Archive for April, 2007

You don’t have to be mad to walk here

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Tagging plan for vulnerable OAPs

Charities today gave a guarded welcome to a proposal by the science minister, Malcolm Wicks, that vulnerable older people could be tracked via satellite-monitored tags.

Mr Wicks first floated the idea to the Commons science and technology committee yesterday, when he said monitoring tags could help families or carers to track the whereabouts of “an 80 or 90-year-old who may have Alzheimer’s”.

I fail to see why this is any business of the State or why the minister should be promoting this. It seems like more technology looking for a problem.

Charities including Help the Aged and the Alzheimer’s Society warned that such tagging would have to be carried out with great sensitivity and full consent, and should not become a substitute for proper care.

Indeed

Today, Mr Wicks said he had been hoping to “start a discussion” about an idea that could allow elderly people more independence.

He told Guardian Unlimited he had met satellite tracking experts and asked them whether the sort of technology used for tracking cars could be adapted.

Yes but WHY is HE as a minister so interested?

“This is not government policy, it’s my idea for discussion – all I’m saying is that we’ve got this big social question which is growing in importance,” he said.

[]

Nothing of this sort should be government policy, and the minister – as a representative of the government – should not be seeking this ‘solution’ either.

If individuals really thought this was a good idea some enterprising person would have come up with a business offering this service. They haven’t (or perhaps Mr Wicks has been treated to a good lunch).

Of course in the (moon)light of the wet dream of total awareness this seems like a ‘good cop’ softening up of the population for RFID tracking (what these tags would apparently use) and will serve the operators with some valuable data about the reliability of tracking the population (who are more ‘random’ than cars in their movements).

Germany and Taleban united; They both ban home schooling

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Well well well!

Thanks to Valerie at Home Education Magazine for alerting us to this. It appears that Germany has an interesting twin state when it comes to Home Schooling:

C-Ville Weekly, Charlottesville, Virginia, 10 April 2007, UVA students film wins Peabody Award

For a broadcast journalist, winning a Peabody Award is a crowning achievement. But for UVA junior Sahar Adish, it was just another day in the college grind. What did she do to celebrate when she heard the news? I took a threeand-a-half hour exam, she says.

The theme of the project was fear and security, and Light Houses film focused on the life of Adish herself, an Afghani refugee whose family was forced to flee the Taliban-controlled country in the late 1990s for fear of their lives. Adishs parents were in trouble with the Islamic fundamentalist regime for violating Taliban law. Their crime? Secretly home-schooling their daughter and several neighborhood kids. Schooling was forbidden.

Others have found their inner protester by seeing photos of Melissa Busekros.  Is it that we need a face to provoke fury over affronts to freedom?

Seventies-style consciousness-raising is fine.  I think the German educational establishment is now aware of homeschooling, or at least aware of homeschoolers.  Perhaps we should share our insights with the Afghani authorities as well.

Lol Taleban!

Her parents were forced to flee with her from Afghanistan because they were home schooling their children, just like the German families are being made to flee Germany.

Now, in Afghanistan, school itself was forbidden, but in Germany schooling out of state control is banned. It is essentially the same thing, because the Taleban want to control what people do and do not learn absolutely (you must only learn Koran), and so do the Germans; they want you only to learn what the state says your children should learn, and nothing else.

Both states use vicious punitive measures to pressure anyone who will not conform to their standards of education.

Can you say ‘Strange bedfellows’?

Medical privacy violation in the USA: a FACT

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Why does the Bush administration have a list of everyone who has ever used anti-depressants?

America Blog
Wednesday April 18, 2007

Guess what? They do. From ABC News, regarding the VA Tech shooter:

Some news accounts have suggested that Cho had a history of antidepressant use, but senior federal officials tell ABC News that they can find no record of such medication in the government’s files. This does not completely rule out prescription drug use, including samples from a physician, drugs obtained through illegal Internet sources, or a gap in the federal database, but the sources say theirs is a reasonably complete search.

We don’t even have a list of gun owners, and we have a list of everyone who has been prescribed anti-depressants? And in fact, the article suggests that this isn’t just a database of patients who use anti-depressants, it’s a federal database of every prescription drug you’ve ever bought.

What exactly do the Bushies do with that list? And what other lists do they have of which medications you’ve ever taken?

Americablog

[…]

But all this is ‘perfectly ok’ because (in whining sing song voice) its ‘good for society‘.

Right?

