The scientific consensus really is that life begins at conception. Reporter beclowns himself trying to obfuscate this fact.

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Geography Through Maps

Every house should have at least one globe, and at least two different kinds of maps, although perhaps the internet will do for the maps.

There are some neat interrupted maps here:

“No map projection can preserve shape and size simultaneously, and the larger the mapped area, the more pronounced the total distortion. Rectangular world maps are prone to excessive area and distance stretching, while those using circular and elliptical projections usually present too much shape distortion at the periphery.

Interrupted sinusoidal map with three lobes per hemisphere
Interrupted sinusoidal map, with three full lobes per hemisphere

Interrupted maps seek a compromise, cutting the terrestrial surface along some arbitrarily chosen lines, then projecting each section, or lobe (or gore, in case interruptions repeat periodically along related lines like meridians), separately with lower overall deformation. Often lobe boundaries are designed to fall on less important (regarding the map’s purpose) areas, like oceans.”

Spend some time perusing the ‘upside down’ map here, and think about what makes it upside down.  Is there such a thing?

This authographic map is really cool.  You should read the comments as well, at least the first 15 or so.


If you really want to accurately represent geography to your kids you will always have a globe as well as a flat map, because *no* flat map, including this one, gets it right. It’s not possible. Every single one will fix some errors, but create others. The traditional mercator map was designed for navigation by European sailors.  There’s no conspiracy behind it.

I think two problems we bring to the map discussion have to do with our background baggage.

Most younger people (and I mean younger than me) have been taught that the use of Mercator Projection maps is a racist, ethnocentric thing done deliberately to minimize other countries and cultures, and they were taught that when they were too young to question it or know there was an alternative and more likely reason. In fact, the goal was accurate navigation from the point of view of the people primarily using the maps for navigating.

Having that false lens skews our understanding badly, and it is an injustice to those who created the maps in the first place. It is true that the Mercator maps resulted in some skewed understanding of the relative sizes of the continents.  However, sometimes skewed perception is an accidental byproduct, not a deliberate goal. For instance, on maps of the US, Alaska usually looks pretty small, but it’s so huge that even if you cut it in half, Texas would go from being the second to the 3rd largest state in the Union. That Alaska looks so much smaller than it actually is, is not a conspiracy by Texans (so far as I know, wink, wink)

The other issue is something we all suffer from in this modern era- a sort of techno-think, where we are just sure there is a one, streamlined, single best solution to everything, even issues like portraying the oceans and landmasses of a 3 dimensional sphere accurately via a 2 dimensional surface. Logically, there just isn’t. So the one best way is three or four different methods, showing the advantages and disadvantages of each- a globe, a mercator map, an interrupted map, the Japanese map, an upside down map (which makes me feel seriously disoriented whenever I look at it), and talking accurately about why one map might be best for one purpose, but worst for another.

Have fun!

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Links and thinks

I’m a Muslim, a woman, and an immigrant, and I voted for Trump.  Her reasons are very interesting.  She begins with how Obama-Care has completely priced her out of the market, and ends with Islamic terrorism:

“Trump’s rhetoric has been far more than indelicate and folks can have policy differences with his recommendations, but, to me, it has been exaggerated and demonized by the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, their media channels, such as Al Jazeera, and their proxies in the West, in a convenient distraction from the issue that most worries me as a human being on this earth: extremist Islam of the kind that has spilled blood from the hallways of the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai to the dance floor of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. […]

By mid-October, it was one Aug. 17, 2014, email from the WikiLeaks treasure trove of Clinton emails that poisoned the well for me. In it, Clinton told aide John Podesta: “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL,” the politically correct name for the Islamic State, “and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

The revelations of multimillion-dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation from Qatar and Saudi Arabia killed my support for Clinton. Yes, I want equal pay. No, I reject Trump’s “locker room” banter, the idea of a “wall” between the United States and Mexico and a plan to “ban” Muslims. But I trust the United States and don’t buy the political hyperbole — agenda-driven identity politics of its own — that demonized Trump and his supporters.

