Thursday, June 16, 2005

Grade Inflation

This article in the Seattle Times talks about high schools with a dozen or more valedictorians. This totally dilutes the honor and prestige that being a valedictorian is supposed to bring.

This year's 406-member graduating class at Garfield High School features 44 valedictorians.

That means that if you are not a "valedictorian" you didn't graduate in the top 10% of your class. More than 1 in 10 students went through high school with a 4.0. Has this whole "self esteem is more important that accomplishment" gone so far that a school doesn't see a problem with this?

Part of Garfield's mission under first-year principal Howard is to raise the academic achievement of a broader spectrum of students. Howard said he isn't satisfied with 44 valedictorians.

"I want more," he said. "I want high achievement to be infectious. I want every student here to realize the opportunities that could be waiting for them when they walk out these doors."

Apparently, at least at Garfield High it has. What he doesn't understand is that for those students who haven't been pushed and graded in high school some college tracks are going to be a real wakeup call. With all due respect, most teachers who got an education degree in college have no idea what it looks like in the math/physics/engineering/chemistry departments where a large percentage of the students are legitimate valedictorians or salutorians.

Triumph vs. Michael fans

I am generally not a fan of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog but THIS is funny. Warning to those of you easily offended, the dog's name is the INSULT COMIC DOG.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Feeling sorry for myself

So I was sitting in my family room, half watching NYPD reruns and trying to catch up on some blogs I haven't read in a while. I was feeling sorry for myself because I will be flying on the next two Sundays for business. I work a lot of hours (way too many if you ask my wife) and I travel a lot. It is all just part of my job. But I have a general rule that I don't work on Sundays unless it is my own fault, which happens occasionally but not very often. I work at night, sometimes all night. I usually put in a few hours on most Saturdays and more than a few on some. I don't work on Sundays. Poor me.

I then made the mistake of hitting some milbogs one of which (sorry, I was on rapid fire and don't remember who) pointed me to BlackFive's favorites list. Half an hour and a dozen blogs later and I am kinda pissed at myself. While I sit here on my cozy couch reading blogs on my company owned computer on my high speed wireless Internet access in my air conditioned home petting my little dog who is happily sleeping next to me, these guys are in 115 degree heat half the world away because some politician decided they should be there, away from their families for months on end. Oh, and as though that doesn't sound like fun, they are getting shot at and wondering which car on the side of the road they travel down is rigged to blow up. Most of them don't make what my wife racks up on the credit card every month yet alone my mortgage payment.

So I got to thinking, to whom do I owe a debt of gratitude for doing a job that I haven't or wouldn't do.

Clearly, the folks, including some of my buddies from high school and many of my neighbors and coworkers, who either are or have been in the military. Nobody in my generation has been drafted so most of the ones I know signed up voluntarily. They did so not knowing where they would get sent in times of peace yet alone war. They knowingly put themselves in a position where some President, who hasn't been elected yet so they don't know what party or sanity he will represent, can decide that we are going to war (or Police Action) and they will be put in harms way, whether they think we should be there or not. They do so knowing that they will get crap pay, bad hours, moved hither and yon, and give up many things that they are there to protect for the rest of us, not the least of which is the freedom of political speech. God Bless them every one.

Cops always come up when we think about this topic. My Uncle is one. I wouldn't be able to do his job. Not the part where he might get shot at by some lunatic bank robber, I think I could do that part. The fear of not knowing which driver that you pull over for speeding or a bad tail light is going to take a pot shot at you would bother me but I think I could get through it. Domestic violence calls would send me over the edge of sanity. When I was in high school I was at a buddy's house whose father happened to be a cop. He came home while we were stuffing our faces and watching MTV (which was new at the time). He was in a mood I had never seen him in. Eventually his wife pulled out of him that he had been on a call where they walked in on a guy raping an 18 month old child, his own child. They took the guy in unscathed. I don't think I could do that. I think he would have to die resisting arrest. Thank a cop. They appreciate it.

Firemen. I think I could do that job but I have great respect for people who do. While I think I could do it, walking into a burning building I don't own is somewhat daunting. And they live for days at the fire house. I travel for business but I like being home with the wife and dogs and I am here more than I am not. When I am not I am in a nice hotel somewhere at night calling the wife and dogs not stuffed in a bunk in a concrete building wondering how much sleep I will get before I have to go step into a burning building.

