The Therapy Sessions
Monday, June 30, 2003
Poor France can't sell its w(h)ine in the U.S.
The brilliance of this de-facto American boycott is that there is no institutional support for it. No government official called for it, and it hasn't been enacted into law. There can be no grounds for WTO complaint.
It is what it is: millions of Americans, voting with their wallets.
Lawyers Gone Wild
Lawyers won't even let apartment complexes have "no pets" rules:
Lawyers have argued that under 1988 amendments to the federal Fair Housing Act, landlords and co-op boards can be forced to allow tenants with mental or emotional disabilities to keep pets that act as "emotional support animals."
Dinesh D'Sousza. Why I'm an Anti-Anti-American:
America, the freest nation on Earth, is also the most virtuous nation on Earth. This point seems counterintuitive, given the amount of conspicuous vulgarity, vice and immorality in America. Some Islamic fundamentalists argue that their regimes are morally superior to the United States because they seek to foster virtue among the citizens. Virtue, these fundamentalists argue, is a higher principle than liberty.
Indeed it is.
And let us admit that in a free society, freedom will frequently be used badly.
Freedom, by definition, includes the freedom to do good or evil, to act nobly or basely. But if freedom brings out the worst in people, it also brings out the best. The millions of Americans who live decent, praiseworthy lives desire our highest admiration because they have opted for the good when the good is not the only available option. Even amid the temptations of a rich and free society, they have remained on the straight path. Their virtue has special luster because it is freely chosen.
By contrast, the societies that many Islamic fundamentalists seek would eliminate the possibility of virtue. If the supply of virtue is insufficient in a free society like America, it is almost nonexistent in an unfree society like Iran's. The reason is that coerced virtues are not virtues at all. Consider the woman who is required to wear a veil. There is no modesty in this, because she is being compelled. Compulsion cannot produce virtue, it can only produce the outward semblance of virtue. Thus a free society like America's is not merely more prosperous, more varied, more peaceful, and more tolerant -- it is also morally superior to the theocratic and authoritarian regimes that America's enemies advocate.
Saturday, June 28, 2003
The Most Offensive Blog in the World
This the weblog of a truly burned out special education teacher: The Tard Blog.
It really is very wrong that this woman can make fun of her students like this. But it is also some of the funniest stuff I've read in a long time.
(Now I know I am going to hell...)
Another Day in John Ashcroft’s AmeriKKKa
These new airport screeners are certain to cause controversy. They “see” through clothes to an extent, but the picture of a person without hair is not flattering. It is unlikely to be very titillating to anyone.
Of course, Muslims will freak out. Any guy who forbids “his” woman to show her face in public will lose his mind when he sees this image:
Ahhhhh! Old bald lady porn!
In a funny twist, Muslims are the very people who need to face the most scrutiny at airports.
Perhaps this will round down the pool of people from the Middle East: we will only see those who really want to get in.
And those are the people who need a really good look anyway.
You can just hear the dialog now:
“No, Abdul, the screeners don’t want to see you naked. But I have to admit, that bird’s nest of a beard does make you look quite handsome….”
(It is especially galling to listen to complaints from foreign Arabs that they face increased scrutiny at US airports. When I went to Tunisia, we were detained for 45 minutes and extensively interviewed by AK47-toting guards. They asked us if we were Jews, and whether we had ever been to Israel.)
Friday, June 27, 2003
Taking Lessons from the French
The Website of the Saudi Embassy in London Explains Human Rights to the West in an especially snotty diatribe:
“Many people around the world look at the West's human rights protestations and say: 'Too little! Too late!' They share Gandhi's sentiments. When asked about Western civilization he said: 'It would be a good idea.'"
”Saudi Arabia does not see fit to accept the latest version of the West's version of human rights. Saudi Arabia has its own vision… (The concept of human rights) came, in effect, as a response to the atrocities committed in the West. The West produced Nazism and Marxism and the ensuing deaths of millions and millions of innocent human beings.”
Of course, the Saudis would like a similar opportunity.
The Saudi government has long maintained power with a curious mix of fundamentalist Islam and western socialism. The money for the generous state revenues comes from oil. But the invasion of Iraq has put them on the defensive. Iraq will soon be pumping lots of oil, and that oil will sold free of OPEC’s constraints. Iraq will drive down the global price.
