Friday, August 29, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson On Palin

Go read this.

Obama Barackpedals

Initial Obama reaction to Palin selection is being barackpedaled furiously.

As Tammy Bruce said they are now
in damage control after their petty and insulting initial response to the Palin nomination. I guess they realized insulting small town Americans (again!) and women (again!) gave people too much of a peek behind the curtain.

Losers indeed.

Obama Camp: Palin Too Inexperienced to be Vice President

Aside from the general absurdity of teh statement, let's do a quick comparison

Barack Obama: 4 years as a U.S. Senator (1 of 100 blowhards in a room)
7 years as a Illinois State Senator (1 of 59 blowhards in room)

Summary: 11 years of experience and zero of it as the person in charge.

Sarah Palin: 4 years as a City Council member in a small town
4 years as mayor of that same small town
2 years as governor of a U.S. State

Summary: 10 years of political office expernience and six of it as the person in charge.

Look, I know Palin is not as experienced in terms of time in office as McCain or Biden. True she has no real foreign policy expereince.

But there is one of the biggest differences and the only one that matters:

Palin is the VP candidate and Obama is the Presidential candidate.

Obama has as much foriegn policy experience as Palin. He has zero--ZERO--executive experience. In fact, Palin has more executive experience than all three Senators combined.

Some people are talking about Palin's lack of experience.

I like Palin as a choice, it is outside the box to a certain extent and has certainly destroyed the discussion of Obama's speech last night.

Intersting Confluence

Campaign K-12 notes that a delegate to the Democratic convention from Alaska is a teacher for Wasilla, AK.

Interestingly, Sarah Palin, the new Republican Vice Presidential Candidate was once the mayor of

Yep, Wasilla, AK. Chances are they know each other.

Chris Matthews is an Idiot

As if that is news, but the chucklehead made these comments about Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice:
And it’s important to point out, as we have not so far, Barack Obama was not given this nomination, he won it. He was not offered a nice title like Secretary of State, like Condoleezza Rice got from the Republicans. He was not offered the title of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as Colin Powell was, or Secretary of State. He won the nomination of a Democratic Party voting together. He defeated all other opponents and took the prize and took the leadership. He is the chosen leader of the Democratic Party.

He is not some popular appointment or a showcase appointment. He is the victor here tonight. That’s why he dictates the agenda. That’s why he says, personally, what the Democratic Party will do if he’s elected President. He is the leader of the party. He may be the leader of the country through a democratic process. It is so vital to understand the history being made here tonight. This is not something cute or wonderful. It is something compelling and powerful. This country has changed its history.
I might have problems with Colin Powell's politics or Condoleeza Rice's effectivness, but they earned the position of Secretary of State. If President Bush wanted to make them a showcase appointment, he would make them administrator of some periperhal agency, not put them fourth in line for the Presidency!!!

Ed Morrissey also points out that Obama didn't actually win the nomination through the primary process, he was able to get the Democratic Party Establishment behind him, he was "given" the nomination in that sense. Neither he nor Hillary were going to win the nomination through the primaries. So no, Obama didn't win, he was given the nomination.

Another Reason to Hate Comcast

The giant internet/cable provider Comcast is set to put a limit on how much people and upload/download per month.

I know I will never come close to 250 gigabytes of activity, but I already pay a pretty penny for the "right" to high speed internet provided by the chuckleheads. Not real happy with this move either.

John McCain’s VP Choice: Sarah Palin

This rumor has been all over the net yesterday and today, but it looks like John McCain’s VP Choice will be Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. If accurate, this could be a fantastic choice for McCain.

First, Palin is supposedly a fabulous campaigner (don't know if true). She is not a boring white guy as Newt Gingrich warned the GOP to avoid. She is only 44, which sort of highlights McCain's age, but unlike Joe Biden, she is an actual executive official and if chose would be the only one of the four people at the top of the tickets to have lead a state. She is younger than Obama, but see teh experience factor.

She has no foriegn policy experience, which could cut against her.

What helps McCain? Palin will appeal to the very women that Obama is starting to lose across the country, working women and younger women.

We will see what happens.

Bradley Names 20 to U.S. Roster

U.S. Men's National Team Coach Bob Bradley has named a 20 man roster for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers againt Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago. Here is the list:

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan, Tim Howard
DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra, Danny Califf, Steve Cherundolo, Frankie Hejduk, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Orozco, Heath Pearce, Marvell Wynne
MIDFIELDERS: DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Sacha Kljestan, Eddie Lewis
FORWARDS: Brian Ching, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson

Still no Freddy Adu (and don't give me that crap about settling in at his club, since Mo Edu has been called in and he just got to Rangers) and still no Jozy Altidore (see Adu). Still no Kenny Cooper or Edson Buddle or even Charlie Davies.

I am glad to see Wynne and Orozco on the list, but I am not expecting to see them start against Cuba, maybe against Trinidad if the U.S. win at Cuba.

Looking at this squad, all I see is "defense, defense." Sure Donovan can create and attack, as can Klejstan and even Michael Bradley, but looking at this midfield and how Bradley has used these guys in the past, I see four defensive minded midfielders (Beasley, Bradley, Clark, and Edu). I see a striker that Bradley loves not because he scores goals, but because he comes back to play defense.

Cherundolo will sit the Cuba game so expect to see Frankie Hejduk in at right back, although I think Wynne should get the nod. Expect to see Pearce at left back, although Califf is probably a better idea. Onyewu and Bocanegra are essentially penned in with Howard as starters (though admittedly Howard should be). I would not be surprised to see Guzan against Trinidad, again if the U.S. win against Cuba.

So against Cuba, this will be the line up (probably)





The problem of course is that Lewis doesn't have the pace to be dangerous on the left flank. There is not a lot of creativity in that squad and that is a problem. Oddly enough if I had to rank the players in that line up in terms of creativity, Frankie Hejduk, Michael Bradley and Mo Edu would be the top three, with Donovan a close fourth. That is scary given that Bob bradley will make sure Micheal and Mo sit back.

Although I won't happen, with this roster, I would try running a 4-1-4-1 formation that would look like this:






What does this get you? Donovan can and likes to run a players and his mobility makes him a threat no matter where he is on the field. Bradley is an attacking midfielder for his club team and a successful on at that, but if he plays a little withdrawn with Donovan a little foward, he can be more of a box-to-box midfielder. Beasley still has lots of pace, but I am not sure he is 90 minute match fit, but if he can go 60 minutes and then bring in someone like Lewis or Dempsey to play that winger, you get an impact sub out of the deal. Klejstan is creative and although normally plays well in the middle, I think he is a solid server of the ball.

Mo Edu is quickly becoming one of the best holding midfielders in the U.S. and if Walter Smith at Rangers uses him in that role, he will develop faster.

Hejduk and Wynne have speed galore. Wynne is not the best tackler in the world, but he makes up for that with lots of speed. Hejduk can cross the ball, attack forward, get back to play defense and run hard for a full 90 minutes. Wynne can do the same, although he is not as good a crosser of the ball--yet.

If Boca and Gooch earned there practical penning in with their performance in Guatamala.

Impact subs would be Dempsey and Johnson (although still not my first choice).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

U.S. National Team Suggestions Continued--The Midfielders

Earlier this week, I talked about who amoung strikers Bob Bradley should call up.

I promised to take a look at other players that should be called up.

As I have mentioned before, the midfield is vitally important and in the modern game the players in this area of the field have to be not only supremely fit, but also have the best touch on the ball, quick both physically and mentally, and creative to a fault. So with that in mind, here are a some midfielders I would like to see get a better viewing by Bob Bradley.

Robbie Rodgers. I was torn between putting him up top or in the midfield, but I think Rodgers is a better winger than striker. He has pace aplenty and is coming off a good performance in Beijing and is probably a solid replacement for a player like Eddie Lewis. Rodgers has gotten better at creating chances, making space for himself and other players and crossing the ball in a dangerous manner. He has enough height to be a danger on set peices, but I haven't see him do that. Perhaps improvement in that realm will go a long way to seeing him on the full national team soon. Rodgers is a regular for Sigi Schmid's Columbus crew, with 19 games (18 starts) for the Crew and five goals.

Dax McCarty. Not the biggest guy around and probably why Bradley has been reluctant to bring him into the full national team. McCarty has good pace but more importantly an solid ability to read the game and make that dangerous pass. The only drawback is that with his club, McCarty is not getting a lot of starts but has a fair number of appearances. He also didn't get a lot of time in Beijing, although he makes an impact when he does make an appearence.

Kyle Beckerman. The dreadlocked Beckerman has been consistenly overlooked by Bradley. Is he Deco? Is he Ballack? Is he even Adu? No. What Beckerman is like Mo Edu, a workhorse, not a showhorse. Watching Real Salt Lake, you can't miss Beckerman's workrate. He is all over the field, plays tough defense (which has to appeal to Bradley), makes great passes to start counter attacks, has a wicked long distance shot and enough scrap to take on the world's best with a chip on his shoulder.

