Why our foreign relations are in such bad shape

President Obama at a meeting of world leaders at the UN:

Battle of the eighth graders

Webmonk alerted me to a post on Freakonomics about a test for eighth graders from 1895.

The urban legend site Snopes labeled this as “False.” But the only false part of it seems to be the claim that it shows a decline in educational levels from then to now. The Snopes writer says that any test will look hard if you haven’t studied for it.

But he doesn’t dispute that this is an actual test from 1895. In fact, here it is from the library that holds the original document.

What this does show is what eighth graders studied and were expected to learn in 1895.

Take a look at the math section and compare it to this eighth grade math test from today. What can you conclude from the comparison about what was taught in the respective classes?

Finally, speaking of eighth graders, consider this.

HT: Webmonk

Signs and Portents?

Good thing we don’t believe in signs and portents like the ancients did.  First, on the winter solstice, when light is supposed to start its victory over darkness, the moon goes out.  Then on New Year’s Day, 4000 dead birds drop out of the sky in Arkansas.  Dead birds have also been raining out of the sky in Louisiana, Kentucky, and Sweden. Arkansas was also the site of 100,000 or so fish mysteriously going belly-up.   Mysterious fish kills have also turned up in New Zealand and Brasil. These cannot be good omens for the new year.  Not that we believe in omens.   I’d be curious, though, how the ancient augurers (some of them Christian) would interpret these portents.

I myself failed to stay up to see the New Year in, something I have nearly always done before. I also forgot to eat black-eyed peas, considered in Oklahoma to be essential for good luck in the new year. Nor did I eat pickled herring, which Wisconsinites require. I’m getting nervous.

Have you noted any other weird happenings or possible portents (if we believed in such superstition, which we don’t) ? 

The Harold Camping folks, some of whom monitor this blog, are still saying that the rapture will happen on May 21.  Put that date on your calendar!

In Beebe, Ark., 4,000 Dead Blackbirds Drop From the Sky – NYTimes.com.

Current events quiz

How informed about current events are you? Try this to find out: Test Your News IQ Q1 – Pew Research Center.

HT:  Bruce Gee

Super Bowl post-mortem

Well, I was surprised. Comment here on the game, the commercials, the half-time show, or what it all means.

Merry Christmas!

Today we will have no political arguments, theological debates, cultural lamentations, snide remarks, or forensic reconstructions. Just reveling in the fact that Christ the Savior is born.

So Christmas greetings to all of you readers. I appreciate that we have so many different opinions. That makes our discussions far more interesting than they would be otherwise. And yet I sense a kinship that we have anyway, a common interest in some of the same things and in most cases a common faith that ties us together with each other and with all Christians through all centuries.

May the blessings of our Lord Christ be with you and your families on this holy day and throughout the New Year. Peace on earth, good will towards men, and good tidings of great joy!