Thursday, January 29, 2015

Standardized Culture; E-book Momentum Slowing Down; No to CA judges being assoc. with Boy Scouts...More

Standardized Culture
...The trend toward bland neutrality is ensured by a process called “bias and sensitivity review.” Testing companies submit each passage and question to anti-­discrimination inspection. States have guidelines on what is and isn’t permitted. Expert reviewers ask, “Does this scene from Hemingway have sexist language that annoys females? Does that question about the Mexican-American War assume something about geography that gives students from the southwest a leg up?”

They spot topics, wording, stereo­types, and assumptions that the most nit-picking critic might flag. The bare chance of inequity moves them to drop a questionable item. From past experience, experts have learned not to take risks. Ten years ago, Diane Ravitch in The Language Police identified pressure groups eager to pounce on a biased test and an offensive book, too. She recounts how one editor told a children’s author whose story had been anthologized but only after every citation of Jews, God, and the Bible had been scrubbed, “Try to understand. We have a lot of problems. If we mention God, some atheist will object. If we mention the Bible, someone will want to know why we don’t give equal time to the Koran. Every time that happens, we lose sales.”

For the tests, educators reason that it is best to avoid certain things outright. The California Department of Education high school exit exam has a long list of excluded topics, ­including:

Dying, death, disease, hunger, famine. Junk food, Divorce, Rats, roaches, lice, spiders, Sex, Religion...

Anti-Middle-Class Economics: What Obama’s 529 Grab Revealed ...But there’s something else about this proposal: it was almost insanely suicidal. What politician in his right mind proposes a tax aimed narrowly at the middle class, and at such a universally accepted good as education? Even Nancy Pelosi shot this one down.

Megan McArdle suggests, quite reasonably, that this is a desperate move by those who need to finance ever bigger government and are simply going where the money is: the vast American middle class. You can understand why the champions of big government would be slavering over the very thing that defines the middle class, its savings. As she points out, 529s are not the first target. There have already been trial balloons about raiding 401(k)s and IRAs. The truly committed leftist looks upon our private savings as a vast reserve of capital unfairly withheld from its proper function of servicing the needs of the state.

I think that’s the real explanation. This is not so much a rational calculation about how to finance the behemoth state. This is an admission by a man who has no more election campaigns to run, and therefore no pragmatic constraints, about his real outlook and real preferences. A president who just a few weeks ago hailed the triumph of a supposed “middle-class economics” is revealing his hatred and contempt for the middle class...

E-book Momentum Slowing Down ...Finding #3 in the Scholastic poll says, “Kids want books in print—as opposed to in electronic format—even more than they did two years ago. So do their parents. Two-thirds of children stated that they prefer books in print format over books in e-format. In fact, the 2014 rate marks a 5-point increase over that of 2012.”...

Duck Dynasty Wife: The More Christians on Reality TV, the Better ...Jessica Robertson belongs to a big, unusual family—evangelical Christians made famous by their popular duck-call company Duck Commander and the hit A&E series Duck Dynasty.

Since its premiere three years ago, the show has set cable reality TV records, attracting millions of viewers and hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing. Despite its recognizable, bushy-bearded stars (Phil Robertson and his goofy brother Uncle Si, plus sons Alan, Willie, Jase, and Jep), their supportive wives (matriarch “Miss Kay,” and Lisa, Korie, Missy, and Jessica) bring humor and heart to each episode.

Through the show, now in its seventh season, “we spend more time together, and those relationships have grown and deepened,” said Jessica, 34, who married the youngest Robertson son, Jep. Their family of six recently moved onto the same street as his three older brothers, in their northeast Louisiana hometown, West Monroe...

ISIS hacks Westminster Presbyterian Church's website  Contrary to what its website temporarily displayed, the Westminster Presbyterian Church did not undergo a radical shift in religious views.  The church's website was hacked by the Islamic State or its supporters on Thursday and carried the statement "I love Islam and Jihadist," a gruesome video, and some very disturbing language, reported.

Church Pastor Jim Richter recalled how he woke up that morning with an email from a concerned church member informing him about the hack, and people cannot believe what they saw.
"I think it's terrifying, it's hostile no matter what you say about it," Marty Conley, who lives in Johnson City said. "I thought that was really strange. You don't think about that type of thing happening in our area, I mean little town Johnson City, Tennessee."...

California Supreme Court voted last week to prohibit state judges from belonging to nonprofit youth organizations ... Although the court's unanimous decision did not explicitly mention the Boy Scouts of America, there was little doubt that it was the intended target. The organization, which lifted its ban on openly gay boys younger than 18, still prohibits gay and lesbian adults from serving as staff or voluntary leaders...


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