Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another "Duh!" Post from NY Times

This article in the NY Times indicates that there is a link in test scores dropping with how many books are read. Well, as we are known to say in my family, "That ought to lock up that Pulitzer prize you've been wanting."

This paragraph caught my eye:
In seeking to detail the consequences of a decline in reading, the study showed that reading appeared to correlate with other academic achievement. In examining the average 2005 math scores of 12th graders who lived in homes with fewer than 10 books, an analysis of federal Education Department statistics found that those students scored much lower than those who lived in homes with more than 100 books. Although some of those results could be attributed to income gaps, Mr. Iyengar noted that students who lived in homes with more than 100 books but whose parents only completed high school scored higher on math tests than those students whose parents held college degrees (and were therefore likely to earn higher incomes) but who lived in homes with fewer than 10 books.

So having parents who read is possibly more important than having parents who have graduated college? It seems to fly in the face of the conventional wisdom that says we should start children in school earlier and keep them longer.

I understand not everyone enjoys reading as much as Philip or me but c'mon folks: pick up a book! Pick up a real book not some Danielle Steele romance or John Grisham "thriller". As far as the 100 books thing I busted that mark on our Library Thing account a long time ago. And I don't count things that we check out at the library. (53 books currently, including books for the kids)

And, as a full disclaimer, I don't consider myself particularly well read. I've never read Beowulf, most of Dickens, or quite a few other "famous" authors. Maybe I'll read those things with my girls, sooner rather than later.

H/T: The Common Room

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mark Steyn's Election Overview

Mark Steyn is always great, and this article summarizing the dilemma facing Republican primary voters is no exception. He also demonstrates how the Republican debate is at least better than the Democrat one. A good read, even if he doesn't even bother to mention Thompson... :(

Huckabee: The False Conservative

Robert Novak sums it up for me today...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Creation Museum Thriving

We had a surprisingly positive article about the Creation Museum in our Cincinnati paper today. Of course, the last paragraph quotes a guy calling us all ignorant liars...

Looks Like We're Winning After All...

NYT - The tone on the Iraq War is shifting...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cohabitation, Divorce Increases Child Abuse

We spotted this article in the Cincinnati Enquirer, but found it online here. One of those common-sense kind of stories that actually is news these days...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Can the Government do it better?

This is a long, thoughtful and well researched article into "universal child care", specifically in connection to childhood obesity. Despite the government run school failures in pretty much everything (achievement tests, social skills, etc.) they want our children younger and younger.

So we're supposed to institutionalize our kids from the age of 3 on up. Is it any wonder kids hate school by the time they're 7?!

And what about a national curriculum for babies? If the thought of some social worker coming to check on your baby's development in "four distinct curriculum headings" doesn't send chills up your spine then I don't know what will.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thompson 2nd in Gallup Nationwide Poll

Check it out on NRO or on RealClearPolitics. Unfortunately, only a handful of states get to choose the party's nominee... And people gripe about the Electoral College...

Creation-Related Post

My Dad emailed this blog post to me the other day. It's worth a look. He references this story from AiG (you'll have to scroll down to #4), discussing some recent visitors to the creation museum: Kentucky State Park Rangers. It seems they've been getting a lot of questions about creation/evolution during tours of the park, so they decided to send a group to the museum to investigate... Sounds like a good idea!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Huckabee leads Giuliani, Thompson in Iowa

He's also gaining ground on Mitt Romney. Check RCP's latest Iowa figures are here. Huckabee is picking up steam nationally as well. Iowa surge, anyone?

(In case you haven't found it already, RealClearPolitics has the best poll data around.)

Fred's Still In It...

Here's a nice sneak peek of an interview with Fred Thompson. He's just so right on all the issues! What is the big problem here?!? Just support him already!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WSJ: Pepper ... and Salt

NRO: Fred is the Man

National Review Online has a great editorial about Fred Thompson today. While he has struggled to keep up with the front runners, Thompson is the only candidate offering real and specific solutions to our most pressing issues. Compare his plans on Social Insecurity and immigration with your candidate's plan--your candidate does have a plan, right? Don't trust our nation's future to a bunch of vaporous promises and wishful thinking. Let's get some real answers, BEFORE the primary. Oh, and he also now has an endorsement from the National Right to Life Committee. Now if we could just get media voices to even mention his name when discussing the election...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cloning a Monkey

Cloning research has taken another important step on the way to a brave new world. Scientists in England have produced dozens on cloned monkey embryos and have extracted stem cells from them, though attempts to implant embryos into female monkeys have not yet yielded a "Dolly."

I am currently reading the tremendous book, The Party of Death, by National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru. This book deals with bioethics in all its forms, from abortion to euthanasia to stem cell research. I will have a review of the book once I finish it.

Ponnuru cuts straight to the heart of these highly charged and confused debates. Whatever the specifics of the debate at hand, Ponnuru cautions us to avoid creating two categories of humans: humans who have value and, therefore, rights and humans who do not. As applied to the stem cell debate, those who support the right to life for all humans must oppose the deliberate destruction of embryos, for whatever reason.

Some key points underlying the stem cell/cloning discussion:

1. Embryos are fully human and fully alive. Their appearance, size, location or level of development do not alter these facts in any way.

2. Harvesting embryonic stem cells from an embryo causes it to die.

3. Embryonic Stem Cell research has little chance of curing Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, spinal cord injuries or anything else. Claims made by Ron Reagan and the like are wishful thinking at best and manipulative falsehood at worst.

4. Other kinds of stem cell research are available (adult, cord blood, placental) and are extremely promising. These kinds of research do not involve the death of a human embryo.

