. Usually, I tend to wax nostalgic whenever some little slice of Americana is sacrificed on the altar of modernity, but I'll make an exception in this case. In fact, I say good riddance.

Main Page (With Latest News)

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Two Criminals: Dumb And Dumber

Floyd Elliott
Here is the sorry tale of Floyd Elliott, and here is the story of Professor Kerri Dunn. Both of these malefactors screamed "wolf," and both got caught. Read the accounts, and see if you can figure out which criminal was dumb, and which was dumber.

Mortarboard Tip:
Michelle Malkin

US Population Continues To Increase

Out Of Control
Drudge is reporting that the Census Bureau projects that the number of persons in the United States as of January 1, 2005, will be 295 million people.

According to the press release, a new immigrant enters the United States every 26 seconds.

With a few more months of illegal immigration, we will soon exceed 300 million.

Isn't that special?

The Struggle Over School Choice In Colorado

Board Member Christen
All over America, a variety of groups are fighting for the right to send their children to the school of their choice. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, the struggle has taken some very interesting turns during the past few months.

Colorado Springs District 11 board meetings have drawn packed houses as members have considered but never voted on items such as a resolution to support "stable, heterosexual, two-parent families." There has also been a lot of discussion about expelling Planned Parenthood from teaching sex-education in schools; and an effort to replace a moment of silence at each [board] meeting with an invocation.
It sounds like things are hopping up there in Colorado. Debate of these social issues is just a "warm-up" for a much larger battle that looms ahead. Liberals are saying that the real agenda of a 3-member "block" on this board is the implementation of a voucher system, much like that which has been in effect for the last 14 years in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin public school system. [The Milwaukee system allows about 100,000 students to have freedom of choice regarding which school they attend.]

In November 2003, a group of 4 board members were elected just with that goal in mind. These were: Willie Breazell, Craig Cox, Sandy Shakes, and Eric Christen. However, control of the 7-member board did not stay with the "reformers" very long, because one of them, ex-teacher Sandy Shakes, defected to the opposition when the reform group targeted the teachers union.

That leaves the board divided on the question of school choice. There are four governing board members opposed to vouchers, and three in favor. What makes this issue highly interesting is that three (of the four) seats belonging to the anti-voucher group will be open next November.

So the question of whether or not Colorado Springs District 11 will become the first district in the western states to offer parents school choice has been postponed until November of 2005.

It will be interesting to see if the voters in Colorado Springs will choose to ignore what will undoubtedly be a well-financed propaganda campaign staged by teachers unions who have a long record of opposing any plan offering school choice. Or will the voters elect board members committed to giving parents the freedom to choose what is best for their children.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Fire At A Blogger's Home

The family of one of our faculty members, California Yankee, experienced a fire in his home just days before Christmas. The Yankee has now written an excellent first-person account of that incident. Thankfully, everyone in the family escaped unharmed, although there was serious damage to the structure itself. You should take a look and see how "real life" differs from the make-believe versions that are constantly served-up by Hollywood.

Via: Diggers Realm

Some Final Christmas Thoughts

Filed from "Owls Nest" near Tamassee, South Carolina.

NBC news was lamenting that it was a "lack luster" holiday shopping season. According to them, sales at "brick and mortar" stores "only" increased 4.5% over last year's figures, while on-line buying went up by some 28%.

Isn't it strange that the traditional media has determined that a "successful" holiday season is one in which people sink themselves into more and more debt each year?

And isn't it stranger that those in the traditional media that would remove Christ from Christmas never talk about deleting the gift-giving?

School Daze: "Lethal" Weapon Banned In Some Schools

Ammo For Bullies
The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that rubber bands are now being forbidden at school because students are using them to propel pieces of wadded paper that the kids refer to as: birdies, tweeters, zombie darts, microshooters, and wasps, at high speed. The intended targets are other students. The danger, of course, is to students' eyes.

Duh. I don't guess anyone has yet told the newspaper (what many teachers know) that aluminum foil makes an even more efficient missile in the hands of the shooter.

At our California junior high school, students often dispense with the missile altogether and shoot the rubber bands themselves.

And apparently the St. Pete Times doesn't know anything about kids using plastic straws as blowguns, and, most dangerously of all, the shooting of straightened staples by using the action of a mechanical pencil as the source of energy to push the projectile toward its intended victim.

