Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Penalizing Greedy Low-Ballers

I don't quite understand it, yet.

It looks like each time a bargain-hunting cheapskate bids....he's assessed 60 cents!


One of QuiBids' best features is their "Buy it Now". The QuiBids "Buy it Now" allows users to apply the money they spent bidding on a product towards the "Buy it Now" price if they don't win. For example, let's say a user bids 50 times on a $50 Best Buy gift card, but doesn't win the auction. That user spent $30 on bids placed (50 bids x $0.60/bid). To exercise the “Buy It Now” option, the user would subtract the $30 spent on bids for the item from its $50 value price, paying the $20 difference. That way, even though they didn't win, all bids placed on the QuiBids auction count as credit towards buying the product.

If you're looking for a deal, QuiBids and other penny auction websites, might be the best way to snag an amazing bargain these days.
The more I think about it, the more it sounds like an ingenious business model/idea - ingenious in the sense of sneakily ripping greedy cheap Morons off.

Essentially, each product needs a 60 cent-paying bid to uptick. And I'm guessing that QuiBids restricts auctions to only move up in small (penny? nickel?) increments.

OH MAN!!! You've just got to watch this - click here.

And I'm going to feel really bad if this post just turned any of my long-time readers onto a new vice!!! (I'm especially worried about Mrs. PrivateCaller.)

Yet Another Moronic Doctor!

From the article:

One year after the swine flu sickened, hospitalized and killed residents around the globe, this season's flu is so mild that state health officials aren't even tracking cases.

But this year, flu is barely on the radar screen. McCurtis was aware of only one case of seasonal flu that has been confirmed in Michigan...

Listen to this Moronic *doctor*:

An early surge of people have gotten flu shots at Dr. George Blum's offices in Bingham Farms and West Bloomfield. Blum, a pediatrician, has been trying to encourage others who are not interested in the flu shot to get it. Some people have concerns about the vaccine making people sick afterward and that is not true, Blum said.

"If everybody would get flu vaccines," Blum said, "there wouldn't be an epidemic every year."
There's an *epidemic* EVERY YEAR???

When, starting next year?!

Freezing Your Fat A$$ Off

Yep, the latest is freezing fat off...

There's a terrific FAQ/disclaimer on Cool Sculpting's website:

Are the results permanent?
Yes. When you have your CoolSculpting procedure, the treated fat cells will be eliminated. As long as you maintain your weight with diet and exercise, your long term results should remain stable.

So long as you maintain your weight!!!!

YouTube -Trampling Ignorance

Today my early morning calisthenics were interrupted by a discussion on *abs* with my son. I told him that one could theoretically get their abs so strong....that a car could drive over their stomach.

He didn't believe me and off to YouTube we went. The first video I found amazed the Prince and testified on my behalf.

Then I found this one:


I was half-way through it (with my son!) before realizing that is was a *fetish* clip.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Other Homeschool Blogs

I've been immersed in the online world and blogosphere now for six solid years.

While it was very easy to find the best and most popular trading, financial, and political blogs...

It's been rather difficult for me to find the most readable homeschooling blogs.

Homeschoolers simply defy categorization, time and again!

But here's a spot worth looking:

Winners of the 6th Annual Homeschool Blog Awards

Having never heard of any of them previously save one, tonight I added about 70% of these blogs to my Google Reader.

Bummer I Missed This One...

I can't believe I had never heard of these Balance Bikes given the innumerable little brats I've suffered over the past 6 years....until tonight.

It's ingenious....essentially separating the early bike-riding arch-enemies - *peddling* and *balancing*!

Man, does it kill my achy back to run alongside, holding the handlebars, of my wobbling son!

Thanks so much to reader Kevin for passing this one along.

(I'll bet the PrivateCaller family orders this thing for their toddling Prince....first thing tomorrow!)

Snake Oil Soda?

How soon is too soon?

Not soon enough. Laboratory tests over the last few years have proven that babies who start drinking soda during that early formative period have a much higher chance of gaining acceptance and *fitting in* during those awkward pre-teen and teen years. So, do yourself a favor. Do your child a favor. Start them on a strict regimen of sodas and other sugary carbonated beverages right now, for a lifetime of guaranteed happiness.
Don't you dare laugh or scoff...

Fifty years from now wiseacres will be mocking our pig flu alarmism, faith-based acceptance of failed government schooling, and bio-organic yoga mats that claim to alter the global climate!

Going Small?

That's a 2007 Volvo S40i. I may bid on one of those today. It has only 16k miles on it.

The Kelley Blue Book (private party) value is $16,200.

But in this economy stuff is trading below those figures. The question is *how much?* lower.

Yeah, at the moment scrapping the minivan idea and going for fuel efficiency in preparation for $5 a gallon gasoline. After all, we do have a Chevy Tahoe and my wife only needs a *train station* car - which I'll use on weekends for golf trips and whatnot.

Do any of y'all have any thoughts on or experience with this particular breed of automotive transportation?

The Prince Can't...

Always trumpeting the accomplishments and capabilities of my homeschooled son, the 6.03 year old Prince in this space....I think it's good to highlight where he lags.

  • Prince C-Nut still cannot pump on the swing! What can I say? He just has no interest even though his sister has been doing it since she was 3 (I think). I put him on, reluctantly give him one push and insist that if he wants to stay on he has to self-propel. Guess what, he just hops off when it slows down!