Eddie Gaven. Bradley has already called Gaven in, having been capped for the U.S. in the Cope America last year, at age 20. Gaven, like Rodgers above, plays for the Crew and already has a long professional career. He is not a flashy goal scorer, but gets the goals and gets the assists.

There are others playing overseas that probably deserve a shot, more on them later.

The Teacher Revolution?

Over the past couple of weeks (between posts on soccer) I have discussed the efforts of Michelle Rhee to restructure the pay scale for teachers in Washington DC schools. I thought the move to be very smart politics.

Yesterday, I read the latest Paul Tough article on schools in New Orleans and I have been doing various research on Teach for America and other alternative teacher employment routes. One of the most important cross overs of the Tough article and the TFA type organziations is the reliance on younger people to see what can be done to change education. With the generational divide on the DC teacher compensation proposal, I started to wonder about what is really coming in education at least as it relates to teachers.

Of course, probably every teacher comes into their profession with the hope of making a difference in some child's life. Some may delude themselves into thinking they can make a difference in every child's life, but most I think have lesser ambtions, just to make an impact. However, as their careers progress, they become, as all professionals do, a little more jaded about their profession and unfortunately, a little entrenched in their thinking. After all, it takes a lot of work and self-discipline to constantly upgrade, change, add or subtract from one's thinking.

But here is what I think is different about the teachers coming into education now, be it through the traditional methods or through TFA type organizations, is that these teachers not only have the hope of changing lives, but the actual expectation to do so. What TFA andother organizations do, that school systems in teh past and even now don't, is provide a means of networking, of sharing struggles, ideas, issues and opportunities for improvement. I am not saying that such things are, by themselves, going to change education, but these young people are used to being connected, used to rapid communication and sharing, and used to the brain storm atmosphere that grows out of such instant connections. Consequently, they fully believe, indeed know, that they can effect change.

But here is the fundamental difference between new teachers of 40 years ago and new teachers of today--today's new teachers understand the long view. Contrary to the notion that young people (22-24 is the average age of a new teacher) are self-centered, narcissistic jerks, these young people in TFA and coming into teaching know that the ills of education will not, cannot be corrected in a short period of time. What is needed is a long term effort that gives practitioners an opportunity to start making that long term impact. TFA's goal is to close the achievement gap (although what TFA will do if they ever succeed is a good question), but they recognize that it will take more than simply dedicated teachers, but will take people at the highest levels to make it happen, thus their focus on moving Alumni into higher levels of policy making.

Question About College and Potential Students

In this silly political season, we often hear that college should be made available for everyone, or some other such silly notion. Yes, it is a silly notion because college is not for everyone nor should it be. Kevin Carey in a post that is a couple of weeks old notes:
This question comes up often, sometimes slightly rephrased as "Is College for Everyone?" or "Should Everyone Go to College?," and it's a silly formulation because the answer is, obviously, no. If you put it this way, people immediately think of their idiot third cousin or that guy from high school who liked to drink grain alcohol and tie M-80s to the backs of squirrels, and they rightly say "Of course not, and anyone who thinks otherwise is being utopian and dumb."

The real question (and the one Osterman actually addresses) is how many people should go to college, and is that number, compared to current college-going and degree completion rates, too small, too large, or about right? Osterman frames the discussion around the college wage premium (the average difference between wages for people who have college degrees and those who don't). This number has been bubbling up with increasing frequency in policy debates, because it hasn't changed much over the last seven years. That's a break with historical trends; from the early 1970s to 2000, the premium grew steadily and substantially, particularly for people with advanced (post-baccalaureate) degrees.
Carey is referring to this paper by MIT economist Paul Osterman.

But the question of how many should be going to college needs to be coupled with a couple of other questions.

1. Who should go to college? The proper answer in politically correct circles is "anyone who wants to." But that is not really a good answer since a fair number of students, including those going to high-level public universities, have no business being in college AT THAT TIME. I capitalize that last part to make clear that yes, I think anyone who has the skills, preparation and attitude should be able to go to college. But I would also note that there is a large portion of entering freshmen every year who could use some time to mature, gain necessary skills and otherwise make themselves ready for college. College is expensive and it is far better to spend a little time before you get to college making sure you are ready to do the work necessary to succeed rather than a) waste your own money (or your parents), b) waste scholarship money, or c) incur student loan debt unnecessarily.

2. How do we determine who and how many should go to college? Clearly self-selection is not necessarily working out since some 40 percent of students don't get a degree within six years of entering college. So the question is interesting as to when and how to identify someone as ready for college. No, the SAT is not an accurate predictor, nor is high school peformance. So what is the proper determinant? I really don't know, but it seems like a relevant question to ask since so much money, time, heartache and headache accompanies such a decision. Too often, teh decision of whether to go to college or not does not belong to the student themselves, but rather the expectation, particularly among middle class and upper class children is made for them by the time they are able to walk. Is that healthy or proper?

Clearly the political push to have everyone who wants a college education be offered the means to obtain one is, on balance, good for this country. But there are consequences and some of those consequences are becoming apparent as a larger percentage of students never get a degree, yet they pay the price for their lack of completion.

Not surprisingly, academics and policy wonks are talking about the issue and maybe there is a public relations role for the government, but I think clearly the initial responsibility must come down on K-12 schools to make sure their graduates have the skills and mentality to succeed at college. If that were happening then the question of appropriateness boils down to student desire and nothing else. Oh, were that the way of the world.

The Problem with the MLS Single Entity Approach

Well, actually there are many problems, but this one, as described at Soccer By Ives just takes the cake for me.

The New York Red Bulls' striking capability has been spotty this year, all the more so since the departure of Jozy Altidore. NY has focused on signing strikers to get some depth back at the position, and they have done so. But they also wanted to sign 23 year old Senegalese striker Macoumba Kandji from USL-1 side Atlanta Silverbacks. Atlanta said, sure, the transfer fee is $200,000.

Compared to other prices and fees, it was not a bad deal. New York had the money (transfer fees have to be paid with allocation money and NY had enough), figured the valuation by Atlanta was fair and everyone was happy.

Except the MLS who balked saying that it set a dangerous precedent for dealings with the USL.

So the question is why?

This is one of the biggest problems to come down the MLS pike in recent months. It is bad enough that clubs are saddled with a salary cap and some pretty inane and arcane rules regarding allocation money, allocation rights, drafts, etc. MLS approval on transfers however, has got to stop. If an MLS side has the money, the transfer is within the rules, both the acquiring side and the selling side clubs agree on the fee and the player is happy to make the move, why should MLS stand in the way.

This is not the way to run a league and when stuff like this happens, it seems more and more like MLS are just making things up as they go along. That is what makes them a Mickey Mouse league.

Jim LIndgren on Obama's Community Service Plan

The Volokh Conspiracy's Jim Lindgren examines Barack Obama's plan for middle and high school students to do 50 hours of community service as part of his "civilian national security force." While one can quibble with whether community service (as it is commonly thought of) is comparable to national security, Obama's chosen mechanism is troubling. Since, as Lindgren points out in the comments:
One hurdle that Mr. Obama’s plan must vault is the U.S. Constitution, which limits the federal government to enumerated powers. Lacking the power to mandate universal community service directly, Mr. Obama candidly discloses his strategy: making federal funds contingent on schools having service programs that meet federal standards.

Because Mr. Obama calls his plan voluntary, it’s important to understand exactly what he says and doesn’t say. In both of his main speeches on national service – on July 2, 2008 and on December 5, 2007 – Barack Obama set his goal of 50 hours of service a year, promised that “We'll reach this goal,” and explained how he would do so for middle and high school children:
So when I'm President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you'll have done 17 weeks of service.

We'll reach this goal in several ways. At the middle and high school level, we'll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities.
If Obama hadn’t promised that “We’ll reach this goal” of 50 hours a year of service for all students, one might read his proposal as indicating that he would require schools to have service programs, but that these programs might not require 50 hours of service. Yet the only way that almost every 11-year old public school student in the country would serve 50 hours a year – i.e., the only way that Mr. Obama could reach his goal – is by doing what he seems to indicate he’s going to do: setting a federal goal of 50 hours a year for each middle school student and reaching that goal by making federal funds contingent on middle schools requiring their students to serve those 50 hours.

Thus, it would be the public schools that would impose federal standards of coerced service on each child as part of their requirements for graduation. For students, service would be involuntary. Even for the public schools, their participation would be only nominally voluntary – for how many public schools can survive without federal assistance?

