Tuesday, May 31, 2005


If any of you want to add links to the three I already placed, go ahead. If you can't figure out how to add links, I can do it for you. Just tell me the links in the comments.

Need to know basis

One of our school's more interesting policies and one of the ones that most annoys the students is its habit of never letting us know anything more than twenty-four hours ahead of time. For example, we're going on a trip tomorrow and no one, not even the Madrichot have any idea where, until when, or what we need to bring. We got our testing schedule yesterday for our tests next week. I don't know if the policy is only motivated by their simply not knowing until the day before or if there are more sinister motives lurking here, but I have noticed that someone in the Administration usually does know what's going on and is perfectly willing to tell us when we ask them. So is there any legitimate pedagogic (oooh, big word. and probably misspelled) reason not to tell students things ahead of time or do they simply not realize the natural human urge that people have to know what's going on? I know that while flying El-Al, passengers can get a minute-to-minute flight update on the time left, height off the ground, air temperature outside, and a lot of other things that no one has to know. And I love it. I think that everyone in authority ought to tell people as much information as they can without hurting anyone and stop this nonsense fo anticipation.

Great Euphemisms

Yesterday, President Chavez was temporarily missing http://www.babalublog.com/archives/001757.html. Unfortunately he turned up alive and well. During the time missing, rumors were he was "reviewing military officer promotion lists", I like that phrase for a coup.

Another great euphemisms I heard recently is about an acquaintance who "Is currently teaching a non-accredited course in political science attended by masters students" This individual never finished college, so it's doubtful he would be working for a university in a paid capacity. However, this individual is politically active, and it's entirely possible that some of his membership attend masters programs. I suppose you could describe a political planning meeting as a non-accredited course.

Monday, May 30, 2005

It Was Either Non or No

This EU constitution was going to fail anyhow. While most would not have predicted French rejection at the time of signing, British rejection was much more plausible and would be certain now. Is the US better off that it is non, not no? I think so. If the more US friendly Britain were the cause of rejection, she would have been somewhat marginalized as a result (this may have been Chirac's ideal outcome).

The question remains, how the US would be affected if the EU constitution is actually implemented? My uneducated guess is that the net expected outcome would be negative. In foreign affairs, the EU (as opposed to its member states) until now has defined itself primarily against the US. Strengthening the EU in foreign affairs at the expense of its member states should predictably harm US interests.

Memorial Day

All of a sudden, while reading my daily comics on-line yesterday, I discover that it is Memorial Day weekend. Which, of course, has absolutely no significance in America. It's kind of a shame. On Yom HaZikkaron, the Israeli equivolent, everyone really gets into it, visiting soldiers' graves and really mourning. (The day after that is their Independence Day, which I think is the perfect system.) Of course, it helps that everyone in Israel knows tons of soldiers and most people know a soldier who was killed or a victim of terror, but still, you have to wonder if there isn't something America can do to make the day something more than just a sale, a three-day weekend and a license to wear white shoes. Although, I think that America's being at war in Iraq and on terror has started people thinking again about the meaning of the day. What's the general Memorial Day vibes over there in the States? Has it gotten more serious?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

*Lesser Evil vs. Pure Evil

Lesser evil defeats pure evil 7 - 2.

* I defer to Tobie's superior knowledge of evil.

A Message For Joe

I've heard that you shaved all your hair. Why? Could we get a digital picture of you, so Talia and Tobie can give their fashion opinions as well?

The French Vote

Today the French decided that they didn't want to be part of the EU. They made that decision in spite of the fact that their political and social leaders were unanimously in favor the EU. I'm glad for their decision, because I support democracy, and the EU is part of a long European tradition of letting unelected bureaucrats make decisions. Of course, most important of all, it embarassed Chirac, which is always a good thing.
However, the French didn't stand up for freedom today. The referendum failed because people worried that they would be forced to adopt free-market capitalism if they were part of the EU. The French want their mandatory 35 hour weeks and ridiculous pensions, and are afraid that they'll be forced to be more like Britain.
On Wednesday Belgium will probably make the same decision, and we'll see whether the unelected bureaucrats at the EU will take any notice of their complete rejection.

Why Stem Cell Funding=Funding for Abortion

As existing streams of embryos run out the most efficient way for research centers to gain new embryos would be to provide embryos at a low cost. Therefore in essence we would fund an abortion center which used the embryos for research purposes

Happy Birthday Mike!

