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Final lap

[This post has been edited time and again.—MB]

And the score is:

SpunkyHomeSchool 5437 4599
This Humble Blog 5404 5139

I think the stakes are clear.  And why is SpunkyHomeSchool, a defunct blog, matching us stride for stride?  Because, friends, a “meme” has gone around the Internets.  It can be found on dozens of Christian blogs and websites, and it looks something like this:

This has really and truly come down to a battle of Christian ideals versus Secular ideals, Godly values versus Godless values. As reported on the ever-fantastic blog The Rebelution, “Michael Bérubé recently commented… ‘The important thing is that...I crush the homeschoolers.’ ”

Well, of course that quote was taken drastically out of context.  What I actually said, of course, was

the important thing is that IvyGate and I crush the homeschoolers.

Things have apparently gotten so bad that some Spunky-friendly sites won’t even mention IvyGate, which one of them refers to as “an Ivy League College gossip and s*x blog.” (I hope someone will explain that to me in comments.  I don’t see what IvyGate has to do with sox.)

But with regard to the big picture, of course, they’re right:  this is basically a battle between Good and Evil.  And I implore you, dear readers, not to let Good win!

To do aught good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist.  If then his providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labor must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil;
Which ofttimes may succeed, so as perhaps
Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from their destined aim.

And what if we be down a few votes right now?  Remember, th’ascent is easy then!

I thank you, and Secular Ideals® thanks you.

_______

Updated update about those illegal votes tagged by Wizbang (967 for Spunky, 480 for me, 58 for IvyGate):  you know, I was kinda having fun with this Weblog Awards thing until now.  But you know what would be really cool if all three blogs were disqualified or chastised or publicly shamed or something for having overeager and unprincipled supporters?  That would put A Shrewdness of Apes in first place, and she’s not a Christian homeschooler or an Ivy League gossip-and-s*x maniac or a smug annoying liberal elitist college professor.  She’s “an anonymous American public high school teacher, guitar goddess, black belt, softball jockette, working mom, exhausted wife, dutiful daughter, bibliophile, autodidact, and terrible housekeeper.” Really!  She says so herself!  And her fine blog is actually about education! So get out there and vote for A Shrewdness of Apes, everyone!

Posted by on 12/15 at 12:26 PM
  1. They really have no concept of irony do they?  I mean quoting that “crush the homeschoolers” remark without thinking twice. Seriously?

    The scandalous thing is that they don’t tell us what kind of Sox blog it is… Red or Black? 

    Captcha:  Dead, as in “irony is...”

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  02:04 PM
  2. Well, like I said, it’s also a battle between the forces of piety and the forces of irony.  So no, all the irony is on our side.  It seems they don’t have much use for it. 

    Sorry I can’t comment any further—I have to get back to the faculty lounge.  We’re having an important meeting to determine how best to sneer at ordinary hardworking people who live in the heartland.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  02:08 PM
  3. Crap… my clever baseball quip got screwed up by my Chicago-color-carelessness. 

    Ahem…

    The scandalous thing is that they don’t tell us what kind of Sox blog it is… Red or White?

    (cue rimshot and canned laughter)

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  02:10 PM
  4. MB: 4950
    Spunky: 4493

    WTF?

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  02:11 PM
  5. Why only red or white?  Do you have something against the Everett Aqua Sox?

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  02:14 PM
  6. Perhaps the Flash-cache mishmash has been corrected, Update.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/15  at  02:17 PM
  7. Update, maybe something funny was going on.  If so, I’ll repeat what I said last night:  I don’t want anyone, anyone to stuff ballots on my behalf.  This is supposed to be silly, folks.  And full of irony.

    Two hours after someone calling him- or herself “Sacred Witness” posted a “how to cheat” comment on this blog, Wizbang replied with this announcement, in which they said “to date there have been no verified incidents of cheating.” (Last year, if I recall correctly, Dilbert fans were responsible for thousands of illegal votes.) I messed with that “Sacred Witness” comment so as to render the url invalid, but just in case anyone gets any more funny ideas, I’m gonna go back and delete it.  The anonymous person who posted it, by the bye, did so from an IP that has never before appeared in my comment section.  For whatever that’s worth.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  02:22 PM
  8. It isn’t sox, it’s sax.  IvyGate documents the elitist northeastern smooth jazz scene, donchaknow.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  02:27 PM
  9. OK, that explains everything.  Because “six” and “sux” just made no sense at all.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  02:30 PM
  10. I was just going to post the same comment where Wizbang states:

    Today’s topic is cheating…

    At The Weblog Awards cheaters never prosper, or at least they never prosper for long. There’s a reason we state very clearly that results are not final until certified - the reason is we log and inspect everything. We’re in the fourth year of this competition and we’ve seen just about every kind of attempt at cheating, and we’ve caught and removed them all. This year will probably be no different.

