Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Food memories--Springfield, IL

I've lived pretty much all over the place (on the east side of the Mississippi) during my adult years.  This has been both a blessing and a curse.  I've been fortunate to have a few close friends with whom I keep in touch from each place I've touched ground.  This is the blessing.  I've also developed a taste for regional specialty foods that simply cannot be had anywhere else in the country unless I try to make it myself and then it rarely comes out quite right.  This is the curse.  But I never thought I'd see an article on one of my most favorite dishes in an article in the Wall Street Journal (I was clued in by a fellow traveler from the Springfield, IL area).

I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, the Horseshoe.  The Horseshoe is a Springfield, IL delicacy that consists of two pieces of bread (preferably Texas toast) and meat (generally hamburger, but can be just about anything) in the center of a (rather large) plate, surrounded by french fries and the whole thing covered (nay, smothered) with Welsh rarebit sauce (aka boatloads of cheese-sauce goodness).  If you don't think that your arteries can handle a full Horseshoe, then you can order the PonyShoe, which is one piece of bread but everything else remains the same.  The info in the Wall Street Journal article does not match what I know of the lore of the Horseshoe (there is some debate as to the first place it was served--I was always told the Red Coach Inn) but just seeing pictures of that oh-so-bad, but oh-so-good dish makes my mouth water. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Someone's finally showing some sense on Education

Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law some new rules for folks wanting to teach 5-12 in Indiana.  The new rules state that people teaching in those grades must at least have a baccalaureate degree in the subject(s) that they are wanting to teach.  Prior to this, teachers only had to know HOW to teach and did not have to know anything about the subjects that they teach.  Of course colleges of education and teacher's unions had a collective apoplectic fit since it breaks their monopoly on the profession.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Interesting blocks on Health Care

I was blithely checking my email this morning and this popped up on the front page.  Seems some of the reconciliation portions won't fly and have to go back to the House for a vote, gumming up the works and giving some GREAT ammo in the fall elections to opponents of the present Senators.  Let's take a look at what the Democrats don't like and what will be all over billboards, come early August.  Let's just say that considering the fact that a pro-life Democrat apparently is a myth since they'll sell their principles down the river for kickbacks and a useless Presidential executive order, these were not surprising--per the article:

Among the Republican amendments defeated Wednesday were a measure from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to prevent convicted child molesters and rapists from getting reimbursed by the government for drugs to treat erectile dysfunction; an amendment from Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) to require all members of Congress to enroll in Medicaid; a measure from Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) to certify that no households earning less than $250,000 will see increased taxes as a result of health care reform; and an amendment by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) to certify that Americans will not have to change their health insurance as a result of the bill if they do not want to.
From where I'm sitting, these seem to be reasonable.  I don't think that convicted rapists and child molesters should have "we the people" paying for drugs to treat erectile dysfunction.  I think that members of Congress should not be able to exclude themselves from laws that they want us peons/peasants/serfs to follow.  I think that the third one, regarding the taxation of households earning under $250,000 should be welcomed since it would ensure that at least one of Obama's promises to the American public would be kept since he's taken a punt on, well, everything else.  Lastly, many states have laws in the works to that effect as well, so it would be nice but of course would  derail that one payer thing that's most certainly on the horizon.

I think the Republicans are finally getting their game face on--finally.  If they'd been doing this all along we wouldn't be in this frickin' mess in the first place.  Can't wait until everyone comes back to their districts on holiday--maybe they'll catch a clue when they actually have to come face to face with the folks they've been ignoring for the past year.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Democrats still don't think they've done anything wrong....

Despite the fact that the Window Wars have begun again (see Mr. B. with his link), that the Republicans are refusing to waive the 'no meetings in the Senate after 2:00 pm rule', and that Attorneys General in 14 states are filing to block the health care reform monster, and two states have already passed laws that say that their citizens do not have to purchase health insurance as required by the travisty/stomping underfoot of the Constitution, now health care reform law--the Democrats think that the American public will knuckle under and will take their (very expensive if they can get it) medicine like good little drones.  I think that the passage of this bill, with all of the lying, bribery, and other machinations has demoralized the public--it's never good when the bad guys win one.  But I don't think we're going to succumb to the tyranny that has become our government.

That said, I have problems believing that there is no bias in the USA Today/Gallup poll that says that 49% of Americans are happy with it.  Let's just say I call 'bullshit' and am not even going to bother linking to the article. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Just a quick post: Health Care and Blogmeets!

Watched a bunch of the health care farce on Fox last night (thank goodness for Hannity because the folks at CNN were really on a pompous roll last night).  Love Boener's speech and thought it was spot on.  It's going to be an interesting rest of the year since the congresscritters will be coming home for the Easter break.  If Ben Nelson thought he had it bad after the 'Cornhusker deal' that he made, I think that being booed out of a restaurant is going to be the least of every person who voted for that travesity's worries.

