Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Different Kind of "Red State"

As a general rule, I love the concept of a "Red State." I wish I lived in one. Alas, I live in New Jersey, which has the reputation of being the bluest of blue states, but may have a secret red heartland.

From Wikipedia:

"The terms "red states" and "blue states" came into use in 2000 to refer to those states of the United States whose residents predominantly vote for the Republican Party or Democratic Party presidential candidates, respectively. A blue state tends to vote for the Democratic Party, and a red state tends to vote for the Republican Party, although the colors were often reversed or different colors used before the 2000 election. 

According to The Washington Post, the terms were coined by television journalist Tim Russert during his televised coverage of the 2000 presidential election[1]; that was not the first election during which the news media used colored maps to graphically depict voter preferences in the various states, but it was the first time a standard color scheme took hold. Since 2000, usage of the term has been expanded to differentiate between states being perceived as liberal and those perceived as conservative.

This unofficial system of political colors used in the United States is the reverse of that in most other long-established democracies, where blue represents right-wing and conservative parties, while red represents left-wing and socialist parties."

HSLDA provides a state map for members that enables them to see at a glance which states are friendly to homeschooling, using color coding  not unlike the Homeland Security threat assessment chart above. On this map, Red States are BAD.

States with little or no regulation, like New Jersey, are green.  States that have low regulation, like Montana, are colored yellow.  Moderately regulated states, like Virginia, are colored orange.  And the deadly six Red states are all in the Northeast except North Dakota: New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. This is the only reason I have resisted moving to Pennsylvania over the years.

New Jersey, which has a regulation covering every other facet of human existence, is one of the most homeschool friendly states in the US.  If you can stand the property taxes, the high car insurance, business regulations, congestion, and corruption, it is a great place to homeschool.

Then there is New Hampshire.

With a reputation for fiercely independent thinking and its "Live Free or Die" state motto, one would not expect HSLDA to feel the need to raise New Hampshire's status to a dreaded "Red State".  It isn't that its homeschooling laws are "inherently unfriendly", but rather that the last four years have seen increasing hostility in the legislature.  While other states are tending toward reduced regulation of homeschoolers, New Hampshire has made several attempts to increase homeschool regulations. The Department of Education in NH has also tried to implement new restrictions, some of which were in conflict with current state laws.

Then there is that judge in New Hampshire who last year ordered 10 year old Amanda Kurowski to attend public school  because her Christian beliefs were deemed a bit "too rigid" and that it was in her best interests to be exposed to other beliefs and experiences.

"Red State" indeed.  This last one is a precedent that cannot be allowed to stand. The ramifications for Christian homeschoolers in other states are enormous.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Say it ain't so: Law & Order Ends after 20 seasons

The first time that familiar "BOM bom" was heard at the beginning of a Law and Order episode, I was just starting my first year of homeschooling my firstborn, didn't know I was about to conceive a second child, and was adjusting to being a first time homeowner.  George Bush was president.

George Bush the first.  It was September of 1990.

I didn't actually watch the show until some years later when we discovered it in syndication. But I have seen every episode at least once, and others I have seen many times.  The "...police who investigate crime" were Mike Logan and Max Greevey, under the able supervision of Capt. Don Cragen.   Adam Schiff, Ben Stone, and Paul Robinette (who is now a defense lawyer) were "...the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders."

BOM bom.

Law and Order has been on TV for my son's entire life.  And it has been a constant in our life as a family, a favorite that we often watched during dinner.  The only thing that has been with us longer is our 1990 Honda Civic Wagon. Law and Order was there before Desert Storm,  before Monica Lewinsky, before Oklahoma City or Columbine, before 9/11, before the European Union had a single currency, before Homeland Security, before Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control, before Y2K, Iraq, or the Patriot Act.

Before any of our parents died, before Aunt Nita moved to New Jersey with us, before we bought our current home, before braces, before proms, before Calvary Chapel, before Homeland Security, before Pokemon, before internet marketing.

BOM bom.

While we watched,  Stone quit, Cragen went to SVU, Claire died and became Jordan Cavanaugh, Logan was exiled to Staten Island and became Mr. Big,  Jamie left 007 to become an ADA, Lenny died, Van Buren got cancer, Robinette became a defense lawyer, D.A. Arthur Branch left and ran for President, and Jack became a spokesperson for TD Waterhouse.

In an odd sort of way it serves the same purpose as the tinny Top 40 AM radio stations did when I was growing up: it's like the background music for my life. Now more than ever. There is an episode airing somewhere on some channel every hour of every day.

