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This is the personal weblog of Aakash Raut, established Sept. 2002. It will cover current affairs, worldwide & national topics, local & university events, and provide insight and commentary on contemporary issues and the news from his perspective. Enjoy!

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    Politics Blog Directory
    Tuesday, December 28, 2004

    Wow. I have been given the awesome responsibility of guest blogging for almost a week. I'll try my best to keep it in the typical Aakash style.

    My background: I'm Nathan Averbeck, a freshman studying math and computer science at LLCC. I met Aakash when we were in a speech class together in the summer of 2001. How can I still be a freshman, three years later? Read on.

    In my first rant-blog, I'd like to broach a topic near and dear to my heart: homeschooling (the dictionary people just can't make up their minds if it should be "homeschool" or "home-school" or "home school"; I'll be progressive and just go with "homeschool"). I consider myself to be an expert on the topic: I was homeschooled all the way through twelfth grade. As I understand you people to be a very conservative group, I may be preaching to the choir, but bear with me--if this post isn't for you, then it may be for somebody you know. Please, please, please don't misunderstand me: the only reason I'm doing this is so that people will recognize homeschooling as a viable alternative to public schools. This is not an attack on anyone. (Well, maybe the NEA. We'll get to that.)

    You'd be surprised at some of the misconceptions I've found. For example: "Aren't you a little old for that?" Or: "Do you have any friends?" Or: "Is that even legal?" Or, as one of my LLCC buddies said jokingly, "I'll bet you wanted to cry on your first day of class!" So let me give you the low-down on homeschooling.

    Most of the people I run into agree: "Homeschoolers, on average, receive superb education, but socially, they are morons, for they never leave the house."
    ...Yes, homeschoolers have social interaction. As long as I can remember, I've been involved in many activities outside my home: soccer, gymnastics, swimming classes, homeschool groups, tae kwon do, church, pottery classes, and volunteer work at the Computer Banc. Did I mention I'm a PADI certified scuba diver? In the past, I worked at McDonalds (boy, was that fun) and as a therapist for an autistic child. Both these jobs terminated under the best of conditions. I'm now on my third job. But none of this compares to taking early start classes at LLCC: from speech to psychology, politics to history, I completed 36 hours of college credit before graduating high school. The only point I'm trying to make is this: yes, we homeschoolers get out of the house; we, too, have friends. (Oh, and to answer a commonly asked question, yes, homeschoolers have homework. I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard that joke.)

    Actually, Dawn Rizzoni, citing a study by the Fraser Institute, said: "The typical home-schooled child is more mature, friendly, happy, thoughtful, competent, and better socialized than students in public or private schools. They are also less peer dependent and exhibit 'significantly higher' self-esteem, according to the study" (Rizzoni).

    !!! Did she just say, "Better socialized"?

    But just in case you were wondering, homeschoolers are doing just fine when it comes to test time. In 2000, the average ACT homeschooler score was 2 whole points higher than the national average. Said ACT spokesperson Dr. Kelly Hayden: "What you can say about the home schoolers from that average composite score is that this group of home-schooled kids are well-prepared, or reasonably well-prepared, for college" (Foster, "Home Schoolers Score").

    In the 2003 Texas Sheep and Goat Raiser's Auxiliary Letter Writing Contest, the first-place entry was written by a homeschooled high school student, as was the second-place entry; third place went to an adult who had gone back to school. Even though they had vastly superior numbers, public high school students failed to place!

    Another example is homeschooler Jason Heki, who was one of eighteen students named young entrepreneur of 2003 by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship ("Homeschooler Named"). On USA Today?s 2003 All-USA Community and Junior College Academic Team, three out of twenty members were homeschooled ("Homeschoolers Make").

    So, I would think homeschooling would be recognized as a good thing, right? Wrong. Across America, homeschooled students are faced with various levels of persecution. A Kansas school requested that a family's children be placed in foster care because of their homseschooling, stating the children to be "in need of services" ("Hostile"). In Michigan, the Social Security Administration refused to acknowledge homeschooling as a full-time educational pursuit, thus reducing privileges for a certain family ("SSA"). A Californian student had her welfare benefits reduced indefinitely for not enrolling in a high school ("Homeschooling Family"). I thank God (literally) that Illinois is very accepting of homeschoolers.