Thats what the people who advocate ID cards, gun control, banning Samurai swords, ‘the war on drugs’, banning breeds of dogs, interfering with home schooling, banning vitamins, in fact, all nanny state, knee jerk, bottle-fed brain-dead population ideas… this is what they are about: VIOLATION in the name of false safety, turning people into defenseless cattle.

Here we go again with the Guns

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Gun control: the bloggers’ view

Matthew Weaver
Tuesday April 17, 2007

After the deadliest mass shooting in American history you might think that Virginia Tech killings would prompt a rethink about gun control in the US. But No. If anything American’s stance of the right to bear arms is hardening, judging by what the bloggers have to say.

Trish and Halli, two harmless looking old ladies who post “great recipe” suggestions from Idaho, argue that some of the 32 deaths could have been prevented if guns had been more freely available. Halli posts: “If some students and faculty had been carrying their legally permitted guns today, it is likely that a few deaths would have occurred. However, in at least two instances the murderer chained classroom doors closed and proceeded to fire at students. In all likelihood an armed student would have stopped him before 32 people had been executed.”

Similarly Frank Staheli argues that if more students carried gun there would be fewer spree killings.

The National Rifle Association is reluctant to be drawn on the issue, But Gun Owners of America demands a end to gun-free zones in schools and campuses. It says: “It is irresponsibly dangerous to tell citizens that they may not have guns at schools. The Virginia Tech shooting shows that killers have no concern about a gun ban when murder is in their hearts.”

So what about the politicians? The leading Democratic presidential contenders all steer clear of advocating gun control. Instead Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards all turn to prayer.

According to Robin Toner on the New York Times political blogging site the Caucus says that Democrat hopefuls don’t want to harm their chances of election by calling for gun control as Al Gore did in 2000.

John Nichols in the Nation argues that US has failed to learn the lesson of Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine.

Raised in Chaos calls for a deeper examination of the malaise in American society She says:

“The issue is not guns, and while I personally believe there should be no need for them in a “civilized” society, and that fucking ANYONE shouldn’t be able to pick up a rifle and a pack of Cheetos at your local Wal-Mart, this is not the context in which to have this debate.

Instead, when a man with a gun (and do we know yet if he was a student or not?) strolls into a college dormitory at 7 a.m. and starts shooting people at random, we really need to take a critical look at the kind of society we live in.”

[…]

BBQ was taking the ‘why have they not banned guns line’ from the outset, and these same morons are also dismayed by the thinking of people like Paul Craig Roberts:

[…]

Guns have been around for a long time, but these crazy shootings are a new development that point to a failure of culture to produce people with a sense of responsibility and self-control. When I was a kid, a youngster could walk into a local hardware store and buy a gun. There were no restrictions. If a kid was so young that he couldnt see over the counter, the store owner might call a parent for approval. We all had guns, and we never shot ourselves or anyone else.

One of my grandmothers thought nothing of me and my friends playing with the World War II weapons my uncle had brought back. My other grandmother never batted an eye when I collected my grandfathers shotgun from behind the door and went off to match wits with the crows that raided the pecan trees or the poisonous cottonmouth snakes that could be found along the creek that ran through the farm.

My grandmother never worried about me until I got a horse, a more dangerous object in her view than a gun.

We also all had knives, which we carried in our pockets to school every day. We never stabbed anyone and very seldom cut our own fingers.

We often had fights, more often wrestling each other to the ground than fist fights. No one ever thought of pulling a knife or a gun on his antagonist. Parents and teachers did not exactly approve of fights, but they considered them natural. We were not arrested, handcuffed and finger-printed for being in a fight. […]

You need to read the entire article.

My brother kept guns at the age of 16; an M16 and some handguns. We had a ball with them. I did shooting at school as a sport. Guns are not a big deal, and they are not the problem. They are actually a huge amount of fun and a fantastic sport to be involved in.

‘Matthew Weaver’ says attitudes are hardening. Actually, everyone is fed up with the illogical and absurd newspaper lead idea that because someone snaps and goes berserk, we should all pay a penalty by having to suffer a raft of new and hastily drafted regulations.

Its appalling and sad when crazy people do stuff, but the law abiding should not be made to suffer a reduction in the quality of their life because a single nut-case does something terrible.

It is this same knee jerk mentality that allows people to think that its OK to ban home schooling because there was a single instance of a family that didn’t pull it off ‘correctly’, or the genocide of a whole breed of dogs because one owner let his dog bite a little girl. It is madness to live that way.

