Thursday, February 11, 2010

Odds and sods

I normally devote each posting to one topic. But with two feet of snow surrounding Reflecting Light world headquarters and beginning the second week of being unable to get any farther than the curb, your blogger is feeling a fraction scattered. So scattered is what this posting will be.

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Arizona quits Western climate endeavor.

Arizona will no longer participate in a groundbreaking attempt to limit greenhouse-gas emissions across the West, a change in policy by Gov. Jan Brewer that will include a review of all the state's efforts to combat climate change.

Brewer stopped short of pulling Arizona out of the multistate coalition that plans to regulate greenhouse gases starting in 2012. But she made it clear in an executive order that Arizona will not endorse the emission-control plan or any program that could raise costs for consumers and businesses.

Good for my old home state. This is a regional, not a federal, plan, but we will see more of this, states going their own way. And some of them will tell the Beltway Mob to go pound snow. The best way to deal with the Washington beast isn't to try to kill it, but to ignore it.

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Obama report: 95,000 jobs to come each month.

The Obumble administration's economic messages are beginning to resemble those of the Soviet Union, a new five-year plan every five days, fantastical statistics dished out with a straight face. The truth is what they say it is, in other words, pravda.

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Elderly patient was abandoned in a storeroom for two days in a National Health Service hospital.

Confused and in pain, 80-year-old Doris McKeown is kept in a hospital cupboard [what we Yanks call a closet] while she awaits emergency surgery. The pensioner was stored away for 48 hours in a tiny windowless room, with only shelves of hospital supplies for company.

On the door outside was a sign saying 'Dignity in Care'.

Government-run health care may sound good in theory, like so many other quasi-Marxist plans. Somehow, the reality never matches the golden promises. Governments can operate small, very focused endeavors efficiently (e.g., the Manhattan Project). But vast and complex schemes are inevitably beyond the ability of bureaucrats to manage, and end up in the slime of budgetary politics.

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Al-Jazeera invades Canada and threatens America.

The headline is sensationalistic and overblown, but the substance of the story is disturbing.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved a request to add Al-Jazeera English (AJE) to the list of television satellite services for distribution in Canada. Supporters of the Arab government-funded propaganda channel hope that acceptance in Canada will lead to more cable and satellite carriers in the U.S. picking up the incendiary network.

A group called "Canadians for Al-Jazeera" organized public pressure on the CRTC to approve the entry of AJE into the Canadian media market. Although the group's leader, Walied Khogali, is described in news reports as a Canadian, he identifies himself on his Facebook page as a fan of Barack and Michelle Obama, Students for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. He supports "the Red Movement" that mainly acts to protest Israeli policies and promotes the "I love Allah" T-shirt and the "Bush shoe thrower" from Iraq.
Once you accept Muslim immigration, you have to accept everything that goes with it: special prayer rooms and foot baths in public places, hatred of Israel (and often Jews in general), self-segregation, and propaganda TV channels straight from Saudi Arabia, home of the most hard core Islam. These aren't fringe phenomena. They are a central part of the Muslim outlook. It makes no sense to invite Muslims to colonize your country and then try to draw various lines, like prohibiting the burqa. Islam is welcome to its part of the world; it should not be part of the Western world.

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State Department abandons arrested Baptists. So says the unreliable American Spectator. I'll tell you what: I have to look in the back of the basement, behind the boxes for household items and long-forgotten souvenirs of the past, to dig up much sympathy for these American clowns. They were indulging themselves in compassion showmanship and practicing what would be called kidnapping in any civilized country. Depend on it, if the Baptist band had their way, these kids would have been adopted in America. Bad for them; bad for America.

Of course they believed they were doing God's work, rescuing victims. That may be more emotionally appealing than helping Haiti rebuild itself by working within the country, if they so desired and were accepted by Haiti, but it is stupid humanitarianism. Sod them. I hope they spend a few more weeks in jail before they're quite rightly booted out of the country.

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Suspicious test scores widespread in state.
One in five Georgia public schools faces accusations of tampering with student answers on last spring’s state standardized tests, officials said Wednesday, throwing the state’s main academic measure into turmoil.
Well, what do you expect? When school district budgets depend on students' test scores for federal aid, you get a travesty of education. At best, schools will "teach to the test," priming students with whatever they need to know to get good scores. At worst, which if proven is the case here, school bureaucracies will do whatever it takes to fiddle the scores.