    The National Education Assocation, a paragon of anti-homeschooling, since 1988 has annually reaffirmed Resolution B-68, which states the following:
    "The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state requirements. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used. The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools" (qtd. in Foster, "NEA"). Though this is still a part of the NEA creed, as of summer 2003, it had been removed from their website. *Dun dun dun*

    Isn't that lovely? Homeschoolers trounce any standards the NEA can set up, and yet, they are treated like a dangerous cult, ever under the eye of the warriors of truth (i.e. the NEA). Well, the government as a whole is not so bad. Consider: in 1999, the US Senate declared September 19-25 of that year "National Home Education Week." In 2000, the US House of Representatives passed a similar resolution for October 1-7 of 2000. The resolution congratulates homeschooling in many areas, including high ethical standards and "excellence in education." Additionally, homeschoolers are "saving several billion dollars on public education each year" (Foster, "Home-Schoolers Honored"). The examples abound. Once again, a home education is recognized as a sign of excellence.

    I suppose the best weapon to combat the ignorance (deception?) of the NEA is truth. That's why I'm here now.

    Quick recap: homeschooling is healthy and effective. The NEA is useless.

    I'd love your feedback.

    Nate

    E-mail: croc_12@yahoo.com
    AIM: WolfTecc
    Blog: http://www.livejournal.com/users/wolftecc



    For further information:

    Home School Legal Defense Assocation
    http://www.hslda.org



    Sources:

    Foster, Julie. "Home Schoolers Score Highest on ACT." WorldNetDaily. 2000. 16 July 2003 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=17950.

    Foster, Julie. "NEA vs. Home Schools." 2000. 14 July 2003 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=17962.

    "Homeschooling Family Discriminated Against by State Agency." 11 March 2003. 21 July 2003 http://hslda.org/legal/state/ca/20020826MrsBvCSA/default.asp.

    "Homeschooler Named Young Entrepreneur of the Year." Home School Legal Defense Association. 16 June 2003. 14 July 2003 http://www.hslda.org/docs/BrightSpots/200307160.asp.

    "Homeschoolers Make USA Today Academic Team." Home School Legal Defense Association. 4 June 2003. 14 July 2003 http://hslda.org/docs/BrightSpots/200306040.asp.

    "Hostile School District Forced to Back Down." 12 March 2001. 21 July 2003 http://hslda.org/legal/state/ks/200103MrandMrsT/default.asp.

    Rizzoni, Dawn. "Study Finds Home Schooled Children Better at Social Skills." CNSNews.com. 23 October 2001. 16 July 2003 http://www.cnsnews.com/Culture/archive/200110/CUL20011023a.html.

    "SSA Reduces Benefits Because of Family?s Homeschool Program." 29 April 2003. 21 July 2003 http://hslda.org/Legal/state/mi/2002pvSSA/default.asp.



    I'm off...

    Last night (actually, this morning), I was looking through Adrianne Truett's fine weblog (I finally updated the blogroll link), and I came across this interesting entry. Interestingly, I am actually leaving this afternoon, with my family, to go to my cousin's wedding; she is getting married on New Year's Eve in West Palm Beach... on the beach! She met her soon-to-be husband through medical school (both of them are doctors), and this should be a great event.

    Since I'm going to be away, I decided to do something that has never been done before at this weblog... though many other bloggers do it. Until I return next year (actually, it's just Jan. 2nd when I'll be back), a guest blogger will taking over here. Say hello to Nathan Averbeck (a.k.a. NateDogg). This is the first time since I started this weblog (over two years ago... wow!) that I've had a guest blogger... so be nice to him! :-)

    Well, I gotta go... Maybe I'll get to do some blogging from Florida, though I don't know how much time (or internet access) I will have from there. (Then again, it's been difficult, off late, to find the time for blogging from here at home!)

