The lemmings

Why do parents insist on doing this to their children? Why do they sentence those they supposedly love beyond everything else to thousands of hours of mindless indoctrination just because everyone else does?

We’re at his classroom. We’re supposed to leave right away. They told us that in Parents’ Orientation. They said hanging around only makes it worse. It couldn’t be any worse. Robby is fighting panic, asking questions, stalling to keep us there, tears running quietly down his cheeks.

“How many hours will it be?” he asks.

Thousands, I think. Thousands and thousands, in classrooms, away from us, until you’ve learned to accept it, and you don’t cry when we leave you, and your dolphin never talks any more.

To me, the saddest thing about sentencing little children to school is the speedy and unnecessary loss of their childhood joy and innocence. I spoke with one pediatrician who told me he can tell which children are homeschooled and which are not from nothing more than their demeanor when they get their medical checkups. And the sacrifice is made in the name of receiving an inferior education combined with learning social graces more appropriate to The Lord of the Flies.

Shameless spin

You may recall that on Saturday I warned of an UNEXPECTED collapse in home sales this week. Now consider the deceptive headline from NAR: July Existing-Home Sales Fall as Expected but Prices Rise.

Here’s the consensus forecast that preceded it: “the “consensus” forecast for existing home sales in July calls for a SAAR of 4.65-4.66 million which would be down just 9.3-9.5% from last July’s seasonally adjusted pace.”

And here’s the actual number in the report: Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dropped 27.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.83 million units in July from a downwardly revised 5.26 million in June, (it was originally reported as 5.37 million) and are 25.5 percent below the 5.14 million-unit level in July 2009.  Furthermore, it would be less misleading to say that they fell 28.7% from the previously reported figures rather than 27.2% from the newly revised ones.

The shameless spin doctors at NAR are attempting to claim that after a consensus forecast was overly optimistic by 825,000(!) existing home sales, a drop that is 216% larger than the one that was predicted, sales fell “as expected”.  I would encourage you to keep these shenanigans in mind as you read their economic forecasts going forward.  To put the magnitude of this collapse in perspective, here’s a chart from The Atlantic:

That will fool everyone

The Pentagon manages to pull out all “combat brigades” from Iraq by cleverly renaming them “Advise and Assist brigades”.

Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division are deployed in Iraq as members of an Advise and Assist Brigade, the Army’s designation for brigades selected to conduct security force assistance. So while the “last full U.S. combat brigade” have left Iraq, just under 50,000 soldiers from specially trained heavy, infantry and Stryker brigades will stay, as well as two combat aviation brigades.

For some reason, the old joke about military intelligence springs to mind. They might as reasonably have renamed them “penguins” for all the good it’s going to do. And regardless of what they are called, the only relevant point is that there are still 50,000 American combat troops in Iraq.