On the brighter side, mom is doing better and will hopefully have her stuff done and over with should Obamacare actually make it out of the courts (if it's not repealed first--I'm a glass-half-full kind of chick).  I don't think that we could have gone into the emergency room, gotten a full blood workup, CT scan, and all of the other things we did in a three hour period on Saturday night once the full bureaucratic might of the federal hacks hits to FUBAR the medical system as it exists now in this country (or as it existed on Saturday night). 

Also attended the blogmeet yesterday.  Mr. B and I took a guest who was just amazed, even though we told him that it was the smartest, funniest, and most informed group (on just about any topic) that you could ever want to be a part of.  Roberta X has the details (linked above), but it was great to see folks we'd already met and to have the opportunity to meet some new ones!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sorry, blogging will be light for the next few days

My mom is in the hospital and had a really bad reaction to the painkillers so I'm standing watch. I have been listening to the news and heard that the amendments are up for public review on health care. Obama cancelled his trip so he could stay in town and intimidate those undecided Blue Dogs. Interesting tack that he took going on Fox news. Does he really think that the American conservatives could be won over like that?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Obama and Education

Greg Foster over at Pajamas Media writes about how Obama has caused waves by siding with the Rhode Island school district that fired, well, everyone.  He says that it's because the teachers unions are losing their power and Obama wants to be on the side of the 'social justice'  folks taking down the unions because they've finally come to realize that the teachers unions are bad for schools.  It's a well-written piece and I understand Mr. Foster's perspective but I have to respectfully disagree.

The reason that Obama is siding with the Rhode Island school district isn't because he believes that the unions are ruining the educational system of this country.  It's because they are standing in the way of a complete takeover of the educational system by the federal government.  When you look at the bigger picture, including the new K-12 standards that I blogged about here, then it all starts to fall into place.  Obama is all-union, all-the-time, but his main agenda items--cap and tax, healthcare, and education are the three legs of the socialist manifesto that he's trying to force upon this country and he'll throw anyone under the bus in order to try to make those happen.

Honey, could you drop the dry-cleaning over at another state??

Heard on the news this morning:  Illinois is going to start implementing a ban on perchloroethylene, which is used for dry cleaning.  Per the Epoch Times, before this happens, there's going to be a tax on dry-cleaners that will go into a 'Drycleaner Environmental Trust Fund.  The article states:
The funds will be used to establish a program to showcase green-solvent dry-cleaning technologies and to encourage transition to the use of environment-friendly technologies in the field.
 Okay, so they are instituting a ban (gradual, but a ban).  They are going to put a lot of folks out of business BUT before they do that, they are going to tax them and use those moneys (that could be put towards buying new equipment and supplies that would meet new requirements) to 'encourage and showcase' the use of new technology that they are going to HAVE to use eventually.

My head hurts......

It kind of reminds me of the below scene from 'Dave' with Kevin Kline.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nerd credentials--check!

As Munchkin Wrangler says, the worst wedding vows EVER!  As I posted in his comments, I knew what it was right away.  Check your nerd-knowledge over there.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I got nothin' else, so you get this Old Spice commercial

This commercial and its sequels completely crack me up, partially because it's on the edge of surreal.  YMMV.  It probably helps that I really do like the smell of Old Spice (and English Leather).  As a full disclaimer, I've not been paid or gotten anything from Old Spice--I just like the commercial.

Friday, March 12, 2010

More meddling in the education system....

I heard about this on NPR the other afternoon, but hadn't had time to blog about it.  Governors and state commissioners of education along with a passel of academics (God help us) have come together behind closed doors to create these 'standards'.  It's another sideways way for the federal government to obtain control over the entire educational system of this country because the federal government is going to withhold funding from anyone who does not implement these standards (Chicago politics at work on a national level). 

From the NPR broadcast (transcript here) Dr.Russ Whitehurst from the Brookings Institute has studied the correlation between standards and student performance.

Dr. RUSS WHITEHURST (Director, Brown Center on Education Policy, Brookings Institution): You can find high standards, high achievement states and low standards, high achievement states. You can find high standards, low achievement states. There's just no statistical relationship between the quality of state standards and student achievement.
So there is absolutely NO correlation between standards and performance.  Andrew Coulson writes about the same issue over at Pajamas Media.  His last paragraph says it all:
Public schools face no such pressures, and so we have the dominance of age-based grading — and now the push for homogenizing national standards. These may make life simpler for schools. They do not serve the educational needs of children.
The country's educational system is already messed up enough thanks to help from the federal government and homogenization of standards within the colleges of education.  Combine that with the facts that I've stated before--that having people who know HOW to teach but not WHAT to teach with the self-esteem is more important than knowledge crowd and we have a dysfunctional system that is not going to be made any better with more meddling.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Democracy, what democracy?!?...... I present to you The Slaughter Solution

Via Bookworm Room:  Pelosi is not sure she's got the votes she needs to circumvent the will of the American people so it's possible they are going to try another tact--just leave the House out of the equation on the monster health care bill since some of them are actually showing some backbone (or want to keep their jobs that badly) so that jobs for siblings, in-shower confrontations, and other bribery and strong arm tactics aren't as effective as they hoped.  Forget reconciliation--that's for pansy-ass folks who actually want to try to work within the system.  They're developing  The Slaughter Solution.

