Thursday, November 15, 2007

Refreshing and Rare: An Actress with Integrity


The other day I was thinking back to a terrific play I saw in high school at the Folger Shakespeare Theater in Washington. I used to always go watch the performances downtown performed by the Shakespeare Theatre Company. The play was The Merry Wives of Windsor with Sir John Falstaff played by the magnificent Pat Carroll. The performance was considered historic and got raves in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other reviews. I also saw her in Mother Courage, which also was performed at the Shakespeare Theatre.

Being a big Wikipedia fan, I decided to check out Pat Carroll and see what she was up to lately. She has done a lot of television and theatre performances. She is perhaps best well known (especially to kids growing up in the 80's and 90's) as Ursula the Octopus in Disney's The Little Mermaid, Ursula being one of Disney's great tradition of vampish villainesses, including Cruella DeVille and Madame Medusa that everyone remembers.

So I look up her up in Wikipedia. What a surprise and a nice one at that! It turns out that Pat Carroll is a devout Catholic that picks and chooses her roles based on traditional Catholic morality:

"As a devout Roman Catholic, her religious views inform her choice of what roles to accept, and in which productions to appear. According to a Current Biography article, she is a supporter of the Republican Party."

It is always refreshing to find the occasional actor or actress that has achieved some degree of fame and also happens to have moral integrity. It is even more stunning in this age of superficial stars who worship multiculturalism, whose highest moral compass is their own superficial whims, and who become liberals to appear intelligent, showing how naive and uneducated they actually are.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Meet Steven Salaita, Jihadist English Professor at Virginia Tech

My dictionary defines jihad as "a war of Mohammedans upon others, with a religious object." Steven Salaita, English professor at Virginia Tech and advocate of "Palestinian literature" (as well as the extermination of Israel) fits this bill exactly.

Every semester I receive as an alumnus of the
Virginia Tech English department a copy of "A Feast of Words," a newsletter update of the going ons of the Virginia Tech staff and students in the English department.

It is the usual postmodern nonsense that quickly goes into the trash bin. Take the first paragraph of the commentary by Carolyn Rude, the chairwoman of the department: "Those of us who work with words understand the role of narrative in defining who we are and where we will go. Our stories become our destiny as well as our story. They become the "truth" as surely as measurable facts."

Notice the quotes around "truth" and the postmodern relativism. This is so normal that it hardly fazes me.

However, one thing did, something I found quite disturbing. Virginia Tech has just hired an English professor that openly promotes jihad and the
extermination of Israel: Steven Salaita.

In the Recent Faculty Publications in "A Feast of Words," I found this book promoted: Anti-Arab Racism in the USA: Where it Comes From and What it Means for Politics Today: Steven Salaita (Pluto Press, 2006). Here is the description in "A Feast of Words":

"Steven Salaita blends personal narrative, theory and polemics to show how deep-rooted Anti-Arab racism in America affects everything from legislation to cultural life, shining a light on the consequences of Anti-Arab racism both at home and abroad."
The premise is definitely from Pluto: America is a racist country where peaceful Muslim Arab-Americans are the victims of violence and hatred, not the perpetrators, and that this supposed racism at home fuels jihad against America. Therefore, when we are attacked like on September 11, we deserve it because we are racists.

Here is another description of the book, which also seems--surprise!--to be published by the University of Michigan.

Of course, the Patriot Act is a crime that Professor Salaida rails against in this pro-Arab and anti-Israeli and anti-American book. It seems according to the Arab jihadist Virginia Tech English professor that fellow Arab jihadists in America are protected by the Constitution they aim to destroy and should be able to plot against us without having their conversations be recorded because we are a racist country that is causing them to hate us. What logic! This type of thinking certainly does not have its origin in America and Europe's Western civilization with its influences of Judaism, Greek and Roman philosophy, and Christianity. Of course, places such as Virginia Tech's English department have dedicated themselves to destroying and replacing our heritage, not celebrating it. Therefore, even a supposed literature professor, like jihadist Steven Salaita, can be an expert of sociology. They can invent a nonexistent field such as "Palestinian literature" and then use that as a platform for their jihadist agenda. They are then in demand by all the postmodern departments that stupidly prize this "multiculturalism."
In another openly anti-Semitic book advertised in this semester's "A Feast of Words," Steven Salaita openly declares that Palestinian terrorists are involved in a "colonial war" against Israel. The book description by the publisher states that Salaita proposes in the book that "Indian attacks on white settlements were a natural reaction to a European colonial invasion, so too Palestinian attacks on the highways and suicide bombings in towns are a consequence to Jewish proliferation in the land." This is shocking that in 2006 Virginia Tech would knowingly hire such a person.
Here are some questions for Virginia Tech, which seems to be a hotbed of Muslim extremism these days:
1) Did they know that Steven Salaita advocates the destruction of Israel when they hired him? He states implicitly that Israel should never have been created. Therefore, logically, he would have no problem if it were wiped off the race of the earth.
2) Did anti-semitic celebrity Nikki Giovanni have any say in hiring Steven Salaita?
3) Did Steven Salaita teach Cho Seung-hui? If not, what contact did he have with him? It is hard to believe that this constant bashing of America would not have had an effect on him.
"'Tis time to give 'em physic, their diseases are grown so catching." Shakespeare in Henry VIII.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Update


I just got back a couple of days ago from a week and a half in Puerto Rico and a week cruise in the Caribbean. It was a lot of fun but am not looking forward to going back to work.

Favorite island in the Caribbean? Definitely Puerto Rico. It feels very American and prosperous, and both San Juan and the island are gorgeous.

I'm not going to be blogging as much in the coming months. I'm taking two classes at Notre Dame Graduate School at Christendom College in the evenings: Intro to Theology and Patristics. I'm also going to concentrate on mastering Spanish.

However, in the near future I will post a recommended book list for those interested in the field of Social Foundations of Education--the bizarre term that is used in most education schools for the fields of the social sciences as applied to education. I don't like term "Social Foundations" at all--education is actually very personal and not social at all . The main purpose of education should be on academics and our Western heritage, not on socialization and socialism, the main concerns of most Social Foundations professors who try to hoist liberalism and Marxism upon aspiring young teachers. However, it has been the accepted term for several decades now--just as "social studies" is the accepted term.