As a classroom teacher, it has been my observation that the students who most often engage in this dangerous behavior are bullies. They know that the victims of their assaults will almost never dare to report them, due to fear of later retaliation by the bully.

And when a kid gets hit in the eye with one of those projectiles, it's not the assailant or the assailant's parents that are on the receiving end of the lawsuit. It's almost always the school that is found negligent and required to pay monetary damages. And it's the taxpayer that foots the bill.

And what about the classroom teacher that happened to be present at the time of the attack? In true scapegoat fashion, he or she is usually disciplined for failing to control the little miscreant student that caused the injury in the first place.

Mortarboard Tip:

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Political Correctism Run Amok Files: Kwanzaa

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa, and here is the official website. For those that may have been in some other dimension for the last few years, Kwanzaa is celebrated annually by many in the African American community. However, due to its proximity to the end of the calendar year, Kwanzaa is viewed by many (incorrectly) as some sort of substitute for Christmas. Thus it has come to symbolize the political correctism that has further divided the country.

Because of the history behind Kwanzaa's founding, (and especially its American founder, Maulana Karenga) I find that I focus more on the negative aspects of the event's inception, and less on what should have been a very positive concept of reminding African Americans about their common heritage. Sadly, I must think of it as a "manufactured" holiday, much like those that have been created by those !#@#!* greeting card companies.

The MUSC Tiger takes a
thorough and insightful look at the history of Kwanzaa, its self-proclaimed founder, (and his scrapes with the Law) as well as some of the issues that arise from the commemoration of this seven-day event.

Fun With Advertising

Yours for only $2.99
Here is an interesting little commercial for a new deodorant made by the same folks that brought us "Axe" products. Obviously, its pitched to men. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a product on the market that worked like that?

Oops, I forgot, there already is such a product in existence, and this product is a well-known aphrodisiac. This is almost guaranteed to attract women, and make (most) of them go wild. This internationally-known product usually features small pictures of Andrew Jackson or Benjamin Franklin on the label.

Be sure to check out some of the over 100 comments that this post has already generated.

Via: David at In Search Of Utopia

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Evening, 2004

Filed from "Owls Nest" near Tamassee, South Carolina.
It has been a quiet day. The weather has been bone chillingly cold. Tonight, they are scheduled to have a light snowfall in the nearby towns of Greenville and Spartenburg. Here in Tamassee, there is a small possibility that we might get a little.

Whether or not we get that snow remains to be seen. Just the fact that the small possibility exists is causing all kinds of anticipation in the TeenWonk.

As for the WifeWonk and myself, the small possibility of snow is also causing all kinds of anticipation.

Snow is meant for youngsters of all ages.

As Christmas "winds down" for another year, I can't help but to reflect a little on how good it is that we are all together (once more) at this beautiful time, in this beautiful place. There is a warm fire in the hearth, and we've plenty of egg-nog and Christmas victuals.

I am still recovering from a slight case of the flu, but for the most part we are all healthy. The daily grind of my teaching job is a world away.

With all the problems in the world, both big and small, a person can still hope for happiness. And if not happiness, then maybe contentment.

May you and yours at least have contentment, (if not happiness) this Christmas evening.

Holiday School: The Christmas Session

Class Is In Session!
Filed from "Owls Home" near Tamassee, South Carolina.

As it is Christmas Day, regular school is in recess, and the building is empty. In an effort to maximize resources and make the fullest use of school facilities, there will be a special session of classes held Today. The following students have been referred to attend this session, as their grades are less than satisfactory, and are in need of further instruction. Some are otherwise outstanding students that have just hit "a little bump in the road," and others are incorrigible misfits that need to be expelled.

