Word for the Day: Meme

This word showed up in popular usage in Neal Stephenson’s novel Snowcrash. I’ve seen it come up a lot as I was surfing the web.

So it means: an idea that spreads like a virus. (?)

noun: Biology- an element of behaviour or culture passed on by imitation or other non-genetic means. from the Compact OED

noun: an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture
Merriam-Webster Online

Blogs to Read Again

Defective Yeti a fun and interesting blog. Includes instructions for fast forwarding through The Phantom Menace so that you only get the good part.

Sarah Hepola, 30 years old and living at home with her folks. A more interesting blog than that sounds.

Steve at the Sneeze is funny.

Robot Johnny is a cartoonist. Think this might be especially interesting since E wants to be one.

The Wubblog, a production diary for the Nick Jr show Wubby, Widget, and Walden. I am guessing the author is the artist and idea person for the show.

Vitamin Q has just the right amount of weird yet interesting entries to catch my attention.

Military Truisms

Military Truisms
• “Aim towards the Enemy”–instruction printed on US rocket launcher.
• When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer our friend–from an FM.
• Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. The bombs always hit the ground.
• Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.
• Don’t ever be the first, don’t ever be the last, and don’t ever volunteer to do anything.
• If your attack is going too well, you are walking into an ambush.
• If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly.
• Don’t draw fire; it irritates the people around you.
• No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection.
• Any ship can be a minesweeper . . . . once.
• If the enemy is in range, so are you.
• Tracers work both ways.
• Friendly fire isn’t.
• Five second fuses only last three seconds.
• Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than you are.
• The problem with taking the easy way out is that the enemy has already mined it.
• Incoming fire has the right of way.
• The quartermaster has only two sizes: too large and too small.
• If you can see the enemy, he can see you.
• And never tell your Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.

from Ramblings

Other Themes

Museum is freaking amazing. I cannot imagine having come up with the idea. I don’t love the theme, but that is some first class creativity showing there.

The Hall is another one for teachers. Probably high school, not college or other, but… Interesting picture usage.

Pseudo Sahara is actually pretty interesting. The text is on a sand dune and the sky is bright blue. It looks better than it sounds.

I like the feeling of bonsai sky, but I don’t know if it is for me. The character on the left hand side, I don’t even know what that means.

Deep thoughts is a nice design in gray. Perhaps too Japanese for me, though. Bonsai in the wind.

Well, I went through all of them and these are the ones I liked. R is sure that I am too picky, but I was looking for themes that would fit me. Not just great themes.


Okay, one more thing I need to do/think/worry about. Reuters says that children need 60 minutes of activity a day.

That means they have to do more than come downstairs to eat and go upstairs to play on their computer, doesn’t it? Drats.

Myth and Science

National Geographic has an article entitled “Dino-Era Fossils Inspired Monster Myths, Says Author.”

Adrienne Mayor is an author and independent scholar in Princeton, New Jersey. She says the “Water Monsters of the Badlands” legend was inspired in part by these fossils, which the Lakota undoubtedly encountered in their travels.

“It would have been logical and very rational to imagine these great sky and water creatures might have been enemies, and the reason they’re all dead is they had battled,” Mayor said.

Mayor tells the legend of this battle—and the science behind it—in her book, Fossil Legends of the First Americans, which was published in May.

The book builds on her theory that the fossils influenced, contributed to, and inspired many of the greatest myths and legends ever told.

“Granted, not all legends are based on fossils, but I’m pretty convinced some are,” said Peter Dodson, a vertebrate paleontologist and professor of veterinary anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dodson encouraged Mayor to develop her theory.

Mayor describes herself as a folklorist who studies the earliest inklings of scientific inquiry. She focuses on legends and myths largely because the scientific knowledge embedded in them is often overlooked by the academic community.

I have thought this was true for a long time, but not because I’m a folklorist or anything. Of course, I also think these monsters lived into relatively modern times. I think there were “dragons” of some sort when George was around, for example.

It’s an interesting article. Go read it all.