It is the criminals who should be made to conform to community standards, not the community being whittled down to the level that assumes everyone is a potential mass murderer or dog fighter.

The REAL result of the German school system!

Monday, April 16th, 2007

German army ‘depicted blacks as target practice’
By Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin
Published: 16 April 2007

A German army instructor has been shown on television ordering a soldier to fire his machine gun while imagining he was in the Bronx facing hostile African Americans.

In New York, the Bronx borough president demanded an apology from the German military and said the clip on German television “indicates that bias and assumptions and racism is alive and well around the world”.

Coming after scandals involving photos of German soldiers posing with skulls in Afghanistan and the abuse of recruits by instructors, the video seemed likely to raise more questions about training practices in Germany’s conscript army.

The Defence Ministry said the video was shot in July 2006 at barracks in the northern town of Rendsburg and that the army had been aware of it since January.

“We are currently investigating the incident,” an army spokesman said.

The clip shows an instructor and a soldier in camouflage uniforms in a forest. The instructor tells the soldier: “You are in the Bronx. A black van is stopping in front of you. Three African-Americans are getting out and they are insulting your mother … act.”

The soldier fires his machine gun several times and yells an obscenity several times in English.

[…]

http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article2452385.ece

Ah yes!

These men are the products of that great German school system, designed to encourage plurality, tolerance and to prevent the creation of a segmented society:

In our increasingly wertepluralistischen society the school is the place, where a peaceful dialogue between the different views, values, religions and world views takes place and can social authority in handling other-thinking one be learned. Homeschooling is for Germany therefore no model.

From the press release in response to the UN’s criticism of Germany’s ban on Home Schooling.

So, this is the product of your philosophy. This is the result of your ‘peaceful dialogue’, between the ‘different views, values, religions and world views’. Once again, the whole world sees you for what you really are and we all see what you really want to protect and promote.

I have no doubt that this video will appear on LiveLeak shortly. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy this other example of the product of German schooling!

Update….and here it is!

Here it comes…

Friday, April 13th, 2007

April 11) — A handheld device that can tell in a second whether a person is on one of 140 wanted or watch lists is being hailed by police as a crime-fighting breakthrough and flayed by civil libertarians as an intrusion on the innocent.

The sheriff’s office in Clermont County, Ohio, is the first civilian law enforcement agency in the nation to test the portable fugitive finder.

Police say Mobilisa Inc.’s m2500 Defense ID system shows promise of saving them time and helping them fight crime. Critics say it intensifies questions about privacy.

The Port Townsend, Wash., wireless technology company says its handheld electronic scanner can identify within a second whether someone is a fugitive from justice, has a violent criminal past or is a convicted sex offender.

The scanner reads the magnetic strip or barcode on state-issued ID cards, passports and driver’s licenses. It uses the information to determine whether a person shows up on wanted or watch lists, including ones from the Drug Enforcement Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The databases are downloaded when the scanner is placed on a Mobilisa charger. In the field, the scanner operates wirelessly.

“It’s a technology whose time has come,” says Nelson Ludlow, Mobilisa’s CEO. He says he came up with the idea for the scanner after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for use at military bases. He quickly realized it would benefit all law enforcement agencies.

Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, says the scanner raises concerns about privacy. The Cato Institute is a non-profit, public-policy research foundation in Washington, D.C., that promotes limited government.

Harper says use of the scanner emphasizes the need for society to decide whether average, law-abiding Americans should be stopped and checked for warrants as they go about their business. “The Framers of the Constitution suggested that they shouldn’t be when they wrote the Fourth Amendment,” he says.

Personnel at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland started using the Defense ID in mid-January. Air Force One, the president’s plane, is housed at the base.

“The Defense ID is a powerful security enhancement,” says Sgt. Gregory Striejewske of the Visitor Control Center at Andrews.

So far, 108,432 identification credentials have been scanned, finding 286 hits of people who were wanted or had expired or terminated identifications, he says.

Clermont County Sheriff A.J. “Tim” Rodenberg says, “This is the future of crime fighting.”

John Paxton, chairman of Mobilisa’s board of directors, lives in Clermont County and is a friend of the sheriff. Paxton arranged for the department to begin testing the scanners late last year at no cost. The scanners cost $6,700 each, plus a $148 monthly service fee.

Between Jan. 1 and March 14, 1,277 identifications were scanned, and 33 resulted in arrests on warrants or came up as a sex offender. Another 18 people had expired driver’s licenses.

