Interrupted in midst of her 1957 Christmas message broadcast, the late Elizabeth II carried on . . .

. . . undeterred.

Elizabeth II’s 1957 Christmas message was notable not only because it was the first to be broadcast on television. It was also the first to feature chit-chat between American police officers.

The Associated Press noted at the time that, due to freak climatic conditions, snippets of U.S. police radio randomly interrupted British television programs.

“On Christmas,” it reported, “right in the middle of Queen Elizabeth’s holiday broadcast, some listeners caught the plaintive voice of a hungry American cop: ‘Joe,’ the voice barged into the Queen’s broadcast, ‘I’m gonna grab a quick coffee.’ Just that. And then the Queen came back.”

School principal talks nonsense, Mrs. V. talks bureaucrat-ese, the Evanston High experience, the Hemingway lesson, the Lefkowitz book, Afrocentrism . . .

5/8/96: Wednesday Journal in vendetta against principal, read all about it!

I reject the idea that the Wednesday Journal is trying to make an Oak Park elementary principal look bad, but the evidence is mounting. First it quoted her saying kindergarten is for “problem-solving” by five-year-olds, even as it’s “unrestricted play time.” Now (5/1) it presents her as wanting a “child-centered program,” again in the context of her approach to kindergarten.

Child-centered? As opposed to what? A pregnant observation.

Aren’t all schools that way, including hers? This can’t be new for her school, unless she’s admitting something horrendous; but WJ with straight face presents it as a helpful comment. The sound you hear is hair being torn out in the face of folderol.

Let us remind ourselves that this is one of the district’s ten principals whom the notorious League of Women Voters were not allowed to interview last year except in groups of three. The League was doing an apparently unwelcome study of Oak Park elementary schools, and the Oak Park Ten were kept under wraps, presumably so they wouldn’t tell tales out of school.

Maybe it wasn’t that at all. Not a fear of airing dirty laundry but of making boo-boos led the superintendent to clamp down.

Child-centered indeed.

Last week Mrs. V. and HS tutoring program . . .

Mrs. V. advised the Oak Park & River Forest High School board to do a bunch of things in connection with the school’s new program for non-performing students. I listed them last week but in translation.

For instance, her position was stated in WJ as “Define academic support. [She and her group] believes that support should be strategically focused and encouraged the board to provide interrelated services that will enable any person to become academically successful at OPRF.” I wrote “define academic support” and let it go at that. Her other lengthy recommendations I got into seven lines, quoting where I could and, one might captiously argue, not doing justice to her comments.

But she and others on the trail of various village boards have fallen into a carefully laid trap by adopting the professional, sometimes bureaucratic language of the public service-purveyors. They say “strategically focused . . . target population . . . establish a baseline . . . a transitional and leadership skills program . . . attitudinal and behavioral skills . . . strategy that coordinates . . . utilize the technology initiative . . . ” etc. Very strange language.

But one of the roles parents and other citizens play in public business is to ask simple, direct questions that get around the language of bureaucracy. Ideally, we citizens come as amateurs, no matter our background, asking plain questions, requiring relatively plain answers. Mrs. V. and others talk like professionals, or pseudo-professionals, compounding the problem.

Some more on this fascinating topic . . .

School (and other) programs are considered too often in a vacuum. The matter of “academic support,” for instance — helping kids outside class time — has been tried. Wouldn’t the first step in devising a program be to ask and see what others have done and how it worked and how people know it worked?

Or if it worked. Evanston High School has looked back in sadness on 10 years of doing everything it could for black and Hispanic kids, with what the principal last June in The Tribune (6/6/95) called “dismal” results.

Several university specialists threw up their hands, absolving the school from responsibility for the failure, which now has black kids failing at five times the rate of whites. The “primary” reason for failing, according to a school-generated report? Not showing up and not doing the work.

On the other hand, various Chicago schools are being held up these days as success stories as measured by state testing, and at every one of them a certain draconian flavor attends success. Standing and delivering seems to mean no-nonsense, as to both behavior and performance.

