Thursday, 12 September 2013

By on September 12th, 2013 in Barbara, science kits

09:32 – Kit sales continue to be strong. We shipped six kits yesterday, including our first ever to Switzerland. We’re getting perilously low on all types of kits, but the chemistry kits are the top priority. I’ll build another batch of two dozen of the regulated chemical bags for the chemistry kits today and then assemble a batch of kits. Over the weekend, I’ll work on another batch of two or three dozen biology kits.

Barbara leaves Saturday with one of her friends for a week-long bus tour, so Colin and I will be on our own. I considered doing the wild-women-and-parties thing, but I decided instead to have a Heartland marathon while she’s gone. Six nights at six episodes per night will get me through two full 18-episode seasons.

15:40 – I’ve been watching the growing literacy divide for the 25+ years that I’ve been on-line, and it’s becoming stunningly apparent that the US is no longer a nation in which basic literacy can be assumed. I’m shielded from this, at least to some extent. I correspond mostly with smart, well-educated people, and most of the blogs I follow are written by very bright people as well. Homeschoolers–students and parents–are generally well-educated and fully literate.

It’s when I dip my toe in the waters of general blogs that the low standard of general literacy nowadays becomes apparent. I have no doubt that the appalling decline in public schools over the last three or four decades has caused this. There are now 30-, 40-, and even 50-year-old people walking around who never learned basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I suspect that many of them cannot read at even what used to be considered an elementary-school level. Certainly, many of them cannot write above that level. And I don’t see anything on the horizon that will stop this growing catastrophe.

As just one example, I was reading an article yesterday about the Common Core. One of the criticisms leveled against it was that the standardized tests had changed some of the wording in test questions. The example they gave was that the earlier version of the question referred to the “main idea” while the updated question referred to the “central idea”. Apparently, many students’ vocabularies are inadequate to allow them to understand that the rephrased question is the same as the original question.

13 Comments and discussion on "Thursday, 12 September 2013"

  1. OFD says:

    So “Heartland” and “Homeland” are both recommended?

    I’m too ancient and rickety, actually, for the wild women and party thing, so I’m also doing a tee-vee marathon in the late evenings here; Season Five of “Sons of Anarchy,” and the whole X-Files corpus. Also the movies “Lawless” and “Killing Them Softly.”

    T-storms and torrential downpours from 9 last night through this morning and it’s still overcast with drizzle and fog on the Bay.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’ve never seen Homeland, but I recommend Heartland highly. Netflix streaming now has seasons one through four, except for some reason they’re missing the last four episodes of season three. You can pick those up on PirateBay if you decide to keep watching. Season seven premieres early next month. It’s on Sunday evenings, so the latest episode in HD is always up on PB by Monday morning. I suck them down every week until the season’s complete and then burn them to DVD. Which reminds me that season six should be out on DVD shortly, so I’ll have to buy it even though I’ve already seen it.

    If the actors are willing and the ratings hold up, both of which I suspect will be true, there’s no reason this series couldn’t go on for 20 or 30 seasons. If CBC ever does cancel it, I hope like hell that Netflix decides to step in and keep it going. It is, in my opinion, by far the best “family series” ever. By that I mean that anyone, male or female, from small children to old guys like us can enjoy this series. You really ought to give it a try.

  3. OFD says:

    Roger that, will do.

    The temp here has rocketed up to 71 now; it was close to 90 yesterday and muggy as hell but the t-storms blew all that away. Orange leaves do hang upon those boughs which shake against the cold, bare ruined choirs….etc.

    Our future here:–business.html

  4. Lynn McGuire says:

    Our future here:–business.html

    Only if Obummer’s EPA outlaws fracking. The USA is well on the way to becoming the number one oil producer in the world. We are the number one natural gas producer in the world already and export the same to Mexico and Canada. We shall soon be exporting LNG to the rest of the world. Again. We exported LNG to Japan from Alaskan gas fields south of Anchorage for 30 years until recently.