Cincinnati attorney Martin Pinales, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, calls the Defense ID “another closing in of Big Brother.”

He says showing identification to police during a traffic stop is one thing, but the scanner puts a private company in the encounter.

“Government has the right to contract with private companies, but this brings into question who controls the information,” Pinales says. “What happens to the data collected?”

Ludlow says activity on a scanner can be recorded and searched by investigators for law enforcement purposes. The data remain the property of the law enforcement agency using the scanner, he says.

AOL News

[…]

Coolidge reports daily for The Cincinnati Enquirer.

I told you that this would be developed four years ago.

The pure evil that it represents is unambiguous. Look at the manufacturer’s website.

Interesting….Mobilisa VS Doe.

And the army is in on it: Mobilisa, Inc. is pleased to announce the addition of Major General Jack A. Davis USMCR to their Board of Directors.

On the surface, the Air Force and Navy contracts they scored were cheap to buy.

It is of course the Mobilisation of pure evil.

Russian spies ‘at Cold War level’: time for Cheese and pitch bending from Slovenia

Friday, April 13th, 2007

The influx of strange demos continues. This one consists of a wedge of cheese:


The Package


Closeup of the label

It came with a cardboard stiffener and a pink post it note, with some lines about beer.

OMW. WTF.

Which brings us to:

Russian agents are as active in Britain now as at the height of the Cold War, senior Whitehall officials have said.

The sources told the BBC’s Frank Gardner there were more than 30 identified intelligence officers trying to get secrets by covert means.

Targets include military hardware, scientific know-how and technology, and inside tips on Westminster politics.

Businessmen who may have access to sensitive information are also of interest, as are Russian dissidents.

Such dissidents include Boris Berezovsky, friend of the murdered former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.

‘Very extensive’

Sir Paul Lever, a former member of the Joint Intelligence Committee, said: “Russian espionage activity in Britain is very extensive.

“In scale it’s probably pretty much as it was at the height of the Cold War.”

BBQ

[…]

“Russians fighting Russians is bad for Russia”.

I wish I could attribute that quote to Roman Abramovich, but it’s mine.

More on the demos; we received this VERY interesting one in the last seven days, from Ljubljana in Slovenia, which arrived with some patent application diagrams for a novel guitar pitch-bending arrangement (foot controlled) a CDR of movies featuring it and its inventor in action, a contract proposal and a nice letter. Yes, ‘nice’.


Excerpt from the patent application

“But what did it sound like?”, I hear you cry.

Like Brij Bhushan Kabra on Crystal Meth.

The Self-preservation Society

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

I have been wondering about how the removal of DRM from the EMI catalogue could be interpreted (aside from the ‘EMI: gods or geniuses?’ waffle), given the continued poor state of EMI’s finances and the ongoing speculation about the Warner group’s possible buy out of the ‘major-independent’.

As a going concern EMI looks increasingly ropey, removing DRM could be a short term attempt to boost sales and increase share activity making an earlier [Warner] bid more likely.

Warner is very much pro DRM by its removal EMI could be attempting to tempt a buyer that will reimpose DRM in order to stifle the spread of (official) unrestricted download material. I also imagine that if this is the case at the very least a number of headline performers will be asked to sign new contracts for [Warner] and less profitable product lines will remain DRM free as a sop/testing ground.

‘Anachronistic’ Germans told to allow Home Schooling

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

CBNNews.com — A report from the U.S. State Department on human rights abuses to be released next year will include Germany’s harsh treatment of homeschoolers, CBN News sources say.

Last year’s report, which was just released, does not mention the homeschooling situation in German. Several homeschooling parents have been jailed and fined thousands of euros.

Homeschooling is illegal in Germany. There are estimated to be only about 300 to 500 homeschooling families in the entire nation.Some homeschoolers have lost their homes and businesses, while others have fled the country with their children.

In the most highly publicized case, 15-year-old Melissa Busekros was taken from her homeschooling parents in Bavaria in a SWAT-style police raid and placed in a mental hospital and then put into foster care. A state psychiatric evaluation of the girl claimed she suffered from “school phobia” and was too devoted and obedient to her father. The parents have failed to regain custody.

Concern in the U.S. State Department over Germany’s harsh treatment of homeschoolers follows a United Nations report last month that labeled Germany’s school system “an anachronism.”

The report by Vernor Muoz Villalobos, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to education, said that Germany’s education system should not include “the suppression of forms of education that do not require attendance in school.” It recommended Germany adopt the necessary measures “to ensure that the home schooling system is properly supervised by the State, thereby upholding the right of the parents to employ this form of education when necessary and appropriate.”