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Air India pilots, crew scuffle, leaving cockpit unmanned.

Never fly on the national airline of a country where people believe in reincarnation.

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Arab ambassador discovers bride is bearded and cross-eyed behind veil.

The envoy had only met the woman a few times, during which she had hidden her face behind a niqab, the Gulf News reported.

After the marriage contract was signed, the ambassador attempted to kiss his bride-to-be. It was only then that he discovered her facial hair and eyes.

This comment practically writes itself. I'd bet a considerable sum that if anyone had previously complained to the ambassador about forcing women to wear veils, he would have indignantly defended the practice.

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Avatar, a liberal Bible, recommended for conservatives.

I haven't seen the picture and probably won't; not out of deep principle but because I don't have a lot of time on my hands (except now, when I can't get to a movie theater!) and movies have become ridiculously expensive. Nevertheless, some of the criticism in rightist circles seems to border on hysteria, for instance the note from Yago Campos (see link above). I sent the following comment to Lawrence Auster, which he has not published:

Mr. Campos writes:

"Atheism has to be depressing, because you as a human have no higher value than a dog or whale (or a worm). Which also explains the insane animal rights movement."

Atheism is probably depressing for many of the poor souls who profess it, but that's because it posits an alien universe, the human mind as no more than a computer, and a lack of any higher spiritual meaning. I don't think a lot of atheists lie awake at night feeling worm-like.

Some religions (Buddhism, Jainism) teach compassion for animals, if that's what Mr. Campos means by "animal rights"; others (Islam) do not; Christianity has no theological position and has historically not been very concerned about the well-being of animals. It is unlikely that a God's-eye, worldwide survey would reveal atheists, agnostics, or pro forma believers to be any less caring about animals than the religious or spiritual.

Mr. Campos is probably thinking of PETA when he says "insane." I've never cared for the term "animal rights," because it raises irrelevant questions of where those "rights" come from. But there is a welcome movement to stop animal cruelty in "factory" farming, pit bull fighting, etc. Not because humans have "no higher value" than a dog, a whale, or a worm -- and who is to say whether God the Creator values some species over others? -- but from a recognition that animals are sentient beings who can feel pain, and some of which have emotions (ask any dog or cat owner).

I ... don't find Mr. Campos's other arguments against it convincing.

"In Avatar, the whole world is connected by a biological neural network or some such nonsense, and there is a conscience-like thing that controls the whole nature of the planet. The white human-like beings are capable of communicating with that conscience (i.e. god, Gaia or whatever you may call it)."

I don't know what a biological neural network is, but "a conscience-like thing that controls the whole nature of the planet ... god, Gaia or whatever you may call it," while awkwardly phrased, sounds something like spiritual awareness. What's wrong with that?

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3 comments:

David said...

Rick...you say "When school district budgets depend on students' test scores for federal aid, you get a travesty of education. At best, schools will "teach to the test," priming students with whatever they need to know to get good scores."

It should be possible..especially for basic things like readin', writin', and 'rithmetic..to devise tests on which you can't get a good score unless you've actually learned the material. Absent some form of external audit like a test, the public schools are going to continue focusing on stuff that is politically correct and/or faddish in educational circles.

Rick Darby said...

David,

Testing is good. But, as you say, it should be devised so that it's necessary to actually understand the material, not just be able to summon up a few facts or calculations that the schoolmasters have drilled into their classes so they'll do well.

Tying school budgets or federal aid to scores -- the No Child's Behind Left principle -- almost guarantees that teachers will feel under pressure to use their time and energy to try to ensure high test scores, rather than interact with the students in ways that might arouse their interest and curiosity.

MnMark said...

I see the NYT is blaming the blizzards on global warming.

There's only one level of absurdity left for the global warming alarmists to attain. When it comes out that temperatures are actually declining over time, and a particularly cold spell comes along, we'll hear this:

"The continuing unusual freezing cold temperatures are the result of human-caused global warming, the New York Times reported today. In short: hot is cold.

"In other news: hate is love, weakness is strength, and war is peace."