Dark Maple

Dark Maple is a theme by Moshu, with a picture used by permission, of Bill Arnett. I am really enjoying it. It’s nice to have a change. I think it looks good too.

Of course, I liked Head as well. Which is what was on for the last two hours or so. I love the graphic quality and the colors. But it’s too something for my blog. Too not me, I guess.

We’ll see. Maybe other times I’ll be up for it.

Seminal Blog Entries

I think that if R and I are going to redo my blog, the theme, that there are some other things I would like to do.

One of those things is to put up front, up top, somewhere easily visible, seminal blog entries. Those that I wrote that impact me the most or express an idea that I think is most interesting. I would kind of like to do that for each category. Not sure how that would look.

But I can at least put it in a post.

This entry on faith would be a basic statement of why I believe.

Why a Good God Would Allow Suffering. I wrote it. It’s reasonable. Sometimes I need to re-read it.

How do you know there is a God?

100 Things I Like about My Husband

100 Things about Me

Teaching, a short summary of me and teaching.

Academic Philosophy. This is a response to a post. It gives what I think about the post, about teaching, about being an adjunct, and about my blog.

From quiz and info I picked 20 Questions: Favorites. The quiz asked, and I answered, all kinds of favorite questions.

In my rants I have MIddle Class Life.

This was on rants, but it is also on reading. Reading and Responding to a Rant is all about a guy who insulted me, you, folks we know on what they read and then disconnected my comment from his site. Even though the comment was very cordial. Let him know he was WRONG, but cordial.

Prejudice is actually on the prejudice against homeschooling and my response.

Since homeschooling is one of the unique things about my life, I thought I would put out several of the most important homeschooling entries that I have filed:
1. Homeschooling: Pros and Cons This is the blog entry that set the most people off. Most of the comments were lost when I moved from Blog City, but some of them are listed below.
2. Homeschooling Responses
3. Homeschooling, 3 Responses
4. Two Comments on Homeschooling, and My Response
5. Homeschooling, Comments and Teachers

New Theme: Blogging Pro

I went to the Blogging Pro theme site as well.

note: I am calling them by the wrong name sometimes. But you can find them, I think, by the descriptions.

I think I like Chris Curtis’ Website (blue, first page, right side)

I also kind of like Falling Leaves (falling leaves, first page, above Chris Curtis’)

I kind of like Scarlet Blaze (right hand corner, bottom, page 3)

Nan (left bottom page 4) when I don’t want anything too exciting

New Theme

I am thinking of changing the theme on my blog. R designed this one and I love it, but today it is too feminine.

So I went to WordPress.org to check things out. And Alex King had a contest. There are some wild, and some boring, themes in there. R should have submitted the theme he did for my blog. “Red and Pink.” That’s what I would call it.

I like:
head- like the color
borderline chaos
neuron- love love love the tab thingies
imhotep- I was thinking “I need something that looks like a teacher’s.” This is what came up next.
Dark Maple- I love the picture.
Landzilla- I don’t like the side colors, but I love the colors of the pictures at the top.
Red train- I like that one. Bright and colorful.
Retrospotive- I actually like the color there.
Soothe is kind of cool looking.
Travelogue. Hmm. I kind of like Travelogue. Interesting. Different. But not hard to read.

Stevish 2 was funky. But I don’t like a 3D effect where stuff is written underneath. I find it distracting.

Akhdian looks like a notepad with a gun or some other sleek thing instead of the normal clip.

Slash dot was kind of interesting.

Desert theme- I like the orange lizard in the corner.

Notebook is a notebook– or at least it looks like one. In nice pale blues.

Reflections is kind of interesting. but too pink. And the underwear may be a bit much.

Yaarh! Tis me Blog is funny. My nephew might like it.

Rampart’s background is what looks like the notebook R got which had computer parts on the outside. It’s background is even the same green. Maybe that is what it is.

Off the Wall has a wild/weird/unusual picture of a sculpture. I’d like to know where that one is. And what it was titled.