  • My son is still not completely independent in the *a$$-wiping* department. And this may be my fault because, always pre-empting messes and leery of the 1-ply cheap-@SS toilet tissue here, I haven't completely weaned him off help in this department. The fact is, the boy only poops weekly....and we're always home together.

  • The Prince can be as lazy and as slow as sin! Tell him to clean up his room or get dressed and if you aren't over his shoulder, whip-in-hand, it may take him 15 freakin' minutes!

  • The Prince can't ride a bike yet.

  • And he's only average at sports for his age - which is sort of a failure coming from my DNA pool. Although more and more I'm beginning to hate the *time* sports robbed me of and am probably slightly guilty of de-emphasizing ball games and whatnot.
  • Friday, November 26, 2010

    ¡Bienvenidos A Miami!

    Recall that two years ago I was the youngest snowbird in Naples, pulling off the entire month of January there.

    Then last year, I had the red light up for wintering in Florida due to trading losses and an uncertain living condition, then I had the go-ahead and was all geeked up, only to have my (bleepin') landlord and his legal shenanigans quash my southerly aspirations anew.

    My wife took a new job last spring and it turns out she has employees and an office that she can work out of in Miami. So all year long I've been geeked up yet again for another winter in Florida.

    The whole time she's been warning me that January is a busy month for her and that we'd probably have to wait until February. I simply didn't want to hear it. As far as I'm concerned, January is the *hump* of winter that I need to get over; whereas February is a short month, one in which you can see the light at the end of the winter tunnel at least.

    Then just last week my wife found out she has a week-long conference in Miami the second week of January. Since she has to be there anyway that sealed it, I'm green-lighted again - and it's only a month away!

    But now I have to find a place in my budget, one that's close to downtown, big enough, furnished, and ideally has internet...

    I think my kids will REALLY LIKE South Beach!

    'Old Coot' Homeschool Advocate?

    Any serious educational theory must consist of two parts: a conception of the ends of life, and a science of psychological dynamics, i.e. of the laws of mental change. Two men who differ as to the ends of life cannot hope to agree about education. The educational machine, throughout Western civilization, is dominated by two ethical theories: that of Christianity, and that of nationalism. These two, when taken seriously, are incompatible, as is becoming evident in Germany. For my part, I hold that, where they differ, Christianity is preferable, but where they agree, both are mistaken. The conception which I should substitute as the purpose of education is civilization, a term which, as I mean it, has a definition which is partly individual, partly social. It consists, in the individual, of both intellectual and moral qualities: intellectually, a certain minimum of general knowledge, technical skill in one's own profession, and a habit of forming opinions on evidence; morally, of impartiality, kindliness, and a modicum of self-control. I should add a quality which is neither moral nor intellectual, but perhaps physiological: zest and joy of life. In communities, civilization demands respect for law, justice as between man and man, purposes not involving permanent injury to any section of the human race, and intelligent adaptation of means to ends. If these are to be the purpose of education, it is a question for the science of psychology to consider what can be done towards realizing them, and, in particular, what degree of freedom is likely to prove most effective.

    On the question of freedom in education there are at present three main schools of thought, deriving partly from differences as to ends and partly from differences in psychological theory. There are those who say that children should be completely free, however bad they may be; there are those who say they should be completely subject to authority, however good they may be; and there are those who say they should be free, but in spite of freedom they should be always good. This last party is larger than it has any logical right to be; children, like adults, will not all be virtuous if they are all free. The belief that liberty will ensure moral perfection is a relic of Rousseauism, and would not survive a study of animals and babies. Those who hold this belief think that education should have no positive purpose, but should merely offer an environment suitable for spontaneous development. I cannot agree with this school, which seems to me too individualistic, and unduly indifferent to the importance of knowledge. We live in communities which require co-operation, and it would be utopian to expect all the necessary co-operation to result from spontaneous impulse. The existence of a large population on a limited area is only possible owing to science and technique; education must, therefore, hand on the necessary minimum of these. The educators who allow most freedom are men whose success depends upon a degree of benevolence, self-control, and trained intelligence which can hardly be generated where every impulse is left unchecked; their merits, therefore, are not likely to be perpetuated if their methods are undiluted. Education, viewed from a social standpoint, must be something more positive than a mere opportunity for growth. It must, of course, provide this, but it must also provide a mental and moral equipment which children cannot acquire entirely for themselves.

    The arguments in favour of a great degree of freedom in education are derived not from man's natural goodness, but from the effects of authority, both on those who suffer it and on those who exercise it. Those who are subject to authority become either submissive or rebellious, and each attitude has its drawbacks.

    The submissive lose initiative, both in thought and action; moreover, the anger generated by the feeling of being thwarted tends to find an outlet in bullying those who are weaker. That is why tyrannical institutions are self-perpetuating: what a man has suffered from his father he inflicts upon his son, and the humiliations which he remembers having endured at his public school he passes on to Ònatives" when he becomes an empire-builder. Thus an unduly authoritative education turns the pupils into timid tyrants, incapable of either claiming or tolerating originality in word or deed. The effect upon the educators is even worse: they tend to become sadistic disciplinarians, glad to inspire terror, and content to inspire nothing else. As these men represent knowledge, the pupils acquire a horror of knowledge, which, among the English upper-class, is supposed to be part of human nature, but is really part of the well- grounded hatred of the authoritarian pedagogue.

