Monday, March 31, 2008

Smoke and Mirrors... the title of another Neil Gaiman book I picked up at Borders this weekend. This one is a collection of "Short Stories and Illusions" as the subtitle says. So far, I have read the first three selections, each of which has the virtue of being literary and entertaining, which keeps my nerdy little brain very happy.

The first is a story about an ordinary elderly woman who finds the Holy Grail under an old fur coat at a second hand store, and purchases it, knowing what it is, only because she thinks it would look good on the mantelpiece. Amazingly, her ordinary life, and her apparent determination to live it as such, is no further disturbed when a young knight, complete with shining armor, shows up at her front door, looking for it. Not exactly what one thinks of as a Grail adventure, but Neil Gaiman specializes in the delightfully unexpected.

The volume also contains a rather twisted version of the Santa Claus story, in only 100 words, excluding the title, and a story of a Black Cat who, rather than bringing bad luck, as might be expected, risks his own life to save a family from evil.

Maybe one of these days I'll post some more detailed comments about some of these little gems. In the meantime, I recommend having a read. :)

Word choices

Sometimes what is meant to be angry diplomacy becomes a mere statement of the obvious.

For instance, as far as I know, Baptism is always and by definition a "deliberate" kind of thing. I have yet to hear of one happening by accident, at any rate.

In many cases, as I'm certain many Catholic converts can personally attest, Baptism is occasionally also "provocative" to many outside observers, especially when they have any emotional stake in the status of the person being baptized.

That, as Forrest Gump would say, is all I have to say about that.

Tip of the ruler to: Tito

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Ortanne Laivino! Anwa ortanne Laivino!
Christus surrexit! Surrexit vere!

The Gospels...contain many marvels--peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: "mythical" in their perfect, self-contained significance, and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered history and the primary world... The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man's history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. .... There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. for the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary art, that is, of Creation. ...

It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be "primarily" true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed. ... The joy would have exactly the same quality, if not the same degree,as the joy which the "turn" in a fairy story gives: such joy has the very taste of primary truth. But this story is supreme' and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the lord of angels, and of men--and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.

--J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy Stories

Photo by Aaron

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A post that isn't about homeschooling.

Another fun kitty video, via Crazy Kitties!

You cat lovers out there may have also seen the "Wake Up Call" video by the same comic genius that put this little gem together. If you haven't, go watch it.

Weak, weak weak.

Passing resolutions does not get anything done. It expresses a position, but it does not change the law. It's a way of pandering to voters without actually taking action to change anything.

Now, if we are dealing with a situation of which officials disapprove but can do nothing about, resolutions make sense.

But, in light of certain recent court rulings, legislative action, like say, getting the ball rolling for an amendment to the California Constitution to protect the rights of parents to educate their own children, might be better.

Sending a "please, sir, I'd like some more" signal to the court just doesn't strike the right chord here.

Getting down to business and fixing an obvious shortcoming in the current law would make more sense.

But that's the problem.

Knowing the antics of the California legislature during my residence in said state, I believe that if someone proposed action that would really protect home schooling, it wouldn't get as many votes as a do-nothing resolution.

That's the real catch.

As a body, the California legislature does not want to do anything about this that badly.

Didn't I predict that the legislature would be no help here?

I challenge them to prove me wrong.

Tip of the Ruler to: Tito

Monday, March 10, 2008

Home Schooling: Not just for Conservatives!

My anonymous Oakland commenter from my last post on the recent Home School ruling in California may not know this:

Democrats Homeschool, Too!

The California ruling does not merely apply to "fear-mongering" Christians. It will also effect people who home school for other reasons. While certain people may be rejoicing that Christians who homeschool for religious reasons may now have to send their kids to schools that will undermine the beliefs they are trying to teach their children, they should stop and think before they crow too loud.

By the way, it happens that the cost of living in the Bay area is such that it is especially difficult there to pay both your rent and your credentialed tutor in the same month.

Similar link:
Progressive Homeschoolers of Florida.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

California homschoolers: Time to move!

California's Second District Court of appeals ruled on February 28 that homeschooling is illegal in California for parents without credentials. I have several problems with this:

  1. The state of California does not require private school teachers to have credentials, which means this ruling demands more of homeschooling parents than it does of other private educators.

  2. Not every child benefits from classroom instruction. Some need a level of personal attention that is simply not available , even in the most well-run classroom with the most brilliant of credentialed teachers. Any credentialed teacher worth his or her salt is aware of this--the fact that every child learns differently is repeatedly emphasized in most reputable teaching programs.

  3. Many parents home school because they lack the means to send their children to private institutions, and do not believe the public schools available to them will meet the needs of their children for developmental, academic, or ideological reasons. If this ruling goes into effect, only the wealthy will be able to choose whether their children are publicly or privately educated. Can we say class discrimination?

  4. Home schooling, as it is done in most households I am aware of, is a full time activity for the parents, especially when multiple children are involved.

  5. California does not give lifetime teaching credentials. Every five years, California credential holders must apply to renew their certificates. This requires at least one semester of employment in a school, in addition to the completion of professional development hours. In order to maintain their credentials, homeschooling parents would be forced to spend at least several months every five years outside the home (and therefore unable to spend sufficient time educating their own children) in order to maintain their certification.

  6. Did I mention that credential programs cost massive amounts of time and money? Another difficulty for homeschooling families who make financial sacrifices so one parent can stay home and educate their children. I don't even want to mention how much I had to take out in loans to pay for mine. Let's just say I'm still paying them off, and not even close to being done. Not even by half.

  7. Credentials do not gaurantee quality teachers. Lack of credential does not mean a person has no teaching skills. As G.K. Chesterton so eloquently put it, "There are two kinds of charlatan: the man who is called a charlatan, and the man who really is one. The first is the quack who cures you; the second is the highly qualified person who doesn't."

  8. Education is most beneficial when it is backed up with lessons in self-discipline, hard work, and love of learning at home. Parents, regardless of their own educational level, who do not behave as parents are going to raise ignorant children whether they choose home, public, or private education. I have personally witnessed copious examples of this problem in kids who are taught in all three of these venues.

According to the San Francisco Gate, this ruling has received applause from the California Teacher's Association (CTA) During my days as a (reluctant) member of this illustrious organization, I witnessed in its members displays of unbridled contempt for parents, especially those who home school. In keeping with this pattern, CTA also opposes laws requiring parental consent (or even merely informing parents) before a minor obtains an abortion).

Never mind the sub-prime mortgage crisis. If I were home schooling in California right now, I would leave the state fast if this were not quickly overturned by a higher court, or overruled by legislation.

I wouldn't count on legislation, though. Most of the members of the California legislature are on the same page as the CTA.

I am also forced to wonder if the ruling might have been different if the family concerned chose to homeschool because they found the public system too Christian or too conservative?

In the News:
San Francisco Gate
Los Angeles Times
Sacramento Bee
Fox News
Christianity Today
LifeSite News
California Catholic Daily

In the blogs:
Modern Commentaries
Michelle Malkin

Court opinions:
The opinions for In re RACHEL L. et al. are available to the public at
Read the original opinion in this ruling in PDF format or as a Word document (*.doc). (I may post some more specific responses to this in the near future)

Tip of the ruler to: Amy, Tito