A newer, scarier book ban

Children’s books burn, courtesy of the federal government.

It’s hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute.

And suddenly I’m even happier to be living in Canada, where our kids grow strong with the lead in their books. I wonder how diligent they’ll be in enforcing this law?

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Obama plans to improve education

Obama plan sees extra pay for top teachers, may anger union.

Not sure whether or not singling out good teachers over bad will improve things in general, but I have to agree with this quote:

“In a 21st century world where jobs can be shipped wherever there’s an internet connection, where a child born in Dallas is competing with children in Delhi … education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity and success, it is a prerequisite,” he said.

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Self adjusting glasses for 1 billion poor with bad vision

This is a fantastic idea!

Silver has devised a pair of glasses which rely on the principle that the fatter a lens the more powerful it becomes. Inside the device’s tough plastic lenses are two clear circular sacs filled with fluid, each of which is connected to a small syringe attached to either arm of the spectacles.

The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane, thus changing the power of the lens. When the wearer is happy with the strength of each lens the membrane is sealed by twisting a small screw, and the syringes removed. The principle is so simple, the team has discovered, that with very little guidance people are perfectly capable of creating glasses to their own prescription.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/dec/22/diy-adjustable-glasses-josh-silver

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Freedom from freedom of speech?

A Wisconsin group advocating the separation of church and state plans to sue the city for playing a role in the demise of a billboard on Archibald Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.


Last Thursday, Redevelopment Director Linda Daniels said a member of her staff had informed the sign company about the 90 complaints the city received regarding the billboard.

“We contacted the sign company and asked if there was a way to get it removed,” Daniels told the Daily Bulletin.

On Friday, Daniels denied making the comment.

Full story is here.

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Terrorists continue to win, hand over fist

The objective of terrorism, as I understand it, isn’t just to inspire fear… it’s to create chaos and to cause your target as much distress as possible with minimal effort.

Well, it’s working. The TSA “Terrorist Watch” list not only has horribly inaccurate information it also… doesn’t work.

As this article and this video show, three James Robinsons are on the terrorist watch list. The eldest was an assistant attorney general during the Clinton administration and served as US attorney in Detroit, Michigan. The next eldest is a retired Air National Guard brigadier general and, currently, a commercial pilot for a major airline who is certified by the TSA to carry a weapon on board with him to guard against terrorist takeovers. The youngest James Robinson is eight years old and doesn’t even know the meaning of the word “terrorist”.

All three discovered their names were on the list three years ago. All three of them have filed the necessary paperwork required to get their names OFF the list. Every single one of them is still ON the list.

The funniest part? All three of them have found ways around the hassles of being on the list so that it’s no longer an issue. The parents of the youngest use a skycap service that automatically gets their tickets and boarding passes for them, and they’ve also learned that booking their son as J. Pierce Robinson has also let them bypass all the hassle. Captain James Robinson now books his flights under “Jim” or “J. K.”, neither of which get him flagged.

The report who started the story began it all because he found himself
on the list a while back. His solution? When he books his flights he
runs his first and second names together without a space. This alone is
sufficient to bypass the “security” feature.

The upshot? The list doesn’t work. If normal everyday people who are on the list by accident can get around the effects of the list simply as a matter of convenience, I seriously doubt the list is of any effect against terrorists.

And when the TSA hires such mental giants like the inspector who accidentally grounded nine jets by using their sensitive instruments as step ladders to conduct “security checks”… all I can say is, the terrorists must be laughing their asses off. Because even from over here it all looks like a bad Abbott and Costello routine.

Former police chief says "War on Drugs" a failure

A really good interview of a man who’s been been an officer of the law for 34 years and a police chief of Seattle for six years. He’s been on the front lines of the “War On Drugs” and considers the war to be a complete and utter failure. The drugs are more available now than they have been since the start of the “war”, and are far more potent than they ever were period. As he points out the only people benefiting from this continued armed conflict are those they are supposedly fighting. Naturally, the people most opposed to the relaxation of drug law are the drug dealers themselves.

reason.tv – Videos > Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper on the High Costs of the Drug War

Chad Update

Tammy called me this afternoon with an update on Chad. Apparently he had a seizure last night. I’m not sure what that means in terms of details of his condition, but what it ultimately means is that he’s going to be transfered into hospice care sometime next week. Tammy wanted me to let everyone know.

And I can’t think of anything else to add.