That means less money for the Saudi government to pay off its people. The ignorance of the Saudis is striking. They lecture the West on human rights, but are blind to the real threat: the pressure for reform that is coming (and will increasingly come from) their own people.
Crown Prince Abdullah is a dinosaur, and there has just been huge meteor impact to the North.
Friday, June 20, 2003
Depression in GuantanamoI think American society has just lost its mind, and the evidence is in Guantanamo.
A recent New York Times story contained this:
“Hospital officials said that about 5 percent of the inmates were suffering from depression and that they were being treated with antidepressants, typically Zoloft.”
First complaint: Prison is supposed to be depressing. Presumably, these people would not be depressed if they were out in the world, blowing up airliners and killing people. We put these people in prison because terrorism is how they ward off depression.
Happy prisons are not effective prisons, and I don't give a crap about their mental health (although artificially happy prisoners might be more likely to spill the beans, I guess).
Imagine a father saying this: "Junior, I'm disappointed in you. I want you to go to your room. You can watch TV up there, talk on the phone or listen to the stereo. But you can't come down! Got it?"
GITMO is effective because it frightens the hell out of terrorists. They are want to die in flames, see Allah and get their allotment of virgins. They don't want to live a life of boredom in a cell in Cuba.
Second complaint: Why Zoloft? Prozac is available as a generic. It's cheaper. Let's try save some dough here, folks!
I don't know why this is not more of a news story. A 727 - outfitted to carry huge fuel tanks - is stolen from an African airport and no one knows where it went.
It could be nothing, but intelligence agencies don't think so.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Dinesh D'Souza: How the West Grew Rich.
Yet another reason why the government should not fund art.
France Is Living Down To Our Expectations.
To woo Americans back, the French government decided to hire a celeb to speak on France's behalf. Did they get Arnold Schwarzenegger? ("Ahl be bach -- for de crepes!") Did they get Paula Abdul? ("I don't care what Simon says, France is incredibly talented.")
No, they got Woody Allen. Most Americans regard Woody as a wrinkly creep who makes movies you no longer regret missing. Even on video. "I don't want to have to freedom-kiss my wife," Allen says in the ads, "when what I really want to do is French-kiss her."
Eewww. You might recall that Allen is 391 years older than his wife, and that his wife was his previous girlfriend's adopted daughter. Why him? Roman Polanski wasn't available?
They also got George Plimpton to appear in an ad, making it official: French understanding of American culture is taken entirely from a 1968 issue of Playboy.
This guy is a riot.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
And wasn't this a "Just Say No To Drugs Ad?"
I always thought huffing butane was a great idea. The idea of asphyxiating my brain cells and then waiting for them to come back online seemed daring, even fun. But then I read this article?"
One can only imagine the dialogue in the hospital room the next day:
"Dude, we were really high on butane last night, but you started wiggin' out! Totally uncool. You got the munchies and started talking about eating your own toes - you know like you always do. And then you go cutting off your toes , and eating them in sandwiches, and we were, like, really grossed out, dude. You feeling OK today?"
"I DID WHAT?"
An article rewrite at the Shark Blog:
"The Associated Press filed this report today, under the headline "Israel Pledges to Keep Attacking Hamas"
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pledged to keep up attacks on Hamas, and Egyptian mediators failed Monday to persuade the violent Islamic group and other militants to call a cease-fire.
Maybe the "and" should be replaced by "because". Oh, heck. Maybe the headline and lead paragraphs should be re-written as follows:
Hamas Pledges to Destroy Israel
The violent terrorist group Hamas continues to reject all appeals to stop killing civilians, insisting that it will not lay down its weapons until the Jewish state is exterminated. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pledged to continue defending his nation from Hamas terror attacks which have killed and maimed hundreds of innocent Israelis and show no signs of abating."
Stefan has it exactly right. Why does Hamas always get to play the victim in news stories?
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Where’s my barf bag? No bother, this copy of The New York Times will do just fine:
A Sudden, Violent End for a Promising Youth.
The “promising youth” was a suicide bomber; his “sudden, violent death” was mass murder. (One could imagine the NYT description of Jeffery Dahmer: An attractive young man, doomed by his odd obsessions.)