Read the whole thing.

Gay Muslim Pakistani-American Immigrant

He didn’t vote for Trump, but he quit letting the political hyperbole, the agenda driven identity politics of the media, define people for him, and he went to Alaska and listened to what people had to say and learned a few things:

So, I went to breakfast at The Landing on Tongass Avenue and discussed the stakes of the election with third-generation fisherman and learned that their whole life’s work was at stake based on potential Clinton fishing regulations. I talked somewhat fervently about the cancer that is radical Islam with Nicole & Jim, who ran the Black Bear Inn and discussed how we all feel unsafe these days. And I chatted with Paula, the 30-year bar manager, who explained that almost all of Alaska is owned by the federal government so each vote in this community is REALLY about their ability to support their families.[…]

On my flight back, I realized that for many of us supporting Hillary, this election was about incredibly important social issues. It was a moral election for us. To most of the people I met on my trip, it was about survival. Literally. So when I read Facebook/Twitter posts this morning vilifying 50% of the country for being dumb or racist, I remember Nicole, Jim & Paula and I know that’s not true. But how would I know that if I didn’t meet them and talk to them with an open mind?

[…]It’s no surprise people are surprised by the results when they refused to let an opposing viewpoint in. What did most of my Hillary supporting friends do when someone disagreed with their politics on Facebook? They “Unfriended” them. And when even Jake Tapper on CNN makes the mistake of saying “we” instead of “she” as he refers to winning Connecticut, we have to realize we are in one giant echo chamber that extends to almost everyone we speak to and almost every place we get information. This morning, I am not surprised by the result. But I am slightly impressed by the notion that all the celebrity power and campaign money in the nation was not enough to continue to mute these Americans. They simply went to the polls and voted for what was best for their family. Just as we all do. And they won. Fairly. Now, before the chat threads blow up below this article, I am not denying that some Trump supporters are racist. Of course. But some Muslims are terrorists.
[…]The point is NOT ALL. I’ve seen the clips of bigoted slurs being thrown out at Trump rallies. But, as a TV producer, when I watch the footage aired, there aren’t a tons of incidents. It’s a couple each time, played many, many times over. […]

As always, read the whole thing.
Much was made on election night (and since) on the differences between how ‘college educated’ vs the working class (subtext, dumb, ignorant, uninformed, knuckle draggers) voted. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not the one the media assumes. Jacques Ellul, in his book Propaganda, explained quite eloquently why propaganda works best on the so-called educated class, and Tom Wolfe, in this interview, also gives us a glimpse into what has been happening.

As the news swirls around telling us how bad everything about Trump and his people is, I have found a couple of useful methods for accurately sifting that news. If it is relying on an anonymous source, it is worth nothing, or worse than nothing, as it is more likely to be a deliberately effort to mislead. If the article uses words like white supremacist or racist, there is probably a better than 80% chance it’s a lie. If there is no link, or no extensive quote providing ample context for said white supremacy, it’s almost certainly a lie. If it’s on CNN or the NYT, reduce believability to under 50% and cross reference the reporter’s name with wikileaks. Check dates, too. NYT Washington’s Editor Weisman used FBI stats from last year to ‘prove’ anti-Muslim attacks were up since Trump was elected. Which is weird, because there were only around 80 proven incidents in 2015, and also, hate crimes dominate blue states, not red.

Why not the New York Times? Many reasons, although if you have to ask, you’ve probably been in their bubble a long, long, time. Here’s an interesting article by a former reporter for the NYT who pulls back the curtain:

For starters, it’s important to accept that the New York Times has always — or at least for many decades — been a far more editor-driven, and self-conscious, publication than many of those with which it competes. Historically, the Los Angeles Times, where I worked twice, for instance, was a reporter-driven, bottom-up newspaper. Most editors wanted to know, every day, before the first morning meeting: “What are you hearing? What have you got?”

It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.