Per the article:

House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter is prepping to help usher the healthcare overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill, the chairwoman said Tuesday.

Slaughter is weighing preparing a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed once the House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version.

All I have to say is that people have been holding back because they still, down deep, believe the system works and they are trying to work within it.  If they actually pull this stunt, and if the House lets it happen, I really don't think they'll need to fear for their jobs, they are going to need to fear for their lives.  I'm not making a threat, but they really need to wake up and realize that the American people are on the edge here.  They've turned the heat up on the frog way too quickly and we're getting ready to leap out of the pot.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Back on my education soapbox

Mr. B. over at Middle of the Right sent me this link that he got via Insty.  It's an article from Inside Higher Ed (which I do try to read every couple of days) about how the Federal Department of Education sent out a 'guidebook' to accreditors that looks like it went above and beyond 'guiding' and was more towards the 'we're taking over' kind of vein. 

To give a bit of history, back in 2007 (yes, the Bush years) the Education Department was smacked down by Congress because they started to overstep by trying to implement regulations regarding how the accreditors assess their accreditees. (This is the creeping incrementalism of Big Government--regulations with the force of law that have never been reviewed or voted upon).

So now they sent out a draft 76 page "Guide to the Accrediting Agency Recognition Process" that seems to be trying to do the same thing, but in a sneaky, backdoor kind of way (no surprise since we're now in the Obama administration 'transparency' in government).  What's most interesting about this, is that whoever wrote it doesn't really seem to have a clear grasp on how higher education works in relation to what courses faculty members teach or faculty qualifications.  In the document, the guide wants faculty members to be at least one educational level above the courses that they teach (need a masters to teach BA/BS, need a PhD to teach Masters, etc.).  The only problem being that there isn't anything above a PhD, so how would anyone be qualified to teach doctoral level courses??

These are the people who want to control the country's educational system.   I still say that we need to scrap the lot of them--Education Department and Colleges of Education specifically, give control of education back to the states with an emphasis on local control, punt the unions (see the Gormogons for a GREAT blogpost on that issue), and actually start educating our students rather than controlling the message and working on their self-esteem.  That is the only way to begin our way back to excellence in education in this country.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oh, I like this idea about the Census race question--pass it along

Via Bookworm Room, Mark Krikorian over at The Corner has an answer to the race question on the Census form instead of lying or skipping the question altogether:
Instead, we should answer Question 9 by checking the last option — "Some other race" — and writing in "American." It's a truthful answer but at the same time is a way for ordinary citizens to express their rejection of unconstitutional racial classification schemes. In fact, "American" was the plurality ancestry selection for respondents to the 2000 census in four states and several hundred counties.
So remember: Question 9 — "Some other race" — "American". Pass it on.

Interesting article about Haiti and Voodoo

In this Telegraph (UK) article, there are a couple of interesting tidbits regarding the budding war between the Evangelicals and the Voodoo practitioners in Haiti.  The first tidbit is that despite the writer trying to make the Voodoo folks look looney by describing the happenings of one of their rituals, the Voodoo folks make the most sense about the cause of the earthquake:

"They say we're the ones who caused the earthquake. But we know ourselves that we didn't cause the quake, because it was a natural catastrophe," said Willer Jassaint, one of the priests, or houngans, leading the Voodoo ceremony.
The second interesting thing is that the article states that the majority of the Voodoo practitioners are from the poorest classes in Haiti.  The fact that Voodoo was used to keep the populace in fear by Papa Doc and company back in the day is also a  strike against the religion (Voodoo is the official state religion of Haiti).

Monday, March 8, 2010

I suggest you put on a tie!

I happened to catch part of the news last night and saw the video of Obama congratulating the Iraqi people on their courage to vote, despite the threats of being blown up (kind of like voting with the SEIU or Black Panthers standing there, but with high explosives) and basically trying to take the credit for bringing about some semblance of democracy in Iraq.  But his disingenuous words aren't what struck me about his speech, it was his mode of dress that I thought spoke louder than his drivel.