Garden Log has a unique outside. It caught my attention. But I am not a gardener. And it isn’t useful enough for multifunctioning.

If I were going to go for a plainer look, I would do Flex.

I also want one where what you have already clicked on recently changes color. I like that. It helps my brain cells not have to work. (I guess that’s not good, though, huh? Oh well. I like it anyway.)

Overall… Too much wallpaper and too blah colors. But then, I’m a bright and crazy kind of girl. Rooms in my house are coral, red, purple. I have a blue pear staring at me from an oil painting in my living room. I like jewel tone colors.

Good News for Acne Sufferers

Reuter’s says that those boys with a large amount of acne in their teens are less likely to die of a heart attack than those without.

That’s good. R had lots of acne and he’s got high cholesterol. I’m all for acne being useful for something besides teen humiliation.

The Funeral and the Idiots

Bubbleheads talks about Cpl. French’s funeral and the vicious protesting done in the name of God.

Father, forgive us. Lead these people out of temptation. Thank you for the police and the fire fighters. God bless the service folks of Idaho particularly. And the French family.

For some reason links are not working. Here is the address for Bubblehead. http://bubbleheads.blogspot.com/2005/06/friend-of-my-enemy.html

Ancient Glassmaking

This is a good article for my book. National Geographic has a new article on the fact that an ancient Egyptian city yields the world’s oldest glassworks.

“Glass fragments unearthed in modern-day Iraq suggest that glassmaking began around 1500 B.C. in Mesopotamia and was kept a closely guarded secret for many centuries. Or so it was thought. “

Egyptians apparently got it at the same time.

“The artifacts reveal a two-stage manufacturing process. Raw materials, including silica and plant ash, were heated inside ovoid vessels that might have been recycled beer jars. The mixture was then crushed and washed before being colored and melted a second time in cylindrical molds to form round, glass ingots.

Rehren said these ingots would have been transported to workshops where skilled craftsmen made glass perfume bottles and other decorative items, such as inlays for furniture and luxury ornaments.”

I like this additional info:

“Red glasses, which use copper-based colorants, require a high level of technical know-how, according to Caroline M. Jackson, a senior lecturer in archaeology at Sheffield University, England. …Other colors produced during the Late Bronze Age (1600 to 1100 B.C.) ranged from purple and cobalt blue to yellow and white.”

In addition, it might be important in the description of the palace and such.because “glass was an elite material used to enhance power, status, and political allegiances.”

The whole article is fascinating. Wish I had Science. I think that would be a great journal to read.

School Books

I was reading Ticklish Ear on the NC convention for homeschoolers. He talked about finding approaches for his daughter. He also mentioned being able to change course quickly.

I have always loved that about homeschooling, but I am having a bit of a struggle right now. My boys are much older than TE’s daughter, 11th and 8th grade.

We have been using A Beka history books. But this last year we did the World History books. And the boys were appalled. The books are definitely Christian, but they are also anti-Catholic. We are not Catholic, but as my son said in Bible class, much to the teacher’s dismay, “Catholics are Christians.” Both the boys had a hard time with the books.

Now we have been deconstructing billboards since they were two and three. “Why do you think they put that bottle of beer with that big plate of spaghetti?” “What do those two people have to do with a candy bar?” Etc. (My parents called it brainwashing.)

I want my children, my boys, to be critical thinkers. And they are. They don’t always have the knowledge to reply to things they see and hear, especially since most of the places they surf on the web are liberal, but they know to question. My oldest asks questions like he agrees with the posts and then digests our answers. It has become very important to me to be able to discuss the comments and attitudes from the sites they read.

But that same ability, which I want them to have, made their history books this year atrocious. I need to find a better balanced history book. I am having trouble with that idea, though. Most public school texts have biases that I don’t like any better. And I figure in the world they are going to have many biased experiences which are anti-Christian. So I am wondering what to do with history this next year.