Very few people outside of education schools actually take the time to study the history, philosophy, and policy of American education, and yet it is an extremely important subject for the future of our American and Western heritage. I will have more posts on the subject this fall. I'll also have more exposes on the inanities of Social Foundations professors, so keep checking back every couple of weeks or so!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Weekend Geography Quiz

In what country is the Catholic St. Maron monastery in Annaya, founded in 1828? The Maronite Church goes back to the fifth century and has always been in communion with Rome. It was founded by St. Maron and became a distinctive rite. It was rediscovered in the West during the Crusades. The Maronite rite escaped destruction by the Mohammedans because of diplomatic and military pressure by the West. Here is a picture of the mystic St. Maron:
Here is the St. Charbel church on the grounds of the St. Maron monastery:
The Maronite order of monks and hermits was formed in 1695. Here is the Hermitage on the St. Maron monastery grounds:
St. Charbel (1828-1898) is one of my favorite Catholic saints. He took vows to become a monk in 1853 in Annaya and became a priest in 1859 in the Maronite order. In 1925 the process for his beatification was begun, and he was beatified in 1865 and canonized in 1977:
Let's pray to St. Maron and St. Charbel for their intercession in the conversion of all Muslims, who worship the false moon god, to the true God and Faith:
The St. Maron monastery receives thousands of pilgrims each year. In which country was the Maronite rite founded, and where is the St. Maron monastery?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What is the Purpose of Education?


For Catholics, the purpose of education is to gain knowledge to change the world for the better in a Catholic and traditional Western sense. This necessitates a strong liberal arts curriculum and a commitment to orthodox Catholic values.

These days it is almost impossible get a genuine liberal arts, humanistic education because of the nutty postmodernists who have taken over virtually every department in the humanities around the world and who attempt to replace truth with jejune, heretical ideas that have no origin in Western Civilization. However, it is still possible to get an excellent education outside these postmodern, Marxist reeducation centers.

From the
mission statement of Christendom College, an orthodox Catholic university on the banks of the Shenandoah River that has a graduate school in Alexandria, Virginia, President Timothy O'Donnell discusses what real education entails:

"A Catholic university must have at least four of the following "essential characteristics." First, the Holy Father says there must be a Christian inspiration which is found not only in the individuals who make up the college or university, but throughout the university community as such. Secondly, in the light of the truths of the Catholic Faith, there must be an ongoing reflection upon the growing body of human knowledge to which the university seeks to add its own unique contribution in the field of research and writing. Third, within the university there must be "fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church." It is here, particularly within theological discourse, that the necessity of adherence to the teaching of the Magisterium as an authoritative font of truth is emphasized by the Pope. Fourth, there must be a commitment on the part of the institution to serve the entire people of God and the entire human family of mankind "in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life." That transcendent goal is none other than God, who beckons all men to eternal happiness in the beatific vision. Here again, in all four points the importance of faith is seen. It is central and vital to the integrity to the Catholic university. In an authentic Catholic university, "Catholic ideals, attitudes, and principles penetrate and inform university activities in accordance to the proper nature and autonomy of these activities.'"

A good example of an authentic Catholic education, the new Chavagnes International College in France for grade level students. Here is the reason it was founded:

"Every profession should be able to be evaluated. The difference between Roman Catholic schools and non-Catholic schools is that Roman Catholic schools are supposed to produce young people with a substantively different worldview. As recently as the 1970s, Catholic bishops were saying that Catholicism should permeate every aspect of the curriculum. How do you measure if this is successfully communicated? It doesn’t wash for Catholic headmasters and religious-education teachers to say, 'Our pupils may not go to Mass, but they are very committed to world peace and social justice.' However, rather, than bemoaning this fact, we decided to do something about it."

I'm envious. Those boys are getting an excellent education that many of us were denied. However, you can always educate yourself at any stage in your life. I'm getting an M.A. in Theology from Christendom College. My main purpose was to get an excellent education in the humanities to best understand Western Civilization. One of my friends from Virginia Tech who eventually went on to get a doctorate in microbiology from Johns Hopkins also takes classes at the Christendom graduate school in Alexandria. He has stated how much of an education he lacked before taking these classes, and he attended the best high school in Fairfax County, The Thomas Jefferson School, and some of the best colleges in the nation.

What we are lacking is a genuine, conservative Catholic education, and this is why Christendom College has been such a blessing.

Another excellent school with an authentic Catholic focus is St. Thomas More Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina. Here is
their philosophy, a philosophy that is genuinely in the Western tradition:

"STMA recognizes that students must understand themselves and how they are created before they are able to help others. Our late Holy Father wrote in Fides et Ratio 'The admonition Know Yourself was carved on the temple portal at Delphi, as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as a minimal norm by those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation as 'human beings', that is as those who "know themselves".' We recognize that the search for truth is one that has sparked the keenest minds of all ages to understand their fundamental nature and to uncover the mysteries of the world around them. This gave rise to the arts and all the sciences, and is primarily why STMA uses a classical curriculum, because it has proven to help shape the mind and temper the intellect so that it is most disposed to think and reason, ask the right questions so that the answers can be understood within proper context."

Many Catholic colleges, in response to this need of true liberal arts, have been set up around the world or have been around for a while and are still true to authentic Catholic education. For example here is what Dr. Anne Carson Daly says about the excellent Belmont Abbey College:

"'Belmont Abbey College is a special, blessed place with a terrific sense of community, and it is a community devoted equally to faith and reason,' said Daly. 'I feel privileged to work with a faculty that is not only remarkably talented but also extremely devoted to both the College and their students.'”

Faith and Reason: Unfortunately these are two things that postmodern obsurants eschew, and so it is very difficult to get a real education these days at your average high school or university. After all, there is only one subject sacred to liberals.

A good Catholic education, of course, should always stress the liberal arts. The Christendom College webpage has an excellent explanation on the
value of the liberal arts.

Catholic education (and all education) needs to get back to our roots.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Weekend Geography Quiz

Every weekend, I have the "Weekend Geography Quiz" to celebrate the field of geography, which arrogant "progressives" subsumed under the field of "social studies" (along with history) as far back as the 1910s.

From Diane Ravitch's
Left Back, a terrific history of American education, about how "progressives" invented "social studies" in the enormously influential 1917 Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education (CRSE), a federal report sponsored by the National Education Association.:

"The chairman of the Committee on Social Studies was Thomas Jesse Jones, the specialist on racial matters who had written the important federal report Negro Education. A well-known proponent of industrial and trade education, Jones was one of the first to coin the term of 'social studies.' This new field was formed by the intersection of two congenial ideas: one was social efficiency, or teaching students the skills and attitudes necessary to fit into the social order; the other was 'the new history,' whose advocates believed that the content of history in the schools should be selected on the basis of 'the pupil's own immediate interest' and 'general social significance.' Proponents of social studies believed that pupils could not possibly be interested in history unless it was directly related to the present.

"The trouble with history, it seemed, was that it frequently didn't have a social purpose at all; too often, it was geared toward satisfying the student's imagination or curiosity, which modern educators deemed socially useless. In its preliminary report, the Committee on Social Studies proclaimed that 'good citizenship' would be the goal of social studies: 'Facts, conditions, theories, and activities that do not contribute rather directly to the appreciation of methods of human betterment have no claim.' Even civics, which was a study of government, had to change to a study of 'social efforts to improve mankind. It is not so important that the pupil know how the President is elected as that he shall understand the duties of the health officer in his community.'"