EMT. Most people overlook the folks who ride around in ambulances until they need one. I tried to get a summer job doing this in college but because I wasn't 21 (the minimum age to drive the ambulance where I grew up) I couldn't get into the training. Say a little prayer of thanks for the professionals who will walk into unknown circumstances to save your life for mediocre pay. They see some pretty gruesome things regularly and occasionally walk into very dangerous circumstances, unarmed, to do their job.

Small Farmers. This one is almost always overlooked. Been there, done that, have the T-shirts. I got an education so I didn't have to do it for a living the rest of my life. They work harder than any other group in America, IMO. They do so for a sustenance living if they are lucky. Their work means that we pay a smaller percentage of our income for food than anywhere else in the world. And, to boot, they provide a better product and a wider variety of choices than anywhere else in the world. They are dying breed. Most of their children, like me, are not carrying on that tradition. Corporate farms have taken over. But even there, the farm worker is making beans and working his butt off. Think about that at dinner time.

Family restaurant owners. I love good food and almost everywhere I go the best food is some little hole in the wall joint that is family run and the prices are entirely reasonable. 5 star restaurants are for people who have too much money (or want to act like they do) and want to impress, family restaurants are where people who enjoy food go. They work 6 or 7 days a week, 14+ hours a day to give us that little pleasure.

The guys who actually pave roads and patch potholes. I am not talking about the 15 guys who watch him work. I am talking about the one poor guy on the bottom of the totem pole who actually does the work. I don't mind the cold but I hate the heat. Messing with hot asphalt in the beating summer sun strikes me as a terrible job.

I could go on but I have to make my travel plans and pet my dog and quit feeling sorry for myself.

Get out the tissues, again

Hugh posts an email he received from a chopper pilot in Iraq. Go read the whole thing, then say a prayer that guys like this exist.

More Mark Steyn

I decided to take a break from work this afternoon and do some pleasure reading. I went over to Mark's site and poked around and found some great articles I hadn't read. Some of these have been up for a while so if you've already read them... good for you, I've been busy.

The Chap on Duty is a nice reminder of bad time past for those who are bitching about the state of the world economy at the moment and a very interesting reflection of a time in Britain that most British historians will likely skip over.

In the seventies if you opened The Times (when the print tin ions weren't on strike) or watched the BBC news (when the miners weren't on strike and the government hadn't ordered the TV to close down mid-evening to conserve electricity), it was a parade of eminences from strange, unlovely acronyms such as ASLEF and SOGAT and NATSOPA and NACODS being received by the prime minister as if they were heads of state, which in a sense they were.

Keep scrolling down and at least read the next one entitled "The Marrying Kind". It is both interesting and quite funny.

Two years ago, a judge ruled that he'd laundered thousands of dollars and his church had swindled one and a half million out of Marsha Jones, a one-time South American movie star and Detroit hood's moll who changed her name to Virginia Hill in honor of Bugsy Siegel's squeeze. Poor old Virginia could handle the mobsters but got taken to the cleaners by the Mormons.

Exit Strategy
begins with the following paragraph and just gets "funny if it weren't true" funnier the farther it goes. As big a mess as our government is in I believe the Canadians are way ahead of us.

The Liberal Party of Canada isn't the catchiest name for a Quebec biker gang. On the other hand, it's no more clunkily uncool than, say, the Rock Machine or any of the province's other biker gangs. The Liberal party is certainly a machine and it's proving harder to crack than most rocks, and it's essentially engaged in the same activities as the other biker gangs: the Grits launder money; they enforce a ruthless code of omerta when fainthearted minions threaten to squeal; they threaten to whack their enemies; they keep enough cash on hand in small bills of non-sequential serial numbers to be able to deliver suitcases with a couple hundred grand hither and yon; and they sluice just enough of the folding stuff around law enforcement agencies to be assured of co-operation. The Mounties Musical Ride received $3 million from the Adscam funds, but, alas, the RCMP paperwork relating to this generous subsidy has been, in keeping with time-honoured Liberal book-keeping practices, inadvertently lost.

Disclaimer: If you are easily offended do not click on the next two links. On the other hand, if you have a sense of humor click on one or the other (they go to the same place) only after making any calls of nature that may become urgent while rolling on the floor laughing. You have been warned.

separate but Unequal should have been titled from the first line "How many gays does it take to change a lightbulb?" I know that usually in the print media the author does not title his own piece. I don't know if that is the case with Mark and the Western Standard. The article is a hoot and reminds us that it isn't just the US media that is out of the mainstream.