I have a possible solution. One thing I have thought of doing is having them read a generic (fairly bias neutral) history of the world which is a coffee table book. One page a day. Then they read on the net for something else to learn about that time period or that event. And once a week they read a biography. We’ll be doing American history this year, so I have plenty of biographies available. And though the history is “the world,” much of it touches on the US, since it is in English and was published here. But even when it doesn’t, that will give the kids a chance to look and see what the editors and authors ignored/slighted/missed.

It will be more work though. A simple book with questions will mean less whining on the part of the kids. But I think it will also mean less learning.

Parental Care

I was looking up sources on the net, about Meade and Jacobs’ arguments. I think there is a push toward universal preschool. And I think it is there because we don’t trust the parents.

Issues PA on Early Childhood Education and Care said that “27% of children had only parental care.”

This minimizes the importance of parental care. Why is it “only” parental care?

I suppose that they could have meant “solely.” There is a difference in the semantics of the words. “Only” is often used in a negative sense. But they might have meant it as a positive.

Do I believe that is how they meant it? No. Because the whole article focuses on the need for Pennsylvania to better develop preschools.

I realize that there are some parents out there who do not care about their children. I realize there are some parents who care about their children but have not learned how to take care of them.

What the education circle seems to forget is that these people are the exception, not the norm.

Why do we keep lowering the school age? It is because some children are not “prepared” for school. Some. Not most. Not even many. Just some.

So, because some parents do not take care of their children, all parents lose their parental rights. It is a loss of parental rights when the children are required by the government to be somewhere else.

I have been in schools that were inner city that worked very well. I was in a very poor family when I was younger. Even when my parents made some money, it was not enough to send me to private school. And because of that, I have also been in an inner city school that worked very poorly.

Would my parents have been better off to take me out of school? Perhaps not. Would I have been? Yes. But at that time, the option of a parent educating their child was no longer available in that state.

Please recall that for most of our history, children were educated at home.

Many people see parental care as a way of people hiding what evil things they are doing to their children. It’s not true in my case. I doubt it is true in the majority of cases.

Parental care, 99% of the time, is parents who love their children doing their best for them.

No, I am not opposed to public schools or public kindergartens or public preschools. I am only opposed to mandatory public kindergartens and preschools.

I homeschooled both my boys for kindergarten. Then E went to first grade. We paid for this twice, once on taxes and once in private school tuition. The teacher was mean to my son. She said he wasn’t smart. She said he was a troublemaker. She said he was a problem. The children were allowed ten minutes a day when they were allowed to speak without being called upon. And they often sat with their hands in the air for fifteen or more minutes waiting for the teacher to call on them.

I homeschool because I care about my children. And it has turned out, for reasons I have discussed before, to have been an excellent choice.

I think that parents should have more options than some wish for them.

Problems with Perspective

I was reading Carnival of Education and someone said that the head of Home School Legal Defense Association is lying in their Washington op ed piece, because no one is pushing for preschool being made mandatory.

The article mentions some who are and then discounts them. Perhaps the discounting is a bit premature.

Joanne Jacobs put up a discussion of the California initiative to fund preschool for four year olds. The points made are against preschool funding.

It appears that because of this, Jacobs agrees that there is a paranoia over preschool funding.

Jacobs and Meade say only nine states have kindergarten requirements. No one mandates preschool.

When I got on the net, that’s not what I found. Education Week on the Web says that 13 require kindergarten.

“Currently, 13 states—Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia—and the District of Columbia require children to attend kindergarten. In Rhode Island, Tennessee, and West Virginia, the law requires that youngsters attend kindergarten even though they do not have to start school until they are 6, the age at which children customarily enter 1st grade.”

Apparently nine states require full day kindergarten. Perhaps that is where the number came from. But even if you limited it to full day kindergarten (which was not the statement), I think these folks are missing some of the point. Nine states are nine states too many. What one state has done, another may do. And the more requirements the government enacts, the more requirements become easier to enact.

Yes, school should be available. We are paying for it after all.

But mandatory preschool, mandatory kindergarten… Why are these coming into existence? Are they coming in for the same reason some say public schools did, which was to get kids off the streets during the Industrial revolution?

