Verbal PC Games

I’d say this beggars the imagination, but that would offend someone:

David Brent would never approve. ‘Brainstorming’, the buzzword used by executives to generate ideas among their staff, has been deemed politically incorrect by civil servants because it is thought to be offensive to people with brain disorders.
Instead staff at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) in Belfast will use the term ‘thought-showers’ when they get together to think creatively. A spokeswoman said: ‘The DETI does not use the term brainstorming on its training courses on the grounds that it may be deemed pejorative.’
Sources inside the department said there was concern that the term would cause offence to people with epilepsy as well those with brain tumours or brain injuries.

via Radley Balko

Time travel – who knew it only took a press pass?

I understand the pressure of deadlines, but the ongoing notices of Laphamisms are just too funny. Can’t the news services bear to wait to post their reports of speeches until after they happen? Can’t they at least restrain themselves from using direct quotation? The “excerpts released ahead of time” are not “excerpts” from a speech – they are excerpts from a script. Oh, well. I expect no better from the world of journalism, and the ongoing record at Circulation Dropping implies that no one else does, either.
Please don’t think I hold much for my profession, by the way.

Managed Decline

Mark Steyn on Euroshrinkage:

Every day you get ever more poignant glimpses of the Euro-future, such as it is. In East Germany, whose rural communities are dying, village sewer systems are having a tough time adjusting to the lack of use. Populations have fallen so dramatically that there are too few people flushing to keep the flow of waste moving. Traditionally, government infrastructure expenditure arises from increased demand. In this case, the sewer lines are having to be narrowed at great cost in order to cope with dramatically decreased demand.

I’ve got to find the source for that — not that I don’t believe it, but I haven’t seen it in print, myself. Steyn is writing about the need for managed decline in Europe. I wonder how long it will take for the reality of population shrinkage to settle into Conventional Wisdom? I was amused to see that these Colleges’ library has the latest Ehrlich prognostication on the new book browsing shelves. Russia has already shifted from “not growing” to “shrinking,” and it won’t be long for Italy and Spain (though Italy, at least, is beggining to have real immigration — yay, Chinese food in Italy! There will someday be some interesting fusion opportunities there).

The State is All.

The left once dismissed the “you care more about spotted owls than you do about people” line of argument as a caricature of its position.
No more. Eighht-of-an-inch cave bugs get to live. Cancer patients who rely on medical marijuana to keep their medicine down can suffer and die, for all the Post cares.
Actually, it’s worse than that. The cancer patients
must suffer, so that the federal government can adequately protect the bugs.(Balko’s emphases)

That’s Radley Balko on recent Supreme Court decisions, the Left, Washington Post editorials, and bedfellows that some of us don’t find all that strange — statism is statism.

Class differences and post-WWII stories

This in an interesting article about a resistance group in Nazi Germany. They think one of the reasons we’ve heard of the tiny (5 or 6 member) White Rose group is that they were university students while the Edelweiss Pirates (they’re claiming 5,000 members) were working class. Their Communist background probably didn’t help in late 1940s West Germany either, though it doesn’t explain why the group wouldn’t have been lionezed in East Germany. Here’s the Wikipedia article, which is rather more interesting than the news story.
This comes immediately after the opening of the Paris police files that make it clearer (not perfectly clear – the police managed to destroy a bunch of documents) how collaborative the French state was with the Occupiers, undercutting yet another myth of the Resistance. There’s still a lot to learn here.

The Horror of Movie “Marriages”

So I’m watching Outbreak (It’s a sick day – leave me alone — it’s too hot to do anything else) and I’m once again weirded out by the idea that Dustin Hoffman is married to Rene Russo. Dustin Hoffman graduated from high school when Rene Russo was 1 year old (thanks, imdb!).
Michael Blowhard noted this list of actresses who are now older than Anne Bancroft was when she played Mrs. Robinson (she was 35 — and Hoffman was 29 then).
Jennifer Aniston
Christy Turlington
Debra Messing
Catherine Bell
Lucy Liu
Olivia Williams
Jill Hennessy
Parker Posey
Naomi Watts
Chastity Bono (Chastity Bono is over 35?)

Virginia drops PRAXIS I requirement for teachers

This Washington Post story talks about the changing requirements for teachers in Virginia — including dropping a math requirement for non-math teachers.
What’s not at all clear from the article is what the ‘Instead, they will have to pass a new “literacy and communications skills” exam that will be introduced in January’ is. Will it be a product of the ETS people, like Praxis? Will it be home-grown, in which case I dread the first 3 or 4 years of results and controversies.
I took the Praxis I a long time ago, by the way, and it really IS at the 8th-10th grade level (I was half-heartedly pursuing certification to teach high school Latin). If people can’t pass it (the Post’s anecdote has a PE teacher passing on her 6th attempt) they probably aren’t capable of figuring their own grades.

So much to learn . . .

Dr. Lowe gives us an example of our current knowledge about an interesting aspect of the brain. It turns into a cautionary tale about the difficulty of lots of current research directions.

The problem is, no one has the faintest idea what brain cells are up to when they make morphine. I should start out by saying that we don’t know which brain cells, of the insane number of different types, actually make it in vivo, what parts of the brain they’re located in, or what factors cause them to increase or decrease its production. And once it’s made, we don’t know what it does or why.

“Why is my report card lying?”

Go read this. The college remediation industry is the biggest waste of money and time in America; everything it does was supposed to have been done earlier. My father always referred to these classes as “high school” when he taught them, and that’s what they are. 8 out of 10 of the entering students at the “University” in question need remediation in English, 7 out of 10 in math. 80% are unprepared.
The students have been defrauded. They have been required to attend institutions (lets stop calling them “schools”) which have wasted their time and taught them much less than they need.
via Joanne Jacobs and Eduwonk.