Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The question of who is worse, right-wing or left-wing radicals, and how to label radicals cropped up again most recently when pundits raced to describe recent Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell as right wing and conservatives lashed back that he was left wing. In a Washington Post op-ed, Eugene Robinson argues that for the past few decades the most serious threat of domestic terrorism has come from those who draw inspiration and rhetoric from the far right.
“It is disingenuous for mainstream purveyors of incendiary far-right rhetoric to dismiss groups such as the Hutaree by saying that there are ‘crazies on both sides.’ This simply is not true. There was a time when the far left was a spawning ground for political violence. The first big story I covered was the San Francisco trial of heiress Patricia Hearst, who had been kidnapped and eventually co-opted by the Symbionese Liberation Army—a far-left group whose philosophy was as apocalyptic and incoherent as that of the Hutaree. There are aging radicals in Cuba today who got to Havana by hijacking airplanes in the 1970s. Left-wing radicals caused mayhem and took innocent lives. But for the most part, far-left violence in this country has gone the way of the leisure suit and the AMC Gremlin. An antiglobalization movement, including a few window-smashing anarchists, was gaining traction at one point, but it quickly diminished after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. An environmental group and an animal-rights group have been linked with incidents of arson. Beyond those particulars, it is hard to identify any kind of leftist threat.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and militia groups, wrote in a recent report that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias)—a 244% jump." Whether they are right wing or left wing will continue to be debated, but Robinson argues that such a debate is a nonstarter.
“It is dishonest for right-wing commentators to insist on an equivalence that does not exist,” writes Robinson. “The danger of political violence in this country comes overwhelmingly from one direction—the right, not the left. The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day—and, quite regularly, at tea-party rallies—is calibrated not to inform but to incite. "
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The encore dance was Derek's and Nicole's jive that got two 10's - first time for that in week 2 ever! I really enjoy watching the pros dance together, and they had two numbers tonight. My faves Cheryl and Maks danced together to the Beach Boys.
Funny with the Len Commandments. Then Len said next week they want to see a story in the dance. That should be interesting. Hope Kate isn't there to put us through that. Tony keeps smiling a big smile. Maybe he knows something good like she will be gone!
Some Haitian ballroom dancers performed a dance to help support the earthquake survivors. The mambo champion told about and showed pictures of an adorable boy who was killed and was the son of a friend of his. Their dance was powerful and dynamic and was sponsored by Macy's. (Shout out to G!) They still need so much help there.
NO! NO WAY! Kate is safe. Crap! I hate this. Shannen goes home. Why couldn't it have been Kate to go first? Mark pulled a muscle and will be out for six weeks, anyway. Please send Kate away next week! Don't let this be like Master P and Billy Ray Cyrus I thought would never get voted off. Surely she doesn't have fans because of that reality show she was on! Well, someone watched it and kept it going, so yes I suppose she does. Poor Tony.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Shannen and Mark - Jive. She was worried during rehearsal but did pretty well but not that great. Parts of it were OK, but her footwork was off, and her legs sort of went all over the place. The judges said her energy and performance style were good but lacked some control. Scores: 7/6/7 = 20 (38 for both weeks)
Aiden and Edyta - Foxtrot. Edyta is upset with him during rehearsal which frustrates him and makes it hard for him to concentrate. Seems early in the competition for them to argue like this. Well, despite how much Edyta doesn't want to have to go home this soon, Aiden isn't a good dancer. He was graceful at times but needed to focus. The judges said he did better than last week and improved. Hope he gets to stay a bit longer. Scores: 7/6/6 = 19 (34)
Evan and Anna - Jive. Good footwork, energy, and performance. They looked as if they had fun dancing which the judges will like. Yes, they did and praised him. Scores: 8/8/8 = 24 (47)
Niecy and Louis - Foxtrot. Graceful and fun at the same time. Good job! Len said she was a revelation and danced with ease, sophistication, and a bit of sassy. Bruno and Carrie Ann also like it. Scores: 7/7/7 = 21 (39)
Jake and Chelsie - Jive. He's struggling during rehearsal. Some of it was OK, but he'll be gone soon. The judges said his energy and determination were great but that he needs to work on precision and technique. Carrie Ann thought she saw a lift since she is the lift monitor and calls them out for doing one. Scores: 6/7/7 = 20 (40)
Buzz and Ashly - Foxtrot. They danced to "Fly Me to the Moon" and he walked through most of it but did remarkably well with his energy. He and his wife have had botox and other work done (esp his wife). She came to rehearsal, so we got a closer look. The audience gave him a standing ovation because of who he is, and why not? The judges said he made a nice effort. Scores: 4/4/4 = 12 (26)
Nicole and Derek - Jive. They had to jive to a contemporary song, and Nicole was worried that Len wouldn't think it's traditional enough and said she's afraid of Len. Looked good to me. I like her and hope she gets to the finals. The judges said she did a good job. Bruno stood up and said it was the best jive he's seen in all the seasons during week 2. Carrie Ann said it was perfection. Scores: 10/8/10 = 28 (53) First 10's!!
