Supreme Court rules against racial quotas in public schools!

[photopress:3228205741.jpg,full,alignleft]WASHINGTON (CNN) — A bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued what is likely to be a landmark opinion — ruling that race cannot be a factor in the assignment of children to public schools.

The court struck down public school choice plans in Seattle, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky, concluding they relied on an unconstitutional use of racial criteria, in a sharply worded pair of cases reflecting the deep legal and social divide over the issue of race and education.

A conservative majority led by Chief Justice John Roberts said other means besides race considerations should be used to achieve diversity in schools.

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” Roberts wrote.[read the full article]

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, liberals!

I’m so psyched. This is a double victory. First, against the injustice of state sponsored discrimination based on race, and secondly against the collectivists running our public schools. I guess the Seattle school administration is going to have to do better than “revise” their definition of racism, aren’t they?

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When consensus of scientists proves false, Global Warming activists look to 4th Graders

According to 9-11 year old students at a Portland school, Global Warming is real and will be disastrous if not stopped.

A small group of students at our school has been researching and studying the effects of global warming. The evidence and data we collected is so overwhelming that we have decided to write about this issue.

Read more of this astounding research here at the Portland Press Herald.

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Embargo on Palestinian State lifted – concrete-bound pragmatism in action

Following the expulsion of the Hamas movement from the Palestinian Authority by President Mahmoud Abbas, the Bush Administration lifted its embargo and pledged its support for this “moderate” Islamic government in forging a peace with Israel.

What makes Abbas “moderate” and worthy of US support? According to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,

We intend to lift our financial restrictions on the Palestinian government, which has accepted previous agreements with Israel and rejects the path of violence.

What does this mean, that Abbas has “reject[ed] the path of violence”? According to Abbas himself, peaceful compromise is the answer because the Palestinians are outgunned. In ’05 when he was elected, he was quoted as saying,

The only way is the choice of peace. It is impossible to liberate Palestine with the use of weapons because the balance of power is not with us.

What’s to say that when he receives the financial backing to shift that balance of power (such as from lifting embargoes?), he won’tgo from “moderate” to “extremist”?

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Lieberman is a step in the right direction, but is the step big enough?

[photopress:160px_Joelieb.jpg,full,alignleft]Senator Joe Lieberman said recently that if Iran continues to arm groups fighting Americans in Iraq, we should bomb them. Although I think their ideological and financial support of terrorism should have made them a primary target from the start, it’s nice to see the heat pointed in the right direction for once.

Lieberman said on “Face The Nation”:

I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq…And to me, that would include a strike into… over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.

So, pretty good, right?

It should be noted, however, that Lieberman has been a huge supporter of Bush’s war in Iraq, which has had as its goal to “sacrifice for the liberty of strangers”. Bush’s policies have lead to the unnecessary deaths of American soldiers fighting not for our nation’s security, but for Iraq’s right to establish its own Islamic theocracy.

The Senator in a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition recalled a conversation he had with a colonel in Iraq, who told him that “we believe in why we are fighting here, we want to finish this fight. And we know we can win it.” Lieberman argued throughout the speech that US presence in Iraq was essential to winning the war, and that pulling out would be a victory for Al Qaeda.

But what exactly does “winning” mean, according to the goals of this war?

To achieve victory means to accomplish some objective. What is the objective of the war in Iraq? To “sacrifice for the liberty of strangers”, to put our soldiers in harm’s way for the benefit of Iraqis. The question is, how does this make us safer, and at what point will we have “won”?

I will give Sen Lieberman some credit for strong words. He seems committed to fighting and defeating Islamic terrorism, and his rhetoric is not burdened with the altruistic baggage that Bush’s is. In other words, his implicit goal is just. However because he does not distinguish between a war to defeat an enemy and a war to “spread democracy”, he supports Bush and so supports the immoral principles upon which Bush’s war is based.

I am both encouraged by Lieberman’s committment to defend our freedoms, and cautious about what this means to him. He may be a step in the right direction, though.

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Researchers discover fossils of giant bird-like dinosaur!

