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Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 12:34 PM PST

I am a Homeschooling Success Story

by Kalil

This diary began as a reply to Le Champignon's diary about his disastrous experience with home-schooling.  I had much the oppossite experience.  I don't intend this as a rebuttal or criticism - his experience is both very real, and probably more normative than my own - but rather as a compliment and supplement.  Home-schooling can be done right, can be done well, and can save a child's education and emotional well-being.

I was pulled out of high school by my highly educated parents due to severe educational deficiencies at the school I was attended, and due to severe and ongoing bullying (which I diaried about, here).  Both socially and academically, home-schooling (and early college enrollment) was one of the best things to happen to me.  It definitely can be done well, but it's hard.  I had a number of advantages:

1) My father is a PhD-educated scientist.  My mother is a college-educated artist, and, because of my families fortunate financial situation, could afford to be a stay-at-home mother.

2) At the time, internet education programs were just beginning.  Stanford offered the EPGY online education program, which was excellent - AP level math, physics, and english classes, with personalized attention over online chat and phone.  I have no idea if the program still functions at that level of quality.  The larger-scale modern online courses are certainly nowhere near as good.

3) I live at a nexus of excellent universities (the RTP area), and about 15 minutes away from NCSU.  I was able to enroll as a 'continuing education' student there at the age of 15, taking a couple courses a semester in an 'organized' environment.  This also was very healthy, socially - I formed a number of lasting friendships there.

4) The internet, NCSU, and a decent (relatively non-religious) homeschooling social group provided a substitute for the social life High School provides.  Considering how utterly destructive my semester in high school was (and how hard four years of that hellish nightmare were on my other geeky and queer friends), this was far, far better than I could have hoped for from traditional schooling.

5) I, myself, am a voracious consumer of knowledge.  While I hated the busywork of homework, I actually enjoyed the online lectures of EPGY, the reading for my literature class, and the NCSU courses.

Is homeschooling a good option for everyone?  Definitely not.  Is it a good option for most people?  Definitely not.  Is it a good option for parents with the resources to do it right and children with special needs?  Absolutely.

I appreciate Le Champignon's sharing his experience.  In my own experience, I saw other homeschooling attempts that were being done in wrong ways or for wrong reasons, so I can certainly see where he's coming from.  I suspect that his experience is more the norm than mine - but my experience is still real.  I feel I owe my life to home schooling, and I hope that readers here on dKos can learn from my experience as well.


Haven't seen this diaried here yet.  A federal judge in Ohio, Judge Timothy S. Black, has ruled that, under Windsor, Lawrence, and the Fourteenth Amendment, Ohio's state constitutional prohibition on the recognition of out-of-state gay marriages is invalid unconstitutional:

The Court finds and declares that Article 15, Section 11, of the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code Section 3101.01(C), violate rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in that same-sex couples married in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is lawful, who seek to have their out-of-state marriage recognized and accepted as legal in Ohio, are denied their fundamental right to marriage recognition without due process of law; and are denied their fundamental right to equal protection of the laws when Ohio does recognize comparable heterosexual marriages from other jurisdictions, even if obtained to circumvent Ohio law.
The ruling itself reads very similar to Windsor and to the recent New Mexico and Utah rulings, making it very clear that if the same judge was to receive a more general marriage equality case, he'd be likely to find in favor of LGBT rights there, too.  In fact, his ruling, should it be upheld on appeal, sets a very strong precedent for such a case, as it establishes the major tenets of such a case.  He finds both that heightened scrutiny is called for, in that gays meet the four requirements to be recognized as a suspect class, and that even in the absence of heightened scrutiny, the law fails to meet the most basic constitutional requirement of a rational (non-animus) basis.  While he does not rule directly on Section 2 of DOMA (which survived Windsor), he does state in the footnotes "Although Section 2 of DOMA is not specifically before this Court, the implications of today’s ruling speak for themselves."  He also directly calls out the GOP as providing evidence of historical and continuuing persecution of gays (one of the standards for recognition as a 'suspect class'):
The Republican Party in its 2012 Platform reaffirmed its support for a Constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, and baselessly alleged that supporters of same-sex marriage rights were engaged in “hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism . . . against advocates of traditional marriage.” (Doc. 53-1 at 26).
These are just some of the most egregious examples of discrimination against gays and lesbians at the hands of both federal and state governments, their officials, and one of the two primary political parties in our country, and based on these examples alone, “[i]t is easy to conclude that homosexuals have suffered a history of discrimination.” Windsor, 699 F.3d at 182;
While the ruling does not legalize marriage in the state, it appears to require full recognition of marriages performed elsewhere  [EDIT: This is unclear, see updates below...].  Given the increasing availability of marriage equality in the NorthEast, this is a huge step forward for LGBT Ohioans.  It also lays clear groundwork for full marriage equality.

So...  Thank you to Judge Black of Ohio, and to Judge Shelby of Utah, and to President Obama, for both of these appointments.  It's been a damn fine couple of days for marriage.