    Rebels, on the other hand,, though they may be necessary, can hardly be just to what exists. Moreover, there are many ways of rebelling, and only a small minority of these are wise. Galileo was a rebel and was wise; believers in the flat-earth theory are equally rebels, but are foolish. There is a great danger in the tendency to suppose that opposition to authority is essentially meritorious and that unconventional opinions are bound to be correct: no useful purpose is served by smashing lamp-posts or maintaining Shakespeare to be no poet. Yet this excessive rebelliousness is often the effect that too much authority has on spirited pupils. And when rebels become educators, they sometimes encourage defiance in their pupils, for whom at the same time they are trying to produce a perfect environment, although these two aims are scarcely compatible.

    That's Bertrand Russell, a dinosaur who's been dead for 40 years now, sounding like a present-day homeschooler.

    I don't think I'd heard much of this guy before. But from Googling, he seems to be rather well-known - even a *patron saint* for devout atheists!

    The above was excerpted from his essay - Education and Discipline. Towards the end of it, he really sounds like a home-education advocate. Here's another part that resonated with me:

    I do not think that education ought to be anyone's whole profession: it should be undertaken for at most two hours a day by people whose remaining hours are spent away from children. The society of the young is fatiguing, especially when strict discipline is avoided.
    One last comment...

    Russell, in the beginning of his essay, equates education with *civilization*.

    Guess what....so did my main man Will Durant!

    Check out my 'old' post - One Step Forward and Two Steps Back. It's hard to believe that it's been three full years since I finished the best books on Earth.

    No Comment!

    Other than...

    Well, I just can't imagine who needs to buy a flat-screen, LCD, LED, or plasma color TV today.

    I thought EVERYONE already had one or more(!) - except the C-Nut household.

    Yeah, this image tees up a few more comments....which I'll defer to those with lower coefficients of charity.

    Better Blogging Chronicles 9 - Amazon Affiliate Links

    That is the - Snap Circuits Rover and a great potential Christmas gift for my son, the Prince.

    This time of year, and around birthdays, we are always getting bombarded with *what should I buy for your kids* questions from aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.

    Now if Nana does buy my son that cool edu-toy above, I hope that she'll click the link above and do it through Amazon.com.


    Because it's what's called an *affiliate link*. I signed my son up as an affiliate so he now gets 4% (or 6%) of all revenue he sends (via his and my blog links) to Amazon.

    So if Nana, or anyone else for that matter, were to buy that Snap Circuits RC Rover the Prince would reap a windfall of $2-$3 and jump VERY HIGH. Y'all should have seen how psyched he was for the first 92 cent commission!

    Furthermore, a customer doesn't even have to buy the specific product highlighted. For example, West Coast Tom could click the link above, decide against buying the wonderful Snap Circuits RC Rover and then go on and buy his regular $500 annual supply of male enhancement pills while still on Amazon.com. In that case, Prince C-Nut would still reap a commission - a nice one too ($20-$30!).

    Now no one is going to get rich as an Amazon affiliate - unless they sell some big ticket items like....houses!

    But still I wanted to start using these links just to see what would happen. The links aren't at all intrusive, they were already on my blog without a kickback(!), and have really fueled my son's interest in his website, html coding, and making money.

    One more example...

    My mother recently had to buy $300 worth of textbooks off Amazon for her students. I informed her that if she had simply gone through one of my or my son's Amazon affiliate links it would have kicked back $18 to her grandson. And, obviously it wouldn't cost her anything at all! What grandmother wouldn't do this for her beloved grandchild? I've asked the aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends to order through our sites too - some have obliged already, while others, well the 'old coots', aren't really capable of online ordering.

    So if you are planning on ordering from Amazon anyway, and want send a few quarters (or more!) to the Prince....just click on one of my Amazon links, then once at the site, search for whatever it was you were going to buy anyway. Any business would be sincerely appreciated.

    Regular readers won't have a hard time finding my affiliate links, but I'm probably going to put a button or some standing Amazon link at the top to make it easier.

    Only a Moron would not be regularly ordering from Amazon these days BECAUSE most of its items are cheaper than retail AND can be delivered FOR FREE to your doorstep in a couple of days.

    See also my index of - Better Blogging Chronicles.

    Coerced Homeschooling

    My cousin in NJ has an 8 year old who does really well in school. He gets pulled out class for *challenge math*, *challenge reading*, and one other subject - which is all well and good.

    I looked over his math and was pretty impressed at the difficulty level - a lot of word/thinking problems and whatnot.

    Of course almost all youngsters, no matter how advanced, will struggle with word problems involving *new* material.

    So my cousin has to sit down, every night, and do her son's homework with him.

    Again, the questions weren't easy by any stretch.

    CaptiousNut - What....do you spend an hour or so with him on his homework each night?

    Cousin - AT LEAST!

    CaptiousNut - Well, you're doing exactly what I'm doing then....I spend about an hour a day grinding through math with him. You may as well become a homeschooler!

    The only difference, of course, is that she has a teacher choose the worksheets whereas I do it independently.

    This is total bull$hit, by the way. Parents send their kids to school for 6 hours TO LEARN; and teachers send them home tired, ignorant, and with an assignment for Mom and Dad! Homework is nothing less than an admission of school system failure.

    And I do feel for those parents who work all day long only to come home and have to spend their quality time with their kids doing torturous *homework*.