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News just released on Yahoo! is that Chinese researchers have discovered the bones of an 85 million year old dinosaur that they say would have weighed about 1.4 tonnes (that’s metric tons) with bird-like features including feathers, a beak and no teeth. Xu Xing of the Chinese Academy of Science’s reported that the bird-like dinosaurs found so far have been very small, so this appears to be an extraordinary exception. Imagine a bird 3 or more times taller than a man. It would have been flightless, but with long powerful legs for running and sharp talons for tearing flesh. Xu reported that its small head and long neck are considered to be herbivorous features, but I’d still keep my distance…

Click to read more.

I always wonder what the “Intelligent Design” folks are thinking when discoveries such as this hit the news.

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Lisa VanDamme on “Classical” Education

The Objective Standard recently published an article by Lisa VanDamme, owner and director of the VanDamme Academy, in which she explains the failure of “progressive” schooling and examines the claims of movements that promise instead a “classical” or “traditional” education.

I’ve enjoyed Ms. VanDamme’s articles over the past few months, which stress the hierarchical nature of learning. I’m finding that my own experiences in school were not so far off from the horror stories that she relays from parents. Modern education is the product of bad philosophy – specifically bad epistemology – and the poor student performance we hear about is the direct product of teaching methods that discourage the propert integration of concepts.

In fact, in my own high school, just getting students out the door took priority over education. My Sophomore year “social studies” teacher was also the football coach. To this day I don’t understand how he was ever hired as a teacher. I remember that he confused the Parthenon with the Pantheon, showed us a program from the BBC and thought that it stood for “Black Broadcasting Channel” and ranted on his experiences in Vietnam. This was a “Regents” class, part of NY state’s attempt to improve the quality of content in classes. The final exam of my pre-calculus class (which lasted one year rather than the usual half) was a group project, and much if not most of the time in that and my Advanced Placement Calculus class was spent learning to use our calculators and chatting with the people around us. One of the questions on our AP exam we were not prepared to answer, because the teacher admitted he didn’t think we would be tested on it. The highlight of the day was lunch period or a study hall, when I played Uno with friends.

Lisa VanDamme says in the current article that,

Rousseau opposed lessons; he urged the importance of an inactive mind; he scorned books, calling reading “the greatest plague of childhood.” Emile’s education was to be one of pure, unguided development.

You could say then that much of my education followed Rousseau’s ideal. Now I’m faced with the need to learn many things, particularly in the subject of history, which I never learned properly the first time. (and I’m noticing many others haven’t either)

She also examines”Classical” schoolsthat value reasoning and independent thinking, but which are based on a rationalist epistemology. That is, they are based on the idea that reason is “a priori”,that abstractions are not basedin experience.According to this view, subjects are taught in a dogmatic way by presenting “facts” without the evidence to support them. A teacher may expect their students to memorize poems, or names and dates, or equations, without teaching them the concepts or the history or the evidence that would give them an actualunderstanding of the subject. As Ms. VanDamme explains,

Rationalism is an erroneous method of thinking because, although abstractions are tools for grasping reality, they are valid only if and to the extent that they are based on reality, consistent with reality, and used to understand and succeed in reality.

This of course explains why there is so much of my education that I simply can’t remember. Many of my teachers certainly shared with these “classical” schools a reverence for the intellect, but also like these schools they simply did not teach the material in a way that could be integrated. Instead, I did a lot of rote memorization.

The article really is a fascinating study of educational techniques and explains for mea lot of what I experienced in school. The educational community seems divided between those who are openly destructive to young minds, and those who are well-meaning but have accepted a view of knowledge that is effectively as destructive. Students are torn between a resentment forteachers who refuse to teach, and frustration when they don’t understand what they are taught. The combination is enough to turn any bright child into a cynical adult.

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Attack on Global Warming from Vaclav Klaus

[photopress:225px_Vaclav_Klaus_01.jpg,full,alignleft]Earlier this year, President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus called Global Warming a “myth” and accused Environmentalists of using science as a front in order to advance their statist political recomendations. When questioned by the US House of Representatives on policy makers’ decisions regarding climate change, President Klaus responded,

…What I am really concerned about is the way the environmental topics have been misused by certain political pressure groups to attack fundamental principles underlying free society. It becomes evident that while discussing climate we are not witnessing a clash of views about the environment but a clash of views about human freedom.

