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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Blog Break


Comment moderation intermittently enabled.

Real life, this time, pleasurable real life, supersedes virtual life!

Warren is coming for a visit — his first visit to Washington, D.C.!

There's too much going on here to work on publishing blog posts. Former blogger TMW and I are readying the house, and Mr. AOW is tidying up his man cave.

Then, once Warren arrives, we're off to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and whatever other attractions we can manage to squeeze into our schedule.

During this blog's hiatus, enjoy Preludes For Piano Book One by Claude Debussy (1862-1918):


List of preludes:

1) Danseuses de Delphes (Dancers of Delphi)
2) Voiles (Veils or Sails) 3:46
3) Le vent dans la plaine (The wind in the plain) 7:47
4) Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (The sounds and fragrances swirl through the evening air) 9:48
5) Les collines d'Anacapri (The hills of Anacapri) 14:26
6) Des pas sur la neige (Footsteps in the snow) 17:44
7) Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest (What the west wind has seen) 23:10
8) La fille aux cheveux de lin (The girl with the flaxen hair) 26:17
9) La sérénade interrompue (The interrupted serenade) 28:57
10) La Cathédrale engloutie (The engulfed cathedral) 31:23
11) La danse de Puck (Puck's dance) 37:39
12) Minstrels 40:36


For detailed information about Debussy and these preludes, go to Musical Musings.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summertime In Washington

Today, here in the Washington, D.C., area, we should all be singing the praises of American capitalism!

One of my Facebook finds:


Read more about Willis Carrier HERE.

Willis Carrier didn't change the weather, but he gave us the means to cope with these hot-as-Hades days.  Long live American ingenuity!

Quotation from 1921 Ford calendar card from the Dave Thomson collection

Once again...Long live American ingenuity!

And long live American capitalism!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

On Days Like This...

...I'm glad that I am not, and never have been, a member of the GOP.

I'm referring to my disgust with the GOP's failure to keep their long-standing promise to repeal (and replace?) ObamaCare — not to Donald J. Trump, Jr.'s emails and his meeting with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Note: please read the second link above, GOP cave on Obamacare repeal is the biggest broken promise in political history, before commenting on the topic.

Monday, July 10, 2017

R.I.P. CNN

They did it to themselves. For example (click directly on the graphic to enlarge it):



CNN has gone from the most trusted name in news to fake news. Therefore:



[hat tip to Infidel Bloggers Alliance for the first graphic in this blog post]

Friday, July 7, 2017

North Korea: Charles Krauthammer's 1994 Predictions

These are the cities Kim Jong-un CAN destroy with nuclear weapons

From O’ say can you see, North Korea’s highest, longest ICBM test yet? (dated July 5, 2017):
While Americans shot off Roman candles for July 4th, North Korea launched an ICBM higher and farther than any of its other 10 missile tests this year.

[...]

...North Korea is also developing a submarine-launched missile, which would not need the range to cross the Pacific.
FLASHBACK TO 1994...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

"The West will never ever be broken"

Image credit

I caught the last ten minutes or so of President Trump's speech today at Krasiński Square, the site of a monument commemorating the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis in Warsaw, Poland.

WOWZER!

What a statement of the importance of national borders and of limited government!

But it was the words I cited in the title of this blog post that jumped out at me:

"The West will never ever be broken."

We no longer have an apologist POTUS. Instead, we have a POTUS who stands strong for the West — and without any mealy-mouthed whimpering about colonialism-based guilt (Zinnism).

Below, I have, more or less, cued up the portion of the speech that made me want to stand up and cheer. Worth your time.


Yes, President Trump uttered the words "radical Islamic terrorism."

Note: the full transcript of the speech is HERE.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Improving Graduation Rates


From Prince George's County, Maryland, comes this story of "earning" a high school diploma the wrong way – that is, making sure that student achievement looks good on paper but without improving the quality of education:

...One [teacher] said he did everything he could this year to help a senior headed toward failure — contacting parents, alerting a counselor and an administrator and referring him to a school intervention team. But little changed, so the teenager got an E — a failing grade — in an English course required for graduation.

A couple weeks later, he said, he spotted the student in a cap and gown, collecting a diploma. How that happened remains a mystery, he said. “It solidified what I’d heard about grades being changed and that administrators will do whatever it takes to make sure they meet their graduation rates,” he said.

At another school, a teacher said two of her seniors this year missed weeks of school, did not do assignments or make up work, and failed her course. But the principal encouraged students and their families to appeal, she said, and their course grades were revised to a C and a D. She was told both graduated.

[...]