    Stuff For Dummies?

    I think I may have heard of this YouTube/book series - The Story of Stuff - a few years ago.

    And I simply don't have time to watch it - BUT my sense is that it makes a few good points but goes overboard with Gaia-ganda. Here's the intro:

    While our military budget is big....I don't think *half* of our federal tax revenues go towards it, for starters.

    Again, I don't have time to even watch these clips (there's a whole bunch), so in the spirit of energy and resource conservation....I am outsourcing the debunking to the Third World:

    How To Pick-Up A Large Moose

    Alright, go to the bar and start drinking very early...

    Never mind.

    Check out this clip I just found:

    A bow and arrow? Are they for real?

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Found! - The Most Moronic Religion

    How dumb do you have to be to admit there are other *gods* and yet not pay them homage!!!

    May they hurl lightning bolts at your stupid @ss!

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Thanksgiving Escape!

    I just endured 5 years AND 3 extended visits since departing in May(!) around my extended family in Massachusetts.

    AND I've just spent the last 6 months living in a *section* of my MIL's house - with the rest of my inlaws close by as well.

    So I figured I needed a break I'd give them a break from me for Thanksgiving.

    A couple of weeks ago I called up my cousin in NJ and essentially invited my family to her Thanksgiving dinner.

    Now this is one stupid holiday, way too close to Christmas, centered around an inedible bird, and is a travel-nightmare.

    Nonetheless, with my cousin accepting my self-invitation....we're going to face-off with insanity and spend 3 hours in traffic, trying to get across Manhattan and over the GW Bridge tomorrow....just so everyone can get a healthy break *from me* on this holiday.

    I do hope my inlaws and outlaws are thankful!

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Homeschooled Math Prodigies

    The first one is Reid Barton:

    Barton began his formal mathematical studies in middle school, while also taking part-time classes at Tufts University in chemistry (5th grade), physics (6th grade), Swedish, Finnish, French, and Chinese. Mentored by MIT computer scientist Charles E. Leiserson beginning in eighth grade, he honed his abilities on CilkChess, one of the top computer chess programs. Later, while a student at MIT, Barton worked with Leiserson and contributed to the CilkChess program.

    Barton graduated recently from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is currently a graduate student at Harvard University in mathematics. He won the 2005 AMS Morgan Prize for Outstanding Research in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Student, awarded jointly by the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. Barton is also a Putman Fellow, one of only seven four-time winners of the annual mathematics competition for undergraduate college students (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004).

    In high school, Barton was the first participant to ever win four gold medals at the International Mathematical Olympiads (IMO) for pre-collegiate students (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001), and he was one of four perfect scorers in 2001. That year he also placed first at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), earning his second IOI gold medal with a score of 580 out of 600, 55 points ahead of his nearest competitor. In addition, he is the only person to have won both the IMO and the IOI.

    And the other is Erik Demaine - a young man who was also homeschooled (by his father) and in 2001 became the youngest professor ever hired at MIT (age 20).

    Y'all see it now?

    The Prince has predecessors!

    Again, my son is most certainly not a *genius* or exceptional...

    It's merely the educational approach that is exceptional - individualized and somewhat self-directed.

    This quote from Erik Demaine is worth highlighting:

    "I didn't show any sign of being particularly smart or anything, [except that I had] an unusually long attention span."
    Now how's a kid going to exercise or cultivate a long attention span, let's call it *intellectualy tenacity*, when they're being bounced around by school and organized planned activities???

    Moronic QE - QED

    Statue-tory Rape?

    Or just a Moose-demeanor?

    Thanks to LeagueIslander for this one!

    Homeschooling - Unleashing Creativity?

    Yesterday, in the fog of our morning activities, the 6.00 year old Prince grabbed some blank paper and disappeared to the quiet upstairs. Here's what he created - click to enlarge if necessary:

    *Dora Haters Comics* - a brief story, culminating in asesinato!

    Well yeah, his art is middling at best, and we do probably have to work on him constructing plots of higher moral fiber...

    But still, my wife and I were very impressed with the fact that he did this entirely on his own.

    His non-stop book devouring has obviously stimulated his imagination AND also ingrained in him the basics of literary form.

    See also:

    Prince C-Nut - Book Devourer

    Raising A Bibliophile

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Pink - One Of Our Best Bards?

    Alright, this song has a groovy beat and makes for an interesting video (notwithstanding the necking inverts):

    But, oh my gosh, are the written lyrics STUPID:

    Pink - Raise Your Glass Lyrics

    Right right, turn off the lights,
    we’re gonna lose our minds tonight,
    what’s the dealio?

    I love when it’s all too much,
    5am turn the radio up
    where’s the rock and roll?

    Party Crasher,
    Penny Snatcher,
    Call me up if you want gangsta
    Don’t be fancy, just get dancey
    Why so serious?

    So raise your glass if you are wrong,
    in all the right ways,
    all my underdogs,
    we will never be never be anything but loud
    and nitty gritty dirty little freaks
    won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass,
    just come on and come on and raise your glass

    Slam slam, oh hot damn
    what part of party don’t you understand,
    wish you’d just freak out (freak out already)
    can’t stop, coming in hot,
    I should be locked up right on the spot
    it’s so on right now (so f*ckin on right now)

    Party Crasher,
    Penny Snatcher,
    Call me up if you want gangsta
    Don’t be fancy, just get dancey
    Why so serious?