Diane Ravitch goes on to give a quote from this Committee's report about why they thought that "social studies" was more important than history, civics, and geography. From the report:

"'The old chronicler who recorded the deeds of kings and warriors and neglected the labors of the common man is dead. The great palaces and cathedrals and pyramids are often but the empty shells or a parasitic growth on the working group. The elaborate descriptions of these old tombs are but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals compared to the record of the joys and sorrows, the hopes and disappointments of the masses, who are infinitely more important than any arrangement of wood and stone and iron.'"

Notice the Marxist undertones from this Committee's report of 1917. This report was enormously influential and tragically transformed the entire character of America's schools. You can see its influence in the fact that we still call history and geography at the elementary and middle schools levels "social studies" and the disparagement of subject matter that has no socialist utility. This is yet another reason to take back the schools from the "progressives."

Amazingly, socialists and liberals have attempted to take credit for the Civil Rights Movement, which was a successful movement by Blacks THEMSELVES to gain equal rights that were viciously denied them by DEMOCRATS and LIBERALS in the South. This movement liberals have falsely (and racistly--as if Blacks were not able to organize the Civil Rights Movement themselves without the paternal guidance of liberals) taken credit for gives them the ability to throw the epithet "racist" to anyone who disagrees with their "progressive" and socialist ideas (think The Great Society, discarding prayer and morality in schools, and busing for integration) that tore apart Black communities. The social utilitatrian and "progressive" education methods that date back to the CRSE's report and before are the some of the root causes for societal problems facing the Black community today.

This week's Weekend Geography Quiz:
This attractive city of about 300,000 in the heart of the cotton belt was settled along a river in the area of the Alibamu Indians.
On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, and a bus boycott was launched until the city desegregated the mass transit system in December 1956. Martin Luther King lived here from 1954 though 1960:
This city has not only been integral to the Civil Rights Movement, it has also had important musical contributions. The great Hank Williams lived here and is buried here in in Oakwood Cemetery.

The city has an important historical and musical legacy, but it is also a city of modern cultural achievements. It has a world-renowned Shakespeare theater and is home to the seventh largest Shakespeare festival in the world. It puts on many productions throughout the year:
This city also has the fifth largest museum in the world, the new Fine Arts Museum, also in the huge and attractive Blount Cultural Park that houses the Shakespeare theater. In 1910, the Wright winter flying school was set up in this city by the Wright brothers, and its legacy is still found today in that this city is an important Air Force training center. This very hot and humid city is a city of oaks and pines with many very attractive neighborhoods. It is also very religious. Every other building seems to be a church.

Finally--best of all--this city is home of the VERY BEST hot dogs in the world--even better than Atlanta's the Varsity--and was ranked in the top ten best hot dogs in the U.S. by the Travel channel (it should be number one). They can be found at Chris' hot dogs, founded in 1917,on Dexter Avenue near the Capitol:
What is the name of this all American city?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Top Seven Classic Novels Banned from High Schools


Gerald at the very popular Catholic blog Closed Cafeteria has a nightmarish but true post about the proposed sex education curriculum in Germany. My first thought was the novel Brave New World. However, so many in America would not be familiar and thus warned about the implications of such a program because they have been exposed to mediocre teen lit and insipid multicultural trash instead of great literature from their time in high school and college. When Barack Hussein Obama states he wants sex education for kindergarteners, many young people instead of running away from this guy as fast as they can as they should, are embracing him because they feel proud of their multiculturalism in this Brave New World. There are so many lessons about life that teenagers should be gaining from classic literature but are not because much of classic literature has been banned from classrooms across the nation. Thus, teenagers are not warned or educated about many of life's lessons and will have to experience them the hard way.

I've come up with the top seven classic novels (in no particular order) banned for a variety of reasons from classrooms that teenagers (and all educated adults) should be familiar with because of the important lessons that these novels provide:

1.
Brave New World

Aldous Huxley's absolutely dazzling science fiction novel about a liberal world shows a society where God is banned, leaving an incredible spiritual void that is filled with sex, drugs, and shallow social relationships. The novel is surprisingly sexually explicit, but it is perfectly suited for teenagers, who instead of being attracted to this type of sex and drugs are guaranteed to be repelled. Liberals are bringing us at warp speed towards this type of society of "community, identity, stability," so teenagers should definitely be forewarned and forearmed to combat this type of society. It is not surprising why liberals have banned this book. They are embarrassed at how similar their ideal society is to that of this book!

2.
1984

This is a dynamite novel by George Orwell that truly is one of the best in the English language. There are three parts in the book. Parts 1 and 2 come across as thrillers whereby the two main protaganists attempt to escape and come to grips with the totalitarian society they are in. Part 3 is totally unexpected and is one of nightmarish horror and will knock you out. This book packs a devastating and disturbing punch. It is unforgettable, and teenagers will be certain to avoid having society go this route that liberals are taking it. Teenagers will be familiar with the terms "Orwellian" and "doublethink" and are sure to be wise enough when liberals start engaging in these activities to call them on it. 1984 has been banned from schools supposedly because of the sex and the intensity of the horror, but that is not to be believed. After all, liberals want sex education for kindergarteners, so it is not possible that liberals would ban a book for sex. The real reason 1984 is banned is because socialists and "social justice" advocates do not want students to be aware of their true agenda (or are not fully aware of it themselves and do not want to be reminded of the actual horror of it ). In fact, if forced to teach this novel, liberals will engage in doublethink themselves and claim absurdly that 1984 is a novel about a society that doesn't value nonconformity and, thus, bizarrely attempt to implicate capitalism and democracy. That's classic doublethink. 1984 is about and only about the horrors of socialist totalitarianism.

3. Ivanhoe

This novel by Sir Walter Scott is perhaps the best historical fiction ever penned, and yet it has been banned from virtually every classroom in America for its anti-Jewish stereotypes in the character of Isaac. First of all, it is somewhat strange that liberals and socialists are so concerned with anti-Jewish stereotypes when they so openly are against the War on Terror and embrace themselves so readily the culture of Islam and Muslim nations. David Horowitz's Unholy Alliance details the close relationship between the Left and Muslims. Leftists, who have banned Ivanhoe, are as anti-Semitic as they come. Thus, it seems that Ivanhoe is actually banned more out of spite for the literature of "dead, white males." Never mind it is one of the most engaging and magical reads in Western literature and that teenagers will really take to it. Furthermore, the character of Isaac (while comical) is also one of the most fascinating in Western literature. The reader is certainly to have sympathy and respect for Isaac. Furthermore, the Jewish Rebecca is one of the most sympathetic, winning characters in Western literature. So, teenagers are much more likely to have a POSITIVE view of Judaism and a distaste for Isaac and Rebecca's treatment than not from reading this book. Liberals are always so eager to nannyishly ban books for what they perceive are negative stereotypes in order to superficially appear enlightened. Instead of banning great literature, however, they should look in the mirror and reexamine their anti-Semitic support of jihadists' agenda. Teenagers should definitely be exposed to this colorful and memorable novel that positively portrays the chivalry and high culture of the Middle Ages (another possible real reason that liberals have banned this book). It will definitely interest them in the history of Western Civilization.

4. Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair is a magnificent book. It is extremely long but engrossing throughout, thanks to Becky Sharp, one of the most fascinating and scheming characters in English literature. I can't help but think that Margaret Mitchell modeled Scarlet O'Hara for her Gone With the Wind (another great banned novel students should be exposed to) after her. There is a lot of comedy and drama in this wonderful novel in which Becky is determined to rise in society, connivingly using every ruse possible. This novel by William Makepeace Thakeray is a terrific expose of the superficial vices or the upper echelon of society--and, of course, remains timely today. This novel is a must for teenagers because they are absolutely guaranteed to be put off by things like superficial, Paris Hilton-like fame and Hollywood pop culture. This classic novel contains an immense amount of wisdom that students should be exposed to. I don't know why this is no longer taught. Perhaps the length takes up too much time for banal multicultural lit. . .or do liberals uncomfortably see themselves in the characters of this brilliant novel?

5. The Portrait of Dorian Gray

If Brave New World will turn teenagers off of casual sex and Vanity Fair will expose the banalities of pop culture, then The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde's great novel, will have teenagers question self-centered gratification of one's desires at the expense of others and of moral and religious principles. Oscar Wilde was one of the most gifted writers of the English language. His wit, dialogue, and descriptions of scene are some of the freshest and most delightful in English literature. The comedic The Importance of Being Earnest is one of the best plays ever written. Oscar Wilde was a flamboyant genius who lived in high artistic society of Victorian London. Yet in The Picture of Dorian Gray, he questions the values of this aesthetic and hedonistic lifestyle of "art for its own sake." In the end, it simply is not fulfilling. Oscar Wilde, as everyone knows, was homosexual, yet he questions the lifestyle that so many gay activists are pursuing. Dorian Gray is a young man mesmerized by his portrait submitted by an admirer. He is brought into a lifestyle he is enthralled with by another friend, a new artistic acquaintance he is attracted to in high society. He pursues nonstop his self gratification. For some reason, though the years pass, he remains beautiful on the outside but on the inside his soul is corrupt and disgusting as shown on his portrait. The more he sins, the more disgusting and evil the portrait becomes. The characters are heterosexual in the novel, but Oscar Wilde makes it clear through descriptions and dialogue that homosexuality is the issue here. It just was simply not possible at that time to openly write that type of novel. However, the implications are there, and teenagers most likely will not be as tempted to get into this type of lifestyle. At least they will have the wisdom of this great novel to fall back upon.

6. Great Expectations

Every teenager should be exposed to Charles Dickens, yet amazingly very few are. Dickens simple is the very best writer in our English heritage. He has the most memorable, fascinating characters, both major and supporting. I would say David Copperfield is my very favorite novel in all of English literature. Great Expecations is another, and this one provides great lessons to teenagers though its memorable and appealing protaganist Pip, who goes from being poor to a wealthy young gentleman through a mysterious benefactor. As he becomes engrossed in money and the debonair lifestyle of the young and wealthy (hello Hollywood?), he becomes more self aware and builds his character as he discards the superficial. This wonderful, memorable novel is a must for students and provides great lessons about life, what is truly important. Dickens is a wealth of wisdom that students should feast upon. This novel will truly build character.

7. Silas Marner

For some inexplicable reason, George Eliot has been banned from the classrooms, mostly from indifference. Yet she is one of the most brilliant writers of our English heritage. I would say she is the second best writer of the novel, second only to Dickens. Silas Marner is a gem of a novel. The protaganist selfishly withdraws from society and miserly cares only about accumulating gold. He adopts a young orphan who is found abandoned in his yard and is touchingly transformed as he cares for the young orphan and reintegrates himself into society. This novel provides a wealth of wisdom about many topics from suffering, materialism, and charity, and it is highly memorable.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Weekend Geography Quiz

This city is considered to be the Oriental St. Petersburg because of its beautiful, European and Russian influenced architecture:
This city has beautiful summers but frigid, Siberian winters. It is world famous for its winter ice festival that draws tourists from all over the globe:

This city has a spectacular treasure trove of various styles of European, Russian, American, Japanese, and Chinese architecture, reflecting the international mixture of the population of the city during the first half of the 20th century. The city has had a large population of Russians, Americans, French, Japanese, and Chinese. It had a large Jewish population. Many Whites Guards fled here after the Russian Revolution. The city is now a bustling city of 4.5 million people. What city is this that has played such an important role in 20th century world history due to its proximity to major world historical events?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Breaking Free" from Failed Public Education


Sol Stern from the Manhattan Institute has written a terrific book on education policy--Breaking Free. I can't recommend this book highly enough for those interested in education policy.

Surprisingly, most social conservatives are well-informed on matters of foreign policy and domestic politics--but are often completely uninformed when it comes to education policy. I'm not sure why this is, but my guess is it is because a lot of us are products of public education and lack perspective. Plus, most rely on the mainstream media for information about education.
For example, I've noticed many conservatives will naively take the education union lines without question that teachers are underpaid and overworked, smaller classrooms are good, "child-centered" classrooms are conducive for learning, a qualified teacher is a "certified" one, school systems need more money, standardized tests are bad, etc.

Breaking Free bursts many of the myths about public education. I would say this book is one of the very best in exposing the inanities of "progressive" public education (in this case the New York school system) and the crazy, selfish rules the American Federation for Teachers and the National Education Association have hoisted upon entire school systems. It is also a passionate and well-researched plea for vouchers, the only solution that will reform public education.
Stern proves in Breaking Free that school choice is truly the only way to break the cycle of poverty (just as economic choice is the only way for a capitalistic society to function and bring success to a nation). Most inner city parents know this solution intuitively, but the unions and liberals steadfastly refuse to let them exercise their right to choose their schools--a choice hypocritical, wealthy liberals exercise everywhere when they place their kids in prestigious private schools.

Too many great quotes in this excellent book, but here are a few:

On Left-wing favorite Jonathan Kozol (an unabashed communist) that almost all education students have to study:

A typical chapter [of On Being a Teacher], "Disobedience Instruction," tells teachers how to encourage skepticism of authority by calling attention to "those ordinary but pathetic figure who went into Watergate to steal, into My Lai to kill--among other reasons, because they lacked the power to say no." According to Kozol, teachers should also invoke mass murderer Adolf Eichmann, whose "own preparation for obedient behavior was received in German public schools"--which resemble our own in aiming to produce "good Germans, or good citizens, as we in the United States would say."