  1. President George Bush: Continues to receive an "F" in Current Affairs 101 for not completing his project titled "Catching or Killing Osama Bin Laden." This student may still receive a passing grade for the semester if he completes his project A.S.A.P.
  2. Ex-Democratic Nominee John Kerry: This student received an "F" in Charm Class because he has not yet grasped the patrician concept of losing with grace. [Teacher's note to the student: "C'mon, John, rich liberal Hippocrats that summer in Nantucket don't cry about personal set-backs, they get drunk and take rides with gorgeous young blondes over bridges in Chappaquiddick. Let's get it together, mister!"]
  3. Hillary, The Countess of Chappaqua: The Countess is receiving an "F" in her Charm Class due to the fact that she is unable to successfully hide her delight in the fact that John Kerry lost his bid to be President, thus opening the way for (what will certainly be) her equally unsuccessful attempt in 2008.
  4. United Nations Autocrat Kofi Annan: This pupil gets an "F" in Leadership 101 due to cheating. Students are reminded that it is inappropriate to steal money from the class treasury and give it to various relatives.
  5. "Businessman" Kojo Annan: The 29-year-old student gets an "F" in Ethics 101 for receiving cash payments for services not rendered. [Teacher's note to Kojo: "We would send a note home to your father, but..."]
  6. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield: This student has received an "F" in Wartime Economics for not putting American industry on a 24/7 war footing in order to produce the weapons and vehicles needed by our troops at the front.
  7. Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge: This pupil receives an "F" in Civil Defense 101 for failing to stem the invasion of illegal immigrants. Our out-of-control borders puts the country in extreme danger of being infiltrated by terrorists.
  8. New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd: MoDo receives an "F" in Animal Husbandry 101 for failing to grasp the cause of her extreme bitterness toward life in general and men in particular. She has also failed to follow directions for the successful remedy of her problem, as outlined by a variety of our faculty members. Dowd also receives an "F" in Minority Studies for threatening to "Rip his (Frosty the Snowman.) frozen face off." Because of Maureen's intolerance of climatically challenged minorities (snowmen) she is the recipient of the Dunce Cap for this session of Holiday School. She is also directed to enroll in a class to address her issues of anger management.

All the aforementioned students are directed to report to school no later then 8:15 AM, on the day indicated, for remedial instruction. Readers are invited to suggest other individuals that need to be enrolled for the next Holiday School session, which will be held Saturday, January 1, 2005.

Merry Christmas From The 'Wonks!

Extra Credit: Bloggers Banquet: Christmas Day Edition

Filed from "Owls Nest" near Tamassee, South Carolina.

I dropped in on a few of our faculty members late Christmas Eve to see what I could learn about the world since the WifeWonk, the TeenWonk, and myself temporarily exchanged the sunny climate of California for our holiday quarters in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Jeff, over at Beautiful Atrocities, shows us Bloggers what life will be like
when our essential functions have been outsourced not only to other countries, but to other species as well.

Nigel Kearney, the Kiwi Pundit,
discloses three examples of how identity documents are being forged for possible terrorist activities. He also has an interesting take on Martha Stewart's letter from prison.

The Pirate has an update about
sex crimes committed by United Nations personnel which should serve to increase the pressure on UN Secretary General Autocrat Kofi Annan to resign. (Which we here at the 'Wonks would gladly welcome.)

Joanne Jacobs points out the extreme
sacrifices made by some of our children on behalf of the War Effort. (We find this particular entry to be very thought-provoking.)

Hyscience is
sounding the alarm over the plight of the Iraqi Kurds. (Why this is not getting more attention from the mainstream media is a mystery to us here at the 'Wonks.)

David Anderson's In Search Of Utopia
puts a new twist on the story of the soldier that asked Rumsfield an embarrassing question.

Digger is telling us about a simply asinine example of the "Catch And Release" of illegal aliens that is going on out in California. (This got some attention by "The Watcher's Council.")

The Spork uses both
Barbara Streisand and Martha Stewart to make her point. (Could this be an idea for a "Lifetime" movie?)

TC at Leather Penguin is reporting an instance of
Political Correctism Run Amok in Canada.

Chris, over at Right Wing & Right Minded has his
priorities straight, but check out what his opinion of a maid a milking should be. (No wonder young men don't want to leave the farm.)

From All Of Us, To All Of You, Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2004

The Council Has Spoken!

The Watcher's Council
The Watcher's Council has met and voted on this week's entries. There were a number of outstanding postings this week; it would be well worth your time to take a look at them. Congratulations to the top finishers! They are:

Council Member Entries:

Witchhunt, by Dr. Sanity
Castro: US Equals Nazis by The Sundries Shack

Non-Council Entries:

Rat Man of the Far Abroad by The Diplomad
Ten more reasons to hate Rumsfield by Sean Gleeson

Absinthe & Cookies Christmas Poll

Filed from "Owls Nest" near Tamassee, South Carolina.