    Thank you, Nathan, for agreeing to blog here while I'm away. Good luck!


    Saturday, December 25, 2004

    *** Merry Christmas ***



    For unto us a Child is born,
    unto us a son is given.

    Isaiah 9:6


    Friday, December 24, 2004

    Merry Christmas... Eve!

    I hope that this season has been filled with merriment and goodwill for all of you... and that you feel free to be able to share the Truth about this holiday with friends, family, and others, as we honor and reflect upon the birth of our Savior.


    --------------


    Oh, how the time passes!
    - Christmas Eve 2002 at University Blog



    Peace on Earth... at War

    Holiday Support for Our Troops
    Soldiers for the Truth



    The Grinch that Moved into the White House

    Check out this disturbing news article from World Net Daily. It seems that the official White House website [whitehouse.gov] may be indicative of the mentality that has affected the White House, and the federal government.

    I also noticed the special section that is featured at that site, on this season:
    www.whitehouse.gov/holiday

    "A Season of Merriment and Melody" Say what??

    I guess that the White House seems to have overlooked something important - I saw this hanging on someone's wall some years ago:

    Jesus is the reason for the season



    Update:
    Bill Hobbs certainly hasn't forgotten that (via Sean Hackbarth). Neither has "King of Fools."


    Update (1/04/05): I just found an article on this issue featured at the website of someone who I just found out about from the Sobran's links page.
    "Season of Merriment and Melody"... my left foot!


    I also want to point out that I found an entry a little while ago, posted by Mrs. Friedrich at the great "Backwater Report" site (then "Blogs for Peroutka"), on how President Bush and the White House website are promoting "Kwanzaa". Apparently, this is not the first year that they have done this. Via the article that Mrs. Friedrich linked to (by Joe Farah), I was able to find this 2002 article by Paul Mulshine, a great conservative columnist who I recently discovered. (He was added to the [partial] compilation of conservative columnists who opposed the Iraq war, in this past entry.) Here's some info and perspective on Kwanzaa from the VDare website... also check out their current home page for info on their annual "War Against Christmas" competition.


    Update (12/27/04):
    After that recent World Net Daily article was posted at FreeRepublic (you should be able to guess the reaction of them Freepers), someone posted the President's Christmas Message from two years ago. Notice the difference between then and now.


    Thursday, December 23, 2004

    She looks good in that dress...

    Yesterday's World Net Daily had some really good news items. Among them was this one, which I found interesting [this past entry might explain why].

    After this, I was just thinking of my prom... actually, "proms" - I remember that my date in '98 had a good dress, and my date the following year did as well (the latter one ended up actually somewhat matching my tux!).


    Anyway, best of luck to Miss Jacqueline Duty... [latest news] I just found this web page, with a larger photo that looks better than the one in that WND piece.

    Check out the home page of the Kentucky Division of the SCV, which features this news story.

    This is the high school that Jacqueline went to. (She is in college now.)



    The principle of the school is D. Sean Howard. According to the lawsuit, he arrived at Jacqueline's car with two police officers, and prevented her from entering the dance. The suit alleges that Mr. Howard "intimidated [her] by physically striking the vehicle in which she was sitting."

    The key article about this recent news is from the Lexington, KY newspaper.

    In addition to Principle Howard, school superintendent Ronnie Black is also named in the suit.

    "It was a very difficult decision," said school superintendent Ronnie Back. "We don't have a policy on these things; we decide them on a case-by-case basis. We decided it would be problematic if she wore it and made our decision."


    This was a dress that Jacqueline says that she had been working on for four years - it was custom-made, and she says that she had to work two jobs in order to pay for it. Mr. Howard allegedly called her the Friday night before the prom and told her not to wear it. The day before that (Thursday, April 29th... the prom was on Saturday, May 1st), he had called her into his office. She did not have another one readily available, and she came to prom anyway, hoping that the school officials would let her attend. The aftermath of this incident allegedly prevented her from receiving a number of college scholarships.

    "They called her into the office on Thursday (April 29) and told her she couldn't go to the prom if she wore her dress," Mrs. Duty says. "She called me crying. She said she'd been told that if she wore the dress, she'd be suspended and not be allowed to graduate."