This particular suicide bomber gave his explanation of why he strapped a bomb to his chest and killed 17 people. It is very illustrative of the Palestinians and their “cause:”
"There is no alternative to resistance and no exchange for our full homeland, without divisions or separations. We won't give up our smallest right, whatever the price is, whatever the sacrifice. Our steadfast Palestinian people, you are great, your jihad is great. You are standing like men, providing heroes in the battlefield."
I fear these are words from a people about to be annihilated. Sometimes whole societies chose war, even when it is clearly not in their interest to do so (polls show that 80% of Palestinians do not feel that Israel has a right to exist).
A Confederate Rebel rousing his comrades to fight the yankees, a Bosian Serb urging his friends to kill Muslims, or a Japanese admiral launching the attack on Pearl Harbor could have spoken these words (with substitutions made for “Palestinians” and “jihad”).
The Israelis have long had the power to kill all the Palestinians, but they have restrained themselves. The Palestinians have long had the desire to kill all the Jews, but they lack the power. It is not a "cycle of violence;" It is a series of provocations and responses.
The Palestinians – as stubborn and stupid a people as there ever was - interpret Israeli restraint as a sign of weakness. Feeling Israel must be frightened by Arab ferocity, they shelter the most ferocious Arabs of them all: the vicious terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah. The Palestinians are seduced by these murderers and their bloody rants.
Israeli restraint is again being tested. And someday, it will snap. The trigger could be anything: one suicide bombing too many, the use of WMD, the destruction of the government in Tel Aviv.
When it happens, Israel will lash out in desperate fury: it will flatten Palestinian towns and the Holy Land will be strewn with the mangled bodies of Palestinian women and children. Israel will build huge walls around its society and it will ignore the world's criticism.
America will be shocked (shocked!), but only because we are ignorant of our own history: we, after all, are the only nation that has incinerated 140,000 people in nuclear fire. And as barbaric as that act was, I think it was justified. It turned the most vicious racists in Asia into a docile and curious people, and they transformed the region through their economic, not military, power.
The world must remember that Israel is also at war with vicious racists. It is a war for its survival, and Israel is growing furious and desperate.
The Palestinians will likely be the last ones to learn this. Unfortunately, the lesson will be bloody.
But then the Palestinians have always been slow learners.
I think I’ll help myself to a tasty snack:
Thanks to engrish.com for the strange Japanese snack food. It’s always good to settle down to some of this:
Monday, June 16, 2003
I’ve played some chess and I know first hand that it can be very frustrating when you lose.
But these guys are really serious.
The Arabs go to the prom? Throw off the burkas and party!
Damn! Another great swindle idea! Taken! I’ll have to think up something else!
One of the most derided reasons for going to war in Iraq was the wacky idea that a wave of revolution would wash over the region in the wake of an American victory.
Friday, June 13, 2003
This editorial explains corruption in Africa as well as anything can.
There is cultural imperative for a young African who achieves a position of power: pay back my "sababus" (the people who gave me help along the way).
This sounds nice. But it is such a strong obligation. The man must use whatever means available to him to pay back his debts. There is no crime seen in stealing (from others or from the state) because he is fulfilling his contract to something more important - tribe and family.
This is how tribal sociaties work (or, actually, fail to work).
Iraqi civilian death toll not as bad as originally thought, says the AP.
It's good news.
But even if the allies killed 5000 civilians (unlikely), it is useful to put things in perspective: in World War II, the Britain and the US killed two million civilians. Many of them intentionally.
And Saddam was killing 5000 of his own people in a good month of "peace."
Saddam himself killed many more civilians during his bloody rule than the casualties caused by the war. Since his fall, families armed with newly emerged lists of secret cemeteries have been unearthing the remains of thousands of people believed to be victims of the government's brutality.
The United States said its sophisticated weaponry minimized the toll, and around the country are sites that, to look at them, bolster that claim: missiles that tore deep into government buildings but left the surrounding houses untouched.
''Did the Americans bomb civilians? Yes. But one should be realistic,'' said Dr. Hameed Hussein al-Aaraji, the new director of Baghdad's al-Kindi Hospital. ''Saddam ran a dirty war. He put weapons inside schools, inside mosques. What could they do?''
The Times changes its tune.
A few months ago, the Times had decided that the Bush Administration was insane to refuse to deal with Arafat. Now, it has decided (finally) that the guy is nothing but a stinking terrorist. This, of course, was obvious four years ago, but it takes a while for everyone to get on the same page.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Valedictorian to skip graduation, fearing classmates' reaction.
