Saturday, February 24, 2007

Intel Not Inside

Only tangentially related to homeschooling, but ...

The six-year hideous eyesore that is the never-t0-be-finished Intel building downtown is going to be blown up Sunday morning, at about ten to seven. No one can get within two blocks, but there are supposed to be good viewing locations on higher ground at about that distance.

Surely there's some way to work this into a unit study. Physics, or economics perhaps. Or perhaps we should just hold a wake for Smart Growth.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Darwins on Homeschooling

Great series of posts over at DarwinCatholic on homeschooling. In the latest, Mrs. Darwin recalls her upbringing as a homeschooled child; stay tuned for Mr. Darwin's own recollections. Very interesting to see the results of the first generation of homeschooling, with some honest, cautionary observations.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mnemonic of the Day

"The Group IA Song"
(to the tune of "The Mexican Hat Dance")

Elementary Years Version:

There's Hydrogen, Lithium, Sodium
Potassium, Rubidium, Cesium
They all have an extra electron
And they want to give it away.

NEW! Middle School Version:

There's Hydrogen, Lithium, Sodium
Potassium, Rubidium, Cesium
We call them the Alkali Metals
And they like to turn into salts.*

(*Of course this version is a little bit of a lie since hydrogen isn't a metal and forms acids instead of salts)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Books: A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin
John Collins' A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin fills a small niche in the world of Latin education. While there are plenty of programs for young people to learn "Church Latin"--Henle Latin and Latina Christiana are the most popular among homeschoolers--Collins' Primer appears to be the only resource for students who have had a year or two of classical Latin and wish now to master the minor pronunciation, grammatical, and vocabulary differences that characterize ecclesiastical Latin. Though A Primer does cover all necessary Latin grammar, it's piled on quickly and is clearly meant as review: don't expect to be able to use this book as your starting point in learning Latin.
If you're wondering what the heck is the difference between the two kinds of Latin, ecclesiastical Latin is to classical Latin roughly what modern English is to Shakespearean. Words that were slangy in Cicero's time came to displace the more refined classical vocabulary, as manducare (to munch, gulp) edged out edere (to eat); preposition use increased; attributive adjectives were more likely to occur near their substantives; etc. A Primer focuses on learning to translate sentences and phrases that occur in the Latin liturgy, hymnody, and the Vulgate. Here at the Opinionated Homestead, we're using it to supplement the classical Artes Latinae curriculum, having completed its Level 1.
The chief disadvantage of A Primer is its bewildering failure to include an answer key to its many exercises; a failure recently remedied with the publication of John Dunlap's Answer Key to A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin.
For more information on various Latin programs, see the reviews at; particularly the thoughtful and informative review of Artes Latinae. Unfortunately no review of the classic Wheelock's Latin is included, which is certainly the best choice for an adult or older teenager wishing to begin Latin studies.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Linguistics Humor

Stolen shamelessly from Language Log. I wonder if the Language Loggers know or care about the pro multis controversy? There is definitely something for a sociolinguist to ponder in a major American church in which opposing factions are identifiable by their contrary and incendiary views of the proper translation of a single Latin word. Anyway....

Q: Two linguists were walking down the street. Which one was the specialist in contextually indicated deixis and anaphoric reference resolution strategies?

A: The other one.


I was walking across campus with a friend and we came upon half a dozen theoretical linguists committing unprovoked physical assault on a defenseless prescriptivist. My friend was shocked. She said: "Aren't you going to help?"

I said, "No; six should be enough."


And do not fail to read "24: Conference Submission," of infinite amusement value to all academics (or those married to academics), provided by Lawrence Saul via the Language Loggers.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Just as I think I'm surely done with blogging--surely there are better ways to spend the precious hours on this planet--along comes a story custom-made for the politically left, theologically orthodox, and liturgically rabid right Catholic. If you've been living under a rock for the past week, here's the upshot: Democratic presidential wannabe John Edwards hired a couple of bloggers to work for him, and the story came out through rightwingers Michelle Malkin (to whom I will not link), the professionally and perpetually offended William Donohue, head of the Catholic League, and the NRO (to whom I grudgingly link) that said bloggers, Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, have some unpleasant things to say about Christians in general and Catholics in particular--so unpleasant that I, along with the Associated Press, just won't reprint the very worst of it. (But you can click on that NRO link if you want to see some of the worst. There, I warned you.)

Edwards, after having had these unfortunate statements brought to his attention, decided not to fire the bloggers, instead assuring everyone that he was satisfied that they hadn't meant to give offense (what???), and letting them tell everyone that they were very, very sorry that anyone was so stupid and thin-skinned as to be offended, and now everything's better, right? And the entire liberal internet camp seemed to think it was all defensible anyway because of the sorts of things that Malkin, Coulter, and Limbaugh say, and because Bill Donohue is an offensensitive windbag.

Now besides the fact that no parent in the country considers this (scroll down) to constitute an apology--we're all experts on "I'm sorry that you stood where my arm was swinging" and "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings when I called you butthead"--as a leftie Catholic, the tu quoque response feels a bit like someone punching you in the nose, and then saying it's okay because that guy over there punches him in the nose all the time. I have no interest in listening to rightwing bloviators, and am willing to accept, arguendo, that they have said really offensive things. And I hang my head in shame every time I hear Donohue leaping into the fray to whine about how persecuted us poor Catlicks is. So why does that make it okay to knowingly hire people insult my faith in the most obscene terms, and expect me to suck it up and vote for you?

I really liked Edwards. Back when Bush and Kerry were battling to be the saviors of the middle class, he was the only one mentioning the poor and our country's obligation to them. I do want to talk about health care. I do understand that there are idiotic, filthy mouthed bloggers out there, and don't lose sleep over them, open idiocy being the price of free speech.

But to even think about voting for Edwards, now, would be like a black person thinking of voting for David Duke because you like his position on taxes. Edwards has let me know that he is okay with vile and naked bigotry with me and mine in the cross-hairs, so long as it's just collateral damage in the scorched-earth warfare that passes for political discourse these days.

Are the Democrats really riding so high that they're happy to write off the entire Catholic vote?

Update: Marcotte has resigned, not because of any sudden realization that blunt bigotry was likely to hurt Edwards' nomination chances, but because "I felt that everytime I coughed, I was risking the Edwards campaign." Again, this non-remorse should be familiar to parents everywhere, especially those of us blessed with adolescent daughters: "I can't do anything right! You get mad at me if I even breathe!"