All the book's model lessons aim to teach little children to withstand America's state-sponsored brainwashing and to open them up to the self-evident truths of feminism, environmentalism and a Marxist interpretation of history. At the end of the book, Kozol thoughtfully provides a long list of left-wing publications and organizations--including the information agencies of the Chinese and Cuban governments--where teachers can get worthwhile classroom materials. But, he warns teachers, be stealthy about all this; you can't altogether neglect teaching the basic skills, because administrators or parents would then see how politically motivated you are. [my emphasis]


Parents, particularly those of minority children, should dread the prospect of having one of Kozol's guerilla cadre in charge of their children's classrooms; such teachers are almost never much good at imparting basic skills, because they almost always embrace the ed schools' latest progressive pedagical fads. The teacher who feels compelled to denounce every one of Columbus's depredations against the Arawaks--as my son Dani's fourth-grade teacher at P.S. 87 did--is also likely to believe that standardized tests are bunk, that math and reading should never be taught through drill, that children should not be taught "mere facts" and that the very idea of literacy is merely a Western conceit.

On the "progressive" fads that are pervasive in public schools, including P.S. 87, considered one of the best public schools in New York:

We first became uneasy when we learned that P.S. 87 was using a new method called "the writing process," based on the assumption that all children were "natural writers." The old-style concern about sentence drill, grammar and spelling squashed natural childhood talents, we were told, while the new method let children's creativity flow by dispensing with these stifling rules and letting kids write down in journals whatever came to their minds, including their own invented spelling. They would then revise these entries, with but a smidgen of guidance from the teacher.


P.S. 87 didn't seem to hold teachers accountable for making sure that students attained some objectively measured level of writing competence. Indeed, the parents of children who were less "natural" writers than others, who couldn't compose a correct sentence by third or fourth grade, were still hearing assurances that all children develop at their own pace and that there really is no "correct" way to write. In other words: don't worry, be happy.


I have a Master of Education from what is considered a prestigious education school--The Curry School of Education of University of Virginia--and believe me, these "progressive" fads are taught almost exclusively to aspiring teachers. Furthermore, in most Social Foundations of Education classes, a political worldview akin to Jonathan Kozol's is disturbingly exclusive in most classes. Thankfully, in the my introductory Social Foundations class at UVA, we were exposed to E.D. Hirsch, Jr., a nationally prominent reformer and education traditionalist (most likely because he was a University of Virginia professor). Despite his stature and influence in the reform movement, most students are sadly not exposed to his writings. This reason is most "social justice" professors know with certainty if exposed to traditional ideas of education and nutty "social justice" theories, the game is up. Students will choose the former with a fair exchange of academic ideas. Therefore, most schools of education refuse to give students the whole picture.


From my perspective, UVA had an unusually well-balanced Social Foundations department, and even so I would say 80% of the professors would fall into the "guerilla cadre" social justice types--a good example is one of my former professors at UVA and my number one fan, nationally prominent education scholar Dan Butin, now professor at Cambridge College (and who has so tolerantly threatened to sue me for libel in a post below)--or Deweyan liberals, such as the head of the Department, Bernadette Black (even though I completely disagree with Dewey's philosophy, she was an excellent professor who gave a well-balanced perspective of Social Foundations), and about 20% education traditionalists. Most schools would be 100% the former and 0% the latter, so UVA is truly quite remarkable.

Because public education teachers have to be licensed and most have received their educations from these
Left-wing Schools of Education (Dan Butin is prominently quoted in the article by David Steiner linked), it is not surprising that so many teachers, especially young ones, are gung-ho advocates of "progressive" methods that so harm especially our nation's inner city children. The only solution, Sol Stern discovers, is school choice. From the terrific chapter "Catholic School Lessons" on how Catholic schools are doing a far better job at educating than public schools:

The early scholarship attributed Catholic schools' superior performance to their more rigorous academic curriculum and their greater degree of discipline. But researchers also credited the distinctive organization of Catholic schools. Free from the central bureaucratic controls then beginning to weigh heavily on public schools, the Catholic schools seemed more like autonomous communities--yet were accountable to their students' families. James Coleman observed that whereas the public schools sytem had become an arena for the clash of political and economic interests, Catholic
schools were infused with an atmosphere of trust and cooperation between teachers, administrators and parents, based on a shared moral vision.

Stern, an expert on New York's Catholic schools, gives a whole slew of statistics showing irrefutably how Catholic schools--with the highest amount of minority students and less than half the budget of New York's schools--score far higher on tests and graduate far higher number of students, than do New York's public schools. Yet liberals refuse to acknowledge Catholic schools' success and give students and parents the choice to exit the nihilistic public schools. Some "social justice."

Sol Stern's Breaking Free is a wonderful first hand account of the failures of public education and the imperative of school choice. It is certainly one of the best education policy texts out there, and I highly recommend it as a reference.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Weekend Geography Quiz

I was in Raleigh, NC last weekend and couldn't post the quiz, but here it is again. This weekend takes you to the 42nd largest city in United States territory, an important seaport and tourist center. This city has great beaches and is a huge embarkation point for cruises:
The Old City has a huge fortress and walls, and this city is one of the oldest in the New World: Here is a portion of the Old City:
The city has a modern transportation system:
The city is predominantly Catholic and is named after St. John the Baptist. What city is this?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Classic Book Recommendation

When I first was using Diane Ravitch's The Language Police as a reference for one of my Social Foundations classes, I was immediately impressed with the Atkinson-Ravitch Sampler of Classic Literature in an appendix at the back of the book. No moral relativism, emphasis on multiculturalism, disparagement of "dead white males," or promotion of teen literature. Just a list of great literature that students should be exposed to while in school. I decided to photocopy the list for my own reference but then ended up buying the book because of its use as a reference in combatting in my classes the "progressive" education that has been so harmful to our nation and, in particular, to lower income students.

One entry in the Sampler of Classic Literature particularly intrigued me--Richard Halliburton's The Royal Road to Romance, written in 1925:

"Adventure is the hallmark of this unique and enduring travelogue. Fresh from Princeton University, Halliburton and a pal set out in the early 1920s to view other parts of the world, and Royal Road is an account of that unforgettable first trip. Writers attest to Halliburton's formative influence, and readers still are caught by the freshness, wanderlust, and charm that mark this work."

Out of all the great classic literature I've read, I would say that Royal Road is perhaps my favorite book of all time, and it certainly is the one of the best pieces of travel literature ever written. Halliburton's style is infectious, and he has a way with words and descriptions that few other authors can even approach. There is a joy of life in the work, and the book is a perpetual memorial to youth and the pleasures of discovering new worlds and cultures.

Here is Halliburton describing his musings on the campus of Princeton that led him to take his vagabond trip around the world after graduation:

"A wave of exultation swept over me. Youth--nothing else worth having in the world. . .and I had youth, the transitory, the fugitive, now, completely and abundantly. Yet what was I going to do with it? Certainly not squander its gold on the commonplace quest for riches and respectability, and then secretly lament the price that had to be paid for these futile ideals. Let those who wish have their respectability--I wanted freedom, freedom to indulge in whatever caprice struck my fancy, freedom to search in the farthermost corners of the earth for the beautiful, the joyous and the romantic.