I ran into this cute little poll over at Absinthe & Cookies yesterday. For some reason, I couldn't resist taking it. She invites you to take the poll too, and leave answers in her comments or on your own site:

* Do you spend the holiday at your place, or somewhere else?
We spend our vacation at our Summer Place (if that made any sense) in South Carolina.

* What's your Christmas Dinner main course?
We will be grilling steaks.

* What's the dessert?
It's gotta be Key Lime Pie.

* Do you eat early or late?
We eat at high noon.

* What gift was your favorite when you were a child?
That's an easy one. As a KidWonk, I liked getting bicycles.

* As an adult?
Also an easy one. As the EdWonk, anything NOT related to teaching is nice.

* What are you hoping to get from Santa this year?
I would like to get over this flu virus in time to actually do a few fun things out of doors.

* Any unique tradition you have?
Our one tradition is that we never, ever, stay in the Imperial Valley during Christmas time. Perish the thought!

Muslims Demand School Holidays In Maryland

Nancy Grasmick
Filed from Tamassee, South Carolina.
In Maryland, Muslim organizations have been demanding that schools close in order to observe two of Islam's holiest days. They have been attending school board meetings in large numbers and speaking out in regards to their wishes.

These groups have been saying that as schools are closed in observance of Christian holidays, then so should they be closed in observance of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, which commemorates the Koran's account of Abraham's sacrifice of a ram in place of his son Isaac.

In response to these Muslim groups, a 22-member ad-hoc state committee (composed of education and community leaders) has been studying the possibility of closing Maryland public schools in observance of these Muslim holy days, and the other day the members sheeple of the panel unanimously voted to recommend that local school districts be authorized to observe two "floating" holidays that could be tied to "world recognized" religions that are practiced in the communities that the schools serve. This recommendation has been forwarded to State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick for analysis.

The superintendent appointed all of the committee members. As the Superintendent has held her position sinecure since 1991, our guess is that she will not want to "stir-up" a controversy, and thereby threaten her "position." Therefore, approval of the committee's recommendation will be automatic.

We here at the 'Wonks thought that would be an equitable solution for all. We applauded the fact that these Muslim groups had correctly used the process, and had obtained what many people would think is a satisfactory result. That's what democracy is all about. Rule by the majority, with respect for the rights of the minority.

But as you might guess, there is more to this story.

Bash Pharoan, who is President of one of these groups, the Baltimore County Muslim Council, says that even though its a step in the right direction, it's still not enough.

His Council wants all Maryland schools to close in official observance of the two Muslim Holidays, or the schools should not close in observance of any religious holiday. We assume that would mean Christmas and Easter.

Not surprisingly, the various local school boards have been reluctant to go along with the demands of these Muslim organizations. And predictably, the Muslim groups have not been slow to accuse the boards of racism, religious discrimination, etc.

Isn't that what is so idiotic about our current system? In this present atmosphere of Political Correctism Run Amok any minority group can earn be given its rights special privileges simply by accusing those that do not automatically agree with them of racism or discrimination.

The use of the "R" and "D" words by these special-interest groups only serves to cheapen the process, and taint whatever gains they do make toward achieving their goals.

They should be a ashamed of the poor example that they are setting for their children.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Teachers Behaving Badly Department: Jeffrey Owens

Camden Middle School
The long arm of Norwegian law enforcement has reached out and grabbed 34-year-old middle school teacher Jeffrey Owens of Syracuse, New York.

He was arrested Wednesday by federal authorities after the Norwegians had turned over evidence that Owens was involved in a child pornography ring. He has been charged with the downloading and possession of child porn. If found guilty he could receive up to 20 years in prison.

The Norwegians indicated that they have turned over additional evidence implicating a number of individuals, so it can be expected that there will be other arrests.

So all you Whack-Jobs out there that get your jollies from looking at kiddie porn, just remember that the knock that comes to your door in the next few days might be from someone you would rather not meet.

Pleasant dreams.