Lest there be any remaining doubt that Barack Obama’s “voluntary” universal service plan contemplates mandatory service for children, his Service Plan praises mandatory service in the sentence that immediately precedes his call for 50 hours of service: “Schools that require service as part of the educational experience create improved learning environments and serve as resources for their communities.” Moreover, in his Plan, he promises to “develop national guidelines for service-learning and community service programs,” thus not leaving the content of service programs to the states.
This is where things get tricky. Leaving aside the constitutional problems, which Obama seems to think he can avoid by using the Spending Clause (itself an overused mechanism for implementing policy that would otherwise be unconstitutional for the federal government to do)

By tying federal aid to public schools to the 50 hour public service you will require two things. First, a massive federal bureacracy will have to be created and funded to oversee the program. Obama has explictly stated here at page 4, "He will develop national guidelines for service-learning and community service programs, and will give schools better tools both to develop successful programs and to document the experience of students at all levels. The documentation takes people to compile and verify the "voluntary service" so that the schools that don't make the time will be sanctioned. So, in addition to all the reporting that schools do now for things like free/reduced lunches, NCLB reporting, attendance, etc., we are going to add yet another data collection and reporting scheme, adding further to the cost of public education. both the new bureaucracy and the new reporting means more tax dollars and make no mistake about it, it would be funded by spending cuts elsewhere.

Second, this program will, as Obama has stated, national standards for community service. Aside from the utter oxymoronic statement itself "National standards for community service," the creation of national standards will mean that the federal government will have to decide what is appropriate community service and what is not. This, in itself has two significant implications. First, in order for organizations to get this free "voluntary labor" that it may want, it will have to "qualify" in the eyes of the government. That means, most likely, an application process--which means another bureaucracy. The application process for charities and community orgranizations will require federal recognition of what is "good" and what is not. Such a program makes me nervous since I don't want the federal government to be making that kind of distinction. Second, we will of course need another federal bureaucracy to manage this aspect of the community service. So more tax dollars to fund this program.

But has anyone given any consideration to what the labor force, i.e. our kids, think of this idea? Keep in mind that teenagers have a pretty sensitive "B.S. detector" and will know that they only have to punch the time clock, so that most of them will do their time and little else. What is the point in that? Oh yeah, free labor by government fiat.

I am not a big fan of high school service learning that currently exists in my home state of Maryland and other locales. To graduate, a student has to put in a certain number of hours in community service. Right now, it is a pretty broad definition, but I worry that even now, it is a matter of punching a time clock and little else.

Our national has a long history of individual volunteerism and Americans are by far the most generous nation on earth. But when you start requiring generosity, don't you simply build resistance to service. What good does that do anyone?

Fulham Advance to Carling Cup Third Round--The Hard Way

A 3-2 win over Leicester City at Craven Cottage moved the Whites forward, but it took an injury time goal by Danny Murphy to make it happen.

Zoltan Gera and Jimmy Bullard provided the other goals.

While the Fulham back line continues to be a moving target, well, the outside backs at least, I think Roy Hodgson has found himself a highly effective midfield line. Gera, Bullard, Murphy and Simon Davies have made most of the starts thus far and that is going to be a solid line.

Fulham will have nearly two and a half weeks off as their fixture this weekend against Manchester United has been postponed until a later date due to United's participation in the UEFA SuperCup match against UEFA Cup Winners Zenir St. Petersburg on Friday. The the FIFA International break occurs so the next match will be on September 13 against Bolton.

Guards at the Tomb of the Unknows

Check out the video here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

» Brain-Based Carnival of Education, 186th Edition   « Brain Fitness Revolution at SharpBrains     

186th Edition Carnival of Education hosted this week by SharrpBrains.

Eddie Johnson Makes Cardiff Debut

American international striker Eddie Johnson who was loaned by Fulham to Championship side Cardiff City last week, made his debut for Cardiff in a 2-1 Win over MK Dons in a League Cup victory.

The Welsh side's FA cup run last year was spectacular and they have nothing to hang their heads about, but Cardiff appears set to make a run for promotion to the Premiership. After three matches, Cardiff sit 10th in the 24 team Championship with a +1 goal differential. As Kartik reported, Cardiff's directors seem to want to push for promotion. Great, what they will need to do is get in to the top six for the playoff. The top two teams in the Championship get promoted automatically and the next four have a playoff to see who gets the final promotion spot. Last year Cardiff placed twelvth with a 16-16-14 record with a +4 goal differential.

Johnson played the full 90 minutes, but didn't score despite a couple of quality chances and good saves by the MK Dons keeper.

I think Johnson has potential and could become a quality player, but he needs playing time and he needs maturity. I am hoping this year spent with Cardiff will help him get that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Long Term Effects of Paternalism

Much has been made of David Whitman's book, Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism, a book I have not yet read, but for which you can get a synopsis here written by Whitman. There have been discussions as to the loaded nature of the terms "new paternalism" but I leave that to others. Corey Bunje Bower however, has posited what I find to be an interesting question: What are the long-term consequences of the this new paternalism?

Whitman's paternalism is founded upon teh idea that six inner-city schools are bringing about success by being more paternalistic, read more disciplined oriented, than their couterparts in the inner-city schools. Whether this is the key to their success or simply an ingredient is beside the point, Whitman argues that these schools impose not only academic expectations but also behavioral expectations that are associated with middle-class values, such as respect, responsibility, accountability and so forth. One could argue that these are current middle class values amoung young people today, but it is difficult to argue that such attitudes are not expected.

Bower calls it micromanagement, writing:
it's quite logical to assume that students will perform better when they're micromanaged and when not following directions results in severe consequences. A child will keep their room cleaner if their parents do weekly checks and refuse to let them go out and play until it's immaculate than if a parent just chides them for having a dirty room every so often. And a child will have higher test scores if they're told how to do every little part of every little problem on the test and practice it repeatedly.
Aside from success on tests that result from regular drilling and constant reinforcement, I don't think what the new paternalism is attempting to instill in micromanagement.

Whitman talks about expectations in these schools. I think the paternalism that should be taught and I believe is implemented, is that expectations are set publicly from the start. The schools define what behavior is expected, how it is to be achieved and the consequences for success or failure. There are no moving targets of what is considered proper behavior, the proper behavior does not alter from classroom to classroom, teacher to teacher or grade to grade (Bower tells a story about the difference between his 8th and 9th grade math teachers, each with a different method and expectations regarding homework). The standards are uniform and they are enforced.

So back to the interesting question of the longer term consequences. I think that these students, inculcated from the start to know the standard of behavior will come to expect that kind of knowledge at the start of any endeavor. They may have trouble when future efforts are not delineated this way, but there is hope that success will breed the discipline necessary to succeed even when the standard is poorly designed or presented.

Conversely, you may these students starting to demand more of their employers/colleges as they age. We often live in a work/higher education environment where expectations are fuzzy at best and non-existant at worst. So perhaps, longer term, these students of the new paternalism will actually help society by being more demanding.

Swarming Michelle Malkin

Gotta love the "inclusiveness" of the Democrats. The hatefest is rediculous.

The mob scene starts around the 2:30 mark.

The threat was shouted, chanted for a few seconds, to "kill Michelle Malkin." Lovely huh.

Oh, and that massive police presence, yeah, not much response.

I have to hand it to Malkin, she kept her cool, didn't engage for long and aside from a few seconds of the "talk to the hand" bit, ignored the chuckleheads.

The Very Real Costs of Free Public Education

Eduflack takes up the hidden "tax" on parents with kids entering public school. I talked about this issue about this time last year. Here is what I wrote,
My question is why do I and every other parent have to provide these supplies?

The answer, this school supply list is a scam, it is a "tax," a means of forcing parents to pay more for the public education system beyond the personal needs of their child and their already hefty tax payments. The school system gets the parents to buy "school supplies" so the system doesn't have to do the heavy lifting of determining what supplies are needed and how to pay for them. The school doesn't have to manage inventory, track useage rates, and all the other matters involved in supply provision and control. If schools need something or the teachers need something, they simply add it to the list of "school supplies" for each pupil and then "tax" each student to provide for the common "good." It doesn't matter to the schools, for there is a steady stream of new parents and new students each year to "tax."

The school supply tax is the perfect governmental scheme of passing responsibility onto the "tax payer" and shirking accountability for the use of the taxes.
I got one comment that called me an anti-tax whiner.

Well, I am an anti-tax whiner. I don't care about having to buy supplies for my child to use, after all they are needed by my child. I can enforce accountability on my child for the proper use and maintenance of those supplies. The fact that most parents walk into Target, Wal-Mart or other stores to buy supplies for "common useage" without thinking that they are paying a tax just makes it easier to get around the problem of the tax. If the parents had to write a check at the start of each year rather than buying the supplies themselves, then there would be greater impact.

The fact is, with the regular growth in school budgets, one should ask, "with so much more money from year to year, why do teachers and students have to buy common useage supplies?" That people don't is troubling and if by my asking, I am an anti-tax whiner, then I wear the label with pride.

Ga.'s first all-girls charter school opens


On the flip side, a call for a all-boys charter school.

I say, the more the merrier.

NY Times Profile On Michelle Rhee

A puff piece to be sure, but it does outline some of Rhee's challenges.

Cool: Exoskeleton helps paralyzed man walk again.