    I just found an informative article from back in May, when these events were taking place. It was posted at the great Liberty Post site (a refreshing alternative to the declining FreeRepublic). The quotes above are from that article.



    Click here for something neat.



    Update: Here are some other photos that I came across that seem to be interesting:

    Click on these thumbnails for a larger picture. I will probably be removing some of these and other front-page images soon, due to loading time concerns.


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    When life gives you lemons...

    The Bravo television station has been having a lot of trashy programming off late; it has been nice, therefore, to have noticed that, within recent days, they have been frequently showing the well-known '80s movie Working Girl. [Check out an encyclopedia entry on that film; here's the DVD or the soundtrack CD.]

    It was around this time of the year three years ago when the U.S. Postal Service released a television ad, featuring a song - A web search showed me that it was Carly Simon's hit song, "Let the River Run," which was featured in this movie, for which it won the 1988 Oscar Award for Best Song, as well as a Golden Globe. It was some months later that I saw that film on TV; since then, I have seen parts of it when it has been re-shown. I think that that is an uplifting and inspirational movie - and that it can be viewed that way by men as well as women. The same is true for the film Legally Blonde (don't laugh) - that film could be inspiring for anyone who is struggling or who is having trouble in school, and in law school (and from what I've heard about law school, that includes just about everyone). I don't know if I'll ever end up going to law school, but if I do, then that might be something to rent during the tough times (perhaps The Paper Chase would be appropriate as well??... I don't know; it's been awhile since I've seen that one).

    Stories like those which form the plot lines of the aforementioned movies are meant to be inspirational, and (despite the female-based overtones of the first two I've mentioned above) the symbolism of works like this should apply to anyone who is struggling to overcome obstacles, regardless of gender, race, age, or status in life. Right now, I have been struggling with a tense academic situation; there is a ton of course work that I have gotten behind on, and the semester is over... I'm supposed to be on break, and I was hoping to finish my undergraduation this term. I need to get this work finished and turned in ASAP. But as I've mentioned before, it has been extremely difficult to focus and concentrate... and this time period can be stressful for other reasons as well, which I blogged about last year. I am going to need all the inspiration and energy that I can get.

    ...Let the river run

    I was glad to find out yesterday that I am not the only student blogger who finds inspiration from Melanie Griffith and Carly Simon. (And his post has to do with law school, as well... where I may be some day.) It sucks having all this work to do right around Christmastime; and it affects my ability to blog as well. :-(

    Gotta go...


    Tuesday, December 14, 2004

    There's still time...

    The semester is now complete, but my course work - quite unfortunately - is very much not. I wish that things had gone better for me these past couple of weeks; if they had, I may have had some good stuff up here - especially with respect to the 'Spirit of America' blogger challenge.

    I have, in fact, done one entry on this great effort, and on my team, the 'Fighting Fusileers for Freedom.' I would have liked to have been doing more posts on this (sorry, John!), like my teammates have been doing... but things have not been working out.

    Please see my previous post (below) on this challenge, and please consider making a donation to this great cause.

    To contribute to this project, via our 'team' (the Fighting Fusileers for Freedom), please go to this web page:
    http://www.spiritofamerica.net/challenge/t/45




    Here is an updated list of my teammates.

    I will try to post something more about the 'blogger challenge' before I get to bed. (Which may, once again, be very late...)

    Sunday night Monday morning, around the same time that I was posting that note (re: the armor issue and the SFTT site - see my entry right below) at other bloggers' entries, I posted something at the UIS College Republicans weblog about this 2004 Spirit of America 'Blogger Challenge'. (Despite the fact that very few people are likely checking that blog around this time, perhaps that will make up, just a little, for my lack of blogging about this topic.)

    Remember - The 'blogger challenge' ends at 2:00 AM central time on Wednesday, December 15th. Yikes - That's just a few hours away! I really wish that I could have blogged more about this. Well, please try to contribute as much as you can before that time. Thanks!


