Friday Follies for March 21, 2014

I didn’t find a topic for today. Instead, I’ve found a number of nuggets that I want to bring to your attention. The first of these is Microsoft. In case you weren’t aware, Microsoft is one of the nation’s largest ISP—Internet Service Provider. If you have a HotMail account, you’re a user of that Microsoft network. Microsoft isn’t just Windows, it is more…much more, and they have problems.

Microsoft caught up in fresh privacy storm

 

Microsoft on Thursday scrambled to head off a privacy storm after it was revealed that the software company had searched through the private email of a blogger it suspected of having received stolen software code.

The concession marked one of the most damaging privacy gaffes to hit a leading US technology company since revelations in 2013 that the country’s National Security Agency had been spying on their users. The companies involved, including Microsoft, reacted with outrage at the secret government snooping.

On Thursday, the software company first sought to play down the outcry over its email search in a statement defending the move, before following up only hours later with a promise of new and stronger procedures to reassure users that their privacy would be protected in such cases.

The column continues here

In essence, Microsoft admits violating a user’s privacy—without a warrant. Their promises of privacy went out the window when it affected them. But, that follows their liberal corporate policy. Microsoft is one of the most liberal corporations in the country. Bill Gates, personally, has donated $186 million to boost Common Core. The various Gates foundations are also big contributor to liberal issues.

It is important to know whom to trust and whom is not worthy of trust. Bill Gates and his wife are, I submit, not trustworthy when it comes to personal liberty, freedom, and  to the education of our children.

***

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims

On the bright side, Rush Limbaugh has the illiteratti all up in arms. His two children’s books about the American Revolution and the founding of our nation is climbing to the top of the sales charts. He presents the truth about our history in a form that children—and adults, can understand. The libs are outraged.

Rush Limbaugh selection in children’s book competition causes a stir

(CNN) – Rush Limbaugh – radio host, conservative firebrand and… children’s book author of the year?

The Children’s Book Council and its Every Child a Reader program released on Thursday their author-of-the-year finalists for their annual Children’s and Teen Choice Book Awards.

Limbaugh is one of the four finalists, and his nomination has prompted outrage on social media, given the host’s often-incendiary nature.

Limbaugh’s book is titled, “Rush Revere and The Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans” – a time-traveling tale of colonial America and the latest of two books in the “Rush Revere Series” published last year by Simon & Schuster.

Limbaugh, an outspoken figure in the political world, often expresses controversial sentiments on his radio program. Recently, Limbaugh blasted Pope Francis’ economic views as “pure Marxism,” and, in 2012, he called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” for her support of women’s access to birth control.

The Children’s Book Council issued a public letter, posted to its website and Facebook page, defending its finalist selection process following the uproar online and insisting that the author of the year finalists “are determined solely based on titles’ performances on the bestseller lists.”

“Some of you have voiced concerns over the selection of finalists from bestseller lists, which you feel are potentially-manipulable indications of the success of a title. We can take this into consideration going forward, but cannot change our procedure for selecting finalists after the fact,” the organization said in the letter.

The CBC letter goes on to say the kids, who will start voting next week, ultimately decide which author wins in each of the six categories, including best author. The letter goes on to assure that the organization has a procedure in place to protect against fraud and adult’s voting in the contest.

“This program has never been about CBC or ECAR endorsing finalists,” the letter says.

Limbaugh touted the apparent success of his book series on his radio program on Thursday.

“We just found out last night that on the New York Times Best-Seller List of March the 30th, ‘Rush Revere and the First Patriots’ will open at number one, and ‘Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims’ moves up to number four,” said, according to a transcript of the audio.

Limbaugh’s book landed at the number-5 spot on the New York Times best seller’s list for the week of March 23.

Heh, heh, heh!

***

A movie is being released in a few days, Noah. According to the trailer, “It is inspired at the Book of Genesis.” The producers admit to taking “some artistic license.”  A lot of license. If you have seen some of the short trailers on TV, it looks like some fantasy horror movie.

Russell Crowe in “Noah.”