    And the votes have changed back in favor of this so-called ‘humble blog’. Interesting.

    But the rules do also state you can vote once per day. So I voted for MB again today after one vote yesterday even though it made me feel a little bit dirty - I prefer one cyberbeing, one cybervote. Oh well, you gotta play within the rules.

    But the multiple vote thingie did also let me vote for the General today after voting for Digby yesterday. That felt good, since I was feeling guilty yesterday.

    Guilt over voting for people who probably aren’t even real and only exist on my computer. Sheesh.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  02:40 PM
  11. Here’s the update on the update:

    IvyGate -58 votes from two IP addresses
    Berube -480 votes from 6 IP addresses
    Spunky Home School -967 votes from 8 IP addresses.

    All addresses have been banned and the totals adjusted. There may be further adjustments in the future.

    See what I mean?  Funny with David Horowitz and his small staff.  Not funny here.  OK?

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  02:47 PM
  12. Hmmm.

    IvyGate -58 votes from two IP addresses
    Berube -480 votes from 6 IP addresses
    Spunky Home School -967 votes from 8 IP addresses.

    One would be inclined to believe that the Secularists hereabouts are almost exactly half as unprincipled as the Xtians, by actual count.

    Ironic!

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  02:55 PM
  13. Professor Bérubé, let me be the first to apologize for any cheating that occurred on behalf of Spunky. I’m glad the cheaters were caught and banned.

    I must echo, however, the question of Denise in the update thread on Wizbang: Do families with the same IP address for multiple computers get banned?

    Regardless, I know that Spunky, the Rebelution, and yourself wish the competition to continue without any cheating on either side. If you win, we will be satisfied with what has been an invigorating and exciting race.

    Posted by Alex Harris  on  12/15  at  03:06 PM
  14. Sax, sox, come visit barefoddin’ with the tuneless ones at Ed Policy Blog!

    Posted by A. G. Rud  on  12/15  at  03:08 PM
  15. Hurray for the forces of honest, secularist irony!

    As for Christian cheating™, heck, I want to know what Baby Jebus has to say about Christian Torture™ and Christian War on Irackistan™. 

    Captcha:  pay

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  03:09 PM
  16. I’d say it’s funny that wizbang thinks they can catch determined cheaters by logging IP. I hope they have better mechanisms. As far as several computers with same IP goes, here’s a quick computation:

    Berube & IvyGate deleted votes: 67.25 per IP. In 6 days. That makes 11 “computers” per IP, fairly unlikely.

    Spunky deleted votes: about 120 per IP, making 20 “computers” per IP. This is not likely even with large families.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  03:13 PM
  17. Thanks, Alex, but I don’t think you need to apologize.  And we certainly know Spunky didn’t do anything wrong, either!  But honestly (honestly honestly this time, and not ironically), I have a bad taste in my mouth from those 480 votes.

    As for families and IP addresses:  my family has three computers.  On Wednesday, Jamie voted for me once, and Janet voted for me once.  I can’t imagine that three or four votes in one day from one household would strike Wizbang as illegitimate.  Ten, twenty, thirty, 480, sure—who has that many computers in their house?

    Anyway, I had a whole plan laid out for my heartbreaking second-place finish.  I’m hoping you all can make that plan a reality.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  03:13 PM
  18. Bérubé: 5139
    Spunky: 4599

    Christian version: Thou shalt not Diebold the vote.
    Secular version: Don’t act like the internets are Florida or Ohio.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/15  at  03:20 PM
  19. . . . on the Supreme Court.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/15  at  03:21 PM
  20. Oh, no… I wasn’t trying to explain away those removed votes. Even homeschool math cannot accomplish such a feat.

    I just had a preliminary concern that Wizbang would continue to crack down on multiple votes per IP. For example, my family has six computers.

    Ridiculous, I know.

    Posted by Alex Harris  on  12/15  at  03:38 PM
  21. And may I clarify, that is only one computer per person in our family, minus the youngest. He’s six.

    Posted by Alex Harris  on  12/15  at  03:39 PM
  22. Oh, no… I wasn’t trying to explain away those removed votes.

    No, I didn’t think you were, Alex.  I was just saying that I imagine the answer to Denise’s question would be no.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  03:46 PM
  23. I read the following off a forum. Obviously, I don’t know wether this is credible or not, but it might explain the “cheaters” on both blogs.

    AOL uses proxy servers. This means that many AOL users can have the same IP. It also means that one AOL user can have a different IP address recorded for each page they visit.

    Anyway, there probably were just cheaters. It seems unlikely that this blog competition, in it’s fourth year, would still have no way of getting around the problem listed above if it actually existed.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  03:52 PM
  24. Yeah, but whatever the method, we’re talking about cheating on a blog awards contest.  Yeesh!  Perspective, folks!  I mean, it’s not like it’s some kind of battle between Good and Evil!