MOORESTOWN - Next Thursday was supposed to be her day of triumph.
Wearing a robe and mortarboard, she was supposed to stand before her classmates, reflecting on the last four years and looking forward to future accomplishments.
But in a poignant twist, Blair Hornstine, the disabled academic star who went to federal court to ensure she was named sole valedictorian of the Moorestown High School Class of 2003, will give no speeches on graduation day.
She will not show up at all, amid rumors that classmates planned to boo or turn their backs on a girl many say never deserved to represent their class.
In a letter dated Tuesday, Hornstine's attorney, Edwin Jacobs Jr., told school officials that "the hostile environment at the school has traumatized Blair both physically and emotionally, to the point that she cannot and will not attend the graduation ceremonies."
Awww. Boo hoo.
Later in the article, it is said that the Harvard petition now has 2200 names. Somebody is going to be really popular in September.
Snapshots of the Islamic worldview, courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri.org provides a wonderful service - translating what Arabs are really saying in their media outlets):
There is some interesting soul searching going on, a direct result of the second gulf war:
An article published in the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Ayyam, columnist Taufiq Abu Bakr:
"[Lately], an opinion poll by Faisal Al-Qassem on his show on Al-Jazeera television caught my attention… 80% [of respondents] said they preferred [Western] imperialism to nationalist Arab regimes. This is a message to the shouters – the public will no longer be scared by hostile slogans against the other or any other obsolete slogans. I call on these people to go to Iraq's towns and talk to the ordinary people, away from the cameras. The latter will tell them that being rid of a regime that ruined the country, [trampled] its inhabitants, and annihilated its flora and fauna should be considered an enormous achievement that could never have been attained otherwise.”
In an article titled "But Who Will Apologize," Columnist Rajah Al-Khuri wrote this in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar:
"Over half a century has passed since the Third Reich collapsed, and the German people has still not purged itself of the horrible Nazi crimes committed by Adolf Hitler. A few weeks ago, Saddam Hussein's regime crumbled, and there is still not sign that the Arab regime has grasped the heavy weight of Saddam Hussein's horrifying crime…"
"The facts revealed together with the mass grave of 15,000 victims, like all the other mass graves, are a huge mark of shame, not only on the forehead of the deceased Iraqi regime but also on the foreheads of the entire Arab existence and identity and on any one who says 'I am an Arab'… because contemporary Arabism includes [also] tremendous measures of hatred and barbarism..."
In "Mass Graves Don't Shake Their Consciences," columnist Salem Mashkur wrote this in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar:
"This is how the defenders of Saddam's dead regime acted, claiming that Saddam was not the only despot in the Arab world. While the late regime slaughtered its own people for decades, all these 'Jihad warriors' and the various Arab 'fighters,' secular and religious, held their tongues. Some even welcomed this slaughter; others justified their silence [by claiming] it was a foreign conspiracy…! All these arguments [reflect] the… official and general Arab discourse: the negligible nothingness of the individual, and disparagement of his liberties, dignity, and even his bones in the mass graves…"
But let’s not let the open-mindedness get out of hand. There’s always time for a little Jew bashing, and this choice bit would be right at home in Mein Kampf:
“The Jews, on the other hand, have succeeded in [winning] world sympathy by playing on the Holocaust and Nazi atrocities. The result has been a world that gradually shifted from disliking Jews to sympathizing with them. The Jews are masters at manipulating the media, money, world organizations and pressure groups.”
The author, Dr. Abdul Wahid Al-Humaid, wrote an article titled "Good Cause, Bad Lawyers" which appeared in three Saudi dailies this week. He is a high ranking Saudi official, responsible for economic and social development in both the public and private sectors of Saudi Arabia.
After Dr. (Ha!) Abdul Wahid Al-Humaid, this doesn’t bother me much:
“the Saudi daily Okaz warned in an article subtitle that "the exit of Iraq [from OPEC] will cause mortal competition amongst all the producers." Dr. Wadi' Kabli, a professor of international economics at King Abd Al-Aziz University is concerned that if Iraq were to leave OPEC and follow the market mechanism for supply and demand it could cause OPEC to disintegrate and lead to the withdrawal of other countries from the organization, ‘and this will be the end of OPEC.’”