Darren Aronofsky wrestles one of scripture’s most primal stories to the ground and extracts something vital and audacious, while also pushing some aggressive environmentalism, in Noah. Whereas for a century most Hollywood filmmakers have tread carefully and respectfully when tackling biblical topics in big-budget epics aimed at a mass audience, Aronofsky has been daring, digging deep to develop a bold interpretation of a tale which, in the original, offers a lot of room for speculation and invention. The narrative of the global flood that wiped out almost all earthly life is the original disaster story, one that’s embraced by most of the major world religions, which means that conservative and literal-minded elements of all faiths who make it their business to be offended by untraditional renditions of holy texts will find plenty to fulminate about here. Already banned in some Middle Eastern countries, Noah will rile some for the complete omission of the name “God” from the dialogue, others for its numerous dramatic fabrications and still more for its heavy-handed ecological doomsday messages, which unmistakably mark it as a product of its time. — The Hollywood Reporter.

When you compare Noah with Cecil B. DeMille’s classic, The Ten Commandments, or the more recent, Son of God by Roma Downey and her husband, Noah could not be further from the truth. It is so bad, even Islamists have banned it.

According to the column above, one of the most outrageous omissions in Noah, is not it’s “artistic license,” but its complete omission of God in the film.

Planes

A few decades ago, I spent a lot of time driving…windshield time it’s called. I like driving. When my wife and I take a trip, my eyes are constantly moving. I see stuff my wife misses, and my daughter, too, when she was younger. Mostly, I saw animals—deer, turkeys, armadillos (yes, there are armadillos in Missouri,) porcupines, coyotes, a long list. One of the things I especially looked for was road-side airports and airplanes.

I used to fly. I stopped when my daughter’s college tuition, some other items, needed the cash more. But, I love flying and still, from time to time, visit local airports and watch the weekend pilots practice touch ‘n goes.

I like airplanes. I think I’ve said that a few times. One reason why the new Disney animated movie, Planes, drew me, was the planes. The hero in this movie is Dusty Cropduster—an animated, Piper Pawnee crop-duster.

PLANES

Dusty Cropduster, a Piper Pawnee, at the end of a long crop dusting day.

I was once returning from an all-day trip to and from Omaha, NE. I had left KC early that morning, arrived in Omaha well before noon, visited some customer sites, fixed their equipment and was on my way home, southbound on I-29.

Just south of the Iowa/Missouri border, a crop duster was spraying a corn field along side of the interstate. I pulled over, got out and leaded against my car watching him work the field.

He would make a long run down the field at about 30′ above the corn. At the northern end of the field was a line of trees. He’d pull up, pop over the trees and disappear. Out of sight, he’d pull a 180° turn, pop up over the trees and proceed down to the southern end of the field.

I had seen this particular crop-duster before. He had a small grass strip a few miles up the road along the east side of I-29. I drove away before I drew the attention of the local Deputies or State Troopers. A few minutes later, I neared that crop duster’s field. He had finished and in the light of the setting sun, was lining up for a landing…returning home.  The scene from Planes above, reminded me of that moment.

When I visit airports and watch the planes land, I can still feel the controls, my feet on the rudders aligning the plane to that thin strip in the windshield. Flaps lowered, throttle back, the hiss of passing air waiting for the flare and, moments later, the Skeep-Skeep of touch down.

I miss it.

By-the-way for you who may see the movie. A hint that it’s not real. There’s no way on God’s earth a Piper Pawnee can reach 317 knots as shown in one scene. Overpowered, the Pawnee may be, but in the end, it’s still a brick with wings.

Movie Report: Atas Shrugged

Mrs. Crucis and I caught the afternoon matinee of Atlas Shrugged yesterday. This showing was the first of three parts. Each part to be released on Tax Day.  The following two parts will be released next year and again on April 15, 2013. Personally, that’s a bit long to wait. I would have timed the releases periodically with the last segment being released about two weeks prior to the 2012 elections.

All-in-all, the movie has been, to the best of my memory, faithful to the book.  There have been some abridgment, but no changes as far as I could tell.  I last read Atlas Shrugged about 18 months ago so much of it is still relatively fresh in my memory. This first part ends with the disappearance of oilman Ellis Wyatt.