    Um, except in my case, of course.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  04:00 PM
  25. I think that Alex may have just crushed our elitist presumption that homeschoolers are never ironic, what with his “even homeschool math” comment and all.  Thanks, Alex.  smile

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  04:06 PM
  26. But… voting for a blog that’s actually about education would defeat the whole purpose of the awards. I mean, most of the categories have only one or two candidates that actually fit the name. The “moderate” category comes to mind…

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  04:13 PM
  27. voting for a blog that’s actually about education would defeat the whole purpose of the awards

    Well, that’s the thing. It would be a gesture of renunciation and sabotage on so many levels.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  04:16 PM
  28. I know this doesn’t help matters, but I was an unprincipled supporter for a very short while--like maybe ten or fifteen votes at the most. As soon as Michael told us to stop, I did.

    Anyhow, I’m glad this blog is still winning despite being marred by scandals, despite its Ivy League association with sox, and despite its probable fondness for Marvin G*y*. He’s the one who wrote that song about soxual healing.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  04:20 PM
  29. Kudos for removing the link, Michael. I used it once, mainly to see if it would work (it did), and then retired for the night, vaguely dissatisfied with myself and the world, feeling that the link was cheating and not planning to vote again, but figuring that as usual I was being prim, prudish, and persnickety. Shoulda known you’d step up and strike a non-ironic body blow for persnicketous primudery.

    On a totally unrelated note, I’ve been on a major Richard Powers kick lately. His novels are so amazing; words fail me. Thanks for that, too.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  04:40 PM
  30. Michael,

    Ed Policy Blog was hatched in your former fave stomping grounds, yessirree, right there in Chambana. Don’t let some terrible housekeeper get all 4,000 of Jamie’s votes (today)!

    Posted by A. G. Rud  on  12/15  at  04:46 PM
  31. You know… it’s not often that scandals come with their moniker built right in from the beginning*.  “IvyGate” will forever mark a low point in blog voting. 

    *Because, you know, Watergate wasn’t Watergate until it became Watergate> and forever spawned the -gate suffix, but <i>IvyGate> presented itself as <i>IvyGate> all along!

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  04:48 PM
  32. Man! That is 0-2 in attempts to be clever today! Stupid botched html.  I am putting myself on a two week probation from attempting to be clever on the interwebs.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  04:51 PM
  33. Actually, Jon, I thought “Red or Black” sox in comment one was really funny.  Sly, too.  Thanks for shattering my illusions.

    And Amanda, glad to hear you’re enjoying Rick’s work.  How’s the Althouse reading going, though?

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  05:01 PM
  34. Kudos for removing the link, Michael. I used it once, mainly to see if it would work (it did), and then retired for the night, vaguely dissatisfied with myself and the world, feeling that the link was cheating and not planning to vote again,

    Aren’t we about due for a show trial? It’s been a while since the last one.

    Charges:
    felonious Flash Cache trickery
    putting the “villain” back into “villanelle”
    misleadingly spelling her given name with an initial “A” when it’s actually pronounced as if it begins with a “&#x0259;”

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/15  at  05:13 PM
  35. additional charges: conspiring to muck up my “ə”

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/15  at  05:14 PM
  36. “an Ivy League College gossip and s*x blog.” (I hope someone will explain that to me in comments.  I don’t see what IvyGate has to do with sox.)

    As has been pointed out above, nothing.  Why make it a guessing game?  It’s clearly “sasteriskx,” a reference to DC’s failed attempt to merge an extradimensional trickster with a Gallic superhero.

    Even homeschool math cannot accomplish such a feat.

    It depends.  Many homeschoolers accept 3=1 as an axiom.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  05:19 PM
  37. Um, except in my case, of course.

    Ah, Bérubian exceptionalism.

    Marvin G*y*

    Marvin Goya

    Of, if we substitute a blank for the last asterisk:

    Marvin Goy

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/15  at  05:28 PM
  38. Having had a peripheral connection to online voting at one time, I’ll relate that any reasonable effort at detecting cheating considers the likely source of an IP address. This unfortunately means that AOL users are given more leeway than someone with DSL or cable. But given that anyone sophisticated enough to cheat would rather suck cheezewhiz through their nose than come within 20 feet of a computer logged into AOL, this is probably OK.

    There are also more sophisticated ways of spotting cheating by looking for unusual clusters of vote times, of browser types, referring URL, and so forth. I’ve no idea if the wizbang folks are actually “wiz” enough to use these. But in the end it’s a judgement call based on the unlikeliness of a given pattern, no matter what data and statistical methods are considered.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  05:42 PM
  39. Thanks to idlemind for making this blog actually educational!

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  06:07 PM
  40. This has really and truly come down to a battle of Christian ideals versus Secular ideals, Godly values versus Godless values.

    So get out there and cheat!