Now I'm not the fashion police or anything (I would wear sweats to the office if I thought I could get away with it but feel it's important to dress for the occasion), but for the love of Pete, when you are giving a speech in an official capacity and are addressing the people of both our nation and a foreign one, can you not be bothered to put on a frickin' tie along with your jacket??  (Video here).  I notice that he had one when he had his little dog and pony show on health care--something that I guess really matters to him (Picture here). 

So I've got three thoughts on this:  1) we can see what's really important to the Narcissist-in-Chief by whether or not he bothers to put on a tie; 2)  if he wants to go all casual-Friday everyday of the week, at least punt the jacket and put on a polo shirt; 3) maybe he's trying to start his own fashion trend--a new uniform by which he will be able to tell his supporters from the rest of us unwashed, uneducated, non-Ivy-League masses.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Okay, this is REALLY funny!

I'm all for clever, funny innuendo and I think this commercial for Axe has both. Via Say Uncle.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Your afternoon Conan.....

Having a complete brain block today so my fallback is below:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

For Thee but not for ME! Irony strikes again....

Via Insty, there is an article detailing the arrest of a 45 year old woman for the murder of her 26 year old husband, with whom she had been in holy wedlock for a total of five days.  The irony comes in when the reader finds out that she's employed by a quasi-legitimate organization that is lobbying for the creation of a database of those who have been convicted of sexual or domestic abuse.  But of course women can't be guilty of domestic abuse or violence--it's all of those evil males. 

I wonder about how many women are convicted of domestic abuse, how many are let off with a slap on the wrist, how many are convicted for other crimes when it's really domestic abuse, how many claim self-defense when they are most likely the aggressor?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Instead of throwing money at a problem, try actually solving it....

I read an article via Insty that the Detroit Teachers Union would rather have every student fail than bring in the Teach for America program and actually provide those kids a chance to succeed in the world.  Just as in Chicago and Gary, the NEA would rather keep their stranglehold on the school systems and have unprepared, unqualified teachers perpetuating ignorance than bring in someone or a program that would clearly show the real cause of education failure in this country--the teachers' unions and the colleges of 'education' who send those teachers out into the world.

They claim that it's the facilities, the class size, the lack of equipment, etc. when what it really boils down to is that the teachers are no longer required to know anything about the subjects that they teach, that the standards of  testing to become a teacher has had the bar lowered so much that my dog, who operates on the level of a two-year old, could probably pass, and the fact that they've lost the plot of what they are supposed to be doing--educating the young people of the world to enable them to become fully engaged, employable adults.

All the schools do now is perpetuate the culture of victimization, concentrate on 'self-esteem' rather than actually learning the subjects at hand, and nurture inadequacy rather than advocate for excellence.

Instead of throwing even more money at the problem, get rid of the unions, get rid of the colleges of education, and get the federal government the hell out of the equation because when they get into it, nothing works.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How low can you go?? (Personal rant)

Okay, as I posted before, a friend died last week.  His boss came in and said that my boss had volunteered me to write his obituary that would be sent out from the school.  I said that I hadn't volunteered but would do it anyway.  So I did.  And it was pretty good....

And that &*$CKING $&TCH plagarized my work and sent it out as hers.  Mr. B. said that maybe the final editors had done it (he's much more fair minded than I am), but since she hasn't come to my office yet with an explanation, which is what I would do, then I'm thinking she did it on purpose.  I don't want to be pissy over a memorial, but jeez louise, how low do you have to be, what kind of crawling WORM with absolutely no moral compass are you, to plararize someone's memorial words for a fantastic man??  So much for academic $*cking integrity.

Okay, had a friend do some checking and Mr. B. was right (as usual).  It was easy for me to assume the worst having been burnt by this person more than once and I was wrong in this case.

eta:  HOWEVER, it was pointed out to me that when the person sent it to the final editors, she did not bother atrributing those words to anyone else--it was assumed by the recipients that she wrote them because they were so "warm and heartfelt" and because there were no notes indicating anything else.  So Mr. B. is right AND the person in question is still a $^TCH.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Musing on what's important...

A friend and colleague of mine died suddenly of a heart attack last week.  He, I think, lived every day to its fullest.  He was involved with his church, his family, his co-workers, and his students (not necessarily in that order).  He was a church-going man but he was never preachy--the way he lived his life was to be an example to others--he walked the walk and didn't find it necessary to talk the talk.  He found some joy in each day and tried to share it, whether it was a really cool cloud formation or just a smile, a wave, and a friendly hello.  He was gentle, caring, and wicked smart.  He always got the joke and laughed, even when it was off-color.  He didn't mind my language (I curse like a sailor, most of the time) and would join me sometimes.  He seemed to be unflappable.  My life is richer for having known him, even for a relatively short time. 

If I've learned anything from my friend, it is to try and LISTEN and to find at least one joy in each and every day--even if it's as ephemeral as a wicked cool weather front.