In the same vein, Hamas brags of its latest mass murder:
"16 killed and 75 wounded, several of which are clinically dead, following an operation by the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades against a Zionist bus on Jaffa street in Jerusalem..."
A bus filled with soldiers? No, just a regular city bus, filled with regular people. Hamas and its fellows try kill civilians, and they show no regrets when they do.
These civilians are people like Gal Aizenman. She was 5 years old when a Palestinian suicide bomber murdered her and her grandmother at a bus station in Jerusalem:
(Thanks to Little Green Footballs)
The Israelis try to kill terrorists, and they are trying to protect their homes and loved ones from fanatics like the members of Hamas. Sometimes, they miss and kill civilians. When they do, they regret it and they say so.
This is unfortunate, but not equivalent to what Hamas does.
The suicide bomber who killed this little girl was trying to do exactly what he did.
I read this somewhere, and it seems particularly apt now: The Palestinians would kill every Jew in Israel, but they can’t. The Israelis COULD kill every Palestinian in Gaza and the West Bank, but they won’t.
If they had the weaponry, the Palestinians would replicate the Holocaust.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
The silly roadmap to peace is unofficially dead. I predicted it (lots of people did), despite all kinds of media pronouncements of a "new dawn."
It was the easiest prediction I ever made.
The Palestinians were required to end terrorist attacks by this point - something they clearly haven't done. Abbas wants to negotiate with Hamas, but refuses to use force against them.
That's it. You can't "negotiate" with fiery fanatics: the only thing they understand is force.
Israel will never allow a state that can't reign in Hamas, and a Palestinian government that can't control its borders is illegitimate.
The US should do credit to the process and walk away now and let Hamas take the blame. (They won't - they will hold on until its obvious to every last imbecile in the world that roadmap has failed).
Sharon's strategy of playing for time while the Palestinians shoot themselves in the feet has worked. It's sad, but the Palestinians and their blind hatred of Jews are their own worst enemy.
"A blind challenger eyes state Senate seat." A truly bad choice for a headline.
Sunday, June 08, 2003
Amritas has a number of relevant postings on the idea of merit.
It is interesting to note that we have come full circle.
In the 1940's, practically anyone could get into Harvard. All it took was a few calls and the money to pay the tuition, provided that you were member of the "Old Boy" network.
This system was recognized as unfair, and it led to formation of a national standardized test: the SAT. The SAT made it possible for the best schools to really get the brightest students. It meant that if you were good, you could go anywhere.
Now, people are criticizing the SAT as biased. Some students complain that it doesn't measure their knowledge well, and others use influence to get themselves perks like unlimited time to take the test. The unbiased nature of the test is being challenged.
And once the standardized test is history, we can go back personal recommendations. A new, "Old Boy" network elite will be formed, and meritocracy will be dead.
It cannot be allowed to happen.
The Philadelphia Inquirer excerpts a small portion of the Chris Hedges commencement speech, making it sound as if his rational argument was interrupted by boos.
Naturally, they don't excerpt any of his more inflammatory rhetoric: how the US was becoming a military dictatorship, how rational France was, and how the US was motivated by its greed for oil. That Hedges speech was forgotten by the Inquirer.
I wonder why?
Thomas Friedman is right on target. There were many good reasons for the war in Iraq. The WMD were one, but there were plenty of others.
While I continue to believe that the weapons mystery will be solved, I find it interesting how many people have been eager to say this war - against one of the most brutal tyrannies the world has ever seen - was wrong because we can't find the WMD.
I thought we should have gone to war in 1991, when Saddam first violated the terms of Gulf War ceasefire. We were too eager to get out then - a decision that cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives.
Let's not make that mistake again.
Saturday, June 07, 2003
More evidence (was any needed?) that Barbara Streisand is off her rocker.
She has been lecturing Californians for years about protecting the environment and conserving our resources. Well, somebody is actually saying that she doesn’t quite practice what she preaches. Something about the huge mansions, vacations and cars. The gall!
So she sues. So appropriate, Babs.
It recalls her fake quotations of Shakespeare during a concert, and her error-filled fax to a senator before the war.
In the spirit of coming to grips with my Plagiaritis, I should point out that the following link was obtained from Hot Buttered Death. Although it is a general rule that Australian bloggers are far more level-headed than their American counterparts, I feel that if I don't give Mr. Russell credit here, he will have me killed (he seems angry).