    I really admire the way the Christian-ideals crowd works the paranoia card. It never fails. It’s not easy getting the Secular-ideals crowd worked into a frenzy by insinuating that the loss of a blog awards contest spells doom. I’ve been spreading the word that a loss for Berube means the realm of reason is finished, and I get nothing but quizzical looks and shrugs. When I tell people to vote Berube or the GNF strikes, all I get is polite nods and smiles.

    How does the homeschool crowd do it?

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  06:10 PM
  41. It would be sad that a liberal blog would win, not because it is best, but because the best blog has retired from the field.  I can only hope that your blog is an honest and intelligent one.  Many of the liberal science blogs are so tilted and dishonest that I feel the need to wash after trying to read them.  I have discovered you as a result of the controversy surrounding the voting and so I will be back to see just what you are all about. 

    I don’t think Christians win any significant “war” during the course of web awards, that is a bit silly.  It should be about how good the blog is and not mainly whether they are for us or agin’ us.  Just my two cents, thanks!

    Posted by radar  on  12/15  at  06:10 PM
  42. When I tell people to vote Berube or the GNF strikes, all I get is polite nods and smiles.

    Unbelievable. You make it sound like the GNF is something bad. Of course every loyal party member would smile at the thought of the imminent arrival of the GNF!

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  06:17 PM
  43. Aren’t we about due for a show trial? It’s been a while since the last one.

    Yes, definitely time for a Bigger Show than the Show Trial Trial.

    I propose that the final vote margin become enshrined as the magnitude of the standard unit of measure for Ironic distance. (And we certainly would not want that to be a negative number.) Don’t have a good name for the unit itself yet, however. (One <insert-unit-name-here> = xxx weblogawardvotes.)

    ...and forever spawned the -gate suffix

    It actually took a bit of time for this to become the case in the US. I recall reading an article during/immediately after Watergate which described the use of the -gate suffix for some government scandals in South Vietnam in a sneering how-clueless-can-they-be tone.

    I said to Bill Buckley: how clueless can we get?
    Bill Buckley hasn’t answered yet
    But I sense him sneering in the dark
    A hundred floors above me
    In the tower of snark

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  06:18 PM
  44. anyone sophisticated enough to cheat would rather suck cheezewhiz through their nose than come within 20 feet of a computer logged into AOL

    Mmmmmmmm, Cheez Whiz.  What can’t it do?

    Because, you know, Watergate wasn’t Watergate until it became Water</b>gate</b> and forever spawned the -gate suffix.

    Quite true.  So that now, if there were a scandal at the Watergate Hotel, it would have to be called WatergateGate.  And people try to say that postmodernism is dead!

    Many of the liberal science blogs are so tilted and dishonest that I feel the need to wash after trying to read them. 

    I’m with you on this.  The squid sex guy and the shirtless stargazer just make me feel dirty all over.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  06:31 PM
  45. . . . every loyal party member would smile at the thought of the imminent arrival of the GNF!

    Or giggle. Oh, oh, I feel a song coming on . . . I just a giggle, oh . . .

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/15  at  06:32 PM
  46. If ever there was a single song that expressed the conflicts within this tense and stress filled voting process it is the following.  Remember, we are talking about generating a sufficient cushion of votes to avoid a final push by certain hackers to go on a cookie free diet. 

    Whats the ting that theys talkin about everywhere?
    Sex
    When they wanna be suave n debonair
    Sex

    Whats poppin up the most from coast to coast
    Sex
    At yer bongo party an yer weenie roast
    Sex

    Even them christians who are born again
    Sex
    Go out n get pooched every now n then
    Sex

    Do ya do or dont ya dont
    Sex
    Bet yer lyin if ya say ya wont
    Sex

    Some girls try it n go on a diet
    Then they worry cause theys too fat
    Who wants t’ride on a irony board?
    That aint no fun...i tried me one

    Grow that meat all over yer bones
    Work the wall with the local jones
    n while you do it, remember this line
    The sniffer says it all the time

    The bigger the cushion, the better the pushin
    The bigger the cushion, the better the pushin
    The bigger the cushion, the better the pushin
    The bigger the cushion…

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  06:43 PM
  47. Many of the liberal science blogs are so tilted...
    radar

    I sooooooo know what you mean.  I am getting damned tired of always having to adjust my monitor.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  06:49 PM
  48. Never fear, Radar. This is an honest blog. Michael never lies. How can he lie when the Postmodern Canon teaches that all truth is contingent on the perspective of the truth-teller?

    Sometimes he “lies,” of course, but that’s completely different.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/15  at  06:57 PM
  49. <i>gossip and s*x blog.” (I hope someone will explain that to me in comments.  I don’t see what IvyGate has to do with sox>/i>

    They’ve figured out a formula to express the content of IvyGate posts.  The * means multiply s by x.  So the basic formula for IvyGate post content is:

    c=g + sx

    where
    c is content
    g is gossip
    s is secularism
    x is subject at hand

    Posted by J—  on  12/15  at  07:00 PM
  50. Whoa...I make a Christian homeschooler feel dirty and the need to wash all over?