At a third high school, an employee with firsthand knowledge said grade-change forms are often signed by the principal but not by teachers. The employee said the forms are often attached to academic “packets” designed to compensate for missed or failed work, but many of the packets are only partly complete.

“I think it’s all a numbers game,” the employee said, alleging that more than 100 students at the school graduated with the help of such changes during the past four years.

Four-year graduation rates in Prince George’s have jumped from 74.1 percent in 2013 to 81.4 percent in 2016...the largest gain for that period of any school system in Maryland....
Read the rest of Some employees in a large Maryland school system see signs of grade tampering, if the Washington Post's subscriber wall will allow you to do so.

By tampering with grades which are supposed to reflect students' achievement, the Prince George's County Public Schools System has denigrated and devalued the high school diplomas for all the students enrolled in the school system!

Of course, educational malpractice is not unique to the Prince George's County Public School system. See Dozens of Atlanta educators falsified tests, state report confirms (2011) and Public school employees who falsify student data are making a mockery of reform efforts (2012) and When Teachers, Not Students, Do The Cheating (2014) – to cite just three articles on the topic.

Lest we think that only public schools engage in such unethical behaviors, I am here to tell you that private schools sometimes cheat.

In fact, at the last private school in which I taught, administrators often overrode teachers' submitted grades so as to put higher grades on the report cards.  The administration's philosophy at the time was that parents shouldn't see C's on their children's report cards because, after all, the parents were paying hefty tuition rates. As a result of this grade cheating on the part of the administration, several other teachers and I resigned at the end of the school term.

There were plenty of applicants to fill the vacancies we created. Mammon triumphs, after all.

Sadly, for especially the last five years, I've been something similar occurring in the homeschooling movement. Most parents now are looking for good grades for their children so that their children look good on paper – never mind the erosion of learning itself.

Is it any wonder that we are seeing a decline in actual education (student learning), particularly in high school and beyond?  Even worse, is it any wonder that we are seeing an overall  decline in student interest in acquiring knowledge?

The state of education in a nutshell (click directly on the graphic to enlarge it):

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Happy Birthday, Land That I Love!


I am posting a few days early for Independence Day 2017 so that readers of this blog will have enough time to enjoy the soaring music of Symphony No. 9 In E Minor (aka "From The New World") by Antonín Dvořák (1841 –1904) and the accompanying images:



For detailed information about the composer and the above piece, please see THIS POSTING at Musical Musings. Those of you familiar with the song "Goin' Home" you may be surprised to learn the following:
[Dvořák] composed the Symphony No. 9 in 1893, and while American music inspired him, he did not use any American melodies in the work. He wrote in the American style of pentatonic scale use and did it so well that for a long time many put the cart before the horse, especially in regards to the melody from the 2nd movement. A song named "Goin' Home" takes its melody from the symphony, not the other way around. The words were not set to the melody until many years after the symphony had been written.
A detailed discussion of the origins of "Goin' Home," is found HERE.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, USA!



AND HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY 2017 TO ALL WHO STOP BY ALWAYS ON WATCH!


Never forget why we celebrate this day:


The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a resolution earlier in the year which made a formal declaration inevitable. A committee was assembled to draft the formal declaration, to be ready when congress voted on independence. Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which congress would edit to produce the final version. The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The Independence Day of the United States of America is celebrated on July 4, the day Congress approved the wording of the Declaration.

Quotes from signers:

"Believe me, dear Sir: there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America."
Thomas Jefferson

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin

"I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth."
John Adams

"There, I guess King George will be able to read that."
John Hancock

"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right...and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers."
John Adam

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
Thomas Jefferson

"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance."
John Adams

"Equal and exact justice to all men...freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected,these principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us."
Thomas Jefferson

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
Benjamin Franklin

Friday, June 30, 2017

A New First Chair?

(For politics, please scroll down)

An antidote to overdosing on politics:


More information below the fold.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Illegal Immigration And Crime


Despite the fact that many illegal aliens coming to America have good intentions and flee here for a better life and sometimes for their very survival, the fact remains that many illegal aliens do not have good intentions and, instead, have come here to plunder.

From the Washington Times (dated June 21, 2017):
Nearly 30 percent of the illegal immigrant children the U.S. is holding in its dormitories have ties to criminal gangs, the government revealed Wednesday, suggesting that the Obama-era surge of Central Americans has fed the country’s growing problem with MS-13 and other gangs.

Federal officials refused even to guess at the true scope of the problem, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that they can give only small snapshots of what they see. But they said the devastation on communities across the country is clear: killings and chaos, particularly among other immigrants — both legal and illegal....
Read the rest HERE.