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Short but sweet: A federal judge in Utah has ruled in favor of three same-sex couples who wish to marry.  His decision is effective immediately.  This comes a day after a similar decision from the New Mexico State Supreme Court.

Triple bonus points to the judge for citing Scalia's dissent in Windsor:

The Constitution’s protection of the individual rights of gay and lesbian citizens is equally dispositive whether this protection requires a court to respect a state law, as in Windsor,or strike down a state law, as the Plaintiffs ask the court to do here. In his dissenting opinion, the Honorable Antonin Scalia recognized that this result was the logical outcome of the Court’sruling in Windsor:
In my opinion, however, the view that this Court will take of state prohibition of same-sex marriage is indicated beyond mistaking by today’s opinion. As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion . . . is that DOMA is motivated by “bare. . . desire to harm” couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status.
133 S. Ct. at 2709 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The court agrees with Justice Scalia’s interpretation of Windsor and finds that the important federalism concerns at issue here are nevertheless insufficient to save a state-law prohibition that denies the Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection under the law
Congratulations to the State of Utah, and thank you to Justice Shelby!

Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 02:23 PM PDT

Cut it out with 'alcoholic' as a slur...

by Kalil

Short and sweet:  I've seen a number of comments deriding Boehner and other house Republicans as alcoholics.  I'm not even going to get into the debate over wether or not it's possible to be a functional practicing addict.  I'm just going to say, flat out, that it's unfair to the millions of Americans who struggle with alcoholism to use their condition as an insult.  This community is better than that.

Besides, there are far more creative insults we can apply to Boehner and the House Republicans.  Jon Stewart proposed 'bald eagle fellators' and 'self-righteous orwellian zebra queefs'.  Alcoholism is a problem that real people and real families struggle with.  John Boehner is a psychotic half-wit with a spine of moldy jello, propped up by a caucus of nihilistic rejects from a bad parody of the McGovern Administration that never was.  See how that works?

Thanks for your time.

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Kai Ryssdal, mild-mannered reporter for NPR APM's Marketplace, sat down with Donald Rumsfeld to discuss his new book, "Rumsfeld's Rules", a guide for 'effective leadership' (required reading for anyone who wants to know the fastest way to lead downhill).  As soon as Rumsfeld walked through the door, Mr. Ryssdal tore his shirt off, revealing the yellow and red 'S' emblazoned on his muscular chest.

Don't believe me?  Listen for yourself.

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Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 10:29 AM PST

A solution for secessionism!

by Kalil

Like many of us, I've enjoyed the recent spate of petitions from various red state dwellers demanding the right to secede from the union.  However, I've resisted the temptation to sign onto them because I feel sorry for the 20-40% of blue voters, who don't deserve the kind of catastrophe it'd bring.  I mean, Austin is pretty cool, by all accounts.
Furthermore, the logistics of secession are very difficult.  By no means should we allow Texas to take the Johnson Space Center, Wyoming to take Yellowstone, or Alaska to take the 65% of the state owned wholly by the Federal Government.  Military bases, national parks, federal facilities, and the like should all be retained by the US government.  Furthermore, while social security and medicare/medicaid benefits should certainly not be provided to people who clearly don't want them, it'd be unfair to take them from the portions of the populace who haven't signed onto this lunacy.

Carrying out secession in a fair and equitable manner would essentially require the creation of 'Blue Zones', similar to Iraq's Green Zone.  This is definitely sub-optimal - and not just because of the IEDs...

Fortunately, poking around the White House petition site has revealed an alternative solution.  Follow me below the squiggle!

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As every news-savvy individual knows by now, Graham Spanier was the president of Penn State, and was complicit in the coverup of Sandusky's horrific acts.  He was one of the first people fired over it, and he was soundly condemned in the Freeh report.

So where does someone like that go?

Well, I guess "keeping serial child molestation secret" looks really good on a security check, because he's just been hired by the government to oversee "cooperation between our nation’s national security agencies and other entities".

Seriously.  In what way is that possibly, conceivably okay?  How did this creep get allowed anywhere near any kind of power?  And who in the federal bureaucracy thought that hiring him could be anything other than a complete embarrassment for the entire administration?

The gentlemen over at Lawyers, Guns & Money have more to say.  I'm going to go back to beating my head on my desk.


Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 12:45 PM PDT

Call of Duty takes on Occupy

by Kalil

So first came the announcement that convicted traitor Oliver North was hired on as a shill for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.  Now, Treyarch Games has revealed that the primary villain of the upcoming title is the "idolized Messiah of the 99%", a mixture of Julian Assange, Che Guevara, and the 99% Movement.

So, from cold-war era communism, the logical progression of Big Bads is Occupy Wall Street?  Seriously, that's what you're going with?

I'm getting the strong impression that Treyarch Games is a few tri-corn hats short of a tea party.

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Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 06:08 PM PDT

Examining Obama's Veto

by Kalil

I'll be the first to confess: I've been skeptical about Obama.  So, while I'm glad that he's pledged to veto CISPA and any budgetary shenanigans by the R's, I wasn't particularly confident he'd follow through.  I was talking about it with a friend, and he asked "Has Obama actually vetoed anything yet?"

