Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Another brick in the wall

It took nearly 30 years, but I have finally received vindication for the years I spent as an inmate at Belleville Township High School West:

You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
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Via Mixter, who picked it up from Biomes Blog.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Submitted for your approval: Today's Tennessean article on the latest idea in educating children, a program called "unschooling" that takes the home-schooling concept one step further. The theory behind unschooling is that kids should develop their natural curiosity to learn about the world at their own pace and pursue their own interests, with little or no structure from parents or professional educators:

It's midday on a Friday, and 9-year-old Miyana flips through a book about dragons before her attention turns to making Valentine's Day cards at the kitchen table.

Her sister, Aeyah, 7, across the table, expertly threads a needle and sews a tiny cape for a clothespin superhero.

While other children their age are quietly sitting in a classroom, the Fisher-Miller children have the freedom to pass the time without order and doing as they please in their pursuit of knowledge.

Younger brother Ocea, almost 2, drops marbles into the bell of a trumpet. "He's using it as a funnel," says their mother, Suzanne Fisher-Miller. Brother Khai, 5, plays noisily with two friends, the back door slamming shut as they run in and out.

What may look like bedlam is a radical style of home schooling that the Fisher-Miller parents think is best for their children: unschooling. It's child-directed or child-led learning. Some call it relaxed home schooling. Topics aren't learned until a child expresses curiosity, and they're dropped as soon as the child is ready to move on.

Their curriculum is whatever interests them in life. There are no textbooks in their East Nashville home, nor lesson plans, schedules or tests.

Their parents say this unconventional style of learning shows respect for their children as full human beings who can learn lessons from everyday life.

Children, they feel, don't need to master reading or multiplication tables until they're ready. These families reject the structure of formal schooling that, they say, crushes creativity and curiosity.

I'm not a big fan of homeschooling for two reasons. First, I think children need the socialization experience of school. Second, no matter how educated parents may be, there are bound to be gaps in the parents' knowledge that they can't cover adequately, yet the kids need to know those things. I'm also concerned that a lot of parents are strapped for time as it is, and homeschooling adds one more big job to the list.

I realize that the public schools have their problems, though, and homeschooling and its variants provide a way for concerned parents to have alternatives to what they see as a failed system. I welcome your thoughts on this, presuming that I still have some readers left.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Behind blue eyes

I've been a Who fan from way back, from the time I was seven years old hearing "I Can See For Miles" for the first time on the old plastic Philco radio in my bedroom that made the trip to Greenland with my dad before I was born. And I enjoy an imaginative round of Bush-bashing as much as the next pinko lib. So if you understand where I'm coming from, head over to Welcome To Pottersville and check out this post.

"We're not pawns in any game
We're not tools of bigger men"
-Pete Townshend

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Watch 'em

I've gone ahead and accepted Blue Girl, Red State's invitation to write about Tennessee politics, as well as about a few other places I know, at Watching Those We Chose. (My first post on Tennessee's Congresspeople is here , for those who are interested.)

This opportunity solves a dilemma I've had. Although politics is one of my main interests, and though I've left a lot of comments on political blogs, I never intended for The Hill to be a strictly political blog. The way things turned out, nuts-and-bolts political posts don't seem to work for me here, especially ones focused on Tennessee. Also, I don't have a lot of local readers, nor have I done much to cultivate a local readership. Group blogs also seem to be the best format for political blogging, as people seem to be attracted to them because of various issues, and the more issues you can cover, the more hits you get. More bloggers means more expertise on more issues which leads to more readers.

So from now on I'll post the inside baseball stuff at WTWC, but I'll continue to post issues-oriented topics of general interest at The Hill, along with whatever else that crosses my mind. There will undoubtedly be some things that I'll cross-post as time rolls on. But it's not my ambition to become a high-falutin' big-time political blogger. You folks who come here to The Hill are my favorite folks in the many internets, and I appreciate the interest you've taken in this little ol' blog. I plan on keeping this merry-go-round going first and foremost. Everyone here is invited to check out WTWC and leave their comments. Even you, Jordan.