Anyway, it seems that some pilots in Norway mistook the smell of their burning plane for...err... something else. A truly strange story.
I have discovered a new disease as a result of the Jayson Blair and Blair Hornstine scandals. I call it Plagiaritis – an affliction that cause people to represent others' work as their own.
Ha! I almost forgot to add that the real discoverer of this disease was Amritas.
Plagiaritis. Not only am I publicizing this disease, I am also a victim.
Give and give generously to help find a cure. Millions of so-called frauds are counting on you.
Friday, June 06, 2003
For refers from the Joanne Jacobs site...Here is the article I wrote in the Villanovan (footnotes are at the bottom):
On the first day of class, one of my students spoke with me privately. I must give him fifty percent longer than his competition on tests and quizzes, he told me. He has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I must keep this secret. If the other students find out, they are likely to feel cheated at the special advantage he gets.
Learning Disabilities (which increasingly include disorders as benign as “Test Taking Anxiety”) are becoming common at the college level: Currently, anywhere from three to five percent of students claim to have ADHD or a similar learning disability(1), and the number is growing (2).
These students are entitled to special privileges: extra time to take tests, free tutoring, private (sometimes unmonitored) testing environments, exemptions from standard disciplinary rules, personal note takers and, in some instances, laptop computers (3). Some psychiatrists even believe ADHD students should have special access to calculators and reference books on tests (4). All of these “accommodations” are given confidentially, and no mention of this advantage is made on their transcripts. When these “special” students take the SAT, MCAT, and LSAT (the medical and law school admissions tests), the tests are un-timed and can be taken privately (5).
It is a chilling thought: This college student, who today can’t take a timed test or gets nervous trying to think in a room with other students, could tomorrow be your child’s emergency room doctor.
I don’t deny that ADHD students are different. They are. And learning disabilities like dyslexia are very real. But despite all the opinions from the “experts,” I continue to be an ADHD agnostic.
Psychiatrists look down on people who, like me, suspect that most of these “learning disabilities” might – just possibly - be symptoms of undisciplined home environments. They know - they just know - that such thoughts are the prejudices of unwashed commoners, people unblessed with advanced degrees in psychiatry.
But even the psychiatrists have their doubts.
In 1998, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended “a more consistent set of diagnostic procedures and practice guidelines (6),” and added that “further research is necessary to firmly establish ADHD as a brain disorder (7),” leaving open the possibility that ADHD might be an environmentally determined problem. The ADHD explosion is clearly a largely American phenomena (8), and its “sufferers” tend to be male, and richer and whiter than the general population (9).
But psychiatrists have been busy since then, and ADHD diagnoses have increased alarmingly (10).
Fearful of lawsuits from parents (11) who can’t understand the academic sluggishness of their undisciplined children, schools plunged in headfirst. Society’s bill for special education was $40 billion in 199512, much of that coming because of the new learning disability trend. To pay for these expensive, mandatory federal programs, districts turn to the only revenue source available: They raise school taxes (13).
The money is often wasted. As the NIH sadly concludes: there are “consistent findings that despite the improvement in core symptoms” due to Ritalin and expensive therapy, “there is little improvement in academic achievement or social skills” in children treated for ADHD (14).
A joint report from the Progressive Policy Institute and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation laments that the education community now “attempts to serve an ever-growing population of youngsters with an ever-lengthening list of problems and difficulties, some of them ambiguous in origin, subjective in identification, and uncertain as to a solution…particularly in the LD (Learning Disability) area (15).”
These students are now filtering into our colleges, where they often receive the same unfair advantages they received in high school. Sadly, very few academics have been able to bring themselves to an amazingly simple conclusion about knowledge:
The ability to concentrate on a problem and solve it quickly is not an optional aspect of competence.
It is an integral part of competence.
But what happens next? Is there really any demand for workers who, because of their documented inability to concentrate will take, say, fifty percent longer to do the same job as their peers?
Of course there isn’t.
An employee who takes fifty percent longer to do a job is going to be fired, especially if he plans to bill his company for the extra time. These people will learn to work as fast and as well as their peers, some say. But if they can do this, it calls into question whether this disability was ever a disability at all.
I have a grimmer view about the future: I believe that when these “special” people are fired, they’ll sue, claiming discrimination. You can already hear the lawyers licking their lips.