I looked it up.

It turns out that Obama has vetoed two bills since taking office.  The first was an appropriations continuing resolution, H.J.RES.64, a stop-gap defense funding bill that was rendered moot after it was passed by the passage of an actual defense appropriations bill (H.R. 3326).  Boring, procedural fare.

The other, one, though, is far stranger.  H.R. 3808, the "Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010".

From the summary of the bill:

Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010 - Requires each federal and state court to recognize any lawful notarization occurring in or affecting interstate commerce which is made by a notary public licensed or commissioned under the laws of a state other than the state where the court is located.
What was so objectional about this bill that it inspired the only real veto Obama has wielded in over 3 years?  It was sponsored by a Keith Ellison and passed both houses of congress by unanimous consent.  It seems mundane.  What's the big deal?

From the Desk of the President:

  It is necessary to have further deliberations about the possible unintended impact of H.R. 3808, the ``Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010,'' on consumer protections, including those for mortgages, before the bill can be finalized. Accordingly, I am withholding my approval of this bill. (The Pocket Veto Case, 279 U.S. 655 (1929)).

   The authors of this bill no doubt had the best intentions in mind when trying to remove impediments to interstate commerce. My Administration will work with them and other leaders in Congress to explore the best ways to achieve this goal going forward.

   To leave no doubt that the bill is being vetoed, in addition to withholding my signature, I am returning H.R. 3808 to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, along with this Memorandum of Disapproval.

Hunh.  Two sentences stand out there.  First, "The authors of this bill no doubt had the best intentions in mind" is a perfect example of the diplomatically understated condemnation.  It translates from diplo-speak to plain English as something akin to "You guys are psychopathically evil, and I can't believe you thought you'd get away with it."

And second...  "It is necessary to have further deliberations about the possible unintended impact of H.R. 3808, the ``Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010,'' on consumer protections, including those for mortgages."  Mortgages?  What would be the impact of a bill about easier interstate notarization on mortgages?

...Oh.  Right.  Of course.

That little problem with the banks playing so many games with the bad loans they issued that they lost the paperwork proving they actually owned the loans, and thus resorted to mass forgery.  That might be relevant.  I can definitely see how allowing banks to produce documents from Out of State, where the Rules are Laxer might be beneficial to the 1%.

And I can definitely be thankful that the President saw through it.


I'm 28 years old, now.  I'm sitting here in the engine room of a NOAA research ship, as a licensed maritime officer making more than 60k a year.  My life has come together.  Everything is good.  Everything is great.
And then I read the recent diary about Bully, and a nightmare mixture of rage and fear and sadness comes washing over me.

I can't watch the video, because our satellite connection doesn't have the bandwidth for YouTube.
I can't watch the video, because.. Because I can't watch.  The wounds are too fresh.

It's been 14?  15? years, since my parents pulled me out of high school, and the nightmare ended.
A decade and a half.
The wounds are too fresh.  I can't watch the video.

The great philosopher Calvin once said: "Years from now, when I'm successful and happy, ... and he's in prison... I hope I'm not too mature to gloat."  It's been years.  I'm successful and happy.  But gloating?  The wounds are too fresh.  Besides, if the Republican Party is any indication, the worst of those bullies are probably now billionaire businessmen.  After all, the worst were the Cool Kids, the ones who were social, and who knew how to climb the rungs by trampling the people beneath them.

I'm sorry.  I'm bitter.  I'm hurt.  And it hurts that I still hurt - I should have grown beyond it by now.  I'm still angry.  Angry at my peers, whose names and faces I've long since forgotten.  Angry at myself, for being too weak to fight, and for fighting and losing, and for fighting and winning.  Angry at the world, for placing me in that position, with those people.

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Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 09:06 PM PST

S&P Sabotaging Europe?

by Kalil

Sorry if this has been diaried already, but I think it's important enough to post.

Europe has been desperately trying to pull together their financial situation, a problem that centers upon poor investor confidence.  My understanding is (correct me if I'm wrong) that Italy and Spain would not been on the edge of collapse if investors had confidence enough to buy their bonds - the lack of investor confidence in their bonds is in and of itself leading to the collapse of said bonds.  While that sounds suspiciously like a pyramid scheme to me, that's a subject for another diary.  Into this precarious situation steps the S&P, last seen downgrading US debt for no decipherable reason:

Standard & Poor's blamed "deepening political, financial and monetary problems within the eurozone" on Monday night as it warned 15 of the 17 countries in the single currency that they faced a possible downgrade of their credit ratings.
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I posted a brief comment about Psalm 127 on SusanG's diary about Jenny Sanford's public statement, but I felt it deserved further attention.  Psalm 127 is a prime example of a dog-whistle - a coded message only immediately recognizable to its target audience, much like an HRC sticker is for gays or Bush's mention of the Dredd Scott case was to abortion activists.

The intended target of this dog-whistle?  The Quiverfull movement, a particularly creepy subset of conservative evangelical Christians that interprets Psalm 127 to indicate that a good christian should have as many children as is physically possible.

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