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Published on April 10 2007

No, I haven't died. I haven't vanished off the face of the earth. papering-it.jpg I have been simply buried in a paper on sovereignty (or coming lack thereof) in the European Union and the rationale for both the Czech Republic and Slovakia joining a supranational organization while agreeing to a secession. Yeah. That's exactly what *I* said, too. Talk about drawing a complete blank. Not to mention, this is the very first paper I have turned in late since my triumphant return to school a year and a half ago. This ain't no way to keep up the GPA. Life goes on, and I'll do my Gen. McArthur "return" speech soon. I hope.

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Published on April 6 2007

Continuing on the education schtick, a teacher friend, knowing the name of the University (APU/AMU) where I'm chasing the degree and thinking that somehow my association with a "military college" means I want to join up, emailed me this story. Even though I doubt the military is desperate enough for a 46 year old bag who never *could* do a decent push-up, it's good to see there are teachers who can instill a lesson that might really last.
In September of 2005, a social studies schoolteacher from Arkansas did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom. The kids came into first period, they walked in; there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, "Where's our desks?" The teacher said, "You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn them." They thought, "Well, maybe it's our grades." "No," she said. "Maybe it's our behavior." And she told them, "No, it's not even your behavior." And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same thing. Third period. By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in the class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom. The last period of the day, the instructor gathered her class. They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room. She said, "Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily. Now I'm going to tell you." She went over to the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. By the time they had finished placing the desks, those kids for the first time I think perhaps in their lives understood how they earned those desks. Their teacher said, "You don't have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it's up to you to sit here responsibly, to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don't ever forget it."
Now that you've read the story, and are sitting there, as I did, in disbelief that such a thing could happen, go here to get "the rest of the story". Just don't call me Paul Harvey while you're doing it.

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Published on April 5 2007

As an update to this post, one of my myriad readers sent me this little story:
Fifty Years of Math 1957 - 2007 Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s: 1. Teaching Math In 1950s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit? 2. Teaching Math In 1960s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100 His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit? 3. Teaching Math In 1970s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit? 4. Teaching Math In 1980s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20. 5. Teaching Math In 1990s A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers. ) 6. Teaching Math In 2007 Un hachero vende una carretada de madera para $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?
I can 'fess up. I learned math in the 1960's and 1970's. And if you ever got a good look at my checkbook, you would be able to tell.

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Published on March 31 2007

....A glorious day outside--even if it is a bit cloudy-- and here I am doing a midterm exam. With Key Lime Bars in the oven. I haven't baked in months. Posting the pic of the Swedish Chef must be what did it. Børk! Børk! Børk!. Life is good.

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Published on February 26 2007

UNs top court clears Serbia of genocide during Bosnian war
THE HAGUE AFP - The UNs top court on Monday cleared Serbia of direct involvement in genocide during the war in Bosnia, but said Belgrade did breach international law by failing to prevent the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica. "The court finds that Serbia has not committed genocide," ICJ president Rosalyn Higgins said. The ICJ found that "massive killings" and atrocities occured throughout Bosnia with Bosnian Muslims being the victims in many cases. However, it stressed most events did not amount to genocide because "the evidence did not show that these terrible acts were accompanied by the specific intent to destroy a group that is the required proof of genocide," Higgins told journalists after the judgement. The ICJ found only one act of genocide -- the massacre at Srebrenica of nearly 8,000 Muslims by Bosnian Serb troops -- and said there was not enough evidence to suggest Belgrade was directly responsible. However, it ruled that Serbia had failed in its responsibility under the 1948 genocide convention to try and prevent the killings.
Let me see if I have this right. Lots of killings happened, but it was just a coincidence that most of the victims were a particular nationality and religion? After all, the ICJ found only one act of genocide. It was only one little massacre. ICJ President Judge Rosalyn Higgins said the court concluded that the Srebrenica massacre did constitute genocide, but that other mass killings of Bosnian Muslims did not. I never knew there were "levels of genocide".
While the ICJ ruled that Belgrade had given "considerable military and financial support" to the Bosnian Serb leadership, the court found it did not mastermind the slaughter in Srebrenica. "The decision to kill the adult male population of the Muslim community was taken by some members of the main staff of the Bosnian Serb army but without instructions from or effective control by Serbia," the court said. But Higgins stressed the case had also "conclusively proved" that the Serbian leadership, and former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic in particular, "were fully aware ... that massacres were likely to occur".
The court found that Serbia supplied "considerable military and financial support available" to the Bosnian Serbs but that it had not known they had genocidal intent. They "were aware" it was "likely", but there ends their responsibility. Ahhh, I understand now. Blame it on the military. Who can control them, after all? They have guns! I had wondered aloud during class what the reaction of the Muslim world would be if the decision happened to go Serbia's way, considering the reaction to a few cartoons and a comment by the Pope. Surely, if Serbia was found not guilty, the reaction would be incredible, wouldn't it? My prof forwarded the question to one of his TA's in another class, who happens to be a Muslim from Bosnia. Her response follows:
Dr. K, this is a difficult question, and I am not sure if I can help with it. I am willing to try, though. First of all, there is a problem within the question. Bosnia is not predominantly Muslim - before the war Bosnia had about 44% of Muslim population; now it must be either close to that or even less, after so many people left, and many were killed. So, even though, Bosnia has high percentage of Muslim population, it is usually not considered Muslim. More than fifty percent of Bosnian population is Christian, mostly Eastern Orthodox, but also Catholic. We also have a Jewish minority. Even though, some Arabic countries have tried to be involved in rebuilding Mosques in Bosnia, and have tried to finance some religious schools, etc., most of the Bosnian Muslim population is not religious in the sense that they follow some of the most sacred Muslim traditions. Very few Bosnian Muslims pray five times a day, and it is very difficult to find a Bosnian (regardlss of religion) who does not drink!!! (I am still looking to find one). Even though the Muslim world, so to say, did sympathize with Bosnian Muslims during the genocide, I doubt that the decision would bring about any type of radical reaction within the Muslim population. And lastly, in my mind, there is honestly no way that Serbia can be found not guilty on all counts - the evidence is overwhelming. Overall, I do not think that decision (whatever it might be) will carry much importance for the Muslim world, and most likely than not, Serbia will be found guilty on at least some accounts.
Will be interesting watching the news over the next few days, I think.