As someone who lived under communism for most of my life I feel obliged to say that the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st century is not communism or its various softer variants. Communism was replaced by the threat of ambitious environmentalism. This ideology preaches earth and nature and under the slogans of their protection – similarly to the old Marxists – wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning of the whole world. [read his full answers here]

In the Czech financial daily, Hospodářské noviny, Klaus said that,

Global warming is a myth and I think that every serious person and scientist says so. It is unfair to refer to the United Nations panel. IPCC is not a scientific body: it’s a political institution, a kind of non-government organization with green flavor. It’s not a forum of neutral scientists or a balanced group of scientists. Its members are politicized scientists who arrive there with one-sided sentiments and one-sided tasks. Also, it’s an undignified practical joke that people don’t wait for the complete report that will appear in May 2007 but instead react, in such a serious manner, to the summary for policy makers where all the “ifs” and “whens” and “buts” are scratched, erased, and replaced by oversimplified theses. [read the entire translated interview here]

When asked whether he thought we were demolishing our planet, he responded: “Perhaps only Mr. Al Gore can argue along these lines: a sane person hardly.” He then argued that the environment is actually in better shape today than it was years ago, due to technological advancements and the free market. Social systems that deny private ownership, he said, damage the environment far more than free societies.

I am always encouraged by politicians standing up against the dogma of Environmentalism. Vaclav Klaus now joins the minority of political skeptics whose words prevent the ideology from making its way into law.

Note: See also Senator James Inhofe who called global warming “The Worst of All Environmental Scares” and who accused the media of using fear in their slanted coverage.

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Fight the Boycott

[photopress:400000_darfur.jpg,full,alignleft] The Anti-Defamation League has launched a website called Fight the Boycottto protest British calls for boycotts against Israel and claims that Israel is an apartheid state. The site argues that,

While the anti-Israel activists point to the divestment campaign against South African apartheid as an example of how such a campaign can achieve dramatic results, most recognize that the Israeli-Palestinian situation is distinctly different. First and foremost, pro-Palestinian advocates of divestment cannot offer the same moral clarity as the 80’s anti-apartheid campaigners did. The treatment of Arabs by the State of Israel can in no way be compared to the treatment of the Blacks of South Africa under apartheid.

There is no Israeli ideology, policy or plan to segregate, persecute or mistreat its Israeli Arab citizens, nor Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank (Israel already unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip in August 2005). Apartheid South Africa was extraordinarily repressive, regulating every detail of the lives of its subjects – 90 percent of whom were non-white – on the basis of their skin color. By contrast, Israel is a democracy which encourages vibrant debate, which has a flourishing free press and which shares with other liberal democracies a core value: the equality of all its citizens before the law. [italics mine]

As the website’s ads succinctly point out, free press and equality before the law are not political values that Israel’s enemies (who are not the subject of this boycott) share.

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Melanie Phillips, a new voice of reason

A member at The Forum for Ayn Rand Fans recently posted the website for Melanie Phillips, a British journalist and author. Phillips isnoteablypro-West and pro-Reason in her writings. She is a critic of BBC media bias, global warming, and supports Israel’s right to exist. While her site makes no mention of Objectivism, her arguments are so clear and insightful it makes one wonder about her influences. For example, in her diary entry “The war against the Jews (2)” she writes:

As the proposed academic boycott of Israel continues to reverberate, it is important to grasp that the appalling animus behind it goes far deeper than a protest at Israel’s behaviour in the disputed territories. It is an attempt to delegitimise Israel altogether in order to pave the way for its destruction…It is indeed vital that people understand that the boycott is a direct descendant of the century-old Arab attempt to drive the Jews out of their ancestral homeland altogether. It is thus an accessory to ethnic cleansing.

It is very rare to find such a powerful commentary. Highly recommended!

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Environmental ads resort to hysterical fear-mongering

[photopress:fgw_badge_150px.jpg,full,alignleft]Train ad:*birds chirping*

Man: Global warming.

*train whistle sounds*

Man: Some say irreversable consequences are 30 years away.

*cut to train approaching*

Man: 30 years?

*train is shown behind Man*

Man: That won’t affect me.

*Man steps away from train tracks, revealing girl about to be struck by the train*

Text: There is still time.

See also Tick, and the radio commercials The Question, The Gift, and One Voice.

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