    That just makes me so happy.

    Posted by PZ Myers  on  12/15  at  07:09 PM
  51. From dear radar’s radaractive website:

    In truth, there is no reliable evidence of mankind being around much before about 2300 BC. This is what a creationist would expect, that the Flood would wipe out all traces of the prior civilization. Or, almost all, since now and then an anachronistic artifact will show up in a rock layer or in coal. Furthermore, pretty much any dating method favored by evolutionists has proven to be unreliable much past maybe three thousand or so years back, and even then often not.

    Isn’t it PZ’s job to fight these guys over at Pharyngula so we don’t have to fight them over here? I’m awed by the way the phrase “and even then, often not,” circles around to do its kamikazee run on the rest of that sentence, though. Good stuff.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  07:09 PM
  52. I’m inclined to believe that Kevin and the other administrators have implemented sound ways to obtain reasonably accurate reports on vote fraud. IP addresses alone are obviously not a catch-all mechanism, and people who can’t speak fluent l33t can easily circumvent IP-based banning & metrics methodologies. As mentioned above, there’s a wealth of pattern analysis that can be done. And simply implementing cookies with random-number variables, for cross-referencing with IP information, could illuminate all kinds of fakery in a hurry--and help to preserve ‘legitimate’ 3-people-in-a-home-on-different-computers voting stats. All kinds of options. All hail Boole.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  07:39 PM
  53. And that, folks, is why Kurt is the Prime Mover of ThisHumbleBlog.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  08:06 PM
  54. Who’s to say that a roomful of people didn’t receive an announcement from someone asking them all to vote for a certain blog? What sort of “pattern” might be deduced from this phenomenon?

    They are all discrete individuals sitting at discrete computers, all voting at approximately the same time. Stuffing or coincidence? Creationism or the evolution of like minds thinking on a similar plane?

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  08:55 PM
  55. I’m an IvyGate man, but I’m switching my vote because crushing homeschoolers is what it’s all about. Besides, you dominated David Horowitz.

    Posted by Will  on  12/15  at  09:22 PM
  56. Here’s a neat pattern of patterns contained within other patterns.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  09:50 PM
  57. Kurt’s been reading too many threads involving PZ and Pa*l De*gn*n, clearly.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/15  at  11:02 PM
  58. Wow, those asterisks are gettin’ pretty promiscuous around here.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  11:13 PM
  59. While WAAGNFNP is doing nicely at the polls right now, it looks like the squids could use a little help in their ongoing effort to keep PZ from losing his shirt. Besides, there’s definitely something spunky about that astronomer rival of his.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  11:17 PM
  60. Weird.  I just visited the science-blog page.  And yes, PZ is down 8928-8821 with 95 minutes left to play.  Vote vote vote!

    Legally!

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  11:22 PM
  61. All I can imagine is that my last threat to strip nekkid if I lost has backfired in a horrible, horrible way.

    Ah, the endless grief that comes of being an irresistible stud-muffin.

    Posted by PZ Myers  on  12/15  at  11:38 PM
  62. Like you haven’t been showing off your squid for years.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/16  at  12:37 AM
  63. I just voted for pZ again (my Pz voting was briefly distracted a couple days ago by someone who said help deltoid out (cause pZ was comfortably numb, or ahead, or something).

    Guess you just can’t afford comfortable.  Unless you’re a member of the ruling class, of course.

    Captcha: music

    (Time to play some Plasmatics, apparently.)

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  12:55 AM
  64. Well both WAAGNFNP and PZ have come out ahead, so that’s all to the good. Hope there won’t need to be major ‘adjustments’ to the final tally.

    I’m a bit curious why the voting is still going on then? Wasn’t midnight supposed to be the cutoff?

    And why does the WaPo have a front page article on ponies?

    We might (captcha) have just abandoned postmodernism for surrealism. Not what I’d call a fair trade.

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  01:17 AM
  65. May I respectfully ask, Mr. Berube… if you didn’t mean that comment about “crushing the homeschoolers”, why say it? Or did you really mean it?

    Posted by Claire  on  12/16  at  01:20 AM
  66. Now Claire, I know from personal experience, having been one myself for almost as long as you have been alive, that Catholics are familiar with the concept of a “joke.”

    Posted by Mrs. Pynchon's gopher  on  12/16  at  01:28 AM
  67. As well as the not completely unrelated concept of a “mistake”

    - M.P.G.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/16  at  01:30 AM
  68. Cathy said: I think that Alex may have just crushed our elitist presumption that homeschoolers are never ironic, what with his “even homeschool math” comment and all.