    Update (12/16/04): Here is a listing of my fellow team members, on the Fighting Fusileers for Freedom:

    Team Members (in alphabetical order)

    Some of these are non-bloggers.


    A Black and White World

    A Texan Abroad

    AFSister

    Argghhh! The Home of Two of Jonah's Military Guys

    Army of One

    As I See Things

    Baboon Pirates

    Barb

    Ben's World

    Blackfive

    Boudicca's Voice

    Brain Shavings

    CPTHAM

    CandyUniverse

    CatHouse Chat

    Chapomatic

    Cowboy Blob's

    Dean's World

    Dog Snot Diaries

    Drink this...

    Inside Allan's Mind

    Instapilot

    Intelligent Intercourse

    Jason's Blog

    Mind of Mog

    Mossback Culture

    Neutral

    Not Exactly Rocket Science

    OkieMinnie Me

    Pedophiles for Kim Jong-Il

    Quality Weenie

    Random Fate

    RedNeck Ramblings

    Right Wing Nut Jobs Unite

    SMASH

    Secure Liberty

    Seven Inches of Sense

    Sgt Hook

    She Who Will Be Obeyed!

    Southern By Blog!!

    Target Centermass

    Technicalities

    The BLOG

    The Last Amazon

    The Patriette

    The Razor

    The Tiger in Winter

    University Blog

    Wizblog

    baldilocks

    dustmybroom.com




    The Armor of War

    Many bloggers posted a couple of days ago on Spc. Thomas Wilson's important question to our beloved Secretary of Defense, regarding the widespread concern over the perceived inadequacy of armor protection for our military humvees in Iraq. In the early morning hours Monday (that was just yesterday... it seems like longer), I posted a comment to as many of these blog entries as I could, asking them to check out the interesting commentary about this issue that was currently at the home page of 'Soldiers for the Truth' - a great pro-soldier, pro-America organization that I have mentioned before.

    I am checking that site again now - that material is still up there. Check out that site:
    SFTT.org




    ---------

    (12/17/04): I've been meaning to comment more about this and related issues... I wish that these papers would write themselves. For some pro-Rumsfeld items, check out the latest at the Politics Weblog of The Detroit News Online.

    I actually went to that blog after going to their [very excellent] pre-election editorial, in which they gave their presidential "endorsement." Check it out! (Keep in mind that The Detroit News is a pro-Republican newspaper... See what they say about President Bush and the Iraq war.)


    Tuesday, December 07, 2004

    December 7, 2004 - The 63rd anniversary...

    Did FDR Know?
    Find out here...


    Monday, December 06, 2004

    The Half-Naked Bill

    Many of us are very busy at this time, in the midst of a hectic finals week... I definitely have a ton of work to get in - especially considering that I've gotten behind, due in part to all of the political and election-related events. However, I saw something last night at the home page of the great Team America PAC, that requires me to post something now, in the hope that something can still be done to prevent the passage of a phony "security" bill that has been stripped of its armor, and for which its success may do our country more harm than good.

    Kill the bill!

    Jam the phone lines!!


    Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has caved in to White House pressure, but the brave Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) is still sticking up for us.

    The original version of the House bill [H.R. 10] was fully clothed (attempts to strip it were overcome), and it passed overwhelmingly [roll call]. Then, after pressure from the White House and other powerful groups, the key measures were stripped from the bill. The American Conservative Union had thought, a few weeks ago, that this new bill was dead, which it deserved to be. [Note: It wasn't just the ACU - many believed that this watered-down bill wasn't going to pass this year.] But apparently, it has been revived, and is on the verge of being passed.

    Related news and views:
    - 9/11 Families organization backs Sensenbrenner, and opposes this bill
    - Sensenbrenner's Sense
    - GOP's cheap-labor wing is brewing poisonous politics
    - National security necessitates secure borders
    - No reform is better than bad reform
    - Protect our citizens! (It's better to have no bill at all, rather than a weak and ineffective one.)
    - Immigration reform crucial to security

    - More info from the 'John and Ken Show'

    - Update: Kill Bill II: Even the neocon Center for Security Policy think tank agrees! ... "Kill (the) bill"


    It is better to re-schedule the job interview than to attend it wearing only your underwear. Once you've blown your first chance, it's hard to get anything major accomplished.