Given the time difference, the fact that Mike has school on Sundays and his constant avoidance of me and phone conversations, sadly enough this blog is probably the best chance I have of wishing him a happy birthday on or anytime near his birthday. Sad, but true. I mean, I can try to call later, but how often has he actually talked to me on the phone? Twice?
So anyway, happy birthday, Mike!!!!. Many happy returns, until one hundred and twenty and all that good stuff. Good choice on the gift.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Good vs. Evil

Good routs evil 17 - 1.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Eternal Question

While getting a trim today, I was confronted once again with an eternal question that has, fittingly, bothered me for quite a while. They always say that hair with split ends doesn't grow- but why not? Hair, I think, grows out of follicles from the scalp and hasn't got any nerves, so how the heck does the top of the hair know if the bottom has got split ends or not? And if there's something deeper wrong with hairs with split ends, then how would a trim help anything?
So I decided to turn the question over to the combined brain-power of my family and see what they could provide. Good luck!

Israel Safety

Last night being Lag B'Omer, our school did its own bonfire in a random construction site on a street corner. No permits, no official permission, made by two girls who learnt it in summer camp, no problems. That's Israel for you.
But the really exciting thing about the whole holiday is that every kid in Israel gets to have his own class bonfire. They spend weeks collecting wood and posting gaurds so other kids won't steal their stashes and then build themselves huge pyramids of wood. After our bonfire, we took a stroll through the neighborhood. It was past 11, so the fires were starting to die down, but they were still huge and there was one every couple of yards. There were no grown-ups anywhere involved in the supervision, building, or safety of the fires. Wait, that's not true; by one, there was a man selling cotton candy.
Every so often, police cars would come by, but they never felt the need to stop. I was told by a friend that in Har Nof, a neighborhood of Jerusalem a couple miles away, the police have to knock down about half of the bonfires because the children build them on the edge of the forest, high enough to mess with the electrical wires.
The thing is, though, I didn't see any injuries or hear of any fires or problems with this low-supervision system. It makes me even more convinced that America is over-regulated and over-supervised. The Israeli kids seem to do just fine without any of it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Swimming Practice

There are huge annoyances to coordinating with other people. So, normally, people do things in large groups when there are efficiencies of scale. For example, carpooling requires less parent driving than driving alone, and Walmart is cheaper than small stores.

But that doesn't explain why Yosef's school offers swimming classes. It takes an hour and 4 adults to give 12 children 10 minutes swimming. First we walk from Akiba Schechter to Regents Park, which takes 15 minutes. Then we change, which takes 10, and then we get in the water for 20 minutes. The children take turns swimming, so they probably get only 10 minutes of actual water time. Then they have to change back and walk back. Multiplying that out, it takes 2 adult minutes for each child swim minute.

I'm not an expert swimming teacher, but I can provide a much better ratio than that. I could take Yosef and Chaim to the pool, and then watch them in the water. We can arrange times so we get more than 20 minutes in the water. That's only one adult minute for two child minutes. So why does the school offer swim classes? Update: Shmuli pointed out that I didn't count change time. I didn't count change time because I don't know how long I'll be in the water. Obviously, the ratio depends on how long.

Reasoning with Yosef

This afternoon I was trying to persuade Yosef that he would have more fun if he started using the toilet. I made an incredibly flawed argument that he would be able to play outside more if he was toilet trained. As I expected, though, Yosef didn't catch the obvious flaw that being tethered to the toilet should probably reduce outside play. Instead, Yosef said "that makes lots of sense." "Gotcha", I thought. Yosef continued "but I don't want lots of sense, I want little sense."

Why I hate Mulan

1. It treats crossdressing as a good thing. 2. Its major point is that women would make good soldiers except for discrimination when the fact is that women especially those under 16 lack the upper-body strength for combat or shooting an arrow. 3. It shows men as smelly stupid and chauvinistic while women are kind and smart and strong. 4. It has no realism, there is no way that the head of the horde is stupi to go through a narrow pass with all his army before clearing it out not to mention his lack of attention span demonstrated by leaving one person without stabbing him to chase Mulan.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What to do

Yosef's school, Akiba Schechter, determined that they would not be able to handle Yosef next year. Instead, they arranged for Virginia Frank, a kindergarten for more difficult children, to take him next year. I think this is a decision they made months ago, before Yosef's dramatic improvements of the last three months. The person who Yosef sees at Virginia Frank every two weeks did not think it justified but they will defer to Akiba on the matter.