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Published on February 25 2007

Tomorrow's news will provide the last paragraph to the short case report I wrote for the last class. After all the reading I did on the case, I am *really* interested in seeing the final ruling and how it will affect Serbia's application to the European Union, in light of the Copenhagen Declaration laying out the requirements for membership. World Court to deliver genocide ruling
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Can a state commit genocide? Should an entire nation — not just its presidents, generals, and soldiers — be held responsible for humanitys worst crime? In one of the most momentous cases in its 60 years, the U.N.s highest court will deliver its judgment Monday on Bosnia's demand to make Serbia accountable for the slaughter, terrorizing, rape and displacement of Bosnian Muslims in the early 1990s. If it rules for Bosnia, the International Court of Justice could open the way for compensation amounting to billions of dollars from Serbia, the successor state of Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia, although specific claims would be addressed only later. It also would be a permanent stain on Serbia in the eyes of history, regardless of any effort by Belgrade to distance itself from the brutality of those years.
One of the criteria in the Copenhagen Declaration is that country must have achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and, protection of minorities. Considering that the Serb province of Kosovo is still a UN protectorate, ya gotta wonder if that stability is achievable, especially when nationalists in the country are calling for leaving the UN, abandoning the EU application process, and sending troops into Kosovo should that province gain independence. Nationalists urge Serbia to abandon EU plans, quit UN if Kosovo gains independence
BELGRADE, Serbia: Serbia's ultra-nationalists said Friday the Balkan country should quit the United Nations and abandon its efforts to join the European Union if Kosovo becomes independent. The comments illustrate the pressure nationalists are putting on Serbia's pro-Western leaders, who have promised to participate in the final U.N.-brokered talks on Kosovo currently being held in Vienna, Austria, although they have rejected the possibility of independence for Kosovo, which is considered the heartland of Serbian statehood and religion. Serbs and Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians are discussing a U.N. plan for the Serb province which envisages internationally supervised statehood. Although it does not directly mention independence, Belgrade believes the plan would eventually lead to Kosovo becoming a separate country, and has rejected the document.
But then, we can always fall back on rewarding behavior. Carrot and stick. Sometimes it works.
Fearing that the extremists could return to power in Serbia because of the possibility of Kosovo's secession, EU officials have hinted that they would consider offering Serbia a shortcut to EU membership if it reconsiders its staunch opposition to Kosovo's independence.

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Published on February 24 2007

One of my favorite bloggers is The Anchoress. I've loved her take on current affairs since I discovered her blog a couple of years back. The other day, she posted a series of images of math problems and the creative solutions students had come up with. Scary thing is-- most of them look like my math tests from days gone by. Here's one example:
math7.gif
Not only eloquent, but simple and elegant, as well. Go take a peek at the rest--I especially feel for the student working on the problem in the very first image.The Anchoress » Eloquent Solutions to tough problems

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Published on February 21 2007

I was digging around in an old datebook when I came across the significance of the above date. It was the day that a scared green barely-18-year-old college-dropout-'cause-she-ran-out-of-money walked into a mill with a 99% male to female ratio to begin her career as a papermaker. Okay, okay, there was a little break in there while I went back to school for another year before I became a permanent wearer of steel-toed boots. And the ratio is probably closer to 90% nowadays--we're going to take over the place if they don't watch out, lol! While surfing around, I found an interesting link which includes interviews with women in Maine's paper industry in the 70's. From reading this, it sounds like their experience was pretty much the same as mine as far as working in a "male-dominated industry". In that article, I see mention of one woman being a 'tender at her mill. She's only the third one I've ever heard of during my career-- and now that her mill has closed, and my friend from another mill has moved onto a different job.... wonder if that makes me even rarer? :-)) Funny how after all these years, I'm back once again trying to finish that damn college degree!! Third time lucky, maybe?

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Published on February 9 2007

This is just a little experimental post. I was playing with this new version of Word, and I stumbled across a "publish to blog" option. (Ain't software wonderful these days?) Some good news, though! APUS credited me 6, count 'em, SIX!!, credits towards grad based on the CLEP test I took back in December. I still have absolutely no idea what the test score number actually meant, but it must have been sufficient for credit. So, that's the equivalent of $1500 saved—always an extremely good thing! I *am* the Goddess of English Composition!

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Published on February 1 2007

"American leaders have taken their values so much for granted that they rarely recognize how revolutionary and unsettling the values can appear to others. No other society has asserted that the principles of ethical conduct apply to international conduct in the same way that they do to the individual--a notion that is the exact opposite of Richelieu's raison d'etat. America has maintained that the prevention of war is as much a legal as a diplomatic challenge, especially the use of force. A Bismarck or a Disraeli would have ridiculed the proposition that foreign policy is about method rather than substance, if indeed he had understood it. No nation has ever imposed the moral demands on itself that America has. And no country has so tormented itself over the gap between its moral values, which are by definition absolute, and the imperfection inherent in the concrete situations to which they must be applied."

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