But the U.N. recommendation was rejected by the German government, which issued a press release saying homeschooling is “no model for Germany.”

CBN

Well well well.

The Germans are fond of telling people to go back and vote until you get it right when anyone in the EU disagrees with them, maybe the UN will tell them to go back and remove Hitler’s anti Home Schooling law, and keep telling them to go back until they get it right.

It is interesting how they say homeschooling is “no model for Germany.”. Home Schooling is something that individual families choose it may or may not be right for individual families, and that is their choice, but what is ‘good for Germany’ is not the issue (or at least it should not be) because families are not the property of the state in a democratic country. Privatized railways can be good or bad for Germany. Speed limits on the motor-ways can be good or bad for Germany… you get the picture.

There are several problems with this story, the main ones concerning the stubborn and ignorant Germans, whom we have discussed before.

The other ones that are new to us are the statements of Vernor Muoz Villalobos. Now, I am not saying that Mr. Villalobos is biased, but in his home country of Costa Rica Home Schooling is illegal. This might be the reason why he used the phrase:

thereby upholding the right of the parents to employ this form of education when necessary and appropriate.”

What he SHOULD have said was, “Uphold the right of the parents to employ this form of education should it be their choice for whatever reason”.

Also, it is completely wrong for him to suggest that Germany, “(adopt the necessary measures) to ensure that the home schooling system is properly supervised by the State”. Home Schooling should not be supervised by the state. Many people choose Home Schooling precisely to get away from state interference in education; the state of Nevada is showing clear headed and informed thinking by introducing legislation to make it easier to Home School. The state should be backing away from this area, not trying to get entrenched in it.

Vernor Muoz Villalobos and all ministers responsible for education need to take the facts into consideration, stay away from trying to control Home Schooling, and stop behaving as if this is the 1970s. Home Schooling is an unstoppable and positive force that is improving the lives of children and families.

Any educator that is against Home Schooling doesn’t know the facts about Home Schooling – it is as simple as that. After seeing the results and getting to grips with how Home Schooling works, all reasonable people are for it and not against it.

Unless of course, you are from the party that claims that day is night.

update…

Here is the crucial part of the UN report by Vernor Muoz Villalobos, which is more important than the philosophically erroneous recommendation:

62. According to reports received, it is possible that, in some Länder, education is understood exclusively to mean school attendance. Even though the Special Rapporteur is a strong advocate of public, free and compulsory education, it should be noted that education may not be reduced to mere school attendance and that educational processes should be strengthened to ensure that they always and primarily serve the best interests of the child. Distance learning methods and home schooling represent valid options which could be developed in certain circumstances, bearing in mind that parents have the right to choose the appropriate type of education for their children, as stipulated in article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The promotion and development of a system of public, government-funded education should not entail the suppression of forms of education that do not require attendance at a school. In this context, the Special Rapporteur received complaints about threats to withdraw the parental rights of parents who chose home-schooling methods for their children.

!!!

What do you call an unsuitable parent?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Fatima

A former nanny says she has been refused permission to adopt a child because she is overweight.

Gillian Vose, 42, said social services rejected her application because her weight – she weighs 20 stone (127kg) and is 5ft 3ins (1.6m) tall – meant she would not be able to cope with the child concerned.

[…]

Telegraph

This a person with plenty of experience of looking after children and she would have been able to adopt the child if it weren’t for her ‘mobility problem’ – presumably being mobile enough to attend the interview doesn’t count. Looks like the beginning of the end for anyone wishing to adopt and doesn’t have optimal height/mass ratio, a winning smile, flowing blonde hair, bright blue eyes and strong Aryan features.

ADD:

It’s been pointed out quite rightly that a person has no fundamental ‘right to adopt’, however Local Authorities such as these can remove children from their blood parents, I see it only as a matter of degree from imposing ‘fitness’ criteria solely on potential adoptive parents and extending it to challenge the ability of blood parents to bring up a child.

The REALLY REAL reason Google bought YouTube

Monday, April 9th, 2007

Now that YouTube has money behind it, Google can expect legal action from a whole bunch of people… some of it justified.

That was truly insightful, at least for me.

Google’s core business model revolves around “fair use” and similar provisions of copyright law. I think they are most vulnerable in this area– look at Belgium. So Google needed to buy YouTube for a couple of reasons related to this.