Reality usually had a way of intervening. But I knew one senior reporter who would play solitaire on his computer in the mornings, waiting for his editors to come through with marching orders. Once, in the Los Angeles bureau, I listened to a visiting National staff reporter tell a contact, more or less: “My editor needs someone to say such-and-such, could you say that?”

The bigger shock came on being told, at least twice, by Times editors who were describing the paper’s daily Page One meeting: “We set the agenda for the country in that room.”

As ever, read the entire thing. Nothing I read surprised me. Does it surprise you?
They claim to want somebody from middle America to come talk to them, to teach them. Wonder why are they unable to find any of these people on their own?

Meanwhile, in spite of the media narrative that Trump supporters are the violent, hostile ones, Trump supporters and people who only joke about being Trump supporters continue to be the real victims of actual acts of violence and intolerance, while many of the accusations against Trump supporters turn out to be hoaxes:

“After the New York Times, Times Picayune, Washington Post and Huffington Post all ran with the woman’s claims, Lafayette police said the entire story was fabricated, as Breitbart Texas reported.

“During the course of the investigation, the female complainant admitted that she fabricated the story about her physical attack as well as the removal of her hijab and wallet by two white males,” Lafayette police said in a statement. “This incident is no longer under investigation by the Lafayette Police Department.”

Now, the Muslim student is being charged with filing a fake police report, as a Lafayette police spokesman confirmed to WWL-TV.

The police spokesman said the department would not be releasing the woman’s name, despite giving no reason as to why. The spokesman also said he did not have any information on the case.

Though the alleged hate crime has now been proven to be a hoax, it has not stopped the story from spreading across the mainstream media.”

15 y.o. boy beaten up by Trump supporters, at least one of whom has been charged with assault. Notice the sorts of things you see in this and similar accounts which you seldom see in accounts of the alleged white supremacists being made bold by a Trump victory- you see names, dates, places, quotes from bystanders, video footage, quotes from named authority figures- details which can be checked.

This black owned business is being boycotted for catering a Trump event.

We have this absolutely horrifying example of a cruel mother berating, demeaning her son (7 or 8 years old) for voting Trump in a mock school election, kicking him outside after dark, and mocking him further while he sobs his poor heart out- and she video taped it, clearly thinking there was nothing wrong with what she was doing.

Assassination threats abound, including this one from a CEO who now does not have a job. Threating to assassinate the President is a felony.

There are a few credible reports of Trump supporters being rude to others, although they remain mostly words, largely accounts of my friend’s friend, and I am growing highly suspicious of how many times this happens at a gas station with three men (why so often three? and does that even make sense to you? How many times do you see three men in a car at your gas station? this is America. We drive solo.).
“there are also hoaxes and false stories circulating. In Louisiana, a student who said she was robbed by two men who shouted racial obscenities turned out to have made the story up. And old stories about hate crimes and assaults against minorities are making the rounds on social media, masquerading as breaking news.”

Here’s a list– oddly, the assault and subsequent death of a man *before* the election is included, even though there is nothing in the report connecting this incident with a Trump supporter, except the attacker is allegedly white. Sounds like racial profiling….

Helpful: How to spot a hoax

Neither Hillary nor Obama have made any sort of believable call to their supporters to stop the violence. That doesn’t surprise me, nor does the actual violence. What does surprise me is how many people who *are* surprised, still don’t recognize that this very surprise should be telling them something about the reliability of their own filters.

Of course, Slate is doubling down, saying no Trump voter deserves empathy at all, that there is no such thing as a good Trump voter. You may recall the various studies which have shown conservatives think leftists are misled, leftists think conservatives are deliberately evil. Slate is pretty convincing evidence of this. (by the way, same reporter saying no Trump voter is a good person, on November 19, 2015, said Trump was a moderate republican and that’s why he was doing so well against other Republicans).

You may have heard the ‘fake news’ vs ‘real news’ “study” being floated around. It’s total garbage. You can read about it here. Among other points, the stories being touted as ‘real news’ are Pro-Hillary editorials on Left leaning opinion sites. Fake seems to mean ‘stuff liberal professor dislikes,’ and real is ‘stuff that confirms liberal professor’s echo chamber.’ She included the Onion. As a news site. I forget if it’s real or fake in her world.