And so I will be there tonight, watching live.  We all will. Even though we have several DVRs.  Even though I have a lot of other things to do. We have to. It's the end of an era.

BOM bom.

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 23rd is World Turtle Day

I found this picture on Digg about a year ago, and I loved the turtle's attitude, so I saved it.  As luck would have it, Sunday is World Turtle Day, which provides the perfect excuse to trot it out and enjoy this adorable turtle again.

World Turtle Day was first celebrated in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue, a rescue organization specializing in tortoises and turtles that started in 1990 in Malibu.  May 23rd is recognized worldwide as World Turtle Day, except in Hawaii, where it is known as Sea Turtle Day.

There are more than 2 million pet turtles in the United States, making them far and away the most popular reptile owned as a pet. Unfortunately, they are not so easy to care for, and many of them die because their owners do not care for them properly. I had several turtles when I was a little girl, of the same general type as the little guy in the photo. They didn't last very long, not because I deliberately mistreated them, but because I didn't have a clue how to take care of them.  I did know they enjoyed lettuce

I also didn't know they carry Salmonella that can be passed to humans. Ugh.

Anyway, there are a number of events and activities pertaining to World Turtle Day that will be informative and enjoyable for homeschooled students - indeed, any student or any person who cares about turtles and wants to know more about the challenges they face to survive.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lost In The Translation

Welcome to my 1500th subscriber!  Thanks so much for your support!

I have been in the process of moving some of my email from an old address to one I check every day, and eliminating subscriptions to newsletters I no longer read, etc. Today in my inbox was an invitation from my old internet marketing friend, Beth Schmillen, to "stumble" a website called "Lost in Translation."

As a linguistics minor, I have never lost my love of the mechanics of language, or my fascination with the relationship between biology and the human ability to speak different languages. As an internet marketer who has many team members from other countries, I have struggled for years trying to make use of inadequate translation software trying to communicate the language of my industry. Let's face it, network marketing has its own language, and the concepts often are lost in the translation.

Back in the '90s, many of my international team members did not speak English. Now translation software is usually not needed. Most of my international team members speak flawless English - it is mostly the Americans who cannot speak English.

dude hahah u r kiddin me yo i know how to transl8

No doubt.

I wrote about translation software in this space a few years ago in an article called International Trafficking and My 15 Minutes of Fame, which also sports the above screenshot of my blog in Korean!

But this website that Beth sent me is even funnier, because it enables you to enter an English phrase and translate it  back and forth from English to other languages and back - usually giving you a totally incomprehensible version of what you originally entered.

Kind of like the old game "Telephone" we played when I was a kid, where you had a line of kids and whispered something into the ear of each one in turn, and ending up with hilarious results at the end.

For instance,  "what goes up, must come down" became "the iron and steel industry of the increase must consider."  What?

Here's how:

Original English Text:
what goes up, must come down
Translated to Japanese:
上がる何が、来なければな らない
Translated back to English:
Something which rises must come,
Translated to Chinese:
Translated back to English:
The rise matter must come,
Translated to French:
La matière d'élévation doit venir,
Translated back to English:
The matter of rise must come,
Translated to German:
Der Stoff des Anstiegs muss kommen,
Translated back to English:
The material of the rise must come,
Translated to Italian:
Il materiale dell'aumento deve venire,
Translated back to English:
The material of the increase must come,
Translated to Portuguese:
O material do aumento deve vir,
Translated back to English:
The material of the increase must see,
Translated to Spanish:
El material del aumento debe considerar,
Translated back to English:
The material of the increase must consider,
Translated to French:
Le matériel de l'augmentation doit considérer,
Translated back to English:
The hardware of the increase must consider,
Translated to German:
Die Hardware der Zunahme muss betrachten,
Translated back to English:
The hardware of the increase must regard,
Translated to Italian:
Il hardware dell'aumento deve considerare,
Translated back to English:
The hardware of the increase must consider,
Translated to Portuguese:
A ferragem do aumento deve considerar,
Translated back to English:
The ironwork of the increase must consider,
Translated to Spanish:
La industria siderúrgica del aumento debe considerar,
Translated back to English:
The iron and steel industry of the increase must consider,

In all fairness, this translation is powered by the venerable "Babelfish" - which was around in the '90s and has been supplanted by other better translation engines.  But it is still hilarious.  Visit the site and put in your own phrase and see what you come up with.

What has been your experience, if any, with translation software?  Do you have a recommendation?