This by no means covers all the debate; rather, these points should be a starting place for those who wish to respect the right of all humans to live. No matter how "complicated" and confused the issues get as we slide down the slippery slope, let us never lose sight of the line between life and death.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Human Rights vs. Animal Rights

My Dad found this insightful column in his local newspaper.

Clinton No Thatcher

Peggy Noonan writes an excellent compare-and-contrast of Hillary and Thatcher.

Book Review: Why Men Hate Church

Travis, of Oxgoad fame, has posted an article I wrote after reading Why Men Hate Church. I thought it would fit in better over at his site. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Interesting (and Creepy) Video on Scientology

This YouTube video is from the UK and features hidden-camera journalism...

France: Our Friends Again

I guess we can officially like France again. Their new conservative (for France, at least) president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has embarked on a campaign to be friends. This story has some amusing pictures of Sarkozy and Bush chumming it up. This new era of good relations will come in handy when the time comes to finally deal with Iran (which is currently churning out enriched nuclear material...). At any rate, it's nice to have a few more friends around (and we didn't even have to elect John Kerry to do it)!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Great Book on Capitalism

Even if you think you understand capitalism, you need to read The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism by Dr. Robert P. Murphy. This book shatters nearly every politically correct, but wrong, theory of how the economy works, and explains how pure laissez-faire regulation-free capitalism could benefit everyone. Murphy shows how government involvement in economic matters is universally harmful, and his defense of absolute property rights is powerful and refreshing.

The book covers a wide variety of topics, from how Roosevelt actually made the Great Depression worse to why paying CEOs the big bucks is good and why unions are bad. Murphy's solution to overfishing? Allow someone to own the water (fisheries are never overfished). Want to stop poaching elephants in the Serengeti? Allow the land and animals to be owned (cow-poaching is virtually non-existent). Want to end inflation? Disband the Federal Reserve and tie our currency back to gold. Murphy defends "robber-barons" (Rockefeller donated about $550 million to charity back when that was a LOT of money), free trade and outsourcing. He argues that capitalism defeats racism and improves the environment. Reading this book will give you a much better understanding of economics (and better at recognizing when politicians are bending the truth or just flat-out wrong). And I just love the picture on the cover. Get this book today!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Clinton Blocking Over 3 Million Documents

Quote from the Newsweek article:

In a letter last year responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative group Judicial Watch, Melissa Walker, supervisory archivist of the Clinton Presidential Library, wrote that archivists had identified 3,022,030 still-unreleased health-care documents, along with 2,884 e-mails and 1,021 photos covered by the group's request. Archives officials at the Clinton library have yet to process the Judicial Watch request or release the several million pages of task-force documents, including many key internal memos written by Mrs. Clinton and her advisers about how to restructure the health-care industry. This prompted the group to file a new lawsuit last week demanding their immediate disclosure.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Hillary simply cannot afford for people to know what she really thinks about health-care or anything else. Liberals don't win national elections; only candidates who are conservative or who pretend to be have a shot. Wonder why that is...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Baby Defies the Doctors...and his Mother

This story has stirred up some conflicting emotions in me. On the one hand you have a heart-warming story of a baby boy who refused to give up and who has defied his mother's doctors' predictions. On the other hand you have a mother who fully participated in trying to kill him because it would be the "kinder" thing to do and the "best" thing for him.

This is just another instance of the doctors getting it completely wrong and distraught parents going along with the supposed experts. One is forced to wonder how often parents are told that their children have no chance to live and how often parents believe it.

I can't imagine how it must feel to be told one of your babies will die and that his death may cause your other child to die as well. I want to believe that I would leave that in God's hands or "risk them both" in Mrs. Jones' words (the mother in the case linked above). This is just another story demonstrating God's grace we can never deserve. Neither the doctors nor the parents deserve this happy ending but God blessed them with little Gabriel anyway.

Maybe God will use the story of Gabriel Jones to caution us that even the experts don't always (or ever!) know what the future holds.

Friday, November 2, 2007

When Liberal Ideas Collide: The Flexcar Tax

I heard this story on NPR yesterday (I listen only for the entertainment value...), and it highlights a very interesting collision of liberal causes. This story from the Seattle Times also has some information. Anyway, here is the gist of it:

Oregonians just love Mother Earth...and taxes. But an interesting question to ask is, which does the big Oregon government like more, protecting the planet or collecting tax money? The answer comes in this story about a company called Flexcar. Flexcar is actually a pretty ingenious combination of a taxicab and a rental car. People can reserve one of the hundreds of flexcars parked around the city (for as little as an hour) and be driving off within minutes. Access to such a convenient and reliable service makes it possible for many Oregonians to forgo owning a car. This not only "saves the planet," it also solves some REAL problems, such as roadway congestion.

The "problem" occurred when lawmakers noticed (thanks to rental car companies) that Flexcar was exempt from the Oregon rental car tax. The exemption helped to encourage planet-saving and discourage traffic by giving citizens the reward of not having to pay the rental tax (9.7%). Well, all that is over. Flexcar users will now have to cough up the extra cash even while "doing the right thing."

The moral of the story is that the Oregon state government just missed a golden opportunity to show the planet just how much they care. Actually, they did show us what they do care about, only it isn't protecting the environment--it's GETTING MORE MONEY AND POWER. I'm sure they would be happy to save the planet, too, if they could raise taxes to do it. But when the two issues collide, taxes win every time.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Travis Supports Huckabee

Our good buddy Travis from the Oxgoad is supporting Huckabee. He was nice enough to link to our discussion here. After reading through more of the articles, I feel less repulsed by Huckabee, but not to such a degree as would warrant my supporting him. I'm with Fred! :)