    So raise your glass if you are wrong,
    in all the right ways,
    all my underdogs,
    we will never be never be anything but loud
    and nitty gritty dirty little freaks
    won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass,
    just come on and come on and raise your glass
    won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass,
    just come on and come on and raise your glass

    (oh sh*t my glass is empty, that sucks)

    So if you’re too school for cool,
    and you’re treated like a fool,
    you can choose to let it go
    we can always, we can always,
    party on our own

    (so raise your) So raise your glass if you are wrong,
    in all the right ways,
    all my underdogs,
    we will never be never be anything but loud
    and nitty gritty, dirty little freaks
    So raise your glass if you are wrong,
    in all the right ways,
    all my underdogs,
    we will never be never be anything but loud
    and nitty gritty, dirty little freaks
    won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass,
    just come on and come on and raise your glass
    won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass,(for me)
    just come on and come on and raise your glass (for me)

    I told you the words were S T U P I D!

    And I don't know that Pink fans actually even drink out of *glasses* - or are old enough to be toasting *adult beverages* in the first place.

    This illiterate whore is just a terrific icon for immature humans...

    See also my other post on her - Lyrics Now Matter

    Dumb Sober Okie

    So Saturday night at a bar in NYC I find an Oklahoma driver's license.


    The place is packed, I'm busy enjoying my manly beer, I'm catching up with a good friend, and really don't feel like looking around the bar to see if he's nearby.

    Eventually I leave and take it with me - rationalizing that this 25 year old Moron from Okalahoma ought be taught a lesson about what should be his MOST VALUED POSSESSION.


    You know, I could sell this thing for $100, or $200 here in wealthy NYC, in a heartbeat.

    I could have my high school nephew or niece do the brokering very easily. Heck, my 15 year-old nephew himself might want it since he and the Moron bear a certain facial likeness.

    But alas, if I did that, you just know some underage kid would use the ID, buy, get drunk, and run someone over. AND I'd probably get found out, hung by my testicles, and go to jail or something in this (bleeped)-up world we live in.


    Can't sell hot dogs on the street or taxi people to the airport without a *license*, can't open a restaurant without building a handicap ramp and meeting a hundred other costly ordinances, and one can't peddle a single misplaced driver's license...

    I messaged the guy on MyFaceSpace.com last night.

    If he responds, I'm going to tell him I want $17.99 before mailing it to him.  Heck, this Wednesday is the biggest drinking night of the year for his demo...

    Another Presidential Moron?

    From Wikipedia:
    In 1981, the MUSE system was demonstrated for the first time in the United States, using the same 5:3 aspect ratio as the Japanese system.[4] Upon visiting a demonstration of MUSE in Washington, US President Ronald Reagan was most impressed and officially declared it "a matter of national interest" to introduce HDTV to the USA.
    Clearer color TV programming....a *matter of national interest*???

    I'm starting to kick my anti-TV agenda into high gear these days.

    Seriously, the argument can easily be made that watching TV is far more unhealthy than smoking. After all, sitting on the couch all day, everyday, is both a mental and physical onslaught. So why shouldn't our nanny statists add *sin taxes* to cable bills as they do with cigarettes and whatnot?

    I Never Actually Saw This Before

    The Wikipedia link is kind of interesting. In fact, I didn't know a thing about this *disaster*, really, until just now. It's one of those images that gets invoked all the time too.

    Shocker! - Government Defends Government

    The other day I received this email from a *swine flu enthusiast* doctor:

    hey i hope you put this in your blog
    a vaccine study for your perusal


    Well it's nothing more than a GOVERNMENT study defending a GOVERNMENT ritual - annual useless flu shots.

    AND, all it states is that the shot is *not harmful* for one small sample set, over one short period of time. Let's see the SAT scores of those babies in 16 years!

    In other words, it doesn't address the issue of whether or not the flu shot actually, you know, WORKS.  Talk about Big Government setting itself a low hurdle!

    Personally, I think an expectant mother would be a complete Moron to get a flu shot when they are pregnant, ESPECIALLY one of today's thoroughly untested, rushed-to-market, *pig flu* vaccines. But whatever...

    It's almost December and we haven't heard much about the pig flu this year yet, eh?

    See also:

    Bad Science & Worse Government - More Lethal Than Pig Flu

    Massachusetts - The Dumbest State, QED

    The Bizarro World Of Pig Flu Hysterics

    More Pig/Bird Flu Fraud

    More Pig Flu Nonsense

    Swine Flu Cooties

    Pig Flu Quack-ccine

    Nonstop Alarmism

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Will Do Your Blog Homework For $$$$

    I've got to thank and curse Mrs. PrivateCaller for this one. I woke up at 2:55am last night (after dozing off around midnight) and checked my Droid.

    Unfortunately, I didn't get back to sleep after reading the eye-opening article she sent me:

    The Shadow Scholar


    Here's my favorite excerpt:

    I, who have no name, no opinions, and no style, have written so many papers at this point, including legal briefs, military-strategy assessments, poems, lab reports, and, yes, even papers on academic integrity, that it's hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating. But I'd say education is the worst. I've written papers for students in elementary-education programs, special-education majors, and ESL-training courses. I've written lesson plans for aspiring high-school teachers, and I've synthesized reports from notes that customers have taken during classroom observations. I've written essays for those studying to become school administrators, and I've completed theses for those on course to become principals. In the enormous conspiracy that is student cheating, the frontline intelligence community is infiltrated by double agents. (Future educators of America, I know who you are.)