Administrative Buffoonery: Santa Claus Banned From School Dance In New Hampshire

Not PC in NH
Filed from "Owls Nest" near Tamassee, South Carolina.
In a case of political correctism run amok, a school principal ejected a 7th grade boy from a "holiday dance" at Hampton Academy Junior High School because he came
dressed as Santa Claus. Principal Fred Muscara said that the dance was a "Holiday party, not a Christmas party." The good principal went on to say that the school must be sensitive to students that have other religious beliefs.

In a display of typical bureaucratic inconsistency, School Superintendent James Gaylord, of Hampton, gave another reason for kicking the kid out. According to Gaylord, the student was ejected because he violated the dress code. Supposedly, the dance was a "dress up" affair.

The school board has begun asking both administrators a very unsettling question. They would like to know, "Why was the young man expelled from the dance, and then sent home, alone, at night?"

This is the one that angers us here at the 'Wonks the most. If something had happened to that 7th grader....

This episode could have just as easily been placed in our Political Correctism Run Amok Files, but since it did involve a couple of school administrators....

Disgusting Little Creatures Department: Innocent Israeli Mother Murdered By Terrorists

In what is being called by police an act of terrorism, our good friend Hatshepsut is reporting how an innocent Israeli mother of four was murdered outside the entrance of her own home in the Israeli town of Moshav Nehousa by one or more assailants. The malefactor(s) stabbed the 39-year-old woman in the neck, left her to die, and made good their escape.

The body of Ariela Fahima was later discovered by her 10-year-old daughter.

It's well worth your while to take a look at Hatshepsut's posting and the commentary that has taken place in response.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What's Going On Down In Beaumont, Texas?

Filed from "Owls Nest" near Tamassee, South Carolina.
Today's Scandal In Education is all about 27-year-old Ferguson Parker, former band director of Ozen High School in Beaumont, Texas, who was fired for having an improper relationship with one of his 17- year-old students.

According to the Beaumont Enterprise, the student's mother caught the partially nude Parker hiding in her daughter's bedroom closet. The indigent mother then called the police, who took Parker into custody. The cops indicated that Parker was wearing some sort of underwear and his socks. No mention is made of what, if anything, the 17-year-old female was wearing.

The disgraced ex-band director claims that, "Nothing happened," with the student.

Parker has been charged with a felony. If convicted, he could be imprisoned for up to 20 years and pay a $10,000 fine.

As we
reported back in October, the principal of Beaumont's other high school, Pathways Learning Center, made headlines when he authorized the showing of Roger Moore's Fahrenheit 911 to a class without any parental notification.

Is it something in the water? Or is this simply the way things are done down in the Lone Star State?

Political Correctism Run Amok Files: More Idiocy From The ACLU

Defenders Of Liberty--NOT
The ACLU has won another notable victory in its never-ending quest to ensure that we remain free of the evil influences of state sponsored religion. Yes the organization that single handedly defeated the mortal threat to our freedom posed by the Boy Scouts of America, has been successful in its lawsuit to have a threatening nativity scene removed from Balch Elementary School of Norwood, Massachusetts.

Even though the Nativity had been placed in front of the school every year for the last 75 years, a total of four people asshats were unhappy enough to allow the ACLU to advocate on behalf of their desire to be spared from having to look at the family of baby Jesus during this Christmas season.

As part of the settlement extortion agreement, the taxpayer is having to foot the $18,000 legal bills that were incurred by both sides.

Let's all spare a thought or two for these advocates bastards who so zealously fight to defend our rights against predatory nativity scenes.


Update:(12/25) Jay, over at Wizbang! has an excellent piece about the ACLU.

Christmas Card From The EdWonks

Filed from "Owls Nest" near Tamassee, South Carolina.

As you can see from this year's Christmas Card, The EdWonk could use a little something for Christmas.

Mortarboard Tips: The Pirate and DeoDuce

EdWonk Does Some Moonlighting.

Astronomy Lesson

Heavenly Show
Filed from "Owls Nest" near Tamassee, South Carolina.