"The romantic--that was what I wanted. I hungered for the romance of the sea, and foreign ports, and foreign smiles. I wanted to follow the prow of a ship, any ship, and sail away, perhaps to China, perhaps to Spain, perhaps to the South Sea Isles, there to do nothing all day long but lie on a surf-swept beach and fling monkeys at the coconuts.

"I hungered for the romance of great mountains. From childhood I had dreamed of climbing Fujiyama and the Matterhorn, and had planned to charge Mount Olympus in order to visit the gods that dwelt there. I wanted to swim the Hellespont where Lord Byron swam, float down the Nile in a butterfly boat, make love to a pale Kashmiri maiden beside the Shalimar, dance to the castanets of Granada gipsies, commune in solitude with the moonlit Taj Majal, hunt tigers in a Bengal jungle--try everything once. I wanted to realize my youth while I had it, and yield to temptation before increasing years and responsibilities robbed me of the courage."

I love this book! His adventures are always dramatic, hilarious, mesmerizing, poignant, amusing. He encounters fascinating characters along the way that drift into and out of his life of travel. Royal Road is a captivating ode to the adventures of youth. This book made Halliburton a superstar, and it was followed by The Glorious Adventure, New Worlds to Conquer, The Flying Carpet, and Seven League Boots--all terrific.


It is also important to note--from an education standpoint--that Halliburton appears to have had an excellent education, from his knowledge of ancient history and mythology, Latin, and poetry. Many of these subjects have disappeared from the curriculum to be replaced by. . .well, nothing, which is a shame. These subjects interested Halliburton and were formative evidently. In turn, these subjects still inspire, as do Halliburton's books. It is a perfect example of how our culturally common heritage inspires additional classics.

Here is a letter to the editor in Memphis Magazine that sums up Halliburton's influence on the Greatest Generation:

"I stumbled on your years-old piece about Richard Halliburton this evening and it surely touched a chord. A teacher read to us from one of his books when I was in 7th grade; it set me on a lifetime of travel - including climbing Mt. Fuji, as he did. Now closing in on 75, I am planning my last major trip, having seen all of the world I ever wanted to - all because of Halliburton. Why not reprint some of his writings in your magazine? Let folks see what the world was like when it was innocent and all travel outside Tennessee was a Glorious Adventure.
~ Geoff Smith, Seattle, WA"


Halliburton was one of the most famous Americans in the 1920s and 1930s. His influence can be measured by the fact that one of the most persistent urban myths is traced back to his writings--that the Great Wall of China is the only man made object visible from the moon. He disappeared in 1939 in a voyage from Hong Kong to San Francisco.

So why do so few people know of Halliburton today? I can only conjecture. It seems he is a victim of the pernicious Left-wing purging of great literature. So much of our canon has been systematically forgotten, from Sir Walter Scott to Rudyard Kipling, because of political correctness. Halliburton, because he is so interesting, naturally made a few politically incorrect statements in his writings. It is one reason his writings are so fascinating and not completely dry and insipid like the politically correct, multicultural, censored garbage in today's anthologies. My guess is that his greatest sin for liberals, though, was that he dismissed communism in a trip to Russia in the early 1930s, while so many of the elite were gushing about it.

There is a decent
Wikipedia article on Halliburton and another good one about his life. Halliburton was one of the great American writers and definitely deserves to be rediscovered.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Vive L'Eglise Catholique!


The five conservative Supreme Court justices--Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts, and Kennedy--are all Catholics, so it should be enough to show that Catholicism culturally is an intellectual religion with an emphasis on learning and knowledge, unlike a certain Revolution liberals are celebrating today. These days conservative Catholics are some of the staunchest defenders of our liberty, freedom, and traditions from liberal postmodern assault, which is a main reason for the anti-Catholic bias in mainstream academia and pop culture.

Conservative Catholics these days are also defenders of traditional learning and our classical heritage. Just as Catholic monasteries steadfastly preserved classical texts from the onslaught of barbarians during the early Middle Ages, contemporary conservative Catholics are preserving the traditional focus on learning from the onslaught of the modern day postmodern barbarians, as this news story about eight students from Christendom College receiving honors on the National Greek exam demonstrates:


The faculty of the Classical and Early Christian Studies department take great satisfaction in seeing young scholars mature who are equipped to use intelligently the sacred and secular patrimony of our civilization memorialized in Latin and Greek,” Department Head Dr. Edward Strickland said. “As recently as last year, the Holy Father declared, ‘Quite rightly Our Predecessors have considered knowledge of Latin of great importance for those who deal with ecclesiastical and liberal studies to be able to make fully their own the tremendously rich teaching of these disciplines. Therefore, we urge those scholars zealously to endeavor that as many as possible have access to this treasure and obtain the excellent knowledge that it has to bestow.’”
At Christendom, in addition to Classical and Early Christian Studies (CECS), the Theology and Philosophy departments require their students to have adequate mastery of Latin or Greek. Students who study classical languages have been shown to consistently score highest on the GRE and find it to be especially useful for such professions as law, insurance, medicine, fictional or technical writing, library science, or management: careers that demand high literacy and/or a technical vocabulary.

There has been a pervasive myth since the French Enlightenment era and the liberal Protestant German scientific ascendancy in the late 1800s that the Catholic Church and the Middle Ages were barbaric times, unconcerned with science and erudition. This idea is patently false, as can be proven through historical records and also through common sense observation of today's trends:

Who are some of the staunchest defenders of liberty, learning, and true science? Conservative Catholics, as well as conservative Jews and Evangelicals. Flannery O'Connor jokingly stated (with truth) that Southern evangelicals are much more Catholic intellectually than they would ever care to realize; we can see this these days in the alliance between conservative Catholics and Evangelicals in defending our nations liberties and traditions.

Who are some of the most barbaric defenders of false science (e.g. global warming), barbaric militants against tradition (does the phrase "dead white males" ring a bell?), and barbaric proponents of narrow-minded bigotry (intolerant multiculturalism, i.e. stating that minorities cannot embrace the heritage of the West)? Liberals.

It is important to note that when American Catholics, Protestants, and Jews move away from conservative ideology, they are rejecting their American and Western heritage for the following ideas that have no roots in our great tradition: liberalism, multiculturalism, socialism, communism, and postmodernism. Christians and Jews should, by definition, be conservatives. It is important to preserve and safeguard our traditions. Rejecting liberalism should be a key component.

On this Bastille Day, let us celebrate that we are heirs to our great American heritage, which, because it embraced tradition, did not have a Revolution, and eschew the destructive ideals of the French and Russian Revolutions, which attempted to supplant tradition. Vive les Etats-Unis and l'Eglise Catholique!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Homosexuality and Montgomery County Schools


Wealthy Montgomery County, MD in the Washington suburbs has one of the most "progressive" public school systems in the nation, so naturally it is not surprising that they are gung-ho about teaching public school children sex education. Scratch the last two words, make that "gung-ho about teaching public school children to be sexually active."