We can only hope they lose: The productivity of our nation depends on it.
One of my students failed a test the other day. She has to study, I said. She told me confidentially that she think she has a problem concentrating on tests. She’s going to talk to some people about getting this documented. She wanted me to know.
1. ADHD claims: NIH statement (point number 3) on ADHD, November 1998 available at this web address: ( http://consensus.nih.gov/cons/cons.htm ): search by date (This web address doesn’t work when I try to copy the link) November 1998 = ADHD report). This fact is in the intro (pg. 8 of 45).
2. ADHD growing: pg 46/371 (this is 371 pages long when opened as Adobe Acrobat file. This is page number of 28 of the report) (middle of page) in the report written by the Progressive Policy Institute/ Thomas Fordham Foundation. Available at this website: http://www.edexcellence.net/fordham/foreports.html
click “Rethinking Special Education for the Twenty First Century.)
also: Running on Ritalin by Laurence H. Diller, M.D; Bantam Books.1998 Pg. 2.
3.accommodations: pg. 48/371 (Page number 30 - bottom of page) PPI/Fordham report
4.. E. Hallowell and J. Ratey. Answers to Distraction. Pantheon Books, NY 1994 (see accompanying faxed sheet, pg.36 of this book)
5. SAT: 48/371 PPI (page #30 - bottom of page)
6. NIH (November 1998) report in Conclusions (pg. 3 of th report, pg. 7 of 45 on Adobe Acrobat) .
7. NIH (November 1998) report in “1. What Is the Scientific Evidence To Support ADHD as a Disorder?” (top of page 7) 10/45 on the Adobe Acrobat Reader
8. American: page 8 middle of the page (pg 11 of 45) NIH
9. Richer, whiter and wealthier: PPI/ Fordham 49/371 (page 31 top of page)
10. alarming increase: 46/371 PPI/Fordham (page 28 top to middle)
11. lawsuits: 51/371 (page 33) PPI/Fordham – top of page.
12. $40 billion 21/371 PPI/Fordham (page 2 top of page)
13. taxes 344/371 PPI/Fordham (top of page 336)
14. Not effective for ADHD Page 10 NIH)13/35 NIH
15. PPI quote 347/371 PPI/Fordham (pg. 339 middle)
Three good reasons why peace in the Middle East is a long way off:
First, a poll of Arab attitudes in the International Herald Tribune Paris:
“The conviction that no way can be found for Israel and the Palestinians to coexist is strongest in Morocco (90 percent), followed by Jordan (85 percent), the Palestinian Authority (80 percent), Kuwait (72 percent), Lebanon (65 percent), Indonesia (58 percent) and Pakistan (57 percent). “
That's wonderful. For years, the Arabs have been saying that the Israeli-Palestinian issue must be resolved. But when they say "resolved," they do not mean peaceful coexistence. They mean driving the Jewish dogs into the sea.
Second: Arafat, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (!), in his own words, quoted recently:
"The great imperialistic Zionist conspiracy against our Arab nation and our homeland Palestine, which began with the Zionist Congress in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland, reached its accursed peak on May 15, 1948. On this accursed day, the state of Israel was established by force of arms, as [the result of] imperialistic conspiracy, on the ruins of our homeland Palestine."
This doesn't sound like a man committed to living in peace next door to Israel. He sounds eager to stoke the fires of hatred in any land he controls. Arafat has been marginalized by Bush (remember how much flak Bush took for that?), and talk like this shows why.
Third: an excerpt from statements issued by the Group of Eight summit in Evian, France:
"The international community has been united in fighting against international terrorism since the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The threat of terrorism still, however, remains serious as has been seen in a series of terrorist incidents including in Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen over the past year."
A certain country in the Middle East is missing. That place where evil men who bomb buses and pizza parlours? I can't quite recal that country's name.
A UN war crimes court has indicted Charles Taylor, the maniac de-facto leader of Liberia and former Boston gas station attendant, for the war that he started in Sierra Leone.
Taylor must be shaking in his combat boots. It is no wonder that the UN, with its unenforced statements and its silly indictments, is a pathetic laughing stock in most of Africa.
Blair Hornstine is turning out to be a real piece of work.
The New Jersey high school senior sued to be her school’s sole valedictorian, even though she was educated at home by private tutors and was excused from taking several classes as result of a mysterious “disability.” She is suing her school system (thus, she is suing her neighbors) for $2.7 million in damages.