Pandora, over at Siren's Song, is alerting us to a celestial event that will not occur again until the year 2016. In the pre-dawn sky, one can easily see all 5 planets that are visible without the use of telescopes or binoculars. Being interested in astronomy, I saw the show myself just after we arrived. What I appreciated most was the ease of viewing the usually-difficult-to-see planet Mercury. Pandora's site has the
easy to follow instructions for viewing this rare event, and she even guides you to a sky-chart to make it easier.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Possible Solution To The Iranian Crisis

The Key To Success
The New York Times is reporting that Iran will continue preparing uranium for enrichment despite a recent pledge to stop the activity. It is said that the Iranians are using a loophole in the agreement to continue producing these substances. The United States government has become increasingly concerned that the Iranians are enriching uranium for the purpose of constructing nuclear weapons. The possession of nuclear weapons by an Iranian regime such as the one currently in power would be viewed by many as a direct threat to the stability of the region.

At times, The United Nations has threatened the mullahs in Tehran with sanctions if they do not cease their nefarious activities. And every time the Iranians pledge to stop producing weapons-applicable materials. However, these promises have proven to be no more than "lip service" because invariably additional clandestine activity is detected.

Even worse, the Iranians need not fear that any sanctions will be levied by the nearly impotent United Nations. This is due to the fact that China has indicated that it will veto any such sanction that may be proposed in the Security Council. Once more, The United Nations is either unwilling or unable to effectively address the crisis.

Which means that the United States will yet again have to lead the way.

Some are advocating a military solution that would involve the use of either American or Israeli air assets to destroy Iranian research facilities. This is what the Israelis did when they effectively eliminated Saddam Hussein's weapons development program with the destruction of the nuclear reactor code-named Osiraq in June 1981.

However, I would advocate a different strategy in order to pressure the Iranians to comply with various agreements aimed at the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. This particular strategy poses little or no risk to American military personnel, and almost all assets needed to do the job are already in place, or in reasonably close proximity to the theater of operations.

The tactic that might prove highly productive in bringing the mullahs to heel would be that of a classic naval blockade imposed on all merchant vessels attempting to use Iranian ports. This blockade would extend to all exports as well as the importation of non-food items.

Iran is a nation that is highly dependent upon the exportation of petroleum for revenues. Likewise, they rely upon the importation of a variety of staple items and manufactured goods. Nearly all oil exports and most imports pass through Iranian ports. Even though (in theory) manufactured goods could be smuggled across Iran's land borders, in practice the amount of goods delivered could not hope to meet their requirements.

For humanitarian reasons, shipments of foodstuffs could be allowed through the blockade, but only after thorough inspection by United States naval personnel of both the vessel and its cargo. The costs of such food shipments could be charged against an account that would be payable after the lifting of the blockade and the resumption of exports.

Certainly, the international petroleum markets would undergo a major disruption. This would be the time for us to insist that countries that are supposedly our allies temporarily increase their crude oil production in order to reduce the impact caused by the severe reduction in Iranian oil exports.

It is likely that the Iranian government would be subjected to mounting domestic pressure to lift the blockade. This pressure would be brought to bear by a population that seems to have little desire to tolerate even more deprivations due to the mullahs desire to have an atomic bomb. As the cost of manufactured (especially luxury) goods rises, (due to shortages caused by the cutting-off of imports) so too would the pressure from the populace on the regime increase. Finally, in an act of self-preservation, the regime would give-in to this pressure and comply with its obligations.

Effective naval blockades have a long record of success. Most know that the Federal blockade of southern ports helped effectively end the American Civil War. The British Navy's blockade of Germany during the first World War proved to be decisive in bringing that bloody conflict to a conclusion. And we cannot forget President Kennedy's blockade of Castro's Cuba in 1962 that helped stop the use of that island nation as a platform for the staging of nuclear-armed missiles pointed at the United States.

There are no easy solutions to the problems that are presented by Iran's refusal to meaningfully honor its commitments towards the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, if the United States fails to deter the radical Iranian theocracy in its quest to develop nuclear weapons, it will have long-ranging negative consequences to world peace. The price of any action that is contemplated will be high. The price of continued inaction would almost certainly prove disastrous.

Is This New York's Idea Of Justice?

Filed from "Owls Nest" near Tamassee, South Carolina

Today's New York Post is reporting that two Administrative staffers have been suspended without pay for having numerous sexual encounters with several different female high school students (some as young as 17) at a New York City public high school. Most of the trysts occurred while school was in session.

Aaron Stroud, age 22, and Fitz Coy, age 25, were both employed at Lehman High School, which is located in the Bronx. It is alleged that the men would take turns being "look outs" while one or the other would take girls into a generator room in order to have sex with them. The incidents have been occurring for about a year.

