Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Blacks Only Schools

In a rather odd turn of events, the Toronto School Board has decided to open a blacks only school (or to use a more politically correct phrase, Afro-Centric).

The reason is, perhaps, noble. Apparently students from the Caribbean have a 40% dropout rate while students in the general population have a 23% dropout rate. And yet one needs to question whether segregating by race is a good idea. Surely there are other ways to deal with the problem.

Of course I'm waiting for the next group who has a higher than average dropout rate to insist that they get their own schools with a customized curriculum. And having done it for one racial group, I'm sure the courts will insist that it be done for others.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I phoned Karen today to find out if it had arrived and it had. So I asked her what it was like, and she said it was big and orange. In fact it's very big and very orange. The biggest we've ever seen. It's my new snowblower. And it's arrived! In an Ariens 926LE. 9.5hp, 26 inch cut, 264 pounds of steel, a halogen light and I think... hand warmers. On Dec 21st I phoned the local Ariens dealer in the hope that he might have a snowblower left. Indeed he did, or rather would soon, since an order for 60 of them was arriving. 56 had already been spoken for, and by the time I got off the phone it was 57. So now I wait for the snow.

Tonight Bethany told me how much she's reading. On average, 795 pages per day. Sounds about right. If it wasn't for our library cards I suspect I'd be broke by now. It's a little embarrassing. Each summer our homeschool curriculum arrives, and within a week she's read all her books for the year. Then we have to find more books for her to read. Joel's no slouch in the reading department either. I don't think it would occur to him to count the pages, but I'm sure he reads for a couple of hours a day.

Speaking of Bethany, today I enjoyed some banana chocolate chip muffins that she had baked. And last week it was a lasagna that she made for supper.

After supper tonight I had the children do a 100 second blitz. They love doing a 100 second blitz. I count slowly to 100 while they clean up the house and get all the clutter put away. If I asked them to spend a couple of minutes cleaning up there would probably be complaining. But they never complain about a 100 second blitz!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Remember... the State owns your body

Remember... the State owns your body and can do whatever it wants with it. But don't worry, the State will only use this power for good and noble purposes. And who decides what purposes are good and noble? Why, the State does!

I'm just not sure why people in the UK put up with this nonsense.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Impressions of America

Given my recent visit to Florida, I’d like to share some of my impressions about America. America seems to be of two minds about the role of their Federal government. On the one hand they are all for Liberty, which in their minds means no government interference in their lives. On the other hand, they seem terribly impressed by Federal government authority. I’ll give three examples. In visiting a restaurant I noticed signs advertising the fact that all of their meat was USDA inspected. Now to a Canadian it would be ridiculous to advertise that the meat sold in your restaurant was inspected by Agriculture Canada. Now I’m not debating the need for inspections, but rather the fact that Americans would see Federal government involvement as a selling point. Watching television I saw my second example. There was an infomercial trying to sell gold coins. The viewers were assured that the U.S. Mint had been authorized by Congress to produce gold coins, as if Federal government involvement was a selling point! A third example was visible every time I drove past the gate of our vacation community. The guards at the gate all had American flags sewn on their uniforms, making them look more formal even though they were employees of a private company. Perhaps the Canadian Federal government interferes more in Canadians lives, and maybe Canadians have an unfortunate expectation that it is the roll of the government to take care of them, but I don’t think Canadians have the same awe of Federal government authority (or at least Americans aren’t as independent minded as they’d like to think).

Another thought from my visit to the United States. I was watching an interview with Mitt Romney. He was very clear that he didn’t support much government involvement in making sure Americans had access to health care. His reason was very clear; that’s socialism. On the other hand, he was all in favour of the government helping out people who were in risk of losing their homes due to the current sub-prime mortgage problems. So if someone gets sick and the government helps pay for their expenses, it’s socialism. But if you foolishly take on a mortgage you can’t afford, bailing you out is simple human decency. OK, I understand now. I remember talking to a doctor on a previous trip to the United States. When I said I was from Canada he said, “Canada? Socialized medicine.” Yup, that was all he knew about Canada. I’ve thought about his response. What is meant by socialized medicine? It means when I’m sick I get medical treatment, and at the same time doctors are in the top 1% of income earners.

Speaking of health insurance, while watching American television one cannot help to be struck by what an issue it is. Perhaps 80% of Americans have health insurance, but what about the number who are terrified of losing their jobs and their health insurance. Or the people who don’t have enough health insurance. Or the people whose whole family budget is devastated by premiums. Or what about the people who are uninsurable because of previous health conditions. To me it’s a bit shocking that people in the most powerful nation in the world need to live in such fear. That’s not to say that the Canadian system is perfect; we need to make some changes. But the situation south of the border is shocking.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I guess Hitler had the last word...

Homeschoolers are fleeing Germany based on Germany's repressive education laws. These laws were brought in by Hitler to ensure control by the State over the family. Unfortunately today's Germany still thinks this is a good idea.

I wrote to the German Embassy about this, but was told that this was a local state matter and not a federal matter. Of course that was a nice piece of evasion on their part... individual states within Germany don't have their own embassies, and the German Embassy is the representative of Germany not just the German Federal government.

I invite you to contact the German Embassy and respectfully express your concerns:

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
1 Waverley Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0T8
Tel.: (613) 232-1101
Fax: (613) 594-9330

German Embassy
4645 Reservoir Road NW
Washington, DC, 20007-1998
(202) 298-4000

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Behavioral Based Interviewing and Politics

At work they send us on courses to make us into better managers. One of the courses I took was Behavioral Based Interviewing. That's a fancy name for a simple concept... that how people behave in one situation is likely to be repeated in the future. So instead of asking made up interview questions (If you were in situation X what would you do?) we are to ask questions based on real life (Tell me about a time when you were in situation X). So for example, if a person has a history of being diligent, honest, capable and flexible in the past, they are likely to display all of these attributes when working for you. Makes sense, right?

Of course in the work world we can't ask questions of a personal nature. But often a candidate cannot come up with an answer from the work world, and will substitute an experience from their personal life. For example, they may talk about how they demonstrated their virtues in a community association or a stressful family situation. And while we don't solicit personal information in interviews, when someone volunteers personal information it's considered to be valid. That's because it is unlikely that the candidate is radically different in their personal and professional roles. Someone who is diligent, honest, capable and flexible in their personal life is unlikely to be indolent, corrupt, lazy and rigid in their professional life. Makes sense, right?

But now let's apply this to politics. Doesn't it stand to reason that a candidate's personal life will be a reflection on how well he or she will fill public office? So let's assume you have two candidates. The first has had a series of affairs and several divorces. His children all moved out as fast as they could, and indeed their own lives are a series of train wrecks. He hasn't held down a steady job and was a poor student. His attitude towards religion is one of irreverence or indifference. That's the first candidate. The second candidate has been faithful to his wife through life's ups and downs. His children have their own ups and downs, but basically they are steadfast. He worked hard in university, earned a scholarship and graduated with honours. He did well in his employment and he is a respected member of his church, synagogue or mosque. Doesn't it stand to reason that all of this will have some bearing on how he will fulfill the responsibilities of being our elected representative?

So why, in Canada, is a candidate's personal life off base for questioning? Why do we pretend that his personal life has no bearing on his fitness for public office? What's wrong with asking a candidate to explain his or her personal life and to show how it demonstrates the virtues we believe to be important in an elected official?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Sermon in Galatians

Sunday night we were continuing a series of sermons going through Galatians. On the way home my 11 year old asked me if I could download all the messages from the series and burn them on CD's for her. She said she's interested in listening to them on her CD player. Neat!