PS - If you have not spent any time on Stumbleupon, block out a couple of hours because you never know where you will end up.  Very addictive!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Why God Made Moms

 Now here is an email forward worth reposting. If you have kids, or know any kids, this one will make you laugh. Thanks, Duane, for sharing. And Happy Mother's Day to all!

Answers given by 
2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?

1.  She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2.  Mostly to clean the house.
3.  To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?

1.  He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2.  Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3.  God made my mom just the same like he made me.  He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?

1.  God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2.  They had to get their start from men's bones.  Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

1.  We're related.
2.  God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's mom like me.

What kind of a little girl was your mom?

1.  My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2.  I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3.  They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

1.  His last name.
2.  She had to know his background.  Like is he a crook?  Does he get drunk on beer?
3.  Does he make at least $800 a year?  Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?

1.  My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world.  And my mom eats a lot
2.  She got too old to do anything else with him.
3.  My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?

1.  Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2.  Mom.  You can tell by room inspection.  She sees the stuff under the bed.
3.  I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?

1.  Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2.  Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3.  Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.
4.  Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine..

What does your mom do in her spare time?

1.  Mothers don't do spare time.

To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?

1.  On the inside she's already perfect.  Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2.  Diet.  You know, her hair.  I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

1.  She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean.  I'd get rid of that.
2.  I'd make my mom smarter.  Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.
3.  I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Let's Talk About the UNCRC

About a year ago, I wrote in this space (again) about the hazards posed to homeschooling by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  I referred my readers to an excellent article, and received a number of interesting, thoughtful comments.

Now that the Obama administration has conquered healthcare, it has turned its attention to immigration for the time being. But we have been hearing rumblings that a player soon coming up to bat will be our old nemesis, the UNCRC.

One of the comments to my old article was by "Anonymous", who, in a nutshell, felt I was overreacting - but it not that comment that I want to highlight, but my typically long-winded reply to him/her.  It is every bit as relevant today as it was, if not more so.

Anonymous, I am glad that you are being open and honest with your children. So am I. But I disagree with your comment "no one who is open and honest with their children, no one who does not try to 'inflict' their ideas and 'beliefs' on their children needs worry about what the UN proposes."

This statement or some variant is usually used by people who are disdainful of Christian parents' insistence on teaching their children about Christ, and feel that they limit their children's experiences by promoting their Christian beliefs, and teaching their children about others' beliefs through the grid of their Christian worldview.
But if I don't believe in Jesus Christ enough to teach my children about Him, then why bother believing?
If my child is in a burning building, I believe he is in grave danger and I am going to use whatever means I have to get him out of there. If I am beating down the door and he opens the door and tells me its ok, the fire is not going to burn him and (insert other belief system) says the fire is not even real, I am still going to try to rescue him from the fire regardless of his beliefs. This is especially true for a young person who has no idea that he is not indestructible. If I actually believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and I believe that my child's soul is in grave danger, that is just as much an objective truth to me as when I see a building on fire. I am going to try to rescue him from that danger regardless of his beliefs.

Let's forget about the religion question for a minute. Should parents of any persuasion be forced to allow their children unrestricted access to any kind of media, or to associate with any person they want to or have any kind of experience they think they want to try? When they are old enough to make these decisions for themselves, they are going to do what they want anyway. But when they are very young, should they have the "right" to watch porn, or go out alone to meet some pedophile they met in an online chat room? Should government be able to override any and every decision of the parent because some government hack decided that it was in the "best interest of the child" or have the child removed from the house even if there is no evidence of wrongdoing?

Since you submitted this comment, the mother of a homeschooled girl in New Hampshire who was academically superior by most every standard, was forced to send her child to school because the judge thought the child was too firm in her belief in Christ. From his perspective this could only happen by indoctrination, like only someone who didn't know any better would believe in Christ.

You may agree with this ruling, but this is a dangerous precedent. One day something you believe may be on trial. 

I have written at some length on the UNCRC, and you can find additional posts here.  I'm sure there are many opinions about this, from homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers, from Christians and non-Christians, from Americans and from others who live in countries who are already signatories on this treaty.  If you will express yourself in a respectful way, your opinion is welcome here!  No flamethrowing, please. If you are fighting mad right now, please calm down before you write. Also, I do not want debate about what I believe (or what you don't believe) about Jesus Christ, but about whether you think the government knows more than you do about how to raise your children. I really do want to be able to publish every comment, so watch your language!

What, if any, has been your experience with this treaty?