How very medieval

This public distribution of largesse strikes me as weirdly akin to the powerful local noble riding out with the king and scattering coins amidst the peasantry:

A $200 back-to-school giveaway for needy kids sparked a mad rush for money on the streets of New York on Tuesday.

“It’s free money!” said Alecia Rumph, 26, who waited in a Morris Park, Bronx, line 300 people deep for the cash to buy uniforms and book bags for her two kids.

“Thank God for Obama. He’s looking out for us.”

Thousands of people lined up at banks and check-cashing shops to withdraw the cash that magically appeared on their electronic benefit cards.

Electronic benefit cards are so easily lost or stolen, though. Perhaps if we could just make them implantable… and mandatory?

Seriously below the surface

The average California foreclosure is 45-percent underwater. Also, don’t put much credence in the housing “uptick”. 72 percent of foreclosures aren’t being put on the market since lenders are waiting to see how much additional loan modification assistance will be provided by the federal government:

The average California foreclosure has a total loan balance of $425,134 on a home that is now worth $236,739

It’s worth noting that this underwater ratio suggests a decline in prices in excess of anything presently being reported in the various housing price indices.

Homeschool effectiveness

Another large study demonstrates that homeschooling is far superior to public schooling… and the performance gap appears to be rising along with the number of homeschoolers :

Drawing from 15 independent testing services, the Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics included 11,739 homeschooled students from all 50 states who took three well-known tests—California Achievement Test, Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, and Stanford Achievement Test for the 2007–08 academic year. The Progress Report is the most comprehensive homeschool academic study ever completed.

Overall the study showed significant advances in homeschool academic achievement as well as revealing that issues such as student gender, parents, education level, and family income had little bearing on the results of homeschooled students.

The biggest difference was in reading, where homeschoolers outperformed their public school counterparts by a 39-point margin. Overall, the difference in average scores was 86 to 50. Now, there’s almost surely an amount of self-selection that gives the homeschooled an advantage but that can’t explain away the huge size of the performance gap, especially given the way it shows up even when the parents are poor and uneducated.

Technology has drastically changed numerous occupations, and we are clearly fast approaching the time that it will eradicate the outdated nineteenth-century agragrian concept of “teaching” large groups of children when they’re not needed in the fields.