Erin and Maksim - Foxtrot. Erin is TALL, almost as tall as Maks. Oh, fireworks! Clash of the perfectionists! Lovely dance. She's elegant and graceful most of the time. The judges praised her and had a few criticisms. Len said he'd been watching the films of rehearsals and that the celebrities have three things to do: Show up, keep up, and shut up. Listen to their pros and trust them. Maks liked that. Scores: 8/7/8 = 23 (44)
Pamela and Damian - Foxtrot. Pamela danced the foxtrot as Marilyn Monroe very well. This isn't a foxtrot like I've seen before on here. They praised her dancing and performance and said she needs to work on posture (well, yes). Scores: 7/7/8 = 22 (47)
Chad and Cheryl - Foxtrot. Chad kept flirting with Cheryl, and she kept trying to get him to focus. They're cut together and funny. He's a little stiff and needs better posture but has some good moves. Len said he had terrible posture and was glad when it was over. Bruno said he had no musicality. Carrie Ann said he has good potential but needs to let go. Scores: 6/5/5 = 16 (34)
Kate and Tony - Jive. Tony said nothing in dancing is natural to Kate and that it's like teaching her a whole new language every time. Tony is frustrated and said he teaches teachers how to teach dancing and doesn't want her to tell him how to teach. Then he quit!!! Maybe she'll be voted off this week, and he won't have to work with her any more. He returned and worked with her. She sort of danced the jive and lost her footwork several times. She's very awkward. Please put her and Tony out of their misery! It's painful to watch her dance. Bruno said it was a nightmare. Carrie Ann said she made it through the routine. Len said for her to go for it and not go out as a wimp. Scores: 5/5/5 = 15 (31) Oh, please! She was worse than Chad.
Who do you think will go first? I think Buzz, Kate, and Jake will be the first ones but not sure in which order.
And now to find out what happened to Beckett on Castle! She has to survive because she's a co-star of the show. But how?
As always, you wonder where this patriotism and righteousness and Tea Party activism was during Bush-Cheney. You wonder if all the people who want to take to the streets - and to the television cameras now - decided they weren't needed for eight years because they thought the country was going so good. Or maybe they have just convinced themselves that the Obama who must now be stopped didn't just inherit this America, he created it.
This is no longer about political dissent. It is about storm trooper sound bites, and hate. This isn't the kind of honest debate on which our system of government has been built. It is vile, back-alley fighting, getting worse by the day, with no end in sight. People say that opposition to all Presidents, even the most unpopular white ones, sounds like this. No, it doesn't.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
In July, 1798, Congress passed, and President John Adams signed into law "An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen," authorizing the creation of a marine hospital service, and mandating privately employed sailors to purchase healthcare insurance.
This legislation also created America's first payroll tax, as a ship's owner was required to deduct 20 cents from each sailor's monthly pay and forward those receipts to the service, which in turn provided injured sailors hospital care. Failure to pay or account properly was discouraged by requiring a law violating owner or ship's captain to pay a 100 dollar fine.