    That is a sad presumption, Cathy, as well as elitist.  As a homeschooling mom for close to 20 years, I can tell you that irony and satire are alive and well in the homeschooling community.  Check out this link, for example, about a Harvard University program to force homeschoolers to “fit in”: http://larknews.com/september15_2003/print.php?page=1

    To illuminate Alex’s irony, homeschool math got my son (who is a friend of Alex’s) a 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT and a 4.0 GPA at one of the top aeronautical universities in the world.

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  01:50 AM
  69. Claire, I’d actually like to answer your question. Seriously and respectfully. Which is presumptuous of me, but I’m sure Michael will correct me if I get it wrong.

    That statement was a joke. The target of the joke was not homeschoolers, but the weblog awards. When Michael wrote “What’s important is that IvyGate and I crush the homeschoolers,” it was irony: in other words, the actual meaning of the sentence is the precise opposite of the literal meaning of the sentence.

    The point is that “crushing the homeschoolers” in the silly weblog awards is the precise opposite of “what’s important.”

    What’s important is probably something like, say, the issues. Policy. Reasonable debate. Figuring out how people should be educated, who gets to be educated, who pays for it, and how much.

    See also The drama is almost too much to take!

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  01:59 AM
  70. Oh yes, I almost forgot: and where we get to be educated.

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  02:01 AM
  71. Add to the list of CRIMES perpetrated by “Amanda” (or is it now"Manda"?) the crime of admitting she is “French”!!

    FRENCH!!! FRENCH I TELL YOU!!!

    Posted by Kathy McCarty  on  12/16  at  02:15 AM
  72. Non, non! Quelle horreur! Je ne suis pas du tout française.

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  02:44 AM
  73. May I respectfully ask, Mr. Berube… if you didn’t mean that comment about “crushing the homeschoolers”, why say it?

    Thanks to Amanda for stepping in while I was asleep.  I have a 7:45 hockey game this morning, and I was safely in bed by 11 last night.  Really!  You can check the time stamp on my pillow!

    Anyway, Claire, IvyGate (a blog I hadn’t heard of before last week) and I were tossing challenges back and forth, and the joke, of course, was that we were pretending to be people who take these things way too seriously.  IvyGate opened with this:

    The other finalists actually, um, appear interested in pedagogy and helping people, but nevertheless we intend to mop the floor with them. May God save Eduwonk.com if he tries to get in our way.

    I replied by pretending to be offended:

    Well, I resent this deeply.  Pedagogy and helping people? This blog specializes in “stereotypical liberal sneering” and “advanced crapulence.” [These things had actually been said about my blog in the previous couple of days.] We have no interest in people helping people helping people like you, pedagogically or educationalistically or otherwisedly.

    And they shot back by calling me their “enemy” and “archnemesis.” In was in that thread that I said it was important to crush the homeschoolers.

    The point is this.  We really were kidding. But in pretending to be people who take weblog awards way too seriously, we apparently crossed some people who take weblog awards way too seriously.  I have nothing against Ms. Braun or her family, and wish them the very best.

    OK, off to my game.  I hope my shoulder is OK.

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  08:20 AM
  74. Um, err, break a . . . nope, better not use that little traditional wish for success. Just puck ‘em, and puck ‘em good, Michael.

    BB

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/16  at  09:02 AM
  75. How does the homeschool crowd do it?

    In the dark, and only for procreation.

    I know, I know, I’m a horrible person.  I really wasn’t going to take such a cheap shot, but Claire and MBombardier eroded my resistance.  After all, if someone invokes such a wickedly tongue-in-cheek phrase as “aeronautical university,” then all bets are off.  I think of a college suspended from dirigibles, or of Laputa.

    Mmmmmmmm, Cheez Whiz.  What can’t it do?

    Hey, how come Hostess has never tried to market Ding Dongs with Cheez Whiz filling?  I would totally deep fat fry that.

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  11:51 AM
  76. In the dark, and only for procreation.

    Two minutes, mds, unsportsmanlike conduct.  You go in penalty box, you feel shame.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/16  at  12:02 PM
  77. I think of a college suspended from dirigibles, or of Laputa

    Ah, Luputa. Now there’s some kids out out-spunk Mickey Rooney at his spunkiest.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/16  at  12:57 PM
  78. I for one am very comfortable with secular and godless. That the “godly” have a problem with this is a direct result of their immorality. What do you expect from death-cultists?

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  12/16  at  01:22 PM
  79. For what it’s worth: 

    I think part of the reason the homeschool community took those comments so seriously is because of the way the academic community has viewed them in the past (e.g. NEA’s strong opposition to homeschooling). 

    An equivalent might be if someone was competing against an African-American blog and said, “Lets lynch them.” They might mean it only in fun, but the African-American blogger probably won’t take it that way, due to historical reasons. 

    smile

    Congrats, though...looks like you’ve won!  smile

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  02:51 PM
  80. hey what? no hockey update/report??? jeeez..