The movie is being shown in five theaters in the KC area, three on the Kansas side (one being in Lawrence, KS), and two on the Missouri side.  The closest to us was the Town Center Theaters across the street where I once worked as a Sprint engineer.  Tickets were $12 apiece.  That was a bit of a shock because ticket prices at our local theater is half that.  Still, it was worth the money.

I was a bit disappointed on the attendance.  The movie was being shown in one of the smaller theaters in the Town Center complex. I would guess there were maybe forty people watching—all couples. I didn’t see any singletons.  One fact I whispered to my wife was that the youngest couple was in their late thirties or early forties.  The average age of the couples would have been in the mid-fifties as a guess.  The high end was due to a several couples older than Mrs. Crucis and I and we’ve seen Sixty come and go.

As we walked through the lobby, we could see the younger families lining up to see Hop and Rango.  The teenagers and those without kids were heading for other shows.  I was disappointed that none of them were interested in seeing Atlas Shrugged.  On reflection, I wondered how many even knew about the book and who was Ayn Rand.

I was reminded of the slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  There was ample evidence of that wastage in the movie complex.

The professional reviewers panned the movie claiming it was too long, that it was too choppy, that it should have been one movie instead of three. I’m not a reviewer but I was gratified that the producers kept faith to the book and were accurate as they could be given the restrictions converting any book to the big screen.  I think Ayn Rand would have liked what was done.                 

Self Education

My wife and I went to see the new True Grit. All-in-all, I think the remake was better than the original. At least, it looked like it was actually filmed in Oklahoma around the Ardmore area. Don’t really know where it was filmed but at least it could have been.

One thing stuck out and my wife mentioned it later. The dialog. The characters rarely, if at all, used contractions in their speech. “Don’t” was “do not,” “I’m” was “I am.” It was striking. Two of the main character knew enough Latin to make quotes and knew what the quotes meant. I hard to reach far back into my memory to translate them (I had two years of Latin in high school.)

My mother was a school teacher. She had many friends who were teachers. One, an older lady by the name of Mrs. FitzGerald, was a circuit teacher in Texas in the late 19th Century. I remember that she did not use contractions in her speech nor did my mother nor my grandmother.

Mrs. FitzGerald watched over me from time to time. She never used the term “babysitting.” I was in the first grade and Mrs. FitzGerald made sure that I spoke proper English. I still remember her saying that using contractions in speech was a sign of low class and of the uneducated. Books, she said, did not use contractions. Educated people did not use them either.

Sadly, I’ve lasped.

My mother explained the non-use of contractions to me years later. She too, had been a circuit teacher in her youth in the 1920s.

In the 19th Century, people were responsible for their own education and for that of their children. McGuffy readers were sold in most general stores or could be mail-ordered. In lesser populated areas, general stores also contained small libraries containing math, grammar, and history books along with copies of dictionaries and other classical books such as Shakespeare’s plays, The Illiad, Dante’s Inferno and other classics of the time. Families often pooled their resources for educational items, and depending on the local prosperity, hired circuit teachers.

Mrs. FitzGerald was a circuit teacher in West Texas and in Missouri before coming to southern Illinois. She created, what would now be called lesson plans, and distributed them to the subscribing families. In those plans were reading, writing and math assignments. For the most part, there were no local schools outside of the larger towns. The parents used the plans to educate their children. If there were any questions or problems that the parents couldn’t answer or solve, they were set aside until the circuit teacher arrived. It wasn’t unusual for some parents to be learning along with their children. For them, education was important and a personal and familial responsibility.

In some areas, there were only one or two teachers in a county. The students were scattered and towns were small if there was any at all. The circuit teacher had a schedule and a fixed route. She would arrive at the town or ranch and spend several days holding class. The unanswered questions or unsolved problems were covered at that time. Tests were given on the subjects learned since the last time the teacher was available and the next segment of the plan was reviewed and discussed.

