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Winners Walk



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I just got back from a quick D.C. trip to speak at the Cardinal Newman Society’s annual convention and let me just say it’s nice to feel like you own that town. Much different place than when I lived there during the Clinton years.

Computers in Class



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Another reader points out that students “may be on a computer or learning from a teacher, but they can’t do both at the same time”.

There’s a lot of truth in that.

None of this is to say that computers don’t belong in school. They do, but on the syllabus (learning to use a computer is, obviously, an essential skill these days), not as a substitute for teachers.

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Read This



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Another reader writes to say that the discussion over computers in the classroom brings to mind another question about school funding.

“What…difference does it make whether your textbooks (except maybe in science and history perhaps) are new or 50 years old? “Huck Finn” has not changed — ever. A poor student in Appalachia or a rich one in Beverly Hills can still experience the richness of the story no matter how new the copy. The
key is a good teacher.”

Web Briefing: September 22, 2014

Calculate That



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A teacher based in Georgia writes with one explanation as to why computers may be proving so ineffective a teaching device:

” Teachers are incompetent in using them…At best, you have a few teachers who use them for drill-and practice programs. For the most part, they remain a game-playing reward for good students, or remain turned off”.


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As Years Go By



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Marianne Faithfull is appearing in concert in Seattle next month. An ad for the show in Seattle Weekly announces that her new album “smells not of roses, but of stale perfume, spilt gin and sex”. I’m all for reveling in a little enjoyable decay, but that just seems, well, a touch depressing.

Calculate This



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The cause of the PC-saturated classroom has become a staple of politicians wanting to pose as education enthusiasts. Perhaps they should check out recent research from Israel on the use of computers in schools. The research, available in the most recent Economic Journal [press release here] appears to show little evidence that the use of computers improved students’ results. If anything, the opposite was true. No surprises there – children don’t need machines. They need teachers that are able to teach. Whether today’s educational establishment would ever allow such shocking behavior to take place is, of course, an entirely different matter.

Misunderestimating Bush



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Excellent piece in the Washington Post about how Democrats and lefty eggheads don’t get George Bush’s appeal. While some might read it as a bity condescending, I think it makes the point that “sophistication” in presidents is wildly overrated succinctly.

Or This....



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Mr. Goldberg
“Writers” such as yourself provide a rich source of flaws that I can
use to illustrate what bad writing looks like for Grade 7 and 8 students
. As for bombing Canada, why not? Two of your “Top Gun” wannabes
killed 4 of our soldiers while supporting your country’s paranoid
rampage in Afghanistan. Not bad for a practice run. I guess our boys
just got in the way while they were “freeloading”. One of the biggest
problems with many Americans is that they spend so much time with their
heads shoved up their arses marvelling at their internal workings that
they fail to notice that there is in fact a world around them. Contrary
to the propaganda that has been shoved down your throats since the day
you were taught to put your hand over your heart is the fact that most
of the rest of the world is not half as impressed with you Americans as
you are with yourselves. A country that still has 35 million people
without any basic health care coverage is nothing to be proud of. A
country with tens of thousands of gun related murder victims and no
political will to restrict ownership of these useless devices is nothing
to be proud of. A country whose “political leaders” have largely turned
their backs on the beautiful and hopeful language of its declaration of
Independance is nothing to be proud of. That writers and “thinkers”
like many in the conservative establishment in the US do not recognize
these fundamental flaws in American society is tragic. Many of us on
the outside can see it plainly. Peter Jennings, like most 12 year boys
in Canada knows more about the US than most Americans do because we
educate our children about the world, not propagandize them about our
own country.

However despite your country’s eagerness to impose military violence on
those states it cannot control, the game is almost lost. America is in
decline and many of you are too addled by a lifetime of propaganda to
see it. So go ahead, knock yourself out. Insult your allies. Create
enemies and then bomb them. Hide in your gated communities from the
monsters created by the very nature of your pathetically superficial
society. Revel in the majesty of your “culture”; cheap beer,
pro-football, Walmart, Britney Speers and handguns! You have no idea
what it is like to live in a normal country.

BTW: Who blew up the Maine?

Sincerely,
just another Canadian wimp
(I probably just need a good invasion)

PS: Now that the US government is photographing and fingerprinting
Canadian citizens of certain racial profiles at the border, I have
suggested to my lawmakers that we institute “stupid” profiling at the
Canadian border. You and your buddy Buchanan might want to get a nice
haircut and a manicure before you come north again.

But Most Are Like This....



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What a splendidly stupid editorial you have penned, and insulting too,
although I must say the insults are easier to accept than the ignorance.

Go to Iraq, and devastate the civilian as you did a deacde ago, kill thousands of innocent civilians, put Saddam in chains, and take the damn oil!

He is no threat to America, or to anyone but his Arab neighbors, who

coincidently also have great supplies of oil to sell.

Go to Iraq and exercise your world bending might, take another injection of war lust steroid, and go for it! It is so very sad, to see a great nation, the nation of Jefferson, come to this. You had better get used to Canadians preaching the truth, because there will be a lot more of it coming your way.

And guess what?

We have oil, and water, and you can’t have it!

Canadians On My Side...



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A surprising number of Canadians are on my side, though certainly not as many as those who want me to eat glass (the Globe and Mail hatchet job hit the Canadian wire service). Here’s a good one:

Jonah,

I could not agree more. As a Canadian who takes pride in the once rich history of this country, characterized by the stoicism of Vimy Ridge, D-Day and Hong Kong, I am appalled by the current tenor taken by the socialist government currently inhabiting Ottawa.

