Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 29, 2011

Judge Orders More Spending on New Jersey’s Education-Industrial Complex
"New Jersey spends more money on education than almost any state, resulting in the nation’s highest property taxes (and arguably the highest taxes overall). But to some New Jersey judges, the skyrocketing spending is never enough.
A New Jersey trial judge Tuesday declared unconstitutional the state’s recent attempts to scale back rapidly-rising education spending, “effectively tying Republican Governor Chris Christie’s hands on budget and education reform. Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne ruled that Christie’s budget cuts to school aid left public schools unable to provide a ‘thorough and efficient’ education to New Jersey children.”
In his ruling, “Doyne even wrote that despite the ‘significant increase in spending levels from 2000 to 2008,’ some New Jersey districts are moving even further from adequate proficiency. His solution?” Force the state government to give them even “more money.”
 For the last 30 years, the New Jersey courts have been using the New Jersey State Constitution’s goal of a “thorough and efficient” educational system to force the state to increase education spending in ways that are anything but efficient. They have ordered that school systems in underperforming urban areas (often run by corrupt Democratic political machines) be given extra money — which has led to huge amounts of waste without increasing student achievement."
For the record, Ohio's Constitution says that taxes are to be collected to "secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state."  Could this decision give rise to similar lawsuits in Ohio? 

 China’s CO2 Emissions Confirm Kyoto Critics’ Fears - Greensburg, KS - Kiowa County Signal
"Carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, which is not a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, actually declined by 6 percent in 2009, and are now 8 percent below 2000 levels, according to the EPA.
Global emissions, however, have risen more than 25 percent since 2000, and developing nations accounted for virtually all of the increase. China alone accounted for about half.
“A closer look at global emissions trends show how futile it would be for the U.S to impose economically punitive self-restrictions on carbon dioxide,” James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environmental policy at The Heartland Institute, writes in Forbes magazine.
By 2009, China was the largest emitter, accounting for 24 percent of global emissions, while the United States was responsible for 17 percent. China will likely account for 26 percent when 2010 figures are released, with the U.S. contributing about 15 percent, according to Taylor.
China’s emissions have been increasing by nearly 10 percent a year, and in 2010 probably surpassed the emissions of the entire Western Hemisphere."
And still, there are those who think the best way to save the planet is to punish the United States by shaming us into these punitive protocols and accords. 

New York's Bronx Zoo closes reptile house after cobra disappears | News.com.au
"A poisonous cobra has vanished from an enclosure outside public view at the Bronx Zoo, and its Reptile House remained closed today as a precaution while zoo workers searched for the missing reptile.
While the roughly 50cm-long Egyptian cobra - a highly venomous species of snake - has been unaccounted for since Friday afternoon, zoo officials say they're confident it hasn't gone far and isn't in a public area. Its enclosure was in an isolation area not open to visitors."
Bronx Zoo Cobra Still on the Loose, Now Tweeting -- Daily Intel:
 "As zoo officials continue to look for the Egyptian cobra that somehow escaped on Sunday, the reptile has decided to taunt his would-be captors via Twitter. For example, 'Holding very still in the snake exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is gonna be hilarious!' one tweet reads. Oh, the fun we have on Twitter. [Bronx Zoo's Cobra/Twitter]"
For those who might be wondering how one goes about finding a snake that has "gone missing," you can read expert herper Melissa Kaplan's tips here. 

Having been through this with an AWOL egg-eating snake (which we later found after we moved the stove - apparently she was curled up near the warm pilot light), it's nice to keep these tips handy.  Clearly the Bronx Zoo has been through the searching phase and they've come up empty. I am rather surprised that they are so confident this snake is still confined to the reptile house.  While animal escapes at zoos are extremely rare, they do happen occasionally, almost always when a staff member disregards the strict protocols the zoo has in place. 

AZA accredited zoos, like the Bronx Zoo,  have strict regulations for handling dangerous animals, including venomous snakes.  Ongoing training is required and the zoo is required to hold regular animal escape drills.  These drills include not only securing the animals, but also moving zoo guests to designated safe areas. 

Snakes are tricky because they don't have to eat every day - or even every week.  A snake's metabolism slows down if  it's temp drops (which would happen when the snake left its enclosure and the hot room), so trying to lure this snake out with food will probably not be successful until it's nearly starving, which could take weeks.  

One of the tried and true methods for recovering a lost snake is lining the walls of the suspected hide-out area with plastic grocery bags (snakes will usually travel along the walls and baseboards), then waiting for nightfall.  If and when the snake comes out to show-boat to the other reptiles behind glass in the herp house, the keeper, lying in wait in the dark, can nab the escapee.  A (slower) variation of this is to line the walls with flour or cornstarch.  The creative cobra will leave a trail in the white powder and can then be tracked to his hideout. 

So now you know.

Is Microsoft promoting homeschooling?  Sure seems like it.  Though it's probably unintentional, we'll take it!  Ah, I miss the days when the couch was our classroom!

"Today, the Supreme Court agreed to hear (what I think is) the most important religious-freedom case in 20 years.  The Supreme Court this morning granted cert in Hosanna Tabor Church v. EEOC...
...The question in the case is whether antidiscrimination laws – like, for example, the Americans with Disabilities Act – allow courts to review hiring-and-firing decisions involving “ministerial employees.”  In this particular case, a lower federal court had ruled that parochial-school teachers who teach primarily secular subjects are not “ministerial employees”, and therefore are covered by the Act.
...The Supreme Court should reverse this decision.  Although there are many difficult questions to be asked, and many fine lines to be drawn, when it comes to interpreting and applying the First Amendment’s religious-freedom guarantees, it cannot be the role of secular government to second-guess the decisions of religious communities and institutions about who should be their ministers, leaders, and teachers, any more than they should review their decisions about the content of religious doctrines."

Ayn Rand's classic apologetic on capitalism and laissez-faire government, Atlas Shrugged, has now been turned into a movie of the same name.  It will make its debut in a limited number of theaters on April 15th (tax day!).  Seems like showing it in union battleground states like Ohio and Wisconsin would have been a good marketing strategy, but they're not on the list.  We may have to wait for the DVD.  

Morton Blackwell from the Leadership Institute describes Atlas Shrugged this way:
 "It is one of the most devastating critiques ever written of big government and the liberal media.  Rand's moral indignation is contagious; after reading her, most readers are forever immune to the enticements of socialism.
It must also be said, however, that the militantly atheistic Rand had an unrealistic view of human nature and little appreciation for cultural values.  Most people, however mesmerized by her they may be in their youth, outgrow Rand's philosophy, which Burke might have described as a theoretical construct rather than an application of the accumulated wisdom of mankind.
After reading Atlas Shrugged, read also The Fatal Conceit, by F.A. Hayek.  Hayek once told me, 'I am not religious, but I have a great respect for religion.'  Hayek, along with Burke, who was a Christian, possessed an understanding of human nature much deeper and more realistic than Ayn Rand's."
Watch the trailer:

The antidote, of course, to Rand's hopeless atheism, is the gospel.  This animation of the story of the Prodigal Son (from Luke 15) is a beautiful expression of God's love and forgiveness (HT: Sola Sisters).



Yahooguntu said...

Everyone knows that the quality of your teaching is directly linked to the quality of your slide transitions!

Paula said...

And the quality of your couch!