Too cool for words.
The device, called ReWalk, is the brainchild of engineer Amit Goffer, founder of Argo Medical Technologies, a small Israeli high-tech company.

Something of a mix between the exoskeleton of a crustacean and the suit worn by comic hero Iron Man, ReWalk helps paraplegics -- people paralyzed below the waist -- to stand, walk and climb stairs.

Goffer himself was paralyzed in an accident in 1997 but he cannot use his own invention because he does not have full function of his arms.

The system, which requires crutches to help with balance, consists of motorized leg supports, body sensors and a back pack containing a computerized control box and rechargeable batteries.

The user picks a setting with a remote control wrist band -- stand, sit, walk, descend or climb -- and then leans forward, activating the body sensors and setting the robotic legs in motion.
Human ingenuity at its best.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Obama, Pelosi: Blibs on the political radar?

Bruce Walker makes a compelling argument that conservatives will still control in the long run:
The Battleground Poll, the most respected and thorough of all public opinion polls, released its latest results on August 20th. Although many people read this poll for the data on voter preference in upcoming elections, for voter opinions about the two major political parties, for what things matter most to voters, I always zip past this data in the first fifteen pages of poll results and go straight to Question D3, which very quietly and totally ignored proclaims the biggest missing story in American politics and which is the only story, in the long run, that really matters.


What is Question D3 and what were the results to Question D3 in the August 20, 2008 Battleground Poll? It is this:

"When thinking about politics and government, do you consider yourself to be...

Very conservative

Somewhat conservative


Somewhat liberal

Very liberal


In August 2008, Americans answered that question this way: (1) 20% of Americans considered themselves to be very conservative; (2) 40% of Americans considered themselves to be somewhat conservative; (3) 2% of Americans considered themselves to be moderate; (4) 27% of Americans considered themselves to be somewhat liberal; (5) 9% of Americans considered themselves to be very liberal; and (6) 3% of Americans did not know or refused to answer.


Look at the thirteen Battleground Poll results over the last six years, and how do Americans answer that very question? Here are the percentages of Americans in those polls who call themselves "conservative" since June 2002: 59% (June 2002 poll), 59% (September 2003 poll), 61% (April 2004 poll), 59% (June 2004 poll), 60% (September 2004 poll), 61% (October 2005 poll), 59% (March 2006), 61% (October 2006), 59% (January 2007), 63% (July 2007), 58% (December 2007), 63% (May 2008), and now 60% (August 2008.)
In short, Americans consistently identify with a conservative ideology, despite what liberals may want you to believe.

I think this is what informs consistent public opinion regarding the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism, and other issues that genuinely reflect conservative ideas. Walker talks about abortion, but there are other issues, such as faith in the market, abhorrance to taxes, etc. This is what likely spells the long term doom for liberals.

Democratic Convention to Be Sabotaged by the Clintons

Narcicism never fails to deliver.
Bill Clinton is perplexed and, frankly, not happy that he was asked to speak about national security Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention and not about the economy, the issue that he rode to the White House at another time of economic peril, a source close to the former president said Monday.

Some close to Clinton are encouraging him not to stick with the night’s theme of national security and add language about the economy in his remarks, in a way that Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, would frame it, the source said. It’s no secret that Clinton considers himself a highly effective communicator on the politics of the economy.
Look, Bill, you are no longer the guy and your wife is not the nominee. Either shut up and do as you are asked or get out.

Biden Camp Pressed Hard For a Slot on the Ticket -

Great ARticle on the Biden selection.

I always thought that selecting a Vice President was all about offsetting one's own weakness. Biden brings two things to the ticket, foriegn policy knowledge and time in service. Biden is not an executive and never has been, and not I said foreign policy knowledge, not experience as he has none.

Conversely, Biden brings loads of baggage that will be roundly exploited by McCain.

Now that I think about, Biden could bring the advantage of being a better target that Obama, making Obama look less like a jerk than Biden.

Kennedy Will Appear at Convention

Given Ted Kennedy's early support of Obama, his planned appearance at teh Democratic convention will no doubt be met with wild applause.

It think it good that he is healthy enough to attend.

Obamanomics Laying the Smackdown on the Market Already?

Larry Kudlow seems to think so.

Look, I think Obama screwed himself with a pick of Joe Biden, another redistributionist liberal. Tim Kaine or Kathleen Sebelius would have been far smarter picks and like to assuage concerns on Wall Street that Obama was going to be too redistributionist. Stunning reaction on Wall Street.

Does Congress REALLY Back 21st Century Learning?

so asks Bill Ferriter at The Tempered Radical. The short answer is no, they don't. What Congress supports is Congress getting re-elected and in that motivation you see why they are willing to spend $50 million, such a paltry sum, to back a research center to reinvent American Education for the 21st Century. All this proposal is can be summed up by two words, "Electoral Politics." This Congress, like all Congresses, is very poor at pro-active work and proposals. Congressional leaders look at the need to be re-elected every couple of years so they need a "program" aimed at "education" with 21st Century in the title. This way they look like they are doing something, but really aren't. So they do what Congress does best, Public Relations and spending money.

"Reinvent American Education for the 21st Century," what ever that means, is a poorly defined goal. As Bill pointed out, no one, including Congress, can define what 21st Century Learning is and what it entails.

What it does not entail is fancy technology in the classroom. As I just recently said, adding technology to the classroom does not improve education unless you have a solid foundation outside of technology. Technology is, in military terms, a force multiplier. If you don't have the force in the first place, what you end up with, is a picture that looks like this:

21st Century Education= Educational force x Technology.

If Educational Force= 0 (a poor curriculum or poor teachers for example), then your have

21st Century Education= 0 x Technology.

Any math teacher will tell you, if you multiply anything by 0, your result is 0. It won't matter how much you spend on technology if you don't have the foundation of solid pedagogy, strong texts and deep understanding of both learning and subject matter. If you have those, technology can provide a bonus, but it is not a substitute.

Ferriter cited this study by the NEA of teacher attitudes toward technology. Citing some interesting results in which teachers expressed satisfaction with the availability and training on software, Bill asks:
How can we possibly see change when the practitioners closest to the problem seem blind to the need for reform and unready to embrace student-centered learning experiences facilitated by new digital tools?

What many teachers fail to recognize is that 21st Century learning is about far more than cash and computers.

It's about learning, unlearning and relearning. It's about finding connections between diverse subjects. It's about communicating and collaborating---and managing the massive amounts of information generated in a world where publishing is possible for everyone. It's about setting one's own pace and pursuing one's own passions.
Indeed, but don't expect to see any real changes in teh next few years, and you will not be able to attribute any to this new Congressional initiative, assuming it is enacted into law.

When will you see changes, you might ask? When the older generations of teachers are replaced by teachers who understand technology and connections in their own lives, who are facile with the management of information, who can see the link between say soccer and georgraphy. In short, I don't think that you can sit here, at the relative dawn of the 21st Century and say what 21st Century education will be. Such hubris is sure to be properly rewarded.

My fear for this Congressional intiative is that it will be a $50 million boondoggle, incapable of actually finding something new, of pushing the envelope and worst of all, become a source of grants and funding for every person out there who thinks they have the silver bullet for education.

If there is one trait I want to see in 21st Century Education it is this: I want our policy leaders to be open. Open to change, open to new ideas, open to the concept that they don't know everything or most of anything, open to the idea that just because it was always done one way, doesn't mean it is the best way or the only way, open to the idea that you don't have to have a Ph.D or Ed.D. to come up with a quality way of educating kids.

Openness, networking and networked solutions (not computer networks) is going to change education, not from the top down, but from the ground up.

The Side Effects of World Football (Soccer for You Americans)

Updated 8/26/08

That I am a soccer fan should be readily obvious to anyone who has read this blog in the past couple of months since I started blogging more about the world's most popular game. Those who have been reading this blog regularly also know that I write regularly about education. One of my favorite education bloggers is Bill Ferriter, who has recently talked about helping students make connections between their passions. Well, I have taken that to heart and made a connection between my passion and my children's curiousity.

While my family is generally amused at my obsession with soccer(hey it keeps me off the streets), there is a wonderful side effect to the Beautiful Game, geography and the ability to teach geography.

International sporting events are fabulous to provide a means by which you can learn about other nations, where they are located and what makes them unique. Sure, the Olympics are nice, but they last two weeks every two years (Summer and Winter games). Yes, they involve lots of nations, but given the short time span of their existence, it is hard to get really into geography. But soccer, particularly international soccer, is a great geographic toy.

In 2010, the World Cup will be held. I don't care what anyone says about American Football or the Olympics, but the World Cup is the single largest sporting event in the world. The tournament features 32 teams from all over the world and all six continents (there is no penquin team from Antartica), and has, literally, a world-wide audience. But the important thing is that qualifying for the tournament has started this year and you can following the regional qualifying on the soccer news sites. This is where the geography lesson comes in, as during qualifying each and every country in the world, for the most part, has a team (I don't think the Vatican fields a squad) and you can follow where they are and how they are doing.