The first is because YouTube’s business model also revolves around many of the same “fair use” provisions, and if YouTube loses its upcoming court cases, the fallout could fatally poison Google’s business model. It would be very hard for Google to immunize itself from any judgments against YouTube that changed the interpretation of copyright law. Purchasing YouTube allows Google to directly counter such an attack with all its resources. It also decreases the likelihood of such an attack, since all the ambulance chasers who were smacking their lips in anticipation of an easy meal from YouTube’s carcass are now slinking away, looking for easier prey that won’t be able to fend them off for years with delaying tactics.

The other reason that occurs to me is that the most important part of strategizing any conflict is choosing your battlefield carefully. Google is under constant threat of serious litigation over copyright concerns. Google has just bought a battlefield where these litigations can be played out, that is comfortably distant from the fields of green where Googles’ cash cows graze.

I expect that Google is developing the muscles it needs to directly influence copyright legislation, and I expect it is also going to be increasingly influential in copyright litigation as well (intervening with friend of the court briefs, etc). This all seems to be part of Google’s mission statement: [google.com] “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

[…]

Scribd

Millions to rebel over ID cards

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

Robert Winnett and David Leppard

The government is predicting that some 15m people will revolt against Tony Blairs controversial ID card scheme by refusing to produce the new cards or provide personal data on demand.

The forecast is made in documents released by the Home Office under the Freedom of Information Act. The papers show ministers expect national protests similar to the poll tax rebellions of the Thatcher era, with millions prepared to risk criminal prosecution..

The documents, quietly released during parliaments Easter break, also show that the government is planning to make ID cards compulsory in 2014, despite the expected revolt.

The first cards are due in 2009, alongside new passports. Labour has said it will make the scheme compulsory if it wins the next election.

[…]

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1626768.ece

Nice try Robert and David, but you fail it.

First of all, MILLIONS are going to refuse to provide fingerprints and information for the NIR, which is the true evil and backbone of the system.

As we have been saying for years, once you are registered in the system, your body becomes the card. The physical card is just a vestigial token that everyone will eventually be weaned off of once they innately understand how the system really works…or at least, thats the plan if they manage to pull it off, which they will not.

Secondly, you failed to mention that the Tories will scrap the entire system if they are elected. I say ‘entire system’ because any failure to scrap the NIR is a failure to scrap the real heart of the system; the biometric net.

Should I homeschool?

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

Michael Pakaluk is a professor of philosophy in Cambridge, Mass. who is currently helping to homeschool his 16-year-old daughter.

Over 2 million children are now homeschooled in the United States. On standardized tests, homeschooled children outperform matched peers in the public schools by a wide margin, and they are comparatively more successful in getting admitted to competitive colleges.

Strikingly, homeschooled children do not show the black/white test-score gap that is the bane of public and private schools. Likewise, homeschooled children perform equally well regardless of gender.

In light of these ever more widely appreciated facts, perhaps you have considered homeschooling your own children. If you have, a good place to look for assistance would be the Web site of the Home School Legal Defense Fund. But here I simply wish to state the case for homeschooling. Why should you consider it?

From my own experience, I count the following reasons as the most important:

1. Its efficient. A homeschooled child typically finishes in 2-3 hours the work done in an entire day of public schooling. He can spend the rest of the day reading, playing sports, doing hobbies, practicing a musical instrument, and even helping out with chores.

2. Its inexpensive. A mere fraction of the tuition of a typical private school is sufficient to pay for a homeschoolers supplies, books, music lessons, foreign language instruction, gymnastics instruction, pilgrimages — and a cultural excursion to Paris or Rome.

3. Homeschooling tends to develop good habits of reading. Because of the influence of electronic media (television, radio, iPods, Internet, cell phones, video games), few public school students are now developing good reading habits. In contrast, homeschoolers display almost an opposite trend: on average they read widely and voraciously. Yet reading is the most important single determinant of the quality of a childs education.

4. Homeschooled children more easily become friends with their parents. Its natural of course for children to grow up admiring, respecting, and eventually becoming friends with their parents. But this natural process is frequently blocked when children are sent to common schools, where, because of peer pressure, they are taught to view their parents as overbearing, uncool and unreasonable.

5. Homeschooling requires that the father play the role that he really should play in his childrens education. The experience of homeschoolers is that the mothers efforts during the day need to be reinforced by the fathers assistance in the evening — perhaps by his teaching a more rigorous subject, by checking homework. This reintroduction of the father into education proves tremendously helpful for children to become serious about their studies.

