Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Mid-Week Post

We're this close to Christmas. This close, I say.

Canadian kids are stupid:

Canadian students continue to slip in international rankings of math, science and reading skills, but the country can boast of an education system that lessens differences of social class and gaps between immigrant and native-born students.

Canada sat tenth among 70 countries in math skills in 2009, down from seventh place three years earlier, according to the largest international survey of its kind.

The country ranked eighth in science scores, down from third in 2006, and sixth in reading skills, sliding from fourth place three years earlier.

“The 2009 performance of Canada is a little bit disappointing,” said Bernard Hugonnier, deputy-director of education with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “At the same time, you are still much above the OECD average.”

I don't want to hear how your son is a hockey hero and how your daughter can play "Chopsticks" on the piano. Maybe they are as clever as you think they are. Maybe you are only saying that because you are their parents and that is what you are going to say anyway. Just entertain for a moment the fact that television is a one-eyed baby-sitter, that schools are often crammed to the rafters with overpaid teachers who use the "An Inconvenient Truth" DVD as a pedagogical aid, that the extra cash you paid in taxes went to build an extra room at the school board office and curricula developed to brighten young minds has been so watered down it's a wonder people can tie their shoelaces before entering post-secondary institutions. Really think about it. If kids read at all, what do they read? What is expected of them? Kids have cell phones (which are really overpriced toys in their eyes and give parents a false sense of security) and they MUST take care of them. However, building a vocabulary or learning how to write a rudimentary paragraph is out of the question. It's just too difficult.

I'm not saying EVERY student, parent or teacher is a lazy bovine creature with an undeserved sense of entitlement but there are enough of those cretins to make one wonder how we've survived as a country since the French claimed some rather frosty real estate north of Maine.

Then we have little gems like:

Canadian students continue to slip in international rankings of math, science and reading skills, but the country can boast of an education system that lessens differences of social class and gaps between immigrant and native-born students.
“You are facing a difficult situation because you are a vast country with scattered settlements and you have a lot of migrants — one of the highest percentages in your population — and yet you are doing very well,” Mr. Hugonnier said.

“You have a lot of migrants not speaking English, and yet the difference in performance of natives and immigrants is quite small, so you are doing extremely well in terms of equity.”

Well- as long as everyone is equally stupid. We've beaten that elitism thing! Yay!

No we haven't. We've just found a way to excuse our own sloth and ignorance at immigrants' expense. If an immigrant student doesn't do well, at least he can claim his ignorance of the primary language and customs as an excuse. He might work harder to get by, to fit in. There is no impetus to excel for a native-born kid for whom the standards have been lowered to an unbelievable level. What is the native-born students' excuse?

There is so much wrong with this, one is at a loss as to where to begin:

This holiday season,, an “online community for feminists,” is encouraging women to opt out of eyebrow waxing appointments in favor of looking like “Frida,” the girlfriend of Marxist Diego Rivera. 

In response to “Movember,” a charity effort to raise awareness and money for prostate and testicular cancer during the month of November by having men grow moustaches, is calling for women to grow unibrows during December, which they are trying to dub “Decembrow.”

“While women in the U.S. generally rock two groomed brows, I say let’s be inspired by Movember and take this opportunity to let our facial hair grow…for a cause,” the website says.

While Movember is specifically targeted toward raising awareness and funds for prostate and testicular cancer, is simply telling women to participate in Decembrow for the cause “cause of your choice.”


Why don't feminists just be honest with themselves and others? Why not admit that looking, acting, speaking and thinking like a regular girl is just not their bag? They are lazy, they have no chance of finding a husband, whatever. These yahoos walk into their own caricatures. They really do.

Apparently, some women in Tajikistan grow uni-brows. Mind, this is not every woman in Tajikistan. At least this unsightly practice has some sort of cultural precedent. Being boy repellent feministas is not a cultural precedent, however.

To learn more about Tajikistan, please go here.

Christmas and its carols- another reason why Christmas is wonderful, even if the exposition of them is either incomplete or skewed:

 Carols originated, of course, in a form that had nothing to do with Christmas, or even with Christ. The old French carole, a ring dance with song, may derive from the Greek choros, a circling dance associated with fertility rites and celebration. Like so many other traditions, the carol was appropriated by the church for its nativity festival. Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la! Or, if you prefer, Gloria in excelsis Deo!

At their purest these are songs of the people, originating in folk tunes or localised customs, stories and homespun theology. Though most of what was no doubt a rich regional variation has been lost, a few – the Sussex Carol ("On Christmas night all Christians sing"), the Coventry Carol ("Lullay, lulla, thou little tiny child") – still retain local roots; both may be of late medieval origin. Deck the Halls was a Welsh new year carol appended to Christmas when translated into English, and still, of course, has nothing overtly to do with Christianity. Here We Come A-wassailing speaks to a widespread tradition that remains a favoured festive pursuit.

Nor do these folk rhythms and resonances belong exclusively to a European tradition. I Wonder as I Wander, an unsettling carol that expresses amazement that Jesus "was born for to die for poor orn'ry people like you and like I", was overheard in Cherokee country, North Carolina, in the early 20th century and is unknown in earlier forms.

Ian Bradley, editor of the fascinating Penguin Book of Carols, to which I am indebted, argues that while the calypso carol The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy was collected in Trinidad in the 1940s, the structure of its chorus ("He come from the glory") suggests the music was originally brought from west Africa on the slave ships.

Similarly, while Christians will have a particular affinity with carols, they cannot claim possession, not least because they have historically been so ambivalent about them. Carol-singing in English churches was hampered by the Reformation and banned outright by the Long Parliament in the 17th century.

What about "Silent Night" or "The Huron Carol"? I see where the writer of this article is going but really- Christmas isn't some pagan event.

And you can blame Cromwell and the Puritans for the lack of joy AND Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas carols, please enjoy this one. Thoroughly secular yet thoroughly amusing.


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