The point was not to teach subjects but to teach the children, and by extension their parents, how to teach themselves. If someone had a bent for “figures,” a common need on any ranch or business, they studied math, economics, accounting, business and politics. Politics affected the economy and the people well knew it. It wasn’t unusual for children to “apprentice” to others to learn particular skills. Almost every physician had a series of assistants—mostly mid-wives, but also some who became apothecaries.

Some “read” the law to become lawyers. They would borrow books from a lawyer and that lawyer would be the mentor. Schooled lawyers mainly stayed around metropolitan areas. My father’s lawyer never went to Law School. He “read” the law. Neither did he ever pass a Bar exam. He was a lawyer before the Bar was created and was grandfathered into the Bar.

There was no formal, public schools, as such, outside of metropolitan areas and sometimes not there either. Education was a personal and family obligation. People took that obligation seriously.

Alas, that’s no longer true. All education, even private sources, is now organized and regimented. Education is a product, a monopoly and individuals, not of The Guild, cannot choose the education of their children. The Guild controls all and dictates what is to be taught, how it is to be taught and parents will not question The Guild at their peril.

The Guild is, of course, the teacher’s unions. My mother and Mrs. FitzGerald would be appalled at what had become education in today’s world.

Mrs. Crucis and I sent our daughter to a private school. For a couple of years she attended a private school, a home school really, with our Pastor’s children and a few others from church. Our daughter is now a mother of three. She and her husband send their two oldest to a private school as well. A school that still teaches Latin—and Greek. The school provides a classical education.

Education is too important to be left to a bureaucratic union whose primary interest is not education but lining their own pockets and maintaining their control. Education is too important to be left to government, especially one who uses education as indoctrination of their own particular ideology.

Getting back to the use of contractions. People, educated people of those times, did not use contractions in their speech and writing because—that wasn’t the way English was used in books. People spoke English as it was written. Speech without contractions was the mark of an educated person and opened many doors. The ability to educate oneself was a priceless asset and people marketed that ability with pride.

Reliant People

My wife and I just saw a movie, The Blind Side. It was a true story about the life of Michael Oher, Offensive Tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. Sandra Bullock starred as Leigh Anne Tuohy, Tim McGraw as Sean Touhy and Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher. It was a great story about rescue, redemption and success.

While it was a great movie, what struck me more were the people—the Touhys and the teachers and coaches at the Wingate Christian School where Oher first played football. The core of the story is how “the system” had failed Michael Oher. He was pushed through the public school system with no skills and little motivation to learn. That is, until he gained admittance to a private school through the efforts of a black family and the Wingate coach who saw Oher’s potential. Oher was a ward of the state and was for all practical purpose, homeless and on the streets. He was failing until Leigh Anne Touhy saw Oher walking in the rain searching for a warm place to spend the night.

Leigh Anne took Oher home to her family and eventually she and her husband gained guardianship for Oher. If Leigh Anne Touhy is in real life as she was portrayed by Sandra Bullock, she is one tough lady.

At one point in the movie, Michael has had a confrontation with an NCAA investigator who questions the Touhy’s motives. Michael Oher goes back to the projects and has a run-in with a small time gang lord. Searching for Michael, Leigh Anne meets the hood who threatens Oher if he can be found. Leigh Anne responds fiercely saying, “I have Prayer meetings with the DA, I’m a life member of the NRA and I’m packing. You don’t mess with my Son and you better not mess with me!

Like I said. Reliant people.

In other scenes, the teachers help overcome Oher’s lack of education by testing him orally. He can read but due to the years of neglect, he can’t express himself when taking written tests. The teachers individually work with Oher to bring his grades up enough to be eligible for a sports scholarship.

More reliant people. Just stop and consider the people you’ve met. People who are reliant. People to do things because it’s the “right thing to do.” People who go out of their way to assist others, not as handouts or a gifts, but to assist others to help themselves.

Reliant people. Ones who are dependable, who are reliant and are self-reliant as well. People who know themselves. Who are comfortable with themselves, will not hesitate to make decisions and, when necessary, to act. Just people who are reliant—and can be relied upon.

If you know any reliant people, treasure them. The world would be a sorry place without them.