So there is a precedent and from one of the Founding Fathers. Source: HERE
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Tomorrow morning is church for me - NPR's "Says You," "Studio 360," and the best of all "Wait, Wait! Don't Tell Me!" I totally enjoy that time of being home churched. Brendan calls me now fairly regularly and performs for me. He called this morning and then I talked with Brian a while. We said we hoped "Wait Wait" comes to Nashville and that Roy Blount, Jr. and Paula Poundstone will be on the panel if they do. Roy went to Vanderbilt, so it would be neat for him to be in Nashville for a taping. I follow Peter Sagal on Twitter and have asked him about bringing the show here. Hope they do. Tina, Paige, and I went to see "Says You" and enjoyed it. I'd like to see Michael Feldman's "What Do You Know?" if they ever come to Nashville.
OK - off to the knitting group! Hope you have a good weekend! Beautiful weather here today - cool and sunny. I'll get out and walk some.
Friday, March 26, 2010
FINALLY: The Difference between Nerd, Dork, and Geek Explained by a Venn Diagram
By Great White Snark
To all of you nerds and geeks who–like me–have been unfairly and inaccurately labeled “dorks,” only to then exhaustively explain the differences among the three to a more-than-skeptical offender, I say: You’re welcome. This nerd/dork/geek/dweeb Venn diagram should save you a lot of time and frustration in the future.
Be Afraid, Very Afraid of Rachel Maddow
by Liz White
The fake 2012 Massachusetts senatorial race between newly elected Sen. Scott Brown and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is really heating up—er, sort of.
Earlier this week Brown sent a fundraising letter to supporters all over the country claiming the “political machine” in Massachusetts was vetting “liberal MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow” to oppose him in the state’s election in 2012. Maddow quickly fired back, announcing that she had no plan to run for office while denouncing Brown for making up the story just to raise money. On Friday, Maddow approved a full-page ad in The Boston Globe to make her plans known to Brown’s constituents.
"It's standard now for conservatives to invent scary fake threats to run against—things like the made-up 'death panels' in health reform, or the fake controversy about the president's birth certificate,” she wrote. “I'm running this ad not because I'm running against Scott Brown—I'm not, he made that up—but because he's the senator for all of us, and maybe this will make him think twice the next time he wants to smear one of his constituents to raise money out-of-state.”
NEWSWEEK left a message seeking comment from Brown, but no response was received as of this posting.
It really says something that two years in advance and a few months after what GOP supporters called his “Massachusetts Miracle” election, Brown is already worried about competition, even if it is just to bring in more money. As the first Republican to be elected for Senate in Massachusetts in 40 years and a with no vote on the health-care-reform bill—not to mention his more moderate tendencies could turn off the far right—he could face a tough reelection campaign. The rumor of Maddow’s run might be false, but it's clear Brown’s fear of the next election isn’t.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Breaking Silence - For My Son
The night you were conceived
your father drove up Avon Mountain
and into the roadside rest
that looked over the little city,
its handful of scattered sparks.
I was eighteen and thin then
but the front seat of the 1956 Dodge
seemed cramped and dark,
the new diamond, I hadn't known
how to refuse, trapping flecks of light.
Even then the blackness was thick
as a muck you could swim through.
Your father pushed me down
on the scratchy seat, not roughly
but as if staking a claim,
and his face rose like
a thing-shadowed moon above me.
My legs ached in those peculiar angles,
my head bumped against the door.
I know you want me to say I loved him
but I wanted only to belong—to anyone.
So I let it happen,
the way I let all of it happen—
the marriage, his drinking, the rage.
This is not to say I loved you any less—
only I was young and didn't know yet
we can choose our lives.
It was dark in the car.
Such weight and pressure,
the wet earthy smell of night,
a slickness like glue.
And in a distant inviolate place,
as though it had nothing at all
to do with him, you were a spark
in silence catching.
"Breaking Silence—For My Son" by Patricia Fargnoli, from Necessary Light. © Utah State University Press, 1999. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Robert Culp, the actor who teamed with Bill Cosby in the racially groundbreaking TV series "I Spy" and was Bob in the critically acclaimed sex comedy "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," died Wednesday after collapsing outside his Hollywood home, his agent said. Culp was 79.