When you belong to a party where people think it’s a good idea to send menstrual blood to Mike Pence in protest, you probably should leave. You’re hanging with disgusting, unhinged people who should not be believed or trusted with sharp knives.

Why on earth is a Supreme Court Justice saying anything about an election other than “We’ve had another election?” Further evidence that Obama appointed somebody deeply unqualified for the job.

This professor (who supported Hillary and is terrified of a Trump presidency) developed a tool useful for organzing and presenting information in visual form, information like email content. He used his tool on the Clinton/Podesta emails. He found it an interesting approach to data journalism, and expected the media would want to know and would report on it. He was wrong. He was criticized by his fellow Clinton supporters, and told it was information he should have saved for after the election.

And this brings me to my final point, which is that while I support Clinton in this election, and I think Trump is a bad choice for president (a really bad one), I still think that we should work on the creation of tools that improve the ability of people to personalize scrutinize politically relevant information. I now understand that much of the U.S. media may not share that view with me, and that I think this is an important point of reflection. I hope the media takes some time to think about this on November 9 (or the week after).
Also, the large number of people who were unable to interpret our tool as anything but an effort to support or oppose a political candidate — and that was true for both liberals and conservatives — speaks to me about an ineffective public sphere. And that’s something I think we should all be concerned about. This polarization is not just a cliché. It is a crippling societal condition that is expressed in the inability of people to see any merit, or any point, in opposing views. That’s a dangerous, and chronic, institutional disease that is expressed also in the inability of people to criticize their own candidates, because they fear being confused with someone their peers will interpret as a supporter of the opposing candidate. If you cannot see any merit in the candidate you oppose, even in one or two of the many points that have been made, you may have it.
So that’s how this election has muddled the gears of democracy. When we cannot learn from those we oppose, or agree when they have a valid point, our learning stops. We keep on talking past each other. I know that this election has made learning from those we oppose particularly difficult, but the difficult tests are the ones that truly show us what we are really made of. These are the situations that push us to see past all of the things that we don’t like, or don’t agree on, so we can rescue a lesson. You may not agree with me, but I hope at least I gave you something to think about.”

Be sure to read it all, and take a look at his visualization. I don’t agree with him on some of his conclusions and opinions on the emails, but it’s still interesting, and it’s quite right that he is disappointed the media had zero interest in this story.

One of Trump’s cabinet picks currently discussed is Bannon. I know next to nothing about him, so I found this transcript of his remarks at a skyped teleconference four or more years ago quite informative, and far more useful than any news organization’s reporting of him, whether the news organization is Breitbart or CNN.

Caine says he knows Bannon, and none of the ugliness is true.

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Onward, towards a philosophy of Handicraft



Further reading on sloyd and handicraft as an important part of your educational philosophy, from a paper presented to the PNEU and published in the Parents’ Review:

“WE therefore lay down a principle, that the introduction of eye training in all homes is one of the most important of a true and rational system of education.

In all cases where this training has been followed, the children have responded in a marked degree. A friend tried the experiment with Sloyd, and a certain number of children were selected in a school who were to give one third of their school hours to do it. At the end of the time of trail these took better places in class subjects than those children who spent all their time in school on ordinary subjects, and did not take Sloyd at all.

The system renders education attractive and joyous to the children which would otherwise be dull. The School Code has been modified all ready, and I think this will eventually lead to succeeding generations becoming not only more cultured, but more capable of leading fuller and higher lives.

Most of us remember a time when we wanted to be making something with our hands. This instinct was stunted by ignorance and inexperience on the part of governesses, and  insufficient training.

If only mothers and nurses knew more about cultivating the instinct of children, their time would be spent more happily and profitably. Boys and girls in schools are generally delighted to have some manual work going on; and I heard of a little girl the other day who asked to be allowed to come back early to school to finish a clay model she was making. Boys are quite ready to work overtime to complete their hand work.