    The comment section is lively and LONG - offering many good tangential discussions.  I only made it through a quarter of it this morning and hope to read the rest on the train.

    Now I have to go into NYC with the fam to continue my son's low budget 6th birthday celebration. After that, I'm going to linger in the City to go boozing with my buddy. Going to be a long day/night/early morning...

    I probably won't post again until Monday, as per my new policy.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Mind-Poison Consumption, Fading?

    That's a heartwarming news story if I ever saw one!

    I do wonder what it is that's making the lumpen masses tune out.

    Might it be the ever-diminishing quality of color TV programming? The ubiquity of offensive, inverted TV characters?

    How about the escalating cost? Especially in this imploding economy...

    The substitution effect in favor of Netflix, Headbook.com, Marginalizing Morons, and web-programming like Hulu.com?

    Might it be that within our aging population, the 'old coots' are now soooo old that their increasing inability to *get the cable box and the TV both 'ON' at the same time* has made them fed up with Cablevision, Comcast, Charter, and Time Warner? Plus, a lot of them are literally dying off from the pig flu pandemic!

    OR, could it possibly be that Americans are finally realizing that television is unadulterated *mind poison*?

    My guess is the decline is due to all of the above - save perhaps the last one.

    I'll tell you what....a funny thing happens when one terminates a lifetime of color TV ingestion.

    You know how since public cigarette smoking has been essentially banned and taxed out of existence....you know how now when someone lights up 50 feet away you can instantly smell it on account of a newfound, conditioned hypersensitivity?

    Well that's how my wife and I are now with the cacophony of a blaring television - it pollutes a room like a pack of burning Camels....or a juicy drive-by flatulation.

    I can't stand CNN blasting in airport lounges and take immediate evasive action. Nor can I stand hearing that little TV blast away in the back of NYC taxis, in the barbershop, in doctors' waiting rooms, etc.

    Shoot, a dozen years ago I could and did often sit at a table of 10 smokers and not care an iota.

    And back then I would regularly enjoy watching lo-def color TV for hours on end...

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Etymology For Morons

    I just saw Alex Trebek peddling this - WordSmart - on an early morning infomercial.

    It's some vocabulary enhancer or something from what I can tell, designed to improve SAT scores....extract money from parents irrationally and frantically worried about their child's future.

    It looks pretty impressive on color TV and I'm sure it can help.

    But for $315 ???

    Well, it's cheaper than those $1,000+ Kaplan and Princeton Review courses...

    Last week I saw a young man coming out of the local government library I had seen a few times before.  He was talking with a *parent* in the parking lot and giving a progress report or something. Finally I realized that this young man (24?) was a *professional tutor* - one of untold dozens here in this ultra-wealthy town. I struck up a conversation:

    CaptiousNut - So what do you tutor?

    Guy - Mostly SAT stuff.

    CaptiousNut - The math?

    Guy - Yeah, but actually mostly verbal.

    CaptiousNut - (laughing) How exactly do you tutor that? Do you just give them long lists of words to memorize or something?

    Guy - (laughing) Essentially, YES.

    Guy - It's kind of unfair. They study all these words and maybe only 20 of them will show up on the test. (laughing)


    Guess what folks....the SAT is completely irrelevant. I scored 1480 on it, the tops in my pretty competitive high school, but almost 20 long years have passed and that *achievement* has done nothing for me. It didn't get me into the colleges I wanted to attend MIT (rejected!) and Cornell (wait-listed!). And it certainly didn't make me any money or condition my brain for future great things. It didn't help me pick up broads either - might of even hurt!

    I posted a 690 on the verbal after dedicating considerable effort to improving that score. I simply started reading and memorizing the dictionary during English, History, and Spanish classes - when I wasn't poring over advanced math team content. Yeah, instead of allowing teachers to put me to sleep....I undertook *independent study*.  And I also used one particular book that I found laying around the house.

    Somewhere in that process of memorizing definitions I fell in love with etymology - the study of word origins. And to this day I am continually expanding my vocabulary. When reading, not only do I take notes on almost every book and then type them up into dedicated Google Docs, I also jot down unfamiliar words, look them up, and dump them into my *words* Google Docs.

    While I don't think that kids should necessarily study Latin and Greek explicitly, I do think all English-communicating students would profit from at least learning all the root words, prefixes, and suffixes.  There's really not that many of them!

    And just the other day, before I saw this infomercial, I was smitten by an idea to write an introductory etymology book for young whippersnappers.

    For example, my 5.99 year old homeschooled son is certainly capable of grasping and appreciating the interconnectedness of the words: report, deport, and support - and he'd be far better off learning the parts of the word than he would by simply memorizing 3 seemingly disparate definitions.

    Then, armed with that knowledge, he could very easily deduce the meaning of other variations when coming across them, such as portable or export.

    Perhaps books like this already exist?  I'll have to do some research.

    Anyways, just as SAT geometry shouldn't be first started sophomore year of HS - a year before the exam(!)....I don't think 16 year olds should be cram-studying wordlists at the last minute either.

    Every aspect of this circus, from the parents wasting small fortunes on *SAT prep*, to the societal over-emphasis on this ridiculous *test*, to how poorly the *system* prepares students would be humorous if not so tragic.