My oldest daughter (now a first grader) usually won't sit and watch a 90 minute game on TV with me (she does like to go to live games), but she will ask me where some countries are located. So, with World Cup qualifying going on, I have taken the opportunity to have a little geography/history/soccer history lesson with each game the U.S. National Team will play.

For example, the United States Men's National Team will play qualifying group play against Guatamala, Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago. There is your regional geography lesson. The U.S. will probably move to the next round which will feature five more teams from the North American, Central American and Carribean areas. If the U.S. get to the World Cup there are 32 teams in that tournament, with 8 four team groups and all the political, geographic and soccer history that can keep you enthralled for the entire month's tournament.

Aside from the Olympics (which last for two weeks), what other major sporting event lends itself to the betterment of American understanding of the world? That's right, none. Not American Football (Throwball), not hockey, or baseball. Basketball is changing a little with the influx of foreign players to the NBA, but it is not like soccer. In soccer, you can have the stories of Nigeria, Cameroon and Cote D'Ivorie all advancing in the Olympic Tournament. You can have the history of Brazil v. Argentiva, the European/South American rivalry. You get all of that, a geography lesson and wonderful competition all at once.

So the connection offers the opportunity for me to teach my daughter geography, history, some biographies (we are talking about Pele now), and I get to watch soccer for "ecucational purposes" and my wife has less ammunition for smirking at my passion.

Fulham 1-0 Arsenal

Have to love this scoreline.

Brede Hangeland got his first goal for the Whites midway through the first half. Admittedly, I was worried that Fulham would, well, pull a Fulham and blow it in the final 15 minutes, but that didn't happen and Fulham get their first win of the season in thier home opener. I have to say, I need to get myself to Craven Cottage and soon as I thought the atmosphere was outstanding.

Hangeland's goal, off a Jimmy Bullard corner kick, was wonderful to watch. But the general possession game that Fulham looked to be playing was also appealing. Hodgson is known for having this kind of possession oriented game style and the Whites look to be adapting to it well. Arsenel, known for playing a more beautiful style of game that most of the EPL, actually looked puzzled a bit by Fulham's play. But possessing the ball means you opponents don't have the ball and if they don't have the ball, they can't score.

The final ten minutes or so were a flurry of Arsenel attacks, leading to my fear of a Fulham ending, giving up two points at home. But with Hangeland and Schwarzer working hard, along with John Pantsil (who is making a case for his right back slot), Aaron Hughes and Tony Kallio (in his Fulham debut for the injured Paul Konchesky) kept the Fulham defense in shape and kept Arsenel out of the net.

Last week, I though Fulham would win at Hull City, but lost in the last minutes. This week, I thought Arsenel would win and was pleasantly suprised otherwise. Fulham are off to a good start.

Wednesday the Whites will host Leicester City in a Carling Cup match. Then comes a two week international break FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Eddie Johnson Loaned to Cardiff City

U.S. International and Fulham also-ran Eddie Johnson is on his way to Wales in season long loan deal to the FA Cup runners-up.

Johnson, who has seen no firt team action in months, could hopefully get some serious playing time. To be honest, I am surprised it took Roy Hodgson this long to loan out the young American.

In the meantime, Johnson could get some significant playing time with Cardiff, a mid-table Championship team that could use some striker help. If you recall, Cardiff supposedly made a transfer bid for Kenny Cooper of FC Dallas. The Championship may actually be more suited to Johnson, at least right now. Hopefully it will boost his confidence and make U.S. National Team Coach Bob Bradley's faith in Johnson a bit mroe justified.

A Veteran Defined

A VETERAN Whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" for an amount "up to and including their life".

That is HONOR, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

--Author Unknown.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

International Olympic Committee launches probe into He Kexin's age - Times Online

International Olympic Committee to investigate Chinese gymnasts age.

Gee, wonder what took them so long.

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones Dead

Sad news to be sure, but not an 'incalcuable loss' as she is one amoung 435 representatives.

Tubbs Jones dies of a brain aneurysm.

The joke's on McCain: Late-night comedians lay off Obama | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times

Why? Probably not media or personal bias, but jokes about black people are considered racist, unless you are a black person.

Women's Gold Medal Match Photos

At NBC Olympics

U.S. Women's National Team Wins Gold

By an extra time goal from Carli Lloyd.
Outplayed and overwhelmed for most of the night, the Americans got the only shot they needed.

Olympic champions, once again.

Carli Lloyd scored in the sixth minute of overtime Thursday night, Hope Solo bailed out her teammates time and again, and the United States beat Brazil 1-0 to win the gold medal in women's soccer for a third time in four Olympics.

As the final whistle sounded, the Americans charged across the field, hugging anyone in sight. Someone handed out flags, and several players took off, running.
Well done, Ladies.

Now, can Hope Solo finally get some love from her teammates.
The victory was a bit of redemption for the Americans, who went to the World Cup as favorites last fall only to be humbled 4-0 in the semifinals by Brazil. And for no one was it sweeter than Solo, who was banished from the bronze medal game at the World Cup after criticizing then-coach Greg Ryan for not playing her against Brazil even though she'd allowed only two goals in four World Cup starts, and had a shutout streak of nearly 300 minutes going.
Although the Brazilian Women got a Silver Medal, it was not a good Olympics for the Brazilians. The men's side have yet to win gold in the competition and were trounced by Argentina in the semi-finals (the men will play for the Bronze). The women lost for the gold medal game for the second time in consecutive games to the U.S.

Look a win against the run of play is still a win. In other news, the Germans won the bronze medal in a 2-0 win over Japan.

Davis joins Rangers

Fulham's Steven Davis has been sold to Glasgow Rangers for an undisclosed fee.

Note, that despite the sale of center back star Carlos Cuellar, Rangers have used the money to buy some decent players. Too bad they got knocked out of European compeition.

St. Louis Soccer Complex

I hope this plan will help bring an MLS franchise to St. Louis. Given the soccer history of St. Louis, it seems tragic that a club is not located there. Given that the upcoming Women's Professional League will have club there, it seems only fitting that MLS put a club there.

Added bonus, when I go visit my grandmother, I can see an MLS game nearby.

USA 1:0 Guatemala--World Cup Qualifying

The United States Men's National Team went into Guatemala having not won on Guatemalan soil in 20 years. Of course, they hadn't lost either, but the U.S. was favored to pick up the full three points. Bob Bradley brought in a squad of veterans with this starting line-up:


E. Lewis----Mastroeni----Bradley-----Donovan



All in all, not a bad line-up.

Guatemala started a band of young speedsters and thugs. I know, it is not nice to call an opposing side thugs, but in this case it really is appropriate. Within the firt 18 minutes of the match, Guatemala had tallied six fouls and Carlos Ruiz had at least four. It was a dispicable display of intentional fouling that should have received a yellow card for persistent infringement. Later, in the second half, after Tim Howard smoothered a dangerous, low cross and had the ball clearly in his possession, Ruiz kicked Howard in the head. That Ruiz didn't get even a yellow card for that attack is an apt testament to the atrocious officiating by the Surname referee Enrico Wijngaarde (but more on that later).

There were times when the U.S. was playing well, they possessed the ball with authority, strung together great passing, took some good shots and looked like a top quality team. But the U.S. inconsistency shown through as well, when there were periods of poor first touches, bad passing, flat-footed defense and general malaise. For a while it looked like the Guatemalans were going to run over Heath Pearce, but he recovered and did well in the second half. At that is the tale of the U.S. performance over the past several years (even before the Bradley era). The U.S. has flashes of brilliance, significant quality playing time, but has failed to be consistent about either. I don't need flashy brilliance on a regular basis, but I do need to see consistent quality and it is not there yet.

The back line was pretty solid last night, aside from a few lapses. Carlos Bocanegra finally showed up and put on a great display (even aside from his goal). He was positioned well (at least when I could see him) and broke up more than a few chances. There is still a tendency for the U.S. to boot the ball out of the back rather than playing out of the back, but I think the U.S. is starting to overcome that. When Pearce was getting run under, Bocanegra was great about shading over to cover which prevented a great deal of the Guatemalan attack. During the first half, Jose Contreas was getting in between the back line and the midfield, but Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu adjusted well, pushing Onyewu a little forward to hassle Contreas to great effect.

The U.S. problems extended from the midfield. Eddie Lewis had a poor game, he was beaten to the ball, dispossessed regularly and didn't make smart plays. Landon Donovan on the other side didn't defend well, never really got going in the attack and for the final 30 minutes, was basic absent. Michael Bradley, however, settled down, played solid midfield, got into the attack with a few shots on goal, and looked more like an attacking midfielder (although he clearly is supposed to be in the bucket 4-4-2). The reason for that, of couse, is the presence of Pable Mastroeni, who did was he does best, which is perform as one of the best American holding midfielders.