6. Unity of studying and religious belief. The best education is one in which there is no strict compartmentalization. Homeschooled children are free at any point of the day to consider the relationship between faith and reason, between what they believe as Christians and what they are learning about the world. In contrast, the practice in public schools, where children are effectively taught that there is something wrong in speaking publicly about God, does tremendous damage to children, and leads them to suppose that there is no truth in matters of religion.

7. Homeschooling tends to foster a lively patriotism. The reason for this, I think, is that homeschoolers often regard themselves as reasserting, in their own lives, the reality of rights that are prior to the state: the right of parents to educate their own children; the right of religious believers to seek an education which is integrated with their faith. Homeschooling parents will therefore turn to the Founding Fathers as sources of inspiration. Homeschoolers believe what the Founding Fathers taught, and they teach these things to their children as truths that are vitally important to believe.

8. Homeschooled children can enjoy the innocence of childhood longer. Let me put the point bluntly. If you would prefer that your child not learn about (say) oral sex and condoms, then nowadays you should consider taking your child out of common schools before the third grade (more or less), because by that age there will be children in the class whose parents let them watch sit-coms which regularly deal with such things, and who will talk about them in school.

9. Homeschooled children socialize better. Yes, the truth is actually the opposite of the common criticism, that homeschooled children do not socialize well. Homeschooled children learn to deal easily with people of all ages — babies, parents, friends of parents, and the elderly. They acquire a mature, adult mentality from an early age. (I know Im in a homeschooling household when I sit down to talk with a friend and find that his teenage children actually want to sit with us and listen to our conversation!) In contrast, there is absolutely nothing less well-suited to good socialization than placing a child with hundreds of other children who are exactly the same in age. Remember that homeschooling has been the norm for nearly all of human history; compulsory education in common schools is a recent phenomenon, dating from about 1850.

What am I advocating then? Am I advocating that all children should be homeschooled? No, the parents decision about their childrens education should be made on a case-by-case basis, and reviewed each year. What suits some children will not suit others. What works in some households will not work in others.

What I am saying is that homeschooling is a very good thing, and that every parent should give it careful consideration as possibly the best option for their child.

[…]

The Pilot

FireGPG: Use GPG with Gmail!

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

FireGPG is a Firefox extension under GPL which brings an interface to encrypt, decrypt, sign or verify the signature of a text in any web page using GnuPG.

[…]

http://firegpg.tuxfamily.org/index.php?page=home&lang=en

Its about time.

If you use this with Gmail, no matter what happens, no one can read your email on the server. Not that Google will do that of course.

Quite why Google didnt do this themselves is a good question. They have the expertise, and the understanding to do it. Certainly the Bad Guys® would discourage them from releasing a tool like this to all Gmail users; it would mean email messages going dark to ECHELON, and then the sky falling.

Fear of the innocent: the insanity behind ‘clean skins’

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Michael Chertoff, who arrives in Britain tomorrow for talks with John Reid, the Home Secretary, said the US was determined to build extra defences against so-called “clean skin” terrorists from Europe.
“We need to build layers of protection, and I don’t think we totally want to rely upon the fact that a foreign government is going to know that one of their citizens is suspicious and is going to be coming here,” he said.

Mr Chertoff insisted that the US required additional information, including email addresses and credit card details, to vet European passengers and rejected “the idea that we’re going to bargain with the European Union over who’s going to come into the United States” under the visa waiver scheme.

“We have an absolute right to get this, in the same way that if someone wants to be a guest in my house I have a right to ask them who they are and get identification.”

The July 7 tube and bus bombs nearly two years ago had shown that Britain had a problem with its Muslim immigrant population that America did not share, he argued.

“Our Muslim population is better educated and economically better off than the average American. So, from a standpoint of mobility in society, it’s a successful immigrant population. To some degree, the whole country is a country of immigrants, and therefore there’s no sense that we have insiders or outsiders. In some countries [in Europe], you had an influx of people that came in as a colonial legacy and may have always have felt, to some extent, that they were viewed as second-class citizens, and they’ve tended to impact and be kind of clustered in some areas.”

Mr Chertoff, a former federal prosecutor, said that one of his biggest worries was that “unknown terrorists” – such as most of the 7/7 bombers, who were British citizens with no criminal record or intelligence traces – could use the visa waiver scheme to enter and attack America. […]

InfoWars

What does this really mean?

It means that not only do they not trust people in their dirty database of ‘terrorists’ but that everyone who is NOT in that database, the ‘clean skins’ is ALSO a suspect.