American’s should look closely at Canada, for we are now in the second generation of socialism. Canada’s Liberal government believes that it need not defend itself, and in fact it regards the Canadian Armed Forces (the only unified military in NATO) as lightly armed social workers.

Canadians have lost there sense of history and there sense of right and wrong in the world. Truly too many Canadians think this country is nothing more than the sum total of its social programmes.

There are those who wish to change. The Canadian Alliance (the official opposition) follows the same moral and ideological tenants of the Republican party.

Keep up the good work.


Bloomberg’s Folly, Ctd.



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There are so many reasons to oppose Nurse Bloomberg’s highhanded attempt to ban smoking in NYC bars that it is difficult to know where to begin. The philosophical and financial arguments ought by now to be familiar, but the author of this piece in the New York Observer takes a different approach. He objects on aesthetic grounds:

“To abolish the smoke is to abolish the neon, the grime, the melancholy, the stories, the dirty jokes, the dark, the leers, the brawls, the boors, the spilled drinks, the buybacks, the too-loud laughter, all the nuisances and toxins and charms that get mixed into that cocktail we proudly, even lovingly, call a New York saloon. ”

Beautifully put.

Throwing Stones At The Rock



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The UK’s government has now sent a message to those pesky Gibraltarians: “drop dead” . It’s interesting to read that the man responsible for comments referring to Gibraltar having to improve communications with the “rest of Spain” is Britain’s new ‘minister for Europe’. He will, doubtless, fit in well with his counterparts elsewhere in the EU, an organization that has no room for local democracy, patriotism or, for that matter, that other characteristic of Gibraltar so deeply loathed by Brussels – a sense of history.

Oh, No...The Canadians



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The hate mail is coming in from the Canadians in earnest. Some of it is verbose some of it obscene but little of it is particularly persuasive (though I’ve gotten a shocking amount of positive feedback from Canadians too). But I think this one nicely sums up the bulk of the angry-Canadian arguments :

“One great thing about Canada:
it is not the USA.”

Now, you see. This is my point. There are rougly 200 nations which can say the same thing. Chad and Belize can make these claims too. So what? Canada is the only nation which sees itself as “not America” and that is not a positive vision, needless to say. It’s childish “oh yeah, well what are you!?” argumentation that should be beneath them.

Taking Direction



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In his filmed version of Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg was responsible for a memorable condemnation of totalitarian evil. Times have changed. Earlier this week the director was in Cuba to meet with Castro. According to USA Today the two men discussed “history, politics and the environment”. How nice.

Second Rate



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The Fed cut rates earlier this week, but the ECB, the EU’s new central bank, failed to follow suit. This is bad news – for Germany in particular. A report in a recent edition of The Economist gives some background:

“Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that, if the old Bundesbank were setting interest rates to suit Germany alone, they would now would be below 2% [the ECB's benchmark rate is currently 3.25%]. Worse still, not only is Germany unable to cut interest rates, but the EU’s stability and growth pact [recently denounced, in a rare moment of honesty, by EU president Prodi as "stupid"] also obstructs any fiscal easing. nor can it devalue its currency. Stripped of all its macroeconomic policy weapons, Germany now runs a serious risk of following Japan into deflation.”

A ‘one size fits all’ currency simply does not work. I wonder if Tony Blair could explain again exactly why it is that he wants Britain to join the Euro.

Dada Dissed



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There’s something more than a little totalitarian about the idea of a ‘culture minister’ , which makes it only too appropriate that Kim Howells, the man in London who holds that job is, in fact, a former communist. Still, he deserves at least one cheer for his remarks about the shortlist of ‘artworks’ in the running for Britain’s supposedly prestigious Turner prize. These were described in last week’s London Sunday Times as including “a ceiling of Perspex squares, a description of a pornographic film in pink letters and a giant black block.”

Howells’ comment: If this is the best that British artists can produce then British art is lost. It is cold, mechanical, conceptual bulls***.”

So it is.

Tolerance Watch



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The New York Times has an interesting article this morning on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born refugee now living in Holland. Her views on the emancipation of Muslim women have led her to oppose state-funded multiculturalism. For daring to speak her mind, she has now been subjected to death threats. The whole piece is worth reading, but don’t overlook these two quotes:

The first comes from the author of the article –

“September 11 also gave politicians license to vent brewing animosities. Among them was Pim Fortuyn…”

The writer does go on to explain what Fortuyn stood for, but it’s still a surprise to see his defense of Enlightenment values of tolerance, sexual equality and free debate described as the “venting” of “animosities”.

The second comes from Ali Eddaudi , a Moroccan writer and ‘cleric’ living in the Netherlands. He dismisses “all the fuss” over a Muslim woman who “panders to the Dutch”. Notice the contemptuous way in which Eddaudi refers to the Dutch, notice the hypocrisy in the fact he chooses to live in Holland.

The Canadian Onslaught Begins



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The Globe and Mail comes out of the blocks crying foul. No time to dissect the bad faith of this article, but I think you’ll recognize it pretty quickly.

Speaking of...



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…thanks for the congrats many of you sent, but my query about mall “one hour fetus photo” set-ups is a professional one: just more Internet blegging (John Derbyshire’s word for begging for help in a “blogg” format) for a piece I am working on. Thanks–and do send your thoughts, with “fetus photo” in the subject line.

About Pregnant Women



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A number of people emailed me to ask if Senator Jessica Gavora would actually be the first woman to give birth while in the Senate. Yes, indeed, she will be. Sitting senator Mary Landrieu has a four-year-old daughter, but the young Mary was adopted.

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