URLs du Jour

2009-09-08

  • The local superintendent for Somersworth and Rollinsford (NH) public schools made the call to not show President Obama's speech to students during the school day. Some folks are upset:
    Daniuk argued that [Superintendent] Soule's decision to pull the plug was "partisan." She added that the address is "not a Democratic or Republican issue."
    Who is Ms. Daniuk, you might ask? It turns out she's pretty much the last person in the area you want to make an argument about this not being a partisan issue: she is the chairwoman of the Strafford County Democratic Committee.

  • Scott Ott has an (unfortunately) imaginary draft of President Obama's speech:
    A draft copy of President Barack Obama's planned September 8 address to America's public school children, tells students that "If you want to grow up to be like me, you should beg your parents to put you in private school, right now."

    Although Obama attended public school in Indonesia early in life, he soon switched to a private Catholic school, and from fifth grade through graduation went to a private college-prep school in Hawaii. His own daughters now attend a private school in Washington D.C..

    (Via Cato@Liberty.)

  • Neal McCluskey is not mollified by the (non-imaginary) released speech transcript. He makes a good point about the brouhaha generated by the speech:
    Ultimately, no matter what happens now that the speech has been published, one thing cannot be ignored or spun: When government controls education, wrenching political and social conflict is inevitable. Americans are very diverse - ideologically, ethnically, morally, religiously - but they all have to support a single system of government schools. As a result, they are constantly forced to fight to have their values and desires respected, and the losers inevitably have their liberty infringed. In this case, reasonable people who want their children to hear the President must fight it out with  equally reasonable people who do not want their children to watch the speech in school. It's a situation completely at odds with a free society, but as we have seen not just with the current conflict, but seemingly endless battles over history textbooks, the teaching of human origins, sex education, and on and on, it is inevitable when government runs the schools. Which is why the most important lesson to be learned from this presidential-address donnybrook is that Americans need educational freedom. We need universal school choice or crippling conflicts like this will keep on coming, liberty will continue to be compromised, and our society will be ripped farther and farther apart.

  • And Byron York notes the differing standards applied the last time a president tried to pull this stunt:

    The controversy over President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren will likely be over shortly after Obama speaks today at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush's speech -- they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.

    Fortunate that we live in less partisan times! (Also via Cato@Liberty.)

  • And then there's the creepy self-importance. (Or, as Mickey says, the "unnattractive solipsism and egotism.")


Last Modified 2009-09-13 11:35 AM EDT

Even Money

[Amazon Link]

It's yet another outing for Dick Francis, his third with his son Felix as a co-author. The elder Francis is coming up on his 89th birthday next month, so it's anyone's guess how much actual writing he's doing. But however the collaboration works, this book has (at least for me) the feel and sound of Francis's previous stuff. As long as that keeps happening, I'm along for the ride.

The hero here is Ned Talbot, a bookmaker: one of the only horseracing professions Dick Francis hadn't yet covered. Bookmakers, Ned tells us, are disrespected by the rest of the industry; yet (as any free-marketeer will tell you) they perform a needed service for the wagering public.

In addition to the general hostility directed his way, Ned has a bunch of other problems. His wife is in the nuthouse for her recurring bipolar disorder. In the first few pages, a man shows up out of the blue claiming to be his father; Ned was previously under the impression that he was an orphan. Worse, in a few more pages, Ned's an orphan again, for good this time, as dad becomes a quick victim of foul play.

In addition, Ned's employees are chafing more and more under their employment situation. And there's some high-tech chicanery going on, as the bookie's Internet and cell phone connections keep cutting out at critical periods just before a race is to start. What's going on?

As usual for a Dick Francis book, the hero puts the pieces together, showing heretofore unexpected reserves of character, bravery, intelligence, and wit. Altough (also as usual) not without getting knocked around a bit.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 2:16 PM EDT

Julie & Julia

[3.0
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Yes, this was my second Mary Lynn Rajskub movie in less than a week. Good catch.

Oh, yeah, Amy Adams is in it too. She plays the "Julie" part of the title: a 30ish New Yorker, married to a magazine editor. They live in a dinky Queens apartment, and Julie commutes in to her dreary soul-sapping cubicle job in lower Manhattan. Looking for life fulfillment after a lunch date with her irritating upwardly-mobile friends, she hits on the idea of working through all 500+ recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the coming year, and—and this is where things got interesting—blogging about it.

The movie has a parallel thread following Julia Child herself over (mostly) her years in France, the wife of a State Department employee; this role is played by someone with the unlikely name of "Meryl Streep." Julia is also looking for a path to self-realization, fulfillment, etc., and (as we know) decides to develop her cooking expertise.

Everybody's acting is really quite good, especially Ms. Streep, who as far as I can tell, managed to channel Julia Child's personality and mannerisms from beyond the grave. (Almost as good as Dan Aykroyd, whose classic SNL sketch is included.) Especially wonderful is Jane Lynch as Julia's sister Dorothy, even taller than, and equally enthusiastic as, Julia. She is a hoot.

Now, don't get me wrong, guys: this is a chick flick. The male characters are pretty much props. And (since it's written and directed by Nora Ephron), there are occasional paragraphs of dialog that sound like they came from When Harry Met Sally outtakes.

But it won't kill you to go see this with a female of your choice, as I did; you'll have a few laughs.

If you're interested in the blog Julie wrote, you can dig it out here; her current blog is here. She's considerably more potty-mouthed and politically tedious on her blogs than in the movie.


Last Modified 2014-11-30 3:25 PM EST