    The fact that SAT prep products are running on infomercials alongside Girls Gone Wild, get-rich-quick scams, male enhancement products, and Shake Weights(!) is damning evidence of the priorities and ineffectiveness of mass government schooling.

    See also - Moron Testing.

    Great Domestic Mom/Wife Blog

    I want to recommend this terrific little *chick blog* - Or So She Says - to my readers, especially the female subset intent on becoming ideal wives.

    Yeah I do read it - and I'm certainly virile enough to admit it!

    Perhaps they'll let me guest post...

    Living With The MIL Chronicles 5 - What Is It?

    My first wife wanted to toss it the day we moved in to the MIL's house but was soundly rebuffed.

    So it's still sitting up there in the middle of the attic, taking up space but looking real cool.

    Note the gerry-rigging (jerry-?) was done with other jurassic items fit for *disposal*!

    Can any of y'all decipher this contraption's purpose?

    Any bids?

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Ask And Thou Shall Receive!

    Here's an email I received today from a reader:

    Hi, I have read most of your homeschooling posts. I am so amazed at your teaching capabilities and at your children's ability to grasp everything and do so well. Really, is it your kids who are super smart or do you really think any reasonably intelligent kid can perform at this level? How do you do it? Can you write a post on how you structure their day/do they never complain/ask to watch TV etc? Your son's blog posts are unbelievable. He is not even 6!!!

    My son is in Kindergarten. His preschool teacher and another professional who did an evaluation said his cognitive abilities are way above his age level and in language testing for his school he tested as advanced for his age. I don't really feel the difference - but I do know he is pretty smart and he is very curious and loves to learn and thinks a lot about the things he reads about. When I see your posts I feel like I am not doing enough to nurture my son's capabilities. He may not be able to do as much as your kids have but reading your posts makes me feel like he could certainly do more. For example he reads level 2 books comfortably but if I bring him a magic tree house books (which we have read to him for a year now) he would prefer that I read it to him saying "it has too many words". I don't want to force him to read if he is not keen on reading it on his own. But I know he can do it. I have a daughter who is almost 3.5 yrs old. Your daughter is also so ahead of most kids her age.

    Anyway - if you don't mind please do give me some tips or write a post on how you discipline them w/out them feeling scared or stifled as children to do so much academic work.

    Okay. There are a lot of good questions in there.

    Are my kids *super smart*?

    I really don't know. But what I do know, is that I do many things that no other parents I have met do.

    First off, increasingly my advice to EVERYONE is to eliminate color TV - eliminate it almost completely. Even an hour or 30 minutes a day, I now firmly believe, does irreparable harm to nascent brains.

    I know full well how hard it is for a parent to give up this sedative crutch. Dinner needs to be cooked; phone calls need to be made; the days can be darn long for parents of young children; and losing *outside* in the winter-time is a damn tough void to fill. After all, the brats are up 14 hours a day!

    But still, the TV needs to go. (BTW, *educational television* is an oxymoron in my book.)

    It's going to be tough to pull this off if Mom and Dad sit in the living room everyday and stare at the idiot box themselves. I only watch television in my bed, late at night, far out of sight from impressionable children; and when they come into my bedroom in the wee hours I immediately turn it off - like I'm a teenager sneaking a drag! Our living room television NEVER gets used. When someone comes over, namely Grandpa, and puts the ballgame on....I turn it off right away and tell him to play with or read to his precious grandkids. My kids are now at the point where they think people who watch TV all day are practically diseased. They call their grandmother, the MIL who lives with us, they call her *TV-head*!

    Once the TV and the video game player are gone....kids' imaginations will percolate naturally and seek an outlet. I remember reading about some homeschool mother who couldn't get her kids to read until they went on a *around-the-world* sail. Eventually, on the boat and bored out of their minds, the kids picked up those dusty books and magically morphed into voracious readers.

    Look, I don't blame your son for not wanting to read those Magic Tree House books by himself - they are brutal!

    In fact, my wife has been long dreading having to read them to our daughter.

    If memory serves me, most of those books my son read along with his mother. (I co-read a few at the end.) I believe she coerced some reading out of him as he was prone to offer the exact same rebellion. I think she made him read a paragraph here and there, and then the first page of each chapter or something. That was the deal, if he wanted to be read to that night...

    Having bashed the books, I must say my son absolutely loved them. They are a great intro to history, science, biography, and geography. Click here to read the post I wrote on them last year.

    One thought on reading to your child...

    I've heard homeschoolers who are really into reading (Charlotte Mason-types) say that while it's important for a child to read to and along with a parent, it's also important to have some books that are strictly read to them - even up through advanced ages like 14.

    So what you could do is read a few books at a time, and stagger the reading levels. Have some easy stuff that he should read on his own; then the intermediate level material like the Tree House series; and a higher tier of books that you read to him without any pressure for him to help out. For that last group I suggest the Great Illustrated Classics: Ben Hur, Robin Hood, War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, etc. All libraries have them.

    And for the easier stuff that you want your son to be totally self-propelled in I suggest looking at the goofier books. My son loves the graphic novels more than anything; he simply devours them in single sittings. And I think what really got him into those were the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

    Mostly just keep your eyes peeled (after you have removed the tele-mind-poison!) for whatever seems to pique his interest. Once you find it, start reading the book and then procrastinate finishing it. This will cultivate his desire to discover the ending and read it himself! I believe this momentous event happened with my son in the Andrew Lost series.