    While it might be safe to assume, and clearly any assuming around here requires the ability to take nothing at face value or too seriously--unless of course, one could actually discriminate between that which is serious and that which is too serious, most commenters are from the generation that thought a 1590 on the SAT was a very excellent score.  Sad to say, that is no longer true, and as i have very recently sold my retired soul to tutor high schoolers (and aye, the wicked homeschoolers too) to achieve scores no less than 1900, the days of 1590 being valuable are long gone. Indeed it seems that good SAT scores should match the year in which you take the test.

    ps: doesn’t University of Phoenix consider itself an aeronautical university, or is that ITT??

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  02:57 PM
  81. Well, Isaac, it isn’t anywhere near an invocation of lynching to an African-American blogger.  (Unless you’re saying that hundreds of homeschoolers literally were crushed by mobs every year from about 1870 to 1930.) But yes, once the “crush the homeschoolers” line was taken out of context—and again, it was an utterance with pretty much the same meaning as IvyGate’s “may God save Eduwonk.com if he tries to get in our way”—it became a culture-war kind of thing, as if the snotty liberal-elite Ivy League grads and college professors were lining up against the homeschoolers (secular as well as Christian).  And then when the illegal votes came in a few days later, this had the potential to get needlessly nasty.  I’m glad everyone took a deep breath and remembered that all this amounts to less than a hill of beans.

    Whereas hockey, now, that’s important.

    Thanks for the kind word, though, and once again, a tip of the cap to Spunky for running a great race.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/16  at  03:22 PM
  82. How’s your shoulder?

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  04:28 PM
  83. I think a grad student in Communication could take this whole thread and write an interesting paper on the difficulty different groups can have in communicating with each other.  And you’ve provided a nice example of how to bridge those gaps, with politeness and humor.  Now THAT’S edumacational.  (Just be glad you haven’t had to explain the WAAGNFNP threads in the same way.  On second thought, I’d almost like to see you try.)

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  05:13 PM
  84. … an interesting paper on the difficulty different groups can have in communicating with each other.

    ... or maybe even a chapter in a book.

    For an amusing and interesting post-the-real-death-of-irony treatment of irony, I recommend this Zoe Williams piece from 2003 in the The Guardian. If only for:

    There are four important epochs of irony (unless you count Hegel, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, but to do that, I would need to have read them).

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  05:28 PM
  85. ...all this amounts to less than a hill of beans.

    Dammit.  Now this is just going too far.

    Sincerely,
    Union of Concerned Fabaceae (formerly Leguminosae)

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  05:40 PM
  86. Oh, now I’ve offended the Fabaceae-American constituency.  Sometimes I just can’t do anything right around here.

    Cathy, the shoulder is fair-to-middling.  I played a B minus game in the A division at 7:45 and then a B plus game in the B division at 9.  We won the first one 4-3 (coming back from 0-3!), they pulled the goalie, and during that exciting last minute I actually backchecked and played defense and broke up their plays in our zone and went down to block a shot and fought for a puck near the net with ten seconds left and fell right on the shoulder the wrong way and yelled really loud and said a very bad word as the game ended.  So I played tentatively in game two, picking up an assist and hitting a post in a 5-2 win, but had some trouble taking off my equipment afterwards.  I’ve got two more games tomorrow night, and then off until January 2, so a little ice and ibuprofen should do it.

    Thanks for asking!  And that’s the full injury report for today.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/16  at  06:30 PM
  87. I think a grad student in Communication could take this whole thread and write an interesting paper on the difficulty different groups can have in communicating with each other.

    We know a thing or three about that over at The Valve, alwsdad. Or rather, I should say, we have a great deal of practical experience with that sort of difficulty. And religion is one of the issues over which we have had some wretched blog-fights. Alan Jacobs had an interesting comment on the issue in response to a post I made: ”Michaels & Religion: Can’t We All Get Along?” Here’s what he says:

    . . . what Cass Sunstein calls the “ideological amplification” of increasingly specialized, demographically specific media, plus the related phenomenon of people’s need to simplify a complex social environment by ruling out certain beliefs and practices as not worthy of consideration, result in the kinds of false assumptions that Christian Smith has been exploding. But of course our need to have enemies is strong enough that hardly anyone pays attention to serious empirical research like Smith’s—thus the spate of new books crying out against The Coming American Theocracy. And if you go into a Christian bookstore you’ll find books employing precisely the same fear-mongering rhetoric to denounce The Coming Secularist Tyranny. Conservative Christians and committed secularists don’t want to understand each other, they want to hate each other, and there are plenty of writers out there willing to feed those fires.

    Christian Smith is a scholar who’s done extensive empirical work on the beliefs of fundamentalist Christians and finds that they vary quite widely and that many fundamentalists are basic live-and-let-live kinds of folks.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/16  at  06:36 PM
  88. I should add that I don’t understand why the business of evolution and how it’s taught in the public schools has been such a thorny one for a century or so. I suspect, but certainly can’t prove, that the issue is being used to “cloak” other issues and differences that are harder to discuss and debate.