We need professional help is another analysis of a series of events in Canada and how the press reported them. Worth a read.

when one guy--known to everyone in the neighbourhood as the ne plus ultra of angry white loners--manages to kill four Mounties, that's not a tragedy but an operational fiasco. Or, as my colleague Colby Cosh put it on his website, Canadian policing's greatest tactical clusterf--.


The same day as the killings, I saw a picture in the Montreal Gazette--a fireman bearing a sooty blackened baby from the wreckage of a home in Saskatoon. It--the home and the baby--belonged to Jennifer Bowron and her common-law husband Mike. Newspaper reports seemed unable to establish Mike's last name, and indeed seemed remarkably uncurious about his role in the proceedings. The fire started just before nine on a Thursday morning, and Jennifer and Mike immediately leapt out of a second-storey window. Jennifer went next door to call 911, and her neighbour asked, where were the three kids--aged three, two and six months? I don't know, said Jennifer. They're in the house.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Col. David Hackworth

I often read Col. Hackworth's op-ed pieces. Sometimes I agreed with his point of view and other times I didn't. I always learned something either way. Whatever one thinks of his efforts to reform the military in the last few years you have to admit the following.

1. He was an uber-soldier, respected for his career and accomplishments on the battle field by every military guy I ever heard discuss him. He was a man's man and a soldier's soldier.

2. He was a good and prolific author.

3. All of his reform efforts came from a heart of gold, trying to improve the conditions of our soldiers and their effectiveness.

Catherine O'Neill writes a wonderful eulogy proving that he also appealed to female soldiers as well. It is worth a read.

Col. Hackworth, God speed.

Get out the tissues

If you can read this post by 365 And A Wakeup Call and not get a little teary eyed you should get a heart checkup. Read it and then remember to include the soldiers overseas and all the kids like these in your prayers today.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

flash blogging

I have been out of town and on the road and trying to do that whole "catch up on work" fantasy and unable to blog for a couple of weeks. I have been cataloging interesting things in the news. So here is my flash/speed blogging for the last two weeks.

Professor Bainbridge
on the filibuster compromise.

Colorado Conservative on stupid high school kids threatening the President on paper and even more stupid school administrations on preventing a Marine from wearing his dress blues to his high school graduation. Darren continues with a lawyer in Britain and his 119 day opening statement and Kim Jong-Il and his platform shoes. He finishes up with what goes wrong with nicotine addicts and a bear in the pool.

Anne Bancroft dies at age 73
. All movie lovers lost something that day.

A pizza delivery guy goes above and beyond when he finishes his deliveries before seeking medical attention for being shot!

Wanniski has an interesting take on the Deep Throat story.

There is now actually a Right Wing Conspiracy. Now that I am home I intend to get my membership card this week, just to annoy Hillary :-) If you enjoy annoying liberals go there and get yours.

Hollywood's Denzel Washington made a pseudo-political statement recently. I knew I liked this guy, even if his Oscar came for the wrong film. Anybody who uses his money and fame to make life a little better for injured troops or their families deserves a round of applause and a prayer. This seems like a great cause for any of you who were looking for one to donate to.

Victor Davis Hanson on the waste of money we call the UN, brilliantly argued as always.

Paul Krugman continues to prove that he is either clinically insane or clinically stupid. Does this guy really believe most of America is this dumb?

Walter Williams on one of my PC hot buttons, stupid politicians making the world less safe through idiotic policies for Police and Fire Departments to satisfy affirmative action requirements.

Cool science from cool scientists. This woman manages to get a 2000 year old seed to sprout and become a small tree. The tree is a species believed to be extinct until she pulls off this little trick. Her response to the press is "O.K, I have a date plant," Dr. Solowey said. "If it lives, it will be years before we eat any dates. And that's if it's female. There's a 50-50 chance. And if it's a male, it will just be a curiosity." All good scientists are quick to point out what we don't know.

The Sciavo judge is worse than I would have ever imagined. This is a must read article if the runaway judiciary is an issue for you. It turns out this guy isn't even legally qualified to have run for the job and has a worse overturn record than the 9th Circuit wackos in CA.

Hugh Hewitt asks What about Brett?

Thomas Lipscomb has tried to get answers from the Boston Globe on why they haven't shared a copy of the form 180 that Kerry signed. This is the most complete article on this fiasco that I have seen to date.