This is obviously as unsustainable as the absurd and insane ‘threat level’ meter that has now been abandoned, and I predict that this ‘strategy’ will be abandoned as unworkable, useless and a total waste of money, as is the case with the utterly offensive USVISIT.

Once again, the vendors are pushing for an upgrade of technology. There is not a single case of someone being missed by USVIST because they only have two prints instead of ten. This is a totally made up reason for retrofitting the system. But you know this.

What is going to happen is that they are going to run out of strategies. When that happens, they will simply give up. Like the scene from The Man Who Fell to Earth where Newton is simply abandoned, because they could not get anything out of him, couldn’t do any thing with him….they just left the secret facility one day and that was it; no explanation, no rationale, just over.

The database, which can only be used to harass and abuse people will be dismantled. The public will become fed up with surveillance and harassment, just like the people living under the Soviets did. This whole episode will be seen as a monumental failure and a waste of astronomical sums of money.

Shame on them all for participating in it.

ISLAND demonstration

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Irdial’s foolproof secure passport system has been mentioned on numerous occasions, although only in relation to border control. Last night an application came to mind which would be an easy way of demonstrating the principles of the system in a real world, small-scale situation.

The application involves the issuing of a secure card that authorises the user to access a service. The card can then be checked by a different individual to access the service. This is analogous to IPS issuing a secure passport and passing through border control.

The application is a secure and anonymous mailbox/deposit box company.

Issuing

The client registers in one office and has a digital photgraph taken, they also have the option to include a passphrase and PIN. Becaus ethis is a commercial application the company assigns client ID and box number and key. All this information is encrypted and put on the card.
No information needs to be printed onto the plastic card so its function remains unknown to a third party (although for a passport various bits of information could be displayed), the information on the chip cann only be decrypted by the issuer who only needs to database the client ID and box number (for billing purposes).

The client is unknown to the company except for the client ID, a third party can use the card to pay bills (a remote card reader and secure website could be used to send bill payment and the the encrypted ID to the mailbox company) but not access the mailbox (as the photograph they cannot access would not fit), furthermore the client can pay in cash and thus remain anonymous whilst continuing to access the service.

Validation

The mailbox room has a security guard to control access, the client presents their card to the guard who can then use a terminal to display the photograph and any additional measures the client wanted to be included. The client ID can be read and sent to the accounts database so access can be denied if they have not payed their bills.

If the validation is successful the client can use the encrypted key on their card to access the mailbox and retreive their mail.

Er.. that’s it.

This would be a good demonstration because:
It is directly analogous to how passports should be issued and validated.
It allows cash payment and so can provide a client base whose identity could not be otherwise compromised.
It is scalable.
It is open to competition without compromising security (analogous to different countries being able to use the system).
It provides a useful service in itself.

Stubborn Arrogant and Blinkered Robots

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Yesterday a group of Home Schooled children visited the Houses of Parliament. Home schoolers in London get together several times a week for these sorts of educational and social events, and these were all very well behaved, confident and polite children.

Before they went into the palace itself, they were ushered into a room in Portcullis House, so the event organizer’s MP could come and talk to and welcome them.

The MP was Bridget Prentice, representative for Lewisham East. She was ‘a full on New Labour front bencher’ according to one of the mothers. There was a question and answer session. One of the children asked Prentice what she thought of Home schooling.

She said, “Unless there are exceptional circumstances, children belong in school because learning in groups is best for children”.

This was in front of a group of Home Schoolers, i.e. children learning in a group.

I am not making this up.

Parents think that the epidemic of crime in London’s schools are ‘exceptional circumstances’, certainly exceptional enough to warrant taking your child out of harm’s way.

and lets spare a thought for the beleaguered teachers:

A survey of teachers in Bradford found that half were suffering from levels of stress that required medical aid, said Sylvia Jewell, from Kirklees. She said: “It’s the Government’s fault because it piles one demand on us after another.” Gill Lee, from Lewisham, south-east London, said: “We have too much work, too little time, too little pay and too little control over what we teach.” Dave Clinch, another Lewisham teacher, said: “We’re being asked by the government to cram facts into children’s heads instead of giving them a global view of the world.” Pete Bishop, a principal and member of the executive, said: “Primary school teachers are being forced to write down plans for every single lesson they teach. It’s totally unacceptable.”

[…]

oecta.on.ca

Once again, the quality of schools is a red herring; it is your right to home educate without state interference. Period.