    The day after fracking is outlawed (or ceased for a multiple decade study), three million people will be laid off. Another three million will be laid off in the coming year.

    Yet, the EPA is considering ceasing all fracking in the USA. The new rabid dog at the head of the EPA is a certified loon (battling climate change is the most important subject out there!):

    Hydrocarbon exploration and production is driving everything in the USA. Texas will be back at seven million barrels of oil production per DAY in the next four or five years.

  5. OFD says:

    I’m going to just go ahead way out on a limb here and predict that if what you say is true about U.S. energy ramping up again, this regime will use every means at its disposal to sabotage that. Through whatever combination of outlawing production methods to setting up multi-decade studies and committees, to confiscatory and punitive fees and taxes. Whatever it takes. The junta wants the country prostrate, with a docile, subdued and totally dependent population.

    Whether they are able to continue this repression is questionable, however, and for all we know some generals may finally step in and say “enough.” After a period of wild disorder, shortages, panic, etc., the population will be ever so grateful.

  6. Dave B. says:

    Do you want a scary example of how bad basic literacy is in the United States today? Mrs. B. and I met online and one of the things that impressed her about me was my spelling and grammar. My spelling and grammar aren’t that good.

  7. DadCooks says:

    How much grammar and spelling can you squeeze into 140 characters? IMHO Twitter is turning today’s generation into idiots.

  8. Lynn McGuire says:

    “Tea Party Republicans flex muscle, put Boehner in tight spot as shutdown looms”

    Shutdown! Shutdown! Shutdown!

  9. OFD says:

    It cracks me up every time these criminal bastards threaten a gummint shutdown.

    BRING IT!!!!

  10. SteveF says:

    I remember the Gingrich-led shutdown* and how virtually no one noticed. The only person I knew personally who was inconvenienced was a ferriner working here who had to renew his visa but was unable. The way I see it, federal operations should be cut back by 20% immediately. Send the “workers” home without pay every Friday; it’s not like they do anything anyway.

    However, the results of that “shutdown” almost guarantee that it won’t happen again. Even though it was Clinton who refused to budge and was responsible for the impasse and shutdown, the media blamed Republican Congressmen 100%. To the extent that that RINO piece of shit Boner is a Republican, he won’t forget where the blame will land.

    * Which meant that non-essential federal operations were halted. Interestingly, 80% of government operations were apparently essential and could not be halted for even a day, even without a budget allocation to keep them going.

  11. Miles_Teg says:

    “There are now 30-, 40-, and even 50-year-old people walking around who never learned basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation.”

    That was me until I was about 30, in 1988. That’s when I started learning Latin at uni, and I simply had to learn traditional grammar to get anywhere with it. A year later I heard a couple of Vietnamese born co-workers discussing grammar terms I’d only just learned.

  12. Ray Thompson says:

    My spelling and grammar aren’t that good.

    My spelling and grammar ain’t that good.

    Fixed it for you.

  13. OFD says:

    My mom and dad learned me reading at age four and I was doing book reports for the summuh reading program at the local library at age six. They got me a library card and that was it for me; I haven’t stopped yet; I used to take out the maximum on my card and then have to use my mom’s card for more.

    And then I ran into Mr. Jack Donovan in my freshman year of high school; that bugger drilled English grammar into us relentlessly for the whole year of that class; I had always been a wiseacre in class so he used to really bear down on me; with lots of sarcasm and public humiliation. Since then English grammar and spelling are part of my DNA and bone structure; it’s automatic.

    When I ended up in the military and the cops eventually, the other guys used to marvel at my report-writing ability so I escaped a lot of shit I otherwise would have got stuck with. Also learned to touch-type in high school; only boy in the class, and that got me out of a lot of crap later, too.

    Typical OFD reading load in any given week is a dozen or so books simultaneously and all the magazines and net news sites I can find worthwhile. There are three books in the bathroom right now that I read in there. It’s a sickness, no cure.

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