The U.S. attack was shoddy. Brian Ching, particularly in the second half, would have been better off as a midfielder. He played solid defense, but I need the strikers to, I don't know, score goals!! Ching didn't really have any good chances on goal, but I do have to commend his defensive play. Clint Dempsey, as much as it wounds me to say, should be done as an American international until he starts playing better. Yes, he had some good shots on goal and a few chances, but for most of the game, he was a non-entity and that is troubling. The thing is that I think Dempsey himself knows he is not playing well. When he was subbed out of the match, his expression on the bench said it all to me.

Tim Howard. What can I say. There is a reason he is the American #1 and why Brad Guzan is going to be quite familiar with the pine bench for the next couple of years. I still believe Howard to be amoung the top five goalkeepers in the world and he showed it last night. He was in command, made a couple of good saves when he had to and showed a lot of fire at a time when the U.S. was struggling.

The game was brutally physical. Of course, the U.S. was expecting a rough game, it is par for the course with Guatemala. But it did get out of hand. About the 60th minute, Eddie Lewis was looking up a high ball, getting ready to head it down the line, when Guatemalan defender Gustavo Carbera essentially assaulted Lewis. Cabrera wasn't even looking at the ball and leapt into Lewis, leading with his elbow. Lewis went down hard and when he rolled over, blood was flowing from a cut over his eye. It wasn't even close and the replay makes Cabrera's actions all the more criminal. The good news is that Lewis was able to make it to the locker room under his own power.

The fortunate side effect of the Lewis injury is that it helped the U.S. break out of their funk. DaMarcus Beasley came in for Lewis and immediately laced a corner kick to the top of teh goal area where Bocanegra headed it home. Bocanegra was unmarked and a replay showed why as Brian Ching set what U.S.A. Olympic Basketball Coach K would have said was a perfect pick. A good goal and I note scored again by American Defenders not strikers. The U.S. then essentially bunkdered down to hold onto the lead.

The officiating was terrible and there is no other word for it. Rather, the center referee was horrible, the assistant referees missed a couple of calls, but they were not bad calls and were evenly spread between the teams. The first yellow card to Steve Cherundolo was perhaps the softest I have ever seen. Cherundolo's second yellow was deserved. That Carlos Ruiz didn't get a card of any color is inexcuseable. Cabrera needs to sit more than just one game, a three game suspension is warrented as he wasn't even trying to play the ball. In short, the referee didn't exhibit control of the game, was out of position (he even cost Michael Bradley an opportunity for a quality strike by being between Bradley and the goal), and was uneven in his calls. He misapplied the advantage, failed to ball obvious hard fouls but called some soft ones instead. It will be too soon if we never see this referee again.

Two short items: The lighting at the stadium was terrible, particularly in front of the goals. On TV, I couldn't even see the American players in their dark uniforms. At least it appeared that the players could see.

The ESPN coverage irritated me. First, the game was supposed to be on ESPN2 but some unimportant baseball game between the LA Angles and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays ran long. Sure, the Devil Rays and Angels are at the top of their divisions, but really, there are something like 30 games left in the baseball season. ESPN did start the game on Classic, but switched with barely any warning. Here's a thought, why not switch the end of the baseball game to Classic?

Second, Glenn Davis should not be doing play by play. John Harkes doing the color commentary was OK, not great, but not bad. Davis was rediculous, things like "giving the ball away in a bad area" is not quality that I would expect from a network that is rumored to be bidding on English Premier League rights. ESPN needs to do better.

Finally, Player rankings



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Babe of the Week : Jessica Alba

For just having had a baby, WOW!!!Courtesy of Photo Gallery

Lobbyists Are People Too

I haven't really talked about campaign finance and lobbying in a while. Part of it is simply a waning interest in the whole matter. But I do tend to get my nose out of shape when people give lobbyists a great deal of stick for being involved in campaign finance. Frankly I don't give a toss when people complain about special interests being so nefarious as to be corrupting the process. But I do expect people who are involved in politics to understand that lobbyists can contribute money just like anyone else.

So when I see something like this, it makes me happy.

Toronto FC lands Carlos Ruiz from LA

Soccer By Ives reports. This will clear the way for L.A. to sign veteran Eddie Lewis.

So, who makes out better on this deal?

For my money Toronto. Ruiz has struggled in an L.A. line up where Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle and suprise surprise, Alan Gordon are getting it done at the top of the formation. But he is still a quality striker and Toronto now boasts Ruiz and Danny Dichio at the prime and younger player Chad Barrett and teenage sensation Adbus Ibrahim. Now, if Toronto can get service to these strikers, they can recover for the season.

While Eddie Lewis is a steady and strong player, he really only has one or two years left so I am not sure what he gets L.A. aside from another midfielder.

Dave Matthews Band Member Dead

Saxophonist LeRoi Moore has died.

DMB has long been one of my favorite bands. This is just shocking.

GodBlogCon Returns to Vegas

Something is just odd about a Christian blog conference being held in "Sin City."

But still, I think this is good.

Diffierent Presidents

Right now, Obama could take a few lessons of leadership from Sarkozy.

A World Without the American Soldier

A video courtesy of the Brits.

I shudder to think of a world without American soldiers.

More Manchester City Mess

Look, I am not a City fan and when push comes to shove on the pitch, I would rather see them lose than win. However, having said that, I am worried that this club's mounting troubles could give a black eye to the Premiership.

First their owner Thaskin Sinawatra is a fugitive of the law for skipping bail in Thailand. His assets are frozen and the FA will quite possibly have to declare him not "fit and proper" owner and ask him to step down as the owner. The FA could take over the club until new owners step up. But this kind of news is not going to help them any:
Ukranian club Shaktar Donetsk have reported Manchester City to FIFA over the 475,ooo Pound still owed to them over the transfer last summer of Brazilian Elano.

A spokesman for FIFA said: ‘We can confirm Donetsk have lodged a claim with FIFA regarding this matter. As the relevant procedure will start in due course, we can’t provide further comments for the time being.’

Reports out of the Ukraine are suggesting City still owe 3.1 for this summer’s payment, but that check is in the mail.
That is a total 3.5 million pounds or so that City owe for a transfer.

Additionally, City have taken a loan out for 30 million pounds against their future television revenue. How risky is that? If City get relegated, they lose future television money fast. Although they are in the UEFA Cup qualifying, their 1-0 lose to Danish side Midtjylland puts them at extreme risk from not going further and losing that revenue stream.

In wonder if Mark Hughes wakes up in the middle of the night and wonders what he has done to deserve all of this?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Is Technology Going to Finally Change Education?

Steve Lohr in teh New York Times thinks so. But I have to disagree.

As I have said time and again, technology is no substitute for a solid program of anything. Education is not exception. Sure, technology is cheaper, it is more prevalent in schools, opportunities for students to use the technology are growing, but that doesn't mean that technology is going to change education.

Lohr writes:
Yet as a new school year begins, the time may have come to reconsider how large a role technology can play in changing education. There are promising examples, both in the United States and abroad, and they share some characteristics. The ratio of computers to pupils is one to one. Technology isn’t off in a computer lab. Computing is an integral tool in all disciplines, always at the ready.

Web-based education software has matured in the last few years, so that students, teachers and families can be linked through networks. Until recently, computing in the classroom amounted to students doing Internet searches, sending e-mail and mastering word processing, presentation programs and spreadsheets. That’s useful stuff, to be sure, but not something that alters how schools work.

The new Web education networks can open the door to broader changes. Parents become more engaged because they can monitor their children’s attendance, punctuality, homework and performance, and can get tips for helping them at home. Teachers can share methods, lesson plans and online curriculum materials.

In the classroom, the emphasis can shift to project-based learning, a real break with the textbook-and-lecture model of education. In a high school class, a project might begin with a hypothetical letter from the White House that says oil prices are spiking, the economy is faltering and the president’s poll numbers are falling. The assignment would be to devise a new energy policy in two weeks. The shared Web space for the project, for example, would include the White House letter, the sources the students must consult, their work plan and timetable, assignments for each student, the assessment criteria for their grades and, eventually, the paper the team delivers. Oral presentations would be required.

The project-based approach, some educators say, encourages active learning and produces better performance in class and on standardized tests.
Let's break this passage down a little since it has a lot of different moving parts.

Let's talk teachers. Yes, technology has made it easier for teacher to communicate with parents, administrators and other teachers. They can share information, ideas, tips, lesson plans or gripes online. But the questions are simple (1) Do they use these tools and (2) how does this help education? Most importantly, how does this technology "transform" education. All I am seeing is easy in communications.

Let's talk parents. I know that online tools to monitor children are all the rage. But are the use of these tools widespread or just in certainly localities. Also, useage depends on access of the parents to a computer, which they may or may not have at work or home. Finally, back to the main question, how is this "transforming" education?