    Help send a wake-up call to Washington - Let them know that we can no longer afford to play politics with our national security, and that they need to stop pandering to Big Business interests and ethnic lobby groups. This is something that conservatives, liberals, libertarians, Republicans, Democrats, independents, and others should all be able to agree upon.

    If you don't have much time, focus on these four U.S. House members to contact with your frustrations about this bill. (For Rep. Sensenbrenner, you won't have to convince him to oppose the bill - of course - but you might want to thank him for sticking up for our nation's security.)


    Saturday, December 04, 2004

    Student Affairs

    Tonight's CR Christmas Party was okay... A lot of people couldn't show up, though. Final exams begin on Monday, and this end-of-the-semester period is a stressful time for many of us.

    A couple of months ago, some students at UIS (who were chosen by the admissions department, I think), started offical UIS student weblogs. Some of us others who are students at this university were already blogging.

    Here are the weblogs of some of my fellow UIS students, who I know:
    Matt Wallace
    John Kelly
    Gabrielle Wiegand
    Kate Johnson

    After I started this blog (it was shortly after moving onto campus, at the beginning part of the Fall 2002 semester), I thought that I was the only student blogger here at UIS. I later found out, after a cool conversation with this guy, that I wasn't even the first.

    I just saw that there's another non-newbie blogger at UIS who I kind of know... He is part of a group blog that started at about the same time as the aforementioned one, but is also still running as of today.

    And no discussion of student-run websites at UIS should be completed without a mention of Brad Ward's famous TwoSouth.com site... I don't know how long it's been running, but I do know (as I've said before) that Mr. Ward is very good at this type of thing - a lot of people are aware of that by now. I just saw that his personal home page has been redone.

    There are some other good students websites at UIS; I may go over some of them in the future. For now, best of luck to everyone on finals!!



    Catch the 'Spirit of America'... Today!


    I have to prepare, right now, for the annual UIS College Republicans Christmas Party, which is this evening. For last year's party, Santa Claus (who happens to be a Republican... you didn't know that?), dropped some surprises off for the attendees. Perhaps he will again.

    Before any more time passes, however, I should blog here about an exciting opportunity that I recently discovered for us to contribute to the goal of bringing peace and success to the people of Iraq.

    I am a newbie to this project, so I am not sure about the specifics, but I do know that the organization doing this is credible and well-established. 'Spirit of America' is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that has been working to help our troops better serve the people of Iraq, during this turbulent time period.

    For the 2nd year in a row, bloggers have been invited to assist in these efforts, by hosting a fundraising drive for Spirit of America. In fact, this "Friends of Iraq" Blogger Challenge has taken the form of a friendly competition, with bloggers either raising funds as individuals, or joining 'teams,' to get as much donated as possible to help this worthy cause. I have chosen to join a team called the "Fighting Fusileers for Freedom," led by our friends John and Beth Donovan.

    Please contribute what you can to this cause... It is totally legitimate, and your donations are tax-deductible.

    To contribute to this project, via our 'team' (the Fighting Fusileers for Freedom), please go to this web page:
    http://www.spiritofamerica.net/challenge/t/45



    For more information about this "Blogger Challenge," go here.




    Here is a list of my teammates (in the 'Fighting Fusileers...') - I'm probably supposed to copy and paste a listing of all of them in this entry, but I'm too tired (or too lazy) to do that right now... I will have more information posted here about this worthwhile challenge soon. Until then, please contribute what you can.


    Update: Like him, I've procrasinated, and haven't yet linked to the inaugural entry for our team's efforts in this fundraising drive (by John Donovan) or the 2nd entry (by Dean Esmay). Since then, there have been a couple of more entries... I think that each of us is supposed to do one for each day of this 'blogger challenge'.


    This 'blogger challenge' competition ends at 2:00 AM central time (3 AM eastern, midnight pacific) on Wednesday, December 15th.