Again, the liberals in Montgomery County are
attempting to sneak in PC, pro-gay active lifestyle propaganda into the curriculum in the guise of "sex education" (as if we can't somehow figure out sex on our own without schools "teaching" it; talk about hubris) and inflict these harmful attitudes upon impressionable 8th graders right at the beginning of adolescence. Parents: I have an M.Ed. in Education Policy and can't say repeat it enough: Pull. Your. Kids. Out. of. Public. School.

Of course, mountebank liberals claim this gay-rights agenda in the proposed sex education curriculum in Montgomery County is all in the name of "tolerance" and "compassion."

Sorry, I don't buy it for one second. If it is in the name of "tolerance" and "diversity," why then no mention of
this eloquent plea for men to give up the homosexual lifestyle by Michael Glatze, a former gay activist? Should school children not be allowed to obtain these opposing viewpoints?

For Orwellian liberals running our school districts, the answer is in the overwhelming negative.

From the
Washington Examiner article about the hyper-gay agenda in Montgomery County schools:

"The filing contends that certain viewpoints — such as the possibility of being an ex-gay — are left out.

'That’s one other orientation they refuse to acknowledge,' Garza said. 'We don’t want to tell kids that whatever orientation they choose; they’re stuck.'”

The truth is they are not stuck, but liberals won't admit this fact. Here is a
great article on the subject by an excellent priest, Father Paul Scalia, here in the Diocese of Arlington. (Can you guess whose son he is?) Sex education is quite simply about promoting lifestyles that liberals feel will benefit them politically. Loose women and active gays generally support Democrats. Hook them on fruitless lust while they are young and ruin their lives.

On the flip side of the coin, Christians generally vote conservatively. Therefore, better not have them understand anything about their Western, Christian heritage! It's better to get them hooked on sex at in early age. They then will hopefully reject their Christian morals and, thus, their conservative ideals. That has been the rationale for "progressives" in the school system for decades now. Create more self-absorbed "useful idiots."

It is the same thing about religion in schools. The church-state separation that liberals always bring up means nothing to them. It is simply a ruse to keep Judaism and Christianity out of the schools, so kids will not be influenced by these positive values. Want proof? Liberals have no problems with bringing in "goddesses" into the schools or
allowing Muslims to pray in public schools.

It is only Christian values liberals have a problem with. Thus, the whole charade about church-state separation being interpreted to mean no mention of Christian values in the public sphere, something no where to be found in the Constitution.
So it is not suprising that liberals try to silence opinions that don't promote their socialist utopian vision for the future; thus, Michael Gratze's opinion should not be allowed in Montgomery County schools:

"'Knowing no one who I could approach with my questions and my doubts, I turned to God,' he writes. 'I'd developed a growing relationship with God … Soon, I began to understand things I'd never known could possibly be real, such as the fact that I was leading a movement of sin and corruption.'
He said it became clear to him that 'homosexuality prevents us from finding our true self within.' At this point, Glatze was 30, and had been living with a homosexual identity for 16 years.
"He came to realize that homosexuality is pornographic; '[it] destroys impressionable [young] minds and confuses their developing sexuality.'
'Homosexuality came easy to me, because I was already weak,' he writes. He explained that he noticed his attraction to men a year after his father died. 'At an early age, I was already confused about who I was and how I felt about others,' he writes.
'My confusion about "desire" and the fact that I noticed I was "attracted" to guys made me put myself into the "gay" category at age 14.' He came out as gay at age 20, a year after his mother died."

Isn't it ironic? When Michael Gratze was a PC openly gay activist, his opinion was solicited by school districts; when he comes to the truth, grows up, and thus is no longer PC, his opinion is no longer allowed in schools.

Talk about intolerance.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Weekend Geography Quiz: The Portuguese Age of Exploration

I dropped my Toyota off in Crystal City to get it serviced today, so I decided to take the metro to the National Shrine, the huge Catholic basilica at Catholic University. What a beautiful and impressive cathedral it is! I always like going there to pray. I ate lunch at Union Station and then stopped at the Sackler Gallery to see the exhibition on the Portuguese Age of Exploration.

What a zoo at the Smithsonian! I usually try to avoid the tourist areas in the height of the summer tourism months. First of all, there was a huge backup to even get on the escalator to exit Smithsonian Station on the Mall. Then the
Freer and Sackler galleries were packed. I have a B.A. in Asian Studies from University of Maryland, so I often go to the excellent Freer and Sackler galleries, which both specialize in Asia. Almost always, they are virtually empty. Today, though, they were packed with people, so I can't even imagine what the other Smithsonian buildings were like.

The Portuguese exhibit was quite good. I would have expected liberal opprobrium on Western culture in the explanations, but it was well-balanced. The only irritating liberal aspect to the exhibition was the title of the section about the Portuguese influence on Kyushu island in Japan. The epithet was "Southern Barbarians in Japan" without any quotes around "Southern Barbarians," as if liberals aver that all Westerners were barbarians and all other cultures are superior. Of course, liberals would NEVER use the term "barbarians" or "savages" and would put quotes around them if used by Westerners about any group, e.g. "The shipwrecked Portuguese soldiers looked up and saw cannibalistic 'savages' behind the palm trees." Cannibals living in the jungle are never savage; only Westerners are.

Liberals assert that no culture is "savage" or "primitive" except Western Civilization, and the only violent religion is the Christian faith, never Islam. Fortunately, other than that one title, the exhibit was very well done overall.
By the way, one irritating thing about the Freer and Sackler galleries of the Smithsonian in the past three or four years has been the furtive attempt by liberals to place "C.E." and "B.C.E" into newer exhibits while keeping just enough "B.C.'s" and "A.D.'s" as if no one will notice and complain to Congress. Liberals have a vampiric antipathy to Jesus Christ and God, so it is natural they abhor the terms "B.C." and "A.D." However, they need to show more tolerance for our heritage. In Thailand, they date with the year of the Buddha, and no one in his right mind has a problem with that. Of course, when it comes to Western Civilization, liberals are not in their right mind. In any case, liberals are quite dull and are not the brightest creatures around. They still don't comprehend that "B.C.E." and "C.E." are still dating from Jesus Christ and pointing to His existence.


In honor of the great Portuguese Age of Discovery of the 1400s and 1500s, this weekend's geography quiz will be a place that was heavily influenced by the Portuguese.


What is the name of the following state that was a Portuguese colony from 1510 to 1961? There are numerous cathedrals like the following in its old capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site:
The heroic St. Francis Xavier, one of my favorite saints, is buried in this church: Another beautiful Cathedral: The capital city is called, not surprisingly, Vasco-da-Gama. This former Portuguese colony is world famous for its incredible beaches, and tourism is the largest industry:

An old Portuguese fort:

So what scenic and historical former Portuguese colony is this?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day!


Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Some points to remember today:

The Declaration of Independence was a conservative movement, an act of preserving and conserving (Latin; servo or conservo) our rights. Today's conservatives are heirs to the Founding Fathers' ideals. Today we celebrate those ideals with the birth of our great nation.

It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
John Adams

The Declaration of Independence and the events that followed up to the establishment of our Constitution were hardly part of a "revolution." Revolutions destroy the past. The American Independence embraced the wisdom of the past. Compare that to true Revolutions: The French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Cultural Revolution by liberals and socialists in the 1960s, Pol Pot's Khmer Revolution of the 1970s. All of them destroyed and wreaked havoc in the name of a utopia that would never work. Today's liberals are children of these principles.

Our conservative Founding Fathers created the greatest country in world history: The United States of America. I have traveled and lived all over the world--from Europe to Asia--and know with certainty this truth. Liberals, on the other hand, have created some of the most vile regimes the world has ever known.

It is important to keep this truth in mind when liberals around the world--from Western Europe to Asia--bitch and moan that conservative Americans don't embrace the fantasy of global warming, aren't sufficiently secular, are "racists" for not letting every Muslim enter the country, should not support the great country of Israel, are too backwards religiously, should never fight a war ever, should listen to their postmodern "wisdom" more, should embrace the boring game of soccer, etc.

Answer: We conservative Americans rescued you in World War I, World War II, destroyed the Cold War through military spending while you wanted us to "negotiate" and cut military funding, cleaned up in Asia the problems you left, prevented communism from spreading throughout the world, and now are defending the world from Islamic Terror while you want to appease Muslims by not fighting and giving in.

The United States will rescue you again. But just remember: America, a nation that embraces our Founding Fathers' wisdom and foresight, is the one you will always turn to whenever you get yourselves into trouble because of your liberal values. Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Weekend Geography Quiz

What volcanic and earthquake prone island is this?
The island is a treasure trove of ancient architecture, including this spectacular Buddhist monument built between 750-850 A.D. It is considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world:
In the vicinity of the famous Buddhist monument in the center of this island is the following stunning Hindu monument built in 850. The whole area is dotted with notable Buddhist and Hindu temples:

The island has volcanoes, beaches, the spectacular monuments pictured above, and the following huge capital city:
What exotic island is this?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Life Richer With Poetry


Good poetry used to be a staple of education, but today much great poetry has fallen by the wayside. Beautiful and memorable poetry has been replaced by mediocre multiculturalism and shallow avant-garde pop. Anthologies used in public schools carefully count how many minorities from every conceivable ethnic group are represented in the name of diversity--instead of the quality--of the poetry. Many great poets are sadly ignored.

Thus, students are much more likely to recognize
Nikki Giovanni than Rupert Brooke, and this is a shame for Western Civilization. In addition, because of the emphasis on those who "question the assumptions" of Western Civilization (they really should be studying our heritage and questioning what has made our society so successful--while questioning the motives of those who "question the assumptions" of our heritage), they include avant-garde, minority power, and beat poets that are simply mediocre and who are memorable for their image rather than their talent. So even with an emphasis on diversity, minorities that celebrate Western Civilization, such as the excellent Countee Cullee, whose model was John Keats, are ignored. They may have extraordinary talent but not the "socially correct" attitudes in the pop consumer mold that embodies "progressive" education.

This can have a disastrous effect on certain students, both ignorant of our grand heritage and more captivated by
pop, avant-garde image than substance and talent. They are convinced that free verse and exchanging "you" for "u" is hip and copping an image is everything. The results are predictably shallow and juvenile. But, look, I'm acting like a beat poet! Only problem: Take away the image and there is no substance or talent apparent.

An exceptional alternative to the the politically correct textbooks that will give anyone interested, including students, a sampling of great and inspiring poetry: Poetry of Youth, edited by Edwin Markham. It is described in the Atkinson-Ravitch Sampler of Classic Literature:

"In its seriousness of purpose and the quality of its selections, perhaps no better anthology ever existed for middle and high school students. Regrettably, the book is no longer in print, but copies are obtainable through libraries and secondhand bookshops. The contemporary selections stop with the mid-1930s, but this range of poetry reflects over three centuries of literary heritage. Poems are categorized in terms that youths can understand, and each selection is introduced with just enough explanation so that students can connect with the work as they begin to read. This anthology deserves to be reprinted--and sought out by teachers and parents."

Regrettably, it has become hard to find because The Language Police, in which The Atkinson-Ravitch Sampler of Classic Literature was found, was a bestseller and many people have already tried to find the book. It definitely should be reprinted.

Poetry should also be memorized.
Marva Collins, the pro-academic education theorist and traditionalist who is refreshing in a era of theorists who distrust academic matter and our heritage, made memorizing poems part of her curriculum. Her autobiography and educational theory is in the inspiring Marva Collins' Way: Returning to Excellence in Education. She states:

"When I started at Delano I was impressed by the principal, an older German man, a classical scholar who read the Iliad to students during lunchtime. He had faculty workshops where he recited Donne, Yeats, and Byron, stopping in the middle of a poem to ask his teachers to supply the next line. When they couldn't, he waved his hand with disgust and said, 'Some of you aren't worth a Sam Hill.' I learned a lot from him, and I began teaching poetry and classical literature to my students. Above all the principal taught me that a good teacher is one who continues to learn along with the students."

Liberals, who wilt like daisies at the mention of "classical literature," reciting poetry, and memorizing anything, would no doubt call both of them "reactionary."

Marva Collins instructs her students, "Now you've got it. Every scholar, every writer, every thinker learned from those who came before." That is exactly what liberals do not want students to know, hence why they attempt to replace academic matter, traditional subjects, and learning techniques with "progressive" methods that deemphasize our heritage. Tradition is the enemy, and they replace it with a new utopian multicultural and dumbed down curriculum with a modernist focus. Students attempt to learn to discover for themselves--the "progressive" jargon is "discovery learning"--but this type of learning, while fine in some ways, is almost impossible to be successful at without having a core basis of knowledge of the past.

The best way to know poetry is to find a good anthology like Poetry for Youth. Another one that includes selections of literature is Diane and Michael Ravitch's new The English Reader: What Every Literate Person Needs to Know. Memorize and closely analyze selections of poetry. Elizabeth Kantor in
The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature counsels:

"You should be learning poems by heart (even if you have the time for intensive structural analysis, but especially if you don't). Poetry is meant to be memorized--meant not so much by the people who write it as by its very nature. All the formal features that distinguish poetry from prose--rhyme, meter, and so forth--are also devices that assist the memory. Originally (before writing was invented), poetry was simply language arranged so that it could be remembered and recited again."

Poetry is an integral part of our English and American heritage. We should attempt to memorize and analyze great poems, not only to admire each great poem's merit but also to enrich our lives.