The Sun-Times on May 9 said “Hard Work Pays Off for Most-Improved City School.” At this school, the Laura Ward School, near Garfield Park, they emphasized reading and math, even taught to the tests, which is supposed to be a constricting experience. It’s also exciting, like practicing for the big game. You win it, you feel great; you lose, you build character.

So with big tests. Grace under pressure, Death in the afternoon and all that — thank you, Ernest H., our literary patron saint here in Oak Park. Better yet, the old man and the sea, Ernest’s tale that signified quite a bit in the view of the Nobel committee.

Laura Ward School again: they drilled kids with help of computers. Wait a minute. How can kids do higher thinking if they’re being drilled? Answer: in their spare time, as they will do as regards reading that you don’t let them wallow in while you impose “rigor” on their classroom performance — a word wisely used in the Evanston High report as something all students must experience.

Not out of Africa . . .

This is the book by Wellesley prof Mary Lefkowitz, subtitled How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History. It’s a scholar’s attempt to fill us in as painlessly as possible on what’s become the rage in some circles. Early report from this corner is that some black scholar-promoters seem to have read some ancient authors with a delicious naivete, missing internal contradictions and even vaudevillian humor. At issue is how much Plato and other Greeks owe to Egypt. Not much, it would seem, though some Greeks apparently liked to claim Egyptian roots!

More later.

How am I supposed to get any work done when I come across a lede ‘graph like this that draws me from my supposedly worthwhile enterprise?

Well I can settle for posting it, can’t I?


Turns out the United States is only average when it comes to alcohol consumption. Which seems not only a surprise, but a profound disappointment as well. At least we’re ahead of Sweden. »

See what I mean?

From merrie England, no need wear mask!

Billed as good news – kinda! by the wonderful “Smile free” site:

Care Minister Helen Whately has just announced masks won’t be required on staff in care homes in England… hopefully this is another nail in the coffin of widespread masking, though in typical Government fashion, Whately doesn’t have the guts to just bin masks altogether and signal a clean break, but passes the buck down to individual employers.

Whately’s statement is quoted in The Express saying:

“For most people, Covid restrictions are a memory and life is back to normal – but not for those in care homes or being cared for at home.

For them, many of the people they see are still wearing masks.

It’s a barrier to communication. [No!] And it gets in the way of a smile that could brighten the day.

Masks make it hard to understand what people are saying. [No!] For deaf people, it makes it impossible to lip-read. [Really?]

That’s about to change. Whether care workers have to wear masks will be the decision of the care home or care agency.”

Complete with mocking analysis of how THOSE PEOPLE talk:

So… lots of harms we’d all be better off without… but we’re gonna leave it up to individual care homes to keep doing it… based on how they feel on any given day… a full 998 days after the first lockdown. Gotcha.

It’s better than nothing of course, but just like with hospital and GP surgeries [office visits, for those who don’t watch Britbox or Acorn], we can now expect a “postcode lottery” with some care homes continuing to mask staff and presumably pushing them on visitors too. On which note…

Read the rest here. . . 

Twitter Files reveal suppression of the New York Post’s reporting on Biden family corruption . . .

. . . at the behest of the deep state authorities with whom Twitter was collaborating. The absurd letter by 51 former intelligence officials reported by Natasha Bertrand and published by Politico was a key piece of the puzzle (to the extent it was a puzzle). Holman Jenkins takes it up in his Wall Street Journal column,

which has this among its riches:

So compromised are the national reporting staffs of the Washington Post, the New York Times and other outlets that they can’t be trusted on the biggest story of the day. A Jeff Bezos, say, would have to take a page from the CIA’s own history and recruit a “Team B” off-site from his Washington Post to investigate the laptop ruse, then require his newspaper to report the truth however discomfiting to its newsroom and leadership.

Read More Here:

Searching God and literature for reasons of my own (as if I had that kind of reason), I found . . .

With the eminently reasonable preview note:

One could make an arguable case that God and the supernatural are two of the most popular elements of all time in literature. From religious texts like the Koran to Elizabethan dramas like William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, God and the supernatural appear in numerous and diverse works of literature.
The ultimate question, of course, answerable not in the usual way we decide things, but by that peculiar method called faith.