Project based assignments sound great and sound neat. But is this really transformative? I had projects in school and I certainly didn't have access to the same technology available today. I did it the old fashioned way, the library and books. In this scenario the only difference today is that through the Internet the "library" is bigger and the "books" smaller. So how as technology "transformed education."

The problem of course with the idea of ready and easy access to technology is the belief that the availability and use of such technology is really transformative. Of course it isn't. Lohr's article does not discuss how the technology is transforming education, it only talks about project-based curricula that is now made "easier."

Really, the story is not about technology but about project-based education. I have no doubt that students may be more motivated by projects. But the creation of projects, their assessment and management are not easy to manage for teachers and thus, it is unlikely to be adopted in wholesale fashion, not when teachers have an ever expanding role into areas that arguably should not be theirs, like referrals for social services, preparation for testing (yeah, remember those still have to be taken even in project based learning), as well as the normal, day to day teaching things like maintaining order and using that wonderful technology to communicate with an ever expanding group of "stake-holders."

Yet, at the same time, project based learning, with or without technology, is not for all students. I don't want my first grader to be doing "projects" rather than improving her basic skills in reading, writing and math, learning science or history, engaging art or music or just plain playing outside burning of that six-year-old energy level.

So technology makes project based learning easier, maybe even better. But that is still a very long cry from "transforming" education.

Of course, I love the last sentence of the passage I quoted: "The project-based approach, some educators say, encourages active learning and produces better performance in class and on standardized tests." Love the old standby, "some educators." Which ones and while we are at it show me the data?

Obama Math: Success=Failure

Roger Kimball looks at how Obama's constant citation to "fairness" should really be read, "if you are more successful than others, you should pay your 'fair share' as defined by government."

Look, I don't thing the super rich should be free from paying taxes. That their marginal tax rate is higher than mine is fine and if I should ever reach such rarified heights, I will grudgingly pay that tax. But what Obama wants to do is really penalize people (and companies) for being successful, all in the name of fairness.
The crucial point here is that what Obama is interested in is not increasing but in promulgating redistributionist policies that make it harder for people to prosper economically. McGurn recalls Obama’s response to ABC’s Charlie Gibson when Gibson observed that rasing taxes led to decreased revenues: “Well, Charlie,” Obama replied, “what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.”

“For purposes of fairness”: that means, “for purposes of economic egalitarianism.” McGurn comments:
[I]t doesn’t really matter whether a tax increase actually brings in more revenue. It’s not about robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Robbing from the rich will do, especially if it’s done in the name of fairness.

Now there are good reasons Mr. Obama is not likely to pursue the revenue side of the fairness question. As this newspaper noted in a recent editorial, the latest data from the Internal Revenue Service does not show to Mr. Obama’s advantage. As we come to the end of the Bush administration, the top 1% of American taxpayers already pay 40% of all income taxes — the highest level in 40 years. The top 10% of income earners pay 71% of the taxes.
The bottom line is that when Obama invokes “fairness,” he wants us to feel guilty about economic success. This is the secret of his appeal to to socialistically inclined. It is also the reason why the rest of us are so uneasy about the prospect of an Obama administration.

It has long been recognized that liberalism and feelings of guilt go together as predictably as tea and crumpets.(link added)
So Obama, in order to be fair, wants to take from those who have worked hard to get what they have and do what with it, exactly?

Obama has said that a family making $250,000 is certainly well off. Fair enough, I can accept that definition. However such a family is Obama's target for a tax hike. Now, leaving aside that this family is already going to be paying the top marginal rate in our tax code, these people should be paying more because they are successful. It is only fair.

Kimball argues that it is Obama's definition of fairness that is what makes people uneasy about an Obama presidency. I have to agree that it is part of my uneasiness, but not all of it.

"Cross in the Dirt" and Obama's Campaign

During the primaries, I thought Obama was running a disciplined operation, keeping all the normal campaign in-fighting under wraps. But a problem develops when a campaign gets too insular, they start doing stupid things because there is no one in-house to say "Gee, if we say that, we are going to look stupid/silly/out of touch/wrong or whatever."

In going after the McCain cross in the dirt story, that is exactly what is happening in the Obama campaign. No wonder McCain has caught up (not that McCain is absolved from his dumb moves).

The other thing is that talking about the "cross in the dirt" story, Obama keeps coming back to the McCain Vietnam experience. Whatever beef I have with McCain politically, I can never and will never question the man's courage, sacrifice and devotion to the men he was imprisoned with. Such situations are beyond normal human understanding and beyond the understanding of even the most imaginative and empathic among us. By focusing on it, Obama puts McCain's devotion to country into the spotlight. Obama has nothing to match McCain on for that aspect, so why allow McCain to benefit from Obama putting a spotlight on McCain's Vietnam experiences?

U.S. Women v. Brazil--Again--in Gold Medal Match

The U.S. Women's National Team rallied from 1-0 down to beat Japan in the Olympic Semi-finals 4-2. The U.S. will face Brazil, again, in the Olympic Final.

The U.S.-Brazil pairing has much history and the match is sure to be good.

What I like about this Wambach and Whitehill-less U.S. women's squad is that they have proven that they can come back from set-backs. The 2-0 defeat to Norway led to a 1-0 over Japan and a 4-0 dismantling of New Zealand in group play. The U.S. overcame a lengthy rain delay in teh quarterfinal match against Canada to win on a Natasha Kai goal.

In the Semi-finals, the Japanese women played very well (I see the emergence of a team that will regularly compete for Olympic and World Cup honors). But the U.S. came back. Angela Hucles got a brace and Heather O'Reilly and Lori Chalupny got one each.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Good Point

If Clarence Thomas wasn't ready to be a Supreme Court Justice, is Obama ready to be President? Althouse commenting on this Wall Street Journal Op-Ed.

McBride in Fire Uniform

Nice picture, but this dismayed me:
Several Crew fans I met last night already had a nickname for the newest member of the Chicago Fire, and ex-Columbus Crew Captain…….McJudas.
Classless, to say the least.

McBride, the man and player, has earned to right to choose his MLS club to finish out his career. Just be happy for him. Boo him when he comes to your field if you want, but that is just as lacking in class.

Still, I am glad DC United beat Chicago, and I don't have to be a jerk about it.

Matt Taylor’s Path To Koblenz Or What it Takes to Get a Pro Contract

Lots of travel, lots of work and the occaisional lucky break.

Read Matt Taylor's story in his words.

Warning: One piece of language.

Second DC Shutout

And it couldn't happen against a nicer team as United take out Chicago 1-0 in Chicago. New DC United keeper Louis Crayton did in one game what it took Zach Wells 17 games to do, get a shut out.

Edu to Rangers Done--sort of

The $5 million deal to send TFC midfielder Maurice Edu to Glasgow Rangersis done except that Edu must get a work permit.

From what I understand Scottish Premier League rules for work permits are a bit more flexible than the English Premier Leauge, so I don't think the permit will be a problem.

Rangers dealt central defender Carlos Cuellar to Aston Villa earlier in the month for £7.8 million and Rangers didn't waste anytime using the proceeds to pick up striker Pedro Mendes from Portsmouth and Edu. Edu, although not a natural defender, showed promise as a central defender in the U.S. Olympic effort.

Fulham Fall to Hull City

Look, going into Saturday's match against first time in the top flight Hull City, I had hope for Fulham to nick all three points and continue a much improved road form from last season. Realistically, I was hoping for a draw since the atmosphere at KC Stadium was going to be decidedly upbeat and emotional. What I didn't want was a loss, but that is exactly what happened as the Cottagers pulled their all too familiar late game antics to toss away two points.

Seol Ki-Hyeon scored a good header in the 8th minute to put Fulham on top. But Hull's Geovanni curled a beautiful (and there really is no other word for it) free kick just past Schwarzer in the 22nd minute.

Hull was certainly bouyed by the home crowd, who has lots to cheer about as Hull appeared at times to truly dominate the match. As the game died out though, it looked like the teams were each going to get a point, until Paul Konchesky lost his mind for a few seconds. Honestly, I don't know why the normally steady Konchesky didn't simply clear the ball out of touch and let Fulham regroup, but he didn't and Hull's Craig Fagan stripped Konchesky just to Schwarzer's left. Schwarzer quickly closed the angle down, but Fagan was able to slip the ball past the big Australian.

I am disappointed in the result, sure. But I am more disappointed in the play. Fulham still seem to be an 80 minute team, but the games last 90 minutes and it is that final 10 minutes that Manager Roy Hodgson really needs to work on. Fulham can get up on the score sheet early, which puts opponents into a position of having to chase the game, but Fulham still don't seem to know how to either protect a lead or gain one back when their opponents draw even.

I know, first game of the season and all, but really, this is a pattern that has to stop or come May we will be in a relegation battle again.

New England Revolution Trounced

Normally, I would take a great deal of glee in the the San Jose 4-0 win over New England, and to a certain extent, I do. But MLS's best team has been playing depleted over the past few weeks and it would be the silly (or foolish) person who thinks that New England will not only make the playoffs but see action in their third strait MLS Cup appearence.