Someone offering you something and someone forcing you to take it are two different things. I have no problem with offering preschool. Mandating preschool is something else.

These days, in Texas, kindergarten is doing what first grade used to do, teaching kids to read. So if you come to school in first grade without having gone to kindergarten, you are behind.

Will we just keep pushing back the age to start until babies are in school? It is not as outrageous as it sounds. Many people have done studies on babies learning sign language, the effects of classical music and the effects of reading to babies have on the children in the long run. If that makes things better for the child, why wouldn’t we keep pushing it back?

This is the slippery slope that HSDLA is trying to minimize.

Jacobs mentions that she is concerned that

“the poor kids who could benefit from a high-quality preschool will get the watered-down budget version so middle-class parents whose children don’t need preschool can cut their child-care bills.”

Will poor kids take an offered preschool? Perhaps not.

Why do middle-class parents have children who don’t need preschool? Because they don’t keep the gains they made early? Well, according to Jacobs’ article, neither do the Head Start kids, who are disadvantaged.

Others seem to find that there is a great interest in public preschooling.

“At least 40 states offer some type of state-supported pre-kindergarten — often for children from low-income families. All states mandate services for preschool children with disabilities.

No state offers universal preschool for 3-year-olds, but the idea of expanding pre-kindergarten programs to that age has gotten a lot of attention.” says this article.

And some people think there is a lot of support. (from the same source as above)

“In recent years, nothing in the field of public education has been more dramatic than the explosion of state interest and involvement in pre-kindergarten services,” said Walter Gilliam, a research scientist at Yale University.

“Even in these very tight budget times, these officials see it as important to make a down payment on this type of program,” said Amy Wilkins, executive director of The Trust for Early Education. A report by the non-profit, Committee for Economic Development in New York says part day, part-school year preschool costs $4,000 to $5,000 per child per year. The total national bill would be $25 billion to $35 billion, says the group of working and retired CEOs.”

In Georgia, every 4-year-old has been eligible since 1995 for free, voluntary pre-kindergarten. The Georgia pre-kindergarten system began in 1992 as a limited pilot program. It expanded rapidly using state lottery money.

In September 1995, then-Gov. Zell Miller successfully pushed to make all 4-year-olds eligible for the program, adding more than 45,000 children in just two years.

No research has been done comparing the academic achievement or standardized test scores of Georgia students who have been through universal pre-kindergarten with those who have not. However, studies that have surveyed teachers and parents show those groups generally have a positive view of how well the program prepared children for kindergarten.

“There was a high degree of school readiness on the part of these students,” researcher Gary Henry of Georgia State University said.

Several states are trying to catch up with Georgia.

In Illinois and Pennsylvania, the governors have called for phasing in pre-kindergarten programs available to all children.

In New York, the 1997 legislation that created universal pre-kindergarten called for the program to serve all 4-year-olds by 2002. However, budget problems have limited state financial support. Gov. George Pataki’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year includes no money for the program, and some legislators have responded with calls for a constitutional amendment modeled on one passed in Florida last year.

Florida voters approved an amendment to create a voluntary and free pre-kindergarten program for all 4-year-olds by 2005.

Oklahoma has passed a law making all 4-year-olds eligible for pre-kindergarten. West Virginia is considering legislation that 4-year-olds be offered pre-kindergarten by 2012.

Some municipalities — including Los Angeles County and Washington — have extensive pre-kindergarten programs.

There it is. The more there is of it, the more likely it is to be made mandatory. We want all of our children to have this opportunity, correct? Not just those children whose parents are trying to get out of child care expenses. So if not everyone is taking advantage of the opportunity, many will think we should require it.

Teeth Whiteners

According to Reuters, teeth bleaching causes sensitivity for several days afterward. In an attempt to limit such sensitivity, calcium and phosphate (naturally present in saliva and blocks the pores in the teeth) was added to whiteners. It did not impact their whitening ability, but did reduce sensitivity.

So remineralization makes for less painful white teeth.