How much the above gang presence impacts you where you are living likely shapes your own views on illegal immigration.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Travel Ban At The SCOTUS: Upheld 9 To 0 For Certain Portions

The United States Supreme Court Building

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've already heard about this June 26, 2017 decision from the Supreme Court of the United States.

Yesterday, President Trump was taking a victory lap on Twitter:

Note this detail of the SCOTUS decision, a detail which might have some far-reaching consequences:
[T]he court concluded that foreigners who have no ties to the U.S. cannot argue, on their own, that constitutional protections apply to them. They're not U.S. citizens, U.S. students or U.S. employees, so the protections established in the Constitution do not apply to them....
Read the rest HERE.

Enforcement of the limited 90-day travel ban may begin as early as Thursday, June 29, 2017.

Now that the SCOTUS has ruled, will the protesters screeching about Trump's travel ban go home?  Not a chance:
...A number of high profile Democrats and migrant rights advocates vowed to continue fighting against the ban.

Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, said Trump’s order remained “an unconstitutional and un-American assault on our country’s religious freedom”.

“Democrats will continue to fight this hatred every step of the way,” he said....
The 21st Century Democratic Party is the Party of Lawlessness.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Breaking Point?

John Kass's modest proposal for the dissolution of Illinois: Carve up the failed state and let the rest of the Midwest have it.
(Ryan Marx)

From the Chicago Tribune comes this satire by John Kass (dated June 20, 2017):
Illinois is like Venezuela now, a fiscally broken state that has lost its will to live, although for the moment, we still have enough toilet paper.

But before we run out of the essentials, let's finally admit that after decade upon decade of taxing and spending and borrowing, Illinois has finally run out of other people's money.

Those "other people" include taxpayers who've abandoned the state. And now Illinois faces doomsday.

[...]

The best thing to do is to break Illinois into pieces right now. Just wipe us off the map. Cut us out of America's heartland and let neighboring states carve us up and take the best chunks for themselves.

The group that will scream the loudest is the state's political class, who did this to us, and the big bond creditors, who are whispering talk of bankruptcy and asset forfeiture to save their own skins.

[...]

The alternative is hell. Illinois hasn't had a state budget for years. The state continues to spend money it doesn't have, and the state's credit ratings have dropped, increasing the cost of borrowing more money we don't have to keep the rotten shebang going....
Read the rest HERE.

Comments are interesting, too; those comments run all along the socio-political spectrum.

One commenter opined:
Between the crooked Madigans, Dalys, and now stubby Rahm...we are being robbed right in our faces daily. We have no checks and balances from the crooked mayor and aldermen because they themselves are paid for.

High crimes from the thug blacks who have daily shooting contests and nothing is done about that. A state that is giving "OUR" money to illegals while REAL Americans struggle to keep their house or apartments, pay their bills, keep food on the tables, oh and BTW keep their jobs and pay. The list goes on but nothing gets done. The Feds know that every politician is corrupt yet they do knowing. For those lucky enough to be able to leave(running) from this shit hole we used to love and sell their homes, the others have to continue enduring this crime. The continued rise in all types of taxes so that they can pocket that money also.
Yes, Kass's essay is satire.

For the moment.

Seriously, though, can a state within the United States go belly up and dissolve?

If a state cannot dissolve, what is such a bankrupt state supposed to do when the breaking point arrives, as it surely will?

Are any other member states of the United States approaching the same financial precipice as that of Illinois? 

And does the nation as a whole have any responsibility to rescue a bankrupt member state?

Additional reading: The man behind the fiscal fiasco in Illinois (Reuters, February 8, 2017) and Could Illinois be the first state to file for bankruptcy? (CBS Money Watch, June 16, 2017).

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Tale Of Two Tweets — And Discussion Of The Senate's 2017 Bill For Healthcare Reform





And what of the most recent healthcare bill, which some have called ObamaCare Lite? According to the Conservative Tribune:
...Both the House and Senate versions of health care reform would get rid of the individual mandate, phase out Medicaid expansion, eliminate Obamacare’s onerous taxes on the wealthy and defund Planned Parenthood for at least one year.

The bills differ in regard to subsidies for purchasing insurance, as well as the rate at which Medicaid expansion would be stopped. The Senate has proposed a more gradual path than the House put forward....
Business Insider offers this detailed rundown of the Senate version, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (as well as the full version of the bill):

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Making Sense Of Social Justice Warriors

(with a hat tip to Infidel Bloggers Alliance)

At last we have an explanation for what ails 21st Century Social Justice Warriors (SJW's)!



The full length video is below the fold. In case you feel that you need to see it. Heh.