His manager, Hillard Elkins, said the actor was on a walk when he fell. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead just before noon. The actor's son was told he died of a heart attack, Elkins said, though police were unsure if the fall was medically related.
Los Angeles police Lt. Robert Binder said no foul play was suspected. Binder said a jogger found Culp, who apparently fell and struck his head.
Culp had been working on writing screenplays, Elkins said.
"I Spy," which aired from 1965 to 1968, was a television milestone in more ways than one. Its combination of humor and adventure broke new ground, and it was the first integrated television show to feature a black actor in a starring role.
Culp played Kelly Robinson, a spy whose cover was that of an ace tennis player. (In real life, Culp actually was a top-notch tennis player who showed his skills in numerous celebrity tournaments.). Cosby was fellow spy Alexander Scott, whose cover was that of Culp's trainer. The pair traveled the world in the service of the U.S. government.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Soap star Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinkska
Legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Ashly Costa
NFL star Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke
ESPN host Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Olympic skating champion Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya
Bachelor star Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower
TLC star Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani
Pop star Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough
Comedienne and host Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel
Actress and model Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood
Actress Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas
First up are Cheryl and Chad dancing the Cha-Cha. He wanted her to be tough on him during rehearsals and help him learn to dance and not compliment him unless he deserved it. For the first dance of a new season, he did do well. Len praised him. So did Bruno and Carrie Ann. I like him and always like Cheryl. Scores: 6/6/6 = 18 out of 30.
Next Shannen and Mark danced the Viennese waltz. Shannen said she was dancing for her father who had a stroke and loves the show. She was awkward and seemed nervous but did pretty well for her first dance. Bruno said the choreography was difficult for the first week but that she would get better. Carrie Ann said she had stumbles but potential. Len said she portrayed ease and elegance and that she coped with a difficult routine. Shannen cried because of seeing her dad while she danced. Scores: 6/6/6 = 18.
Erin and Maksim seem to be a good match to work together. She told him she was nervous because she heard he was hard on his dancers but she asked for that. He said, "They ask for me and then regret it." She told him she didn't ask for him. She asked for Tony. Then she was hard on herself, and Maks told her to let him correct her - "Don't judge! I judge! It's one pleasure I have to bitch at people and you're taking it away." I'm following Maks on Twitter, and he seems to be having fun. The judges all praised her Cha-Cha. Scores: 7/7/7 = 21.
Jake and Chelsie danced the Viennese waltz. Oh, good grief, Jake took Chelsie a rose when he first met her at the airport. He's a pilot. He, too, is a perfectionist, so Chelsie told him it was about improvement. They're carrying this rose thing too far and used it at the beginning of the dance. I like Chelsie and have enjoyed watching her with her other partners, especially Ty Murray. His movements were choppy at times and graceful some. The judges said he needed to calm down and have better posture but had good footwork. Scores: 7/6/7 = 20.
Niecy and Louie performed the Cha-Cha. Her personality came through and made it fun. She told Louie she likes her jiggly parts and doesn't want to lose them during all this dancing. She was out of breath and speechless when it was over. Bruno told her to focus. Carrie Ann said she was sexy. Len said she was bubbly but the dance was flat. Nicey said she was go happy she remembered her routine. Scores: 7/5/6 = 18.
Evan and Anna met to rehearse in Vancouver. He had problems because the turns for the Viennese waltz are the opposite from his in skating, and he'd get dizzy. I thought he seemed elegant but a little awkward at times. His arm extensions and posture were great. I really like him and how he conducts himself so gentlemanly in interviews. The judges said he needs to point his toes, connect with the audience, and dance in partnership. You can tell Anna wants to win this competition! Scores: 8/7/8 = 23.
Buzz and Ashly danced the Cha-Cha. Buzz is in good shape physically but shows his age. His wife has had too much work done on her face and looks like a lion, and he looks as if he might have had some, too. He's 80 years old but did pretty well - better than some younger ones have done. This is the typical token older person on the show, and he has done something few people have ever done by walking on the Moon. The judges praised him for his accomplishments but not for his dancing. He'll probably be the first to go, but who can tell for sure? Scores: 5/4/5 = 14.