Now she is admitting that several papers written for her local paper were plagiarized. She offers a lame apology, flatulently written: in effect, she says that since she was not a professional journalist, she did not know that she had to attribute direct quotations. No high school principal would buy such a crock.
The Inquirer reports that her academic work is being scrutinized for other cases of plagiarism.The Harvard Crimson reports that her acceptance to Harvard may be revoked, and a petition has been circulated and signed by 550 students demanding just that. Even if she attends, she is going to be really popular (link to Harvard obtained from Joanne Jacobs).
I’m sure that the Special Education and Learning Disability crowd is horrified.
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Just when you want to argue that the new powers entrusted to the police are in good hands, a story like this comes along.
Police sold a Mexican a car with marijuana stashed into the bumper, and the poor guy was arrested a few months later when he tried to return to Mexico (smuggling drugs into Mexico? What is the point of that?)
There is no malice involved – the police who arrested him had no knowledge that the car was a purchased custums seizure. But there is massive incompetence.
The car was used to smuggle immigrants across the border into the US. A car coming from Mexico filled with illegal aliens and no one thinks to fetch the drug dogs?
Speaking of dumb laws coming down the pike! Surgeon General favors banning tobacco products.
It's broad - it would make fine-paying criminals out millions of American nicotine addicts!
It's unenforceable: police will be able to decided who they want to pick on.
It's just breathlessly stupid.
New York Police are using New York's complicated legal code to raise money for their bankrupt city.
Complicated legal codes filled with laws that cannot be enforced fairly are fertile ground for police abuse.
In West Africa it is the price control system: police enforce the laws against their political enemies.
American drug laws and sodomy laws have a similar potential.
But when it comes to outright cynicism, New York takes the cake with a flurry of stupid, ancient laws. Police are now enforcing to them to make a little money.
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
In the Evian G8 summit, world leaders made a “strong” pronouncement warning North Korea and Iran not to develop nuclear weapons.
Maybe they haven’t read the news.
Maybe they are convinced that making bold, but unenforced, statements is an act of strength, not impotence.
At any rate, I am not reassured.
If America is going to get anywhere here, it’s going to act alone or with a few good friends.
Jonah Goldberg has a pretty hilarious critique of a NY Times (who else?) story on campus conservatives:
The teaser for the article says it all: "No taxes, no gun control -but these days blue blazers and gay bashing are not required. College conservatives have learned that by acting like everybody else, they can sway their peers and become the most influential political act on campus."
Gay bashing? Blue blazers? Yeah sure, people who disagree with strident campus liberalism are just closet authoritarians trying to look normal.
As usual, NY times misses the point.
In the Sixties, liberalism was challenging the system. But then it began to drift. The “War on Poverty” morphed into perpetual welfare, “Civil Rights” degenerated into affirmative action, and foreign policy adopted its “blame America first” mentality.
The situation is so pronounced that if liberal icon JFK were running today, he would be a Republican.
To the left, conservative college students are laughable oddities. People who vote Republican are self-centered rich people or racist rednecks. And that's all there is. They treat conservatives with such condescension - refusing to debate - that they virtually guarantee that they wil lose elections, particularly in the South and Midwest.
I disagree strongly with the Republicans on the drug policy, business policy and abortion. But I tend to vote Republican because that's where the ideas are.
Monday, June 02, 2003
Wendy McElroy gets it wrong on AIDS and Africa.
McElroy tries to portray American AIDS education in Africa as an attempt to impose feminist thinking on traditional African society. The examples of this are hardly compelling.
A man in West Africa - particularly a man with money to spend - can sleep with as many women as he wishes. This is true for African men and foreign ex-pats. It is an African version of machismo (which is just promiscuity and submision) that has led to continent's AIDS explosion.
Women need to feel free to speak up against this culture.
Until that is tackled, you are just treading water.
How is it really going in Iraq? The BBC, NPR and Reuters all seem to feel that the fuse has been lit on a powderkeg, and it is only a matter of time before the situation deteriorates and gets out of control.
I've always suspected that the situation was more nuanced, and I think this story in the Washington Post is a probably as good an illustration of what is going there as any.
Building Iraq into anything like a democracy - if that can be done at all - is going to be a long, tough process. But there are glimmers of hope.