Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Fascist Goes To Federal Court

So Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act went on trial this week, and a fascist who advocates that Christians should be forced to wear identifying emblems like Jews in 1930s Germany, and that people who disagree with him, Richard Warman and Warren Kinsella should be muzzled by the state was there to blog about it.

On the positive side, Section 13's days appear numbered anyway so all the jackboots the CHRC can muster probably won't save it now.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Gospel According To Saint Phil

Now when Al Gore was high priest in the reign of Harper the King, there went out a decree that all the world should be carbon taxed. And all went to be taxed, even unto the place named Durban, which being translated means "the gathering place of the anti-Semites." This was done so that it might be fulfilled which was written by the profiteer Suzuki, saying "Behold, the end of the world is nigh, give me your money." For the world liveth in fear and trembling of the gases of the greenhouse. The profiteers Gore and Suzuki predicteth famine, flood and plague, saying "Behold ye, consumers of fossil fuels and durable goods from China, thy greed shall warm the earth and scorch thy feet, and there shall be extreme weather events, earthquakes, hurricanes, warmer winters, colder winters, rain and drought Or at any rate it will liken unto something pretty bad which thou dost not wish to see, so give us your money." 

And Elizabeth also went up unto Durban, out of Saanich-Gulf Islands, which being translated means "the place of the pot-smoking gullible hippies." For she was an acolyte of the profiteer Gore and worshippeth at his every word and motion picture. And behold, when Elizabeth arriveth at the place she was sorely vexed, for there was no room for her at the negotiating table. And Elizabeth waxeth wrathful, saying "Behold, my country of Canada is awful, and my people Canadians are stupid, as I saith in election 2008."

And when the multitudes were gathered together at Durban behold the angel of Freedom of Information appeared unto them and they were sore afraid. But the angel said unto them "Be not afraid, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all of you that are of sound mind and hath not been smoking weed. Unto you a zip file is given, unto you an email archive is born."

And the multitudes wondereth at the angel's saying and they cast among themselves for what manner of password might allow access to the encrypted portion of the zip file archive. But the high priests and scribes of the people were angered at the angel's saying, exclaiming "Behold, or rather behold not, for lo, there is nothing to see here, move along." And Elizabeth waxeth even more wrathful, for she worshippeth the false gods of the high priest Al Gore and their downfall woundeth her pride mightily. 

And behold when the gathering at Durban heard the words of the zip archive, despite there being nothing in it at all, they began to argue and dispute among themselves, saying "Thou reduce thine emissions and thou payest." and "No, thou payest first." And some even saith "Behold, this Gore climate change thing beith an crock of dung." And so they departed from Durban by their own routes. And Elizabeth appeared to herself in a dream, being the only place where she maketh sense to anyone any more.

And the truth became known and was released among us, and we beheld it's glory.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

12 Corgis of Christmas

Brave New Math

Some days ago, Kate at SDA linked to, a site set up to challenge the new elementary school math curriculum in western Canada. The new approach to teaching math in elementary schools does away with the standard algorithms that we all know, and presumably, love, in favour of letting students "discover strategies" for solving mathematical problems. There's a lot of good material on the WISEMath site, and I won't rehash all of the reasons why this latest experiment being perpetrated on a generation of kids is a disaster. Suffice to say that the literary equivalent would be teaching kids to read by handing them a bag of Scrabble tiles. It's like teaching them to drive by just handing them the car keys.

I read this article two days after Doggerelle and I had met with my daughter's grade 2 teacher. We were concerned that she was coming home with problems such as adding together two or three two digit numbers but seemed to have little clue about how to approach the problem. Reluctant to teach her 'our' way, we wanted to clarify what the teacher expected. Almost word for word, we were told the same thing as the new western curriculum spells out. "We don't give the children a procedure," says teacher. "We expose them to different strategies for solving the problem." She's seven years old, for crying out loud. "Expose them to different strategies"???

The good news is, this means we can teach our children to do math properly, and it will be OK, because when it comes to marking math homework, anything goes. That's fine for my kids. Both have great aptitude for math, both love numbers. Dogerelle Jr. plays a mean game of Monopoly already at age 7, happily doubling rents, making change and building movie studios (it's the Muppets edition!). Both Doggerelle and I are good with numbers and completely confident in teaching arithmetic. But what about the kids who don't have parents with the skills to teach at home? What about the kids who couldn't choose a strategy to do arithmetic if their lives depended on it? Which, in a sense, they do.

In a world where very little is analog any longer, where everything, absolutely everything is digital, everything is, by definition, represented by numbers, this bizarre and ideologically driven experiment will strip an entire generation of the foundations they need to make sense of their world. It's madness, or worse. It's almost criminally negligent.

Any readers have any horror stories? Is there any group like WISEMath for Ontario? Because we surely need one.

And finally, while we're on the topic, the great Mr. Tom Lehrer is here to remind us that educators have been messing around with this stuff for 40 years - 40 years of continual decline in numeracy.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Not forgetting E Henry Thripshaw

Apparently the practice of naming diseases after their discoverers is declining. Let's hope E Henry Thripshaw was able to finish the remake of his first disease in time...

Alzheimer, Parkinson, Hodgkin: Names of a passing era as naming diseases and conditions after doctors declines | News | National Post