Apparently, Stroud was trying to pressure a 16-year-old girl into having sex with him. This girl says that she had been pinned to a wall (in a stairwell) by Stroud when another student walked in on them.

A school is a small place, and like most "closed communities," gossip runs rampant. So tales of these predators were soon making the rounds. According to The Post, someone reported one or more of these incidences to the school's principal, and the whole sickening story began to come out. The girls are saying that they were intimidated by the two administrators.

What we here at the 'Wonks would like to know is why haven't these two been arrested, booked, and put into jail? These two individuals were entrusted with the sons and daughters of the community. And the only thing that has happened to these malefactors thus far is that they are "suspended without pay."

The local District Attorney should be ashamed of him or her self.

Extra Credit Opportunity: Watcher Of Weasels Writing Contest

The Watcher's Council
Filed from "Owls Nest" near Tamassee, South Carolina.

Each and every week, Watcher Of Weasels sponsors a writing contest in which bloggers are invited to nominate their own posts for consideration by The Watcher's Council.

The Watcher's Council is a jury of 12 Bloggers (and Watcher) that evaluate a slate of entries and vote for those that are considered the most link-worthy. This is an excellent opportunity for writers to have their posts read by a large number of their peers.

The competition is fun, free, and easy to enter. The Watcher's step-by-step entry guidelines for those that wish to submit their own posts for consideration may be read here
. The deadline to submit (via email) your entry to the Watcher is Tuesday, December 21, at 8:00 PM (Eastern) 5:00 PM (Pacific) Voting results will be published by Watcher this Friday.

Proofreaders Needed In New York

Filed from Tamassee, South Carolina

The Pirate has an interesting little tidbit about how the New York delegation to the Electoral College couldn't even spell the name of their candidate correctly. We here at the 'Wonks reckon that perhaps the state of New York may be looking for a few good proofreaders. With all due respect to our readers that live in New York, this is embarrassing. Or could this be some evil plot by Hillary, The Countess of Chappaqua?

Extra Credit Opportunity: Bloggers Banquet

Filed from: Tamassee, South Carolina

Just about everybody likes to earn a little extra credit. It's how we learn new concepts, broaden our horizons, and deepen our understanding, as it were. Here's a small sampling of a variety of stories that I have come across in the last 24 hours. All of these address different issues that are currently in the news and are on the mind of many during this season of sharp, short, and cold days.

The pieces are written in a variety of styles, and all convey a certain meaning intended by the author. Pick and choose, if you will, a little of this, and a little of that. Think of this opportunity as a "Bloggers Banquet."

The folks over at The MUSC Tiger very poignantly show us the
reason for the season, and how some things never change.

Meanwhile, Hyscience reports that Iraqi Christians are
being pressured to cancel Christmas celebrations altogether.

Digger has an
excellent piece about a man in California (with a proven record for success) that is actually in a position to do something to help curtail the massive invasion of illegal immigrants that has been underway in California for decades.

David Anderson's In Search Of Utopia shows us males
one of the fantastic benefits of living and working in Costa Rica.

Tony Iovino's A Red Mind In A Blue State is on top of
a developing scandal involving the nearly untouchable teacher's union in Long Island, New York. (I can affirm that teachers unions are basically anti-democratic organizations that have little accountability to their membership.)

Scholars that trackback to this Extra Credit Opportunity will be read, and very likely published, in our next anthology of excellent work from around academia.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Advice About Traveling By Car

Autumn In The Hills
Filed From Tamassee, South Carolina

When you've driven across the country as many times as we have, you pick up a few tidbits about long-distance travel by car. Some are common sense, and others are only learned from experience.

