Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Podcast with Michael Yon

Michael Yon is still in Iraq and we caught up with him to get an update on the Iraq Surge. We talk with him about the surge, the new tactics and rules of engagement, the Iraqi people's attitudes, and what's going on with the press.

You can stream the file by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player, or you can download the file directly by clicking right here. There's a lo-fi version suitable for dialup here -- select the lo-fi version -- and, of course, you can subscribe for free via iTunes.

This podcast is sponsored by Volvo automobiles at


Cathy Seipp

I am sure most of you know by now that Cathy Seipp of Cathy's World is in the hospital and her daughter, Maia, is keeping us informed on her condition via her blog. Cathy was gracious enough to do a podcast with us on parenting last year and she was so lively and so much fun. I came away from our interview thinking about how much Cathy loved her daughter and what a terrific mother she was to have raised such a lovely young woman. Cathy would be very proud of how her daughter is handling her illness now with such grace and strength. I don't have anything to add except that my heart goes out to Cathy and her family. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers today.

Update: Cathy died at 2:05 pm today.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Principled Discovery blog and Medical Grand Rounds is up at Blog, MD.

Bumper Stickers--Personality Warning Signals?

Do you ever wonder at the bumper stickers people have on their cars and feel thankful that you have been warned about their thinking processes in advance? Yesterday, at the bank, the car in front of me had the tired old 60's bumper sticker slogan, "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber." This bumper sticker owner looked exactly like you would expect a guy like that should look, long hair, young (of course, older boomers love these slogans also) and idealistic.

I wondered if he had ever thought through the gist of the bumper sticker or had ever read Jay Greene's book, Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So. Greene points out that "despite nonstop whining to the contrary, the truth is that public schools receive a fairly large amount of money for each child. And that amount has been rising steadily for the last few decades, easily exceeding the dollars spent on defense." But idealistic guy probably doesn't give a damn about this fact and drives around feeling superior that he is an educated twit whose freedom is preserved by the very Air Force he belittles on his bumper sticker.

My favorite bumper sticker as of late is one that states, "Bumper Stickers Are Not the Answer." I bought a bunch of them just because I thought it was funny. However, sometimes bumper stickers are the answer, they can tell you oodles about the person in front of you and warn you to avoid the person or just make you laugh. A good laugh is nothing to sneeze at and frankly, neither is an early warning system that tells you that the driver in front of you lacks critical thought, is emotionally fragile, or just has a wicked sense of humor when you see a bumper sticker that says something like this: "Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?" So, love them or hate them, bumper stickers tell us a lot about the driver's personality and thoughts, unless, of course, you have borrowed your hippie dad's car and are reluctantly shouting to the world at the bank that you despise the U.S. Air Force.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What Happens When Political Correctness Goes too Far?

Filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney tells us in his new documentary, Indoctrinate U, a film that looks at political correctness on campus and the suppression of free speech. I wonder when the film will be forced/coerced into middle and high schools for viewing by young minds, kind of like An Inconvenient Truth? The kids, it seems, would certainly benefit from getting some exposure to the political correctness they will be expected to uphold at a number of universities in a few years. It just might make them decide to actually think through their college choices a little bit harder, and who would want that? Young people thinking for themselves? Heavens, no! So, I won't be holding my breath waiting for the doc to be shown in any high school classrooms--its seems free speech in many institutions only exists for the exalted members who toe the line of liberal dogma.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Don't talk about it, be about it..."

By now, many of you may have read or heard about this recent NYT article about the dearth of women on the op-ed pages of major newspapers:

Whatever other reasons may explain the lack of women’s voices on the nation’s op-ed pages, the lack of women asking to be there is clearly part of the problem. Many opinion page editors at major newspapers across the country say that 65 or 75 percent of unsolicited manuscripts, or more, come from men.

The article describes the "altruisim" of Catherine Orenstein, an author and activist, who gallantly contributes her time to teach women how to write and submit op-eds to major newspapers--sometimes to the tune of $5000 per group to attend a few lousy seminars. Ms. Orenstein lets the women in the seminars know that they are too likely to write to influence public policy, change the world or offer a new perspective, when instead, they should be thinking of fame, fortune and a TV series coming out of their writing. Okay, Orenstein should know, given that she is charging a small fortune to learn how to write an op-ed.

What I find troubling is the lack of initiative that these women display. Why not take matters into their own hands, research how to do a task on their own without a "guru" to tell them they are okay and that their words matter? For goodness sakes, it's an op-ed, not rocket science. Talking is good sometimes, but so is action. Why waste valuable time at a seminar getting your courage up when for free, you can go to the local library, get a book on how to write a persuasive argument and read it in your spare time--all in the same amount of time it would take you to get to a seminar that may cost a bundle? For example, when I was writing my book, I used Write the Perfect Book Proposal by agent Jeff Herman (who took me on as a client) as an outline and it was terrific. From this book, I used his techniques to write op-eds, submitted them and got a number of them published. The cost? $10.85 for the book and a few hours of my time to write each article.

And speaking of economics, if a group is paying $5000 for a seminar, how many op-eds would the group have to write to make their time worthwile? A lot. Op-eds sometimes pay nothing or $150.00 to $450.00 per piece--even for the New York Times. I once made $350.00 for a solicited article from the Los Angeles Times and thought I'd hit paydirt. So, moral of the story, don't waste your time paying someone to get you off your butt, massage your ego and teach you something you could learn with a little self-discipline and motivation.

Because in terms of economics and perhaps even success, most people are better off doing their own research -- heck, use the internet -- patting themselves on the back and getting the fax numbers of the major newspapers around the country (an easy task) and blasting out their op-ed to ten papers at a time until somebody bites. Talking all of the time about how to get things done often defeats the purpose of...getting things done!