But how important are Shalrie Joseph and Michael Parkhurst to that squad? Joseph out serving a red card suspension cost the Revolution their holding midfielder and when he isn't in, even the Earthquakes run rampant. Parkhurst, who just returned from Olympic duty and resting this game, has a presence in the Revolution back line that probably would have prevented two, if not all three, of the goals scored in the final 20 minutes of the match.

So while Columbus moved ahead of New England at the top of the Eastern Conference, don't expect that to be the situation for long.

U.S. National Team Call Ups

The U.S. Men's National Team will continue their CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying on Wednesday in Guatamala. The team Coach Bob Bradley called in contained no real surprises, although I am glad that Bradley did call in Olympic successes Maruice Edu and Sacha Klejstan. But like other commentators, I am not happy that Bradley continues with the same crew of players for his roster.

I know all the arguments for not trying new players when the team only has three days to prepare for the match, things like, you need players who have played together, who know the system, who have experience, etc. Fine, fine, fine. That is an argument for having a core group of players come in, perhaps along the spine of the field. I will grant Bradley a bit of an exception here.

However, that reprieve is only short-lived. Bradley has two years until the World Cup, and while I think the U.S. will qualify, I don't think their performance will be all that good in South Africa if Bradley doesn't start making some changes.

The addition of Mastoreni and Mo Edu into the squad might signal that Bob Bradley may have learned his lesson and will start letting Michael Bradley do what he has proven capable of doing for Heerenveen, attack and score goals instead of playing in a holding midfielder role. But looking at the squad, I am not sure where goals are coming from in the longer term. Yes, Eddie Johnson has scored 8 goals in 8 WC qualifying matches and the stats generally don't lie, but they also don't predict the future either. With Freddy Adu not in this line-up, one of the most creative U.S. players is not going to help.

There are three attackers that Bradley needs to call in.

Charlie Davies. Davies' play in the Olympics, with his speed and vastly improved technical abilities, has earned him a look by Bradley. I don't think Davies is ready to play 90 minutes, but as a 60th minute impact sub, he could be devastating.

Kenny Cooper. Cooper's size (6'3"), speed, goal scoring prowess, and touch on the ball (something generally lacking in American strikers) also means that Bradley is simply insane not to have this once and future European striker on his roster. Cooper can play with his back to goal and he can move to the outside and run at defenders. His constant movement up top will frustrate foriegn defenses, many of whom are used to having big strikers play in the middle.

Edson Buddle. Yes indeed a late bloomer, but he is lighting it up in L.A. despite poor service and competition for the Golden Boot with his L.A. teammate Donovan. Not as big and strong as say Cooper or Jozy Altidore, Buddle has improve his touch, learned to create his own chances and chances for others, as well as displaying a solid work ethic on and off the field. Buddle will never be as creative as say Freddy Adu or Pablo Mastroeni, but the U.S. doesn't need him to be the creator, they need a poacher who can also score on his own--that is Buddle.

So, given that roster space is limited, who would these guys replace. As much as the Fulham fan in me hates to say it, Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson. Neither man is likely to see regular first team action with the Cottagers this season barring a series of injuries for Fulham, neither has particularly impressed me of late with the National Team form and neither are scoring goals with enough regularlity to justify keeping them on the squad. Brian Ching is also a potential victim.

I would also like to see some changes in the midfield and back line, but those are topics for another day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Premier League Preview

The English Premier League gets started up tomorrow and it looks to be an interesting season. The top the table is appealing as teh battle between Manchester United and Chelsea will be truly appealing. Chelsea has been spending money like, well like only Roman Abromovich can do, and have an incredily deep roster. Manchester United has done almost no purchasing, but may not have needed to since last year they gave up the fewest goals ever by a Premier League team and with the probably FIFA Player of the Year in Cristiano Ronaldo.

The other top of table issue will be whether or not a club can break the top four of Man U., Chelsea, Arsenel and Liverpool. I think Tottenham have a shot, but not if they deal Dimitar Berbatov.

A number of lower table teams have been quietly improving themselves this summer, with Sunderland and Fulham leading that charge. Sunderland and Roy Keane have probably done the best job getting themselves in proper position to finish in the top 12 or so. Fulham, on the other hand, after making the Great Escape last season have done a fine job of building a team that will (hopefully) spend more time in the top 15 than they do in the drop zone.

The developments with Manchester City, a team with aspriations to break into the top four, are on the cusp of disaster with their owner Thaksik Shiniwatra on the verge of criminal conviction, a fugitive of the law and possible ruling by the FA as being unfit to be an owner. If that happens, what will the club do? The FA have the power to suspend the club from the league play if they don't sack their majority owner if he is found unfit.

One of the greatest nine-month journeys in sports is about to get underway and the excite is gripping.

This is a time for predictions, and I thought I would take a shot at what the League Table will look like on May 24. So here goes

1. Chelsea
2. Manchester United
3. Liverpool
4. Tottenahm
5. Arsenel
6. Aston Villa
7. Portsmouth
8. Everton
9. West Ham United
10. Newcastle
11. Blackburn
12. Manchester City
13. Sunderland
14. Wigan
15. Fulham
16. Middlesbrough
17. West Brom
18. Bolton
19. Stoke City
20. Hull City

Well see what happens.

Teachers and Biblical References

teh pay dispute that I dicussed a while back that is brewing in DChas created an interesting generational divide that carries some important implications for the future of education in the District and potentially America.

As a quick recap, DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee has dangled the possiblity of six figure salaries and substantial (approximately 20% of base pay) bonuses for teachers who are willing to trade tenure and seniority to have their salary, bonuses and continued employment tied to student achievement. No, adequate student achievement has not been fully defined, a weakness of the plan.

Not surprisingly, younger teachers are willing to take the risk while older teachers are not. This got one my attention:
Jerome Brocks, a special education teacher with 34 years of experience in D.C. schools, seethes when he talks about Rhee's salary proposal.

"It's degrading and insulting," said Brocks, to ask that teachers give up tenure and go on probation for a year if they choose the more lucrative of the two salary tiers under the plan, which is at the center of contract negotiations between the city and the Washington Teachers' Union.

He said that Rhee wants only to purge older teachers and that for instructors to sell out hard-won protections against arbitrary or unfair dismissal is unthinkable.

"For Michelle Rhee or anyone to ask that is like Judas and 30 pieces of silver," Brocks, 59, said.

Julia Rosen, putting her classroom in order this week for her third year as a second grade teacher at Key Elementary School, said she would have no problem with a system in which her pay, and maybe her job, was tied to her students' academic growth.

"At this school, I think any of us could excel in that kind of a scenario," Rosen, 25, said.
First of all, Mr. Brocks's analogy is suspect. Michelle Rhee is not Judas. At best Rhee would be like the Roman's who asked Judas to betray Christ and offered 30 peices of silver. Maybe Mr. Brocks' thinks that teachers who go with Rhee's plan are traitors, but that is not what he said.

That I didn't pick up on the potential generational divide in my last discussion on this seems to be a big oversight. But I am not surprised. Older teachers come from a world where tenure, security and safety were more important. Younger teachers don't see the world that way. They view with disdain the older ineffective teacher who doesn't care whether they are a good teacher for their students, when they as a younger teacher is more successful. Younger teachers understand the desire for proven results, the "show me don't tell me" mindset of modern American life.

Rosen's statement is perfect evidence of that. If the older teachers are so good, why not trade up for more pay? The only people not willing to do so would be those teachers who lack confidence in their ability or who are more interested in job security than job success.

Make no mistake, Rhee's plan will happen. If not this year, then soon. There are simply too many younger teachers coming into to the profession who are not wedded to the old system of doing things. With an entire baby boomer generation of teachers leaving in teh next few years, changes in compensation of teachers is is coming and teh changes will be big. Whether it is successful in raising student achievement will, of course, have to be seen. But Rhee is going to break the back of the Teachers' Union dominance and the old style politics of DC schools.

Nevada, Ladies Nights, Gyms and Topless Pools

What do they have in common,Well, pretty soon gyms, and the famous Mandalay Bay topless pool, may soon see that they will not be able to charge different rates for the different sexes. The Mandalay pool charges men $50 to get in but only $10 for women, probably to keep the ooglers out.

Those famous ladies nights at bars and clubs, where ladies get in free, but men have to pay, may become a thing of the past.
States are divided on the question of whether this is the sort of thing that can safely be tolerated in a civilized society. While "courts and civil rights panels in California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maryland and New Jersey have ruled that price discrimination against men is unlawful," The New York Times reports, "in Illinois, Michigan and Washington, judges have stated that it can be part of an acceptable business strategy."
Look, I think the gyms, bars and Mandalay Bay are following an acceptable business strategy. If the men stop coming, the prices will go down. If you are offended by having to pay $50 to see women sunbath topless, spend less money and go see them in a local strip bar. Duh.