    Okay, so how do I structure my day?

    After breakfast, always stay at the table for *seatwork*. If they tire, tell them to go get dressed and take a 15 minute break. Use the timer; be strict. At this point, my kids just think it completely normal to do workbooks every single day. Yeah, all summer, and Saturdays and Sundays included! We even do work in the morning when out at beach houses, when house-guests, on ferry boats, on park picnic tables, and in the backseat of our car. Everything might be a deal - if you want to go to the park...you must do X pages of this workbook. You can have dessert AFTER you finish your *work*. Read my guest post for more on my *work, work, work* philosophy.

    I guess when I look back, my daily edu-structure was to start early, taking breaks all morning long for dressing, LEGOS, outside time, lunch, drawing, computer time, etc., with the end goal of being done by 3pm.  At that time, I would generally take my kids to the playground for 2-3 hours (or the pool in the summer).

    My kids are older now and involved in many organized activities so a somewhat variable schedule dictates when we do our work. But mainly it's still done in the AM.

    For a schooled child, family reading at night, which you obviously do, is a no-brainer. If there's an opening for additional work, I'm guessing it's on the weekends and those vacation-type days.

    I say just do 15-20 minutes for starters on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Once the regimen is in place, it's fairly easy to ramp it up.

    Of course, most all kids will push back; they are simply testing the parents. In that case Mom and Dad have to take away something. I know very few parents who actually mean *no* when they say it, very few who follow through on threats to 3,4,5, and 17 year olds. I am most certainly not that person. I am as strict as they come. And yeah, I do smack them here and there for emphasis.

    And I completely understand that the last thing a working parent wants to do at night is come home and discipline a child....but sometimes often that needs to be done, sternly.

    It's amazing how smart these kids are. Mine give my wife such a hard time for things they WOULDN'T dare try on me. But she's soft, Italian, works 12 hours a day, and is *their mother*. As I type this I just had to go up and stop my daughter from screaming her head off after my first wife put her to bed. The second I opened her door and she saw me the ducts went dry and she laid down. I deadpanned:

    "If you don't stop crying right now, I'm going to take away your night-light and your radio..."

    My wife simply does not demand or command that type of respect.

    As my kids have gotten older, they've learned not to mess with my *if-then* threats and have become far better behaved - particularly my son. That's the hard part about 3 year olds....they just don't comprehend threats yet!

    I am by no means a sage Greek god or anything - heck I've only been a parent for 6 years. Pretty much all I do differently is more work, more discipline, more one-on-one instruction, far less TV, and far less scurrying around. Oh yeah, and I do a whole lot of computer-based stuff with them. I've yet to meet anyone else who utilizes the PC even a fraction as much for learning as we do here. Definitely keep that in mind.

    One question from the email I haven't answered yet:

    Really, is it your kids who are super smart or do you really think any reasonably intelligent kid can perform at this level?

    First of all, let me say that the 5.99 year old Prince is incredibly slow and lazy! There are a host of things he doesn't do well at all - probably a good subject for a future post.

    I hear it, and sense it, all the time - that my child is an aberration. "He's C-Nut's son, so of course he's a genius."

    Those would-be geneticists need to meet my father....(sorry, Dad!)

    Heck even my own mother, who's well aware of how much time we spend personally educating our kids, has remarked, "I think he (the Prince) is just really, really smart."

    I can't tell you how much that comment infuriated me and my wife - if only for a year or two. Note my mother is a government school teacher, so no one who's paying attention a little bit should be surprised.

    There are many reasons I publicize my children's educational progress. Sure I'm proud of them, and of myself, but to infer mere boasting would be erroneous.  I believe in homeschooling so much and disbelieve in age-graded, curriculum-bound government schools so much more that by sharing our experiences and successes in this space I hope my posting will inspire others.

    Can other kids do what mine are doing?

    They most certainly can - and go far beyond!

    See my posts on these two important books - books that dovetail perfectly with my everyday edu-regimen:

    Outliers - A Must Read

    Book Rec - Talent Is Over-rated

    One final note - because I could go on forever(!) - reading is important but there are plenty of other fun and effective ways you can supplement your son's education.

    Of course there's art and music. Does he like to build? Everyone knows about LEGOS, but there's also Knex and Erector Sets. And my son absolutely loves Snap Circuits.

    The term *afterschoolers* describes parents who try to supplement school work on their own. In fact I know a guy who tried to formalize this endeavor with his daughter, for years. It simply doesn't work - for a variety of reasons. And this guy has since pulled his daughter out of the system entirely.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Fire Island - Good Ratios and Mucho Dinero

    Guess what....I think that is actually IT - the entire school district!

    Well, not exactly.

    Some guy today, an independent educator, told me he periodically teaches classes out there on that sandbar where Barney Frank hangs out.

    He said that in grades K through 2nd....there were only about 6 kids, TOTAL.

    As an expensive NY beach town/destination, Fire Island certainly has a nice property tax base.

    Except no one lives there year-round (outside of some Coast Guard families).

    Therefore the district spends something insane, like $50,000 per pupil annually!

    I assume there's some (state?) ridiculous law that requires this town to have a fully-equipped school system - replete with special ed, handicap ramps, a nurse, a librarian, administrators, etc.