The work of the children has no commercial value, and we do not teach it with this object. The two subjects which we consider carry out our ideas of training best are cardboard Sloyd and wood Sloyd-(specimens shown.) We use that kind of hand work which will best stimulate the best kind of head work.

Cardboard Sloyd comes first; it leads up to some more advanced work. I have brought to-day some specimens made by boys from 8 to 11. This is being done in several schools in England. The course of work has been excellently arranged by Mr. heaton (published by C.Newman & Co., Newman St.) The first examples are extremely simple- the children have their cardboard, they have their tools (here followed a description of box-making) and their work is not passed by the teacher until it is absolutely perfect.

The result of the teaching of cardboard Sloyd is that it inculcates concentration. It calls for the continuation of energy, and not for outbursts of it. If you are giving children a lesson in history or geography you may see a rapt gaze which may mean anything; but when you teach them Sloyd you have in their work a distinct evidence of whether they are taking it in or not. It also teaches habits of neatness and cleanliness, especially to the boys. If people only knew as much about cardboard Sloyd as they do about wood Sloyd, it would be taught quite as much.

The cardboard Sloyd was begun in Birmingham in 1884 in Industrial Schools. The teachers were so pleased with the success of the plan that it rapidly spread. Boys of 11, after being trained in cardboard Sloyd, take wood Sloyd. (Example of the work of children 10 to 14 years of age-boys.)

I must ask your attention to the principles that underlie the teaching of wood Sloyd. We take many ideas from other nations, we are very open-minded, and we have taken this from Sweden, where it has been fought out so as to lead from a simple article up to very difficult work.
1. The exercises must follow in a progressive order.
2. The exercises should admit of the greatest possible variety,- it takes a careful observer and a true teacher to discover that a model may be at the same time too easy for the mind and too difficult for the hand.
3. The exercises should result in making a useful article, to sustain interest in the work.
4. Sloyd cultivates the aesthetic sense. Every model must be so constructed that it may be drawn by the pupils themselves. The knife is considered the best tool by educationalists.”

More here.

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When College is a form of debt slavery

This is from a utilitarian point of view, but read this article anyway, and I think you’ll agree that vocational Ed should be making a come-back.

And please, quit squandering your children’s future by encouraging them to borrow money for school under the mistaken impression that studies show college grads always earn more than non-college grads. Those studies are seriously flawed- they lump all degrees into one basket, treating the 21K a year social worker the same as the 240K a year brain surgeon or bonafide rocket scientist. It’s not the same. If you’re not getting your degree in field with high employment and high pay, you’re better off finding some way other than loans to fund your degree, or choosing a different field altogether.

” Almost 40% of students who begin four-year college programs don’t complete them, which translates into a whole lot of wasted time, wasted money, and burdensome student loan debt. Of those who do finish college, one-third or more will end up in jobs they could have had without a four-year degree. The BLS found that 37% of currently employed college grads are doing work for which only a high school degree is required.
It is true that earnings studies show college graduates earn more over a lifetime than high school graduates. However, these studies have some weaknesses. For example, over 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or under-employed. And income for college graduates varies widely by major – philosophy graduates don’t nearly earn what business studies graduates do. Finally, earnings studies compare college graduates to all high school graduates. But the subset of high school students who graduate with vocational training – those who go into well-paying, skilled jobs – the picture for non-college graduates looks much rosier.”

My husband made more money than we ever had in our lives during his years as regional manager for a chain of locally owned grocery stores. He had a degree, but the degree had nothing to do with why he was hired. His boss didn’t care about the degree. He makes less money in his actual career field with a Masters in Special Education (and as missionaries, of course, we’ll make even less). He didn’t go into debt to get his degree, so that’s okay by us. That gives us the flexibility to go into missions. Had he gone into debt for his degree, we would not have that flexibility. We would have to choose a job and a location that covered the loans.

I see this so often with young graduates- their college debt has locked them out of many options they would have preferred. Rather than the degree giving them a wider range of freedom, it has made them debt slaves for decades.

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