Nicole and Derek performed the Viennese waltz. She had trouble with it during rehearsal but was elegant and graceful during performance. They related well together and to the audience. Very pretty and entertaining. She could be the one to win. Bruno stood up and raved about her. Carrie Ann said she's never seen anyone do this the first night. Len rained on the parade, though, and disagreed (middle score). Scores: 9/7/9 = 25.
Aiden and Edyta got along well during rehearsal and had fun while working hard. They danced the Cha-Cha. Well, some of his moves, footwork, and arm positions were good, and he related well with her while dancing. But he was stiff and awkward. He has a way to go, and I hope he gets to stick around. Edyta really wants to win. The judges said it was disjointed but didn't go anywhere and didn't have much going for it. Bruno even compared him to Kenny Mayne. The scores won't be good. Edyta looked crestfallen. Scores: 5/5/5 = 15.
Kate and Tony rehearsed at the room she had built in her house. Tony questioned her dedication and said she'd have to work hard. They danced the Viennese waltz. She seemed awkward and stiff. I don't like her, so it's hard for me to be objective, but there was no elegance and grace at all in her dancing. The judges said she looked nervous and didn't dance with fluidity, had terrible technique and looked like Tony was pushing a shopping cart around the floor (that was Bruno), and all of this is totally new to her. Scores: 6/5/5 = 16.
Pamela and Damian did the Cha-Cha. Damian is new, and she said she has no rhythm and is tone deaf. She didn't have confidence during rehearsal but knows how to perform. That she did, too! Bruno will go wild because of the sexiness of this dance. Pretty good! Bruno said he could only think of sex, sex, and more sex and said Striparella was back. Carrie Ann said she had fun and was fully engaged. Len said overall it was a mess. Scores: 7/6/8 = 21.
Now I'll vote.
I've been following Peter Sagal on Twitter and discovered that he has a blog. This is his latest post and a good time to share it with you. He invited Obama haters to comment on his blog, so if there are those who want to, please do it there instead of here. The link is in the title, HERE, and on my blog list. He apparently wants to hear them, but I don't. Thank you.
I have been interested, to the point recently of somewhere between deep concern and obsession, with the nature of the political divide. We don’t disagree anymore, we loathe. Maybe it was always thus, but it sure has been that way for a long time now. I heard Republican representatives talk today about “taking our country back.” Which was what Howard Dean was saying in 2004. Clearly, although the two sides think differently, they feel the same.
I am aware that many people today hate President Obama to the same extent, or even more, than other people hated President Bush. And one could argue that this equivalency — and there is equivalence, at least in the vehemence of feeling - is in itself sufficient explanation. That is, it’s not who we’re hating, it’s the hating itself: our essential, tribal nature drives us to seek an Opponent and affix to him (or her) all Blame and Responsibility for That Which Is Wrong, and we shall Cure Our Ills by Fighting that Individual. Fine, and I think that’s true, to a shocking extent. We are all far less rational than it is comforting to believe.
But… I watched the President’s speech today in front of the House Democrats. It is entirely impromptu, no prepared texts. And I can understand entirely why people might disagree with him. His central argument that we in America should be “neighborly” and “look out for each other, ” with the unstated implication that this should be done via the power of the state, strikes intelligent people as wrong and dangerous, and as an affront to liberty and responsibility. I totally dig that, and in certain circumstances, usually when paying my taxes, find myself, if not in complete agreement, then certainly sympathetic.
But, how in the world can people look at this well-spoken, articulate, sincere man, who is at least as honest in his goals and his ideology as his opponents are in theirs, and hate him? Loathe him? I honestly don’t get it. Any explanation would be welcome.
(To anticipate one: his opponents to a great degree deny that he is sincere. They believe he is “deceptive,” and is hiding his true nature, which is far more cynical/ideological/ambitious than he allows himself to appear. Thus they can ascribe to him all kinds of unpleasant characteristics for which there is no apparent evidence. But I don’t really understand where the initial assumption of his deception comes from, either.)