    And, early in the 20th century biological evolution traveled in some questionable intellectual company, and was opposed, in part, because it was associated with social Darwinism. But that link has long since been severed, yet the opposition continues on. I don’t know what socio-cultural process has kept the issue alive.

    It’s a mess.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/16  at  07:00 PM
  89. Spyder said “ most commenters are from the generation that thought a 1590 on the SAT was a very excellent score.  Sad to say, that is no longer true...doesn’t University of Phoenix consider itself an aeronautical university, or is that ITT?”

    My son was thankful to be a member of the last class not required to write an essay for an SAT bumped to 2400 possible points.  I don’t know what U of P or ITTT call themselves.  I suspect that the attempted drollery and forced irony of this blog has tempted you to sally a veiled insult.  I would hope that your tutoring would equip students to achieve a better score than 1900 out of 2400 on the current SAT, and that you would help them to aspire to a higher goal than a degree from the U of P or ITTT. 

    And for mds: although aeronautics originally meant “sailing in the air” it is an archaic definition.  Bite your tongue as you are pulling it from your cheek.

    Posted by  on  12/17  at  12:41 AM
  90. So, I googled “aeronautical university,” and there actually is one: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. So there. I’m guessing it’s also one of the top aeronautical universities.

    Posted by  on  12/17  at  01:43 AM
  91. I would hope that your tutoring would equip students to achieve a better score than 1900 out of 2400 on the current SAT,
    Well that would be nice, but the 1900 is a relative score that represents (approximately) two correct responses greater than the scholarship minimum of 1850.  National Merit scholars who qualified on their PSAT scores should get no less than 1850 to stay qualified.  Across the broad spectrum of university qualifying criteria, buried in the minutea of university admissions requirements, are some equations between GPA and SAT scores; these are important numbers to know.  For example a student who achieves perfect scores on the SAT and ACT (plus aces the supplemental tests) can be accepted with a less than 2.5 gpa should that be the case (not likely mind you, but in the regs none the less to account for such a possiblity).

    The national mean (nice captcha word there Michael) for tutored improvement is a bit below 225 points.  Students who began life being read to by their parents, and continued to consume books (yes, especially the classical canon--can’t we ever get away from that?) consistently demonstrate a 300 to 400 point advantage over their peers who did not have the same “edumacation.”

    Univ of Phoenix, ITT, and particularly Park University, are some of the most successful (profitable) institutions of higher learning in this country.  They receive a lions share of Federal loan money, and are particularly attractive to those interested in technology and engineering coursework who use their military funding.  Park is affiliated with the USAF, locating most of its campuses on Air Force bases around the US.

    Posted by  on  12/17  at  02:57 PM
  92. To Lee Glidewell:  Bingo.  Top rated by US News and World Report for the last 7 years for universities not offering doctorates. 

    To Spyder:  Thank you for the information, and I withdraw my suspicion of insult.  It is difficult in cyberspace to clearly communicate sometimes because there is no voice inflection or facial expression.  What you told me is very interesting.  My son was also a National Merit Finalist.  I have two more children coming up (much younger) so I have allowed myself to become ignorant on the whole scholastic aptitude thing.

    Posted by  on  12/17  at  05:50 PM
  93. Mr. Berube, thanks for your kind clarification. I do realize now the context in which you implied your comments, and have posted a follow-up on my blog. smile

    I want to reassure your readers who may be convinced at this point of my deficiency in the skills of wit-comprehension—and who’ve probably diagnosed me with serious failure-to-lighten-up syndrome—that they needn’t be concerned: I laugh heartily as any at a good clean joke. And between a mischievous 9-year-old brother, the day-to-day antics of family life, a great group of light-hearted friends, and Bishop Fulton Sheen re-runs on Catholic Radio, let me tell you I enjoy a steady supply. *grin* (You should see my mom, sisters, and me when we get together and retell a humorous story...!)

    The only catch here was that there are many folks on the web who make remarks such as Mr. Berube’s and are serious. As Isaac mentioned, we homeschoolers are all-too-familiar with warring attitudes towards us…and for those of us unfamiliar with your style, it was only natural we would take your remarks literally. wink

    I appreciated reading both yours and Spunky’s “follow-up” notes to each other, and echo her in wishing you congratulations on your award. The graciousness shown by you both has been a welcomed outcome to all this!

    Regards,
    Claire

    Posted by Claire  on  12/18  at  09:22 AM
  94. Bulletin! Bulletin!

    Gojira on the rampage, has decided to support home-schooling

    Lets take out the school

    See that building up on the hill in the background? That’s a public high school.Gojira’s going after it! (And Gojira’s not the only one, either).

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/18  at  09:49 AM
  95. Meanwhile, Gojira’s good friend, Sparky, is on the lookout for, like, helicopter gunships playing Wagner.

    lookout.jpg

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/18  at  10:13 AM

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