The problem is that Virginia Frank is on Touhy next to the Bernard Horwich JCC, quite a bit away from our home in Hyde Park. If I drive him up North every morning by 10AM (when VF begins) and wait until he gets out at 1:15, I will certainly need to bring Chaim and Ruti. I suppose we could easily place Chaim in preschool (perhaps at the JCC), but Chaim seriously needs speech therapy. We are, in fact, much more worried about Chaim's future than Yosef's (everybody says Rachel was the same way and IMHO she turned out OK).

We can get speech therapy through the Chicago Public School system. However, something on the north side may be considered to far out of district for us. Moreover, even if we could overcome the out-of-district problem, it may be that Chaim's start time would be significantly before Yosef's. The latter would be bad principally because I would probably have to drive with the kids during rush hour and thereby increase the already large amount of time they would spend in the car.

Rachel and I have to consider the possibility that we should move up north. This would be annoying because 1) the cost of moving in time and money is not insignificant, 2) we will move in another year anyhow, 3) we would have to get another car, and 4) we had looked forward to Tobie joining us in Hyde Park.

UPDATE. Unless I am speaking about what's for dinner, I really should check with my boss before I make statements about what we "have to consider." I have been informed that we most certainly are not considering moving for at least some of the aforementioned reasons.

Tobie speaks her mind

Tobie isn't liking her second childhood.

Monday, May 23, 2005

An Admission of Stupidity

Yesterday Shmuli created this blog at www.blogger.com. It took him an hour, and it works better than our professionally designed blog. I now have to admit I completely wasted my time. Maybe the pain will go away next time I go shopping and "save money".

Rachel. Sorry about the sign-in as Class, I administer a blog for a Professor. I'll change my sign-in name in a few weeks.

Happy Marriages

I just knew that Rachel really meant I was a good husband when she called me delusional.

. I fixed the link

A non-political post

lured you in, didn't I? well I just felt like I should post something but I can't think of anything to say. Vive le Quebe Libre! Sorry, I guess there is no such thing as a non-politcal post.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Real Senate Majority Party and Judicial Confirmation

If the GOP received less votes for the Senate than the Democrats, why should they get to confirm judges ? Well, because that’s the way our government works, but the question can be pretty effective as a rejoinder to GOP democratic majoritarian arguments for confirming the filibustered nominees. I think though that it still fails even at that.

1. Not all Democratic Senators support the filibuster. It makes sense to count their vote tallies on the other side. The Democratic Senators Nelson of Florida and Nebraska voted for cloture last Congress and switching (or merely removing) their vote totals gives the majority to the anti-filibuster side (Democratic Senators Breaux and Miller also voted for cloture but have since retired) . It remains to be seen whether Senator Salazar will vote for cloture.

2. There is a reason this Democratic argument has been heard only recently even though the filibusters have been going on for quite a while. After the 2002 election, when the filibusters began, the total GOP Senate vote was greater than the total Democratic Senate vote by this measure. If this measure should determine whether these nominees should be approved, they should have already been approved.

3. The votes would probably have come out differently if total Senate votes by party were seen as significant. After all, in the more democratic House and Presidential elections, the GOP racked up a majority of votes. The Democrats racked up landslide Senate victories in New York, Illinois, and California where the GOP did not put up serious opposition. If both parties and voters had felt the Democratic margin of victory in those states important, the margin would probably have been similar to that in the Presidential race. Of course this sort of thing can operate the other way as well. It just didn’t in 2004 to the nearly the same degree.

4. Since Senate elections are staggered, those Senate elections that take place in Presidential election years would be disproportionately represented in this measure. Adjusting for this point, though, would only reduce the Democratic margin, not erase it.

cross posted at www.apt3w.blogspot.com

A New Blog is Born Every Minute

I think blogspot is the way to go. The old site can still be used for pictures and papers to which you can link from here if you desire. As soon as you sign up, I can give you admin status so you can change the template in any manner you wish. I just took the first one offered.