I also have in recent weeks gained posting privileges at Corrente, although I haven't taken much advantage of it yet. Everything I've posted at Corrente has been cross-posted here, so you guys haven't missed anything. Jordan has also invited me to write a liberal counterpoint or two for his Corn Beltway Boys, which I might do in the future. I just haven't been in the mood for debunking conservative shibboleths lately.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Botched is botched

Back on the eve of Saddam Hussein's execution, I threw up a quick post to mark the event. Nothing special, as I saw little to celebrate in the man's life and career, just a few lines to note a historic moment and another turn of the merry-go-round.

That post drew this comment from Christie (aka Fermicat):

Apparently, someone with a cell phone video camera was there and caught the ugly truth. From what I've read, this was as botched as anything else that has gone on in Iraq.

...followed by this response by Jordan, feeling especially witty:

Botched? He's dead isn't he?

Really, there's not much more to say here, for even cheese-eating surrender monkeys understand that dead is dead.

Until today's trip to the grocery store, where the headline from USA Today hit my face:

Bush: Saddam Hanging Botched

Imagine that.

Straight from the mouth of the Maximum Leader himself:

President Bush on Tuesday criticized the handling of Saddam Hussein's execution, saying it looked like "kind of a revenge killing" that had eroded the American public's faith in the Iraqi government...

...Bush said that while he was "pleased" with the trials received by Saddam and his top aides, he was troubled with the circus atmosphere surrounding Saddam's execution Dec. 30. Cellphone video showed Saddam being taunted as he stood on the gallows.

"I was disappointed and felt like they fumbled the — particularly the Saddam Hussein — execution," Bush said. Bush acknowledged that the way the execution was conducted made it harder for him "to make the case to the American people that this is a government that does want to unify the country."

Sometimes these things just write themselves...

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Then play on

From what I can tell, the new Hill looks a lot like the old Hill. Once I post this, we'll see if the new Hill also works like the old Hill.

I finally got a day off from work today, but Mrs.S. chose to remind me that I promised to paint the back bathroom once I got a chance to do so. The back bathroom is small - kind of like a walk-in closet - so there wasn't a lot of actual painting to do, just lots of tight spaces. This led to more twisting and turning than a 46 year old who has had three back surgeries should do.

While I've got your attention, allow me to point out another fine new blog. Watching Those We Chose is a group of veteran bloggers and commenters associated with Kevin Drum's Political Animal (including occasional Hill visitor Blue Girl, Red State) who have taken on the task of watching and reporting on the deeds and misdeeds of the Congressional delegations of their home states. They're all good folks and they should provide us with a lot of interesting reading on those who allegedly govern us.

Also, for a uniquely female (though not necessarily feminist) take on political matters, go over and check out The Soccer Mom Vote. Our good friend Sonia has signed on as a blogger there and will be adding her distinctly libertarian voice to the mix soon.

Now, if y'all don't mind, I'm going to pop a pain pill and go to bed. There's a reason you don't see many 46 year old contortionists working the midway...

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A new year deserves a new post

2007 is finally upon us, and the start of the new year inspires many of us with thoughts of renewal. I'm not one who's big on New Year's resolutions, but there's a few things I'm trying to keep in mind this year. Read more books. Don't waste as much time mindlessly web-surfing. In general, just get off my ass and be more active.

I guess it's the post-holiday blogger ennui, but I haven't felt much like posting this week. Not that I haven't had a few ideas, but I'm still searching for the right thread to tie them all together with. This also explains why I haven't come around to see a few of my friends in blogdom recently. So I'm looking to spend my spare time the next couple of days in getting caught up, and also doing some tune-up work around The Hill (is it finally time to move to the new Blogger?)

The Doctor prescribes: Bible Study For Atheists, a spinoff of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy. VastLeft's goal is to go through the Bible chapter by chapter as he tries to understand why the Judeo-Christian faith appeals to believers. He claims to have read very little of the Bible prior to this, so you get the perspective of someone reading the Bible stories with a fresh pair of eyes. Despite the title, much of VastLeft's commentary is of interest to believers as well.

Speaking as someone who has read the Good Book from beginning to end, the task before VastLeft is a daunting one. Many of the pivotal events in God's relationship with humankind are separated by pages of dry, boring prose, and a lot of the important stuff (from a Christian perspective) doesn't happen until you're three-fourths of the way through. So should you visit his site, and like what you see, be sure to give VastLeft a word or two of encouragement.