  • When you see those deer grazing by the side of the highway in Louisiana, you think about how pretty they are until you imagine one coming over the hood of your car. You then look at them in an altogether different fashion. The same goes for moose, elk, and antelope.
  • Last June, there were 1253 potholes in the east-bound lanes of I-10/20 in Texas. There are now exactly 1721 as of December 19th. We know the numbers, because we have hit every single one of them.
  • It is counter-productive to argue with 18 wheelers.
  • It is also counter-productive to stare at the women traveling with the drivers of 18 wheelers. (Unless the driver is also a woman, in which case it becomes the plot of an adult film.)
  • Check that the stall you are about to use has toilet paper before "dropping anchor."
  • Insure that your wallet is in your back-pocket when you are finished.
  • While dramatic, very little damage results from colliding with a tumbleweed at high-speed.
  • The Georgia Highway Patrol lives up to its reputation.
  • Any sort of Canadian cop is universally helpful, but their customs officers are idiots.
  • It is wise to let one's spouse know that any speeding tickets are their responsibility.
  • You will end-up paying their ticket(s) anyway.
  • No matter where you are, or how deserted the road appears to be, another car will always come along at the wrong moment.
  • Fuel gauges have been known to lie.
  • Forget using AAA for anything unless your problem is a flat tire, dead battery, or lack of fuel. (See above.)
  • Don't cancel AAA, as the discounts are legitimate. Even if you don't have AAA membership, most motels will accept your explanation of leaving the card on your dresser.
  • When traveling with kids, attempting to appease them with bribes in order to foster good behavior is a useless endeavor. Credible threats of bodily injury may work, but there are certain legal issues to consider. (These vary from state to state.)
  • In New Hampshire, only children in the front seat are required to wear seat belts. Their state's motto is "Live Free or Die," and they believe it.
  • California has more unnecessary traffic lights and four-way stop signs than all other states put together.
  • If you run that four-way stop sign in the middle of the California desert, there will be a cop hiding somewhere nearby.
  • Female cops give no quarter. This seems to be true everywhere.

And always remember, when your car quits 20 miles south of Nowhere, Nevada, and won't start again, beating it repeatedly on the hood is not going to get it to change its mind and suddenly start. But it will make you feel better. Until you realize how much it's going to cost to fix both the engine and the hood.

Update:(12/21) On a related note, The Pirate is giving some advice that may be of interest to those that work in retail during this holiday season.

The Watcher's Council Has A Seat Up For Grabs!

The Watcher's Council
Watcher of Weasels sponsors a weekly contest in order to find the most link-worthy pieces of writing around. The group that evaluates submitted posts is a 12 member jury (plus Watcher) that is known as The Watcher's Council.

At the present moment, The Council has ONE open seat. The Watcher invites those bloggers that are interested in joining the Council to submit their application. For more information as well as application guidelines, please click here.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Go East Young Wonks

It's that time again. Each Christmas and summer, we travel from the WonksHome West, through Yuma, Tucson, El Paso, Van Horn, Abilene, Dallas, Shreveport, Jackson, Birmingham, Atlanta, and finally, Tamassee, South Carolina. The WonksHome East is exactly 2164 miles away from our start-point, and is located on a lake in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The WonkFamily should be departing about 9:30 AM this morning.

Weather, health, and machinery permitting, the Wonks will be on the road for 36 hours straight, as we make the trans-continental passage for the 24th and 25th time. We travel nonstop as fast as steel, rubber, and gasoline will decently carry us. We only halt for food, and to fill and drain the various tanks.

Even though we have flown several times, for some reason that defies convention and all logic, the WonkWife and myself prefer to drive across the country. And the Christmas trip is so very pretty, with the whole country lit-up with festive decorations.

We think of the WonkHome East as a kind of hideaway nook. It's a place to recharge our batteries, and (during Christmas) engage in abundant juvenile behavior i.e. the "shooting off" of lots of fireworks. And South Carolina fireworks are neither safe, nor sane. But they are enormous fun. There will be several gigantic bonfires lighting up the night forest. And our daughter gets an opportunity to "catch-up" with her eastern friends.

I always hope that the journey does not turn into a real-life version of
National Lampoon's Vacation. On the open road, surprises usually aren't pleasant.

God willing, I hope to have an update soon after our arrival.

Administrative Buffoonery: Pencil Sharpeners Considered Lethal Weapons

Lethal Weapon?
From the same idiotic mindset that arrests little girls for having scissors in their backpacks, we bring you a British version. In the English town of Manchester, pencil sharpeners have been banned at elementary schools after one enterprising youth malefactor took one to pieces and used the tiny blades to attack another child.

According to the story, the assailant was given two days of suspension from classes and has returned to school.

The story reports that the good people of Manchester were supportive of the decision to remove the offending pencil sharpeners.