(To anticipate another: yes, some of his opponents hate him because he is black. But I am not interested in that, because it is not interesting, nor is it sufficient.)
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Health Care Reform's Winners and Losers
It doesn't take a rocket scientist -- or even an alleged expert such as this reporter -- to see that the big political winner in tonight's House vote is the president of the United States. After a year and a half of fitful but increasingly focused effort, Barack Obama is able to claim victory in an effort that he had made the emblem and focus of his entire presidency. In some ways, the win was a negative one: the humiliation of a defeat would have made him look powerless and inept. And in Washington, appearances beget reality. But, hey, as teams in the Big Dance can tell you, a win is a win.
The list of winners and losers only begins with the president. Here is my sense of who they are, in both political and real-life terms.
Obama: He staked everything on this and, like the long distance runners from his fatherland, he made it (barely) across the finish line.
Nancy Pelosi: They said she knows how to count votes, and she does. They can't stand her in Tea Party America, and some liberals are angry at her, but she knows how to deliver.
Rahm Emanuel: The White House chief of staff was tasked by Obama with the job of getting this done, and Rahm, whose effectiveness and commitment have been questioned, has just taken a major step toward showing that he was the right guy for the job.
Near-poverty Americans not covered by Medicaid: Some 15 million Americans will get health care through medicaid than currently have it.
Middle class families who cant afford to buy insurance: Some 15 million will eventually get subsidies.
Policy holders: For the first time, the federal government will impose rules designed to control some of the risk-avoiding (and profit making) strategies of the insurance companies.
Drug companies: They kicked in $80 billion to help make the bill work, but stand to make ten times that in revenues from added government and government-subsidized business.
Tea Partiers: They are crying havoc (outside the Capitol) and now have their cause, apocalypse and all.
Insurance industry: The health care industry grew out of insurance, which has never been subject to direct and thorough national regulation by the federal government. They stayed aloof from a deal, and ended up losing the game of musical chairs, even though they will get new customers.
Blue Dog Democrats and Democrats from GOP districts: There is still time for them to recoup -- election day is still eight months away. But this vote is a loser for many of them, and they knew it.
Wealthy and semi-wealthy taxpayers: Those making $200,000 individually or $250,000 as families are going to get squeezed -- and they should know it. All taxpayers in ten years. The bill makes big assumptions about spending cuts. Most realistic and neutral observers believe that those "savings" -- in medicare, for example-- will never happen, which means more deficits.
The Republican Party: They'll gain seats in the midterms for sure, but not necessarily as many as they are assuming. For one, the world is not going to end if and when the bill becomes law. In fact, nothing much at all will happen. That will be a relief to many, and no grist for the GOP. The Dems will have something to run on. and the Democrats president will look like a winner.
Obviously my foot is much better - almost well. Thank goodness for antibiotics that work.
I've been watching the Health Care Bill periodically today when I could stand it. I switched back and forth between C-SPAN and MSNBC because I just couldn't listen to some of those speakers. It's a miracle anything ever gets done in Congress. Good grief!
Fortunately, this was a good weekend - the first one for two weeks. Last weekend I had plumbing problems and called my regular plumbers who sent someone over on Sunday. He found that it wasn't in my part but the city's. They called the water department who sent someone over Monday morning. They did laparoscopic plumbing and discovered a pipe had collapsed. They said I could shower and flush but not to do anything else like laundry or run the dishwasher. The gas, electric, and phone companies had to come out to be sure no digging would interfere with their lines. I had all kinds of spray paint on my street in front of my house and the place where the water department pipe is for our houses around here.
Nothing had been done, so I called Thursday to ask when it was scheduled. Those same guys from Monday came back to check things and let me know some main lines had to be fixed as a priority and hoped mine would be fixed soon. Aha! Early Friday morning they were out there! Relief! It feels good to have all that working again. The best part is that I didn't have to pay for it since it was the water department's pipe. Well, I have been paying for it with my water/sewer bill for almost 40 years. I just had to pay the plumbers for coming out here.
Friends and I have gone out to lunch and dinner a few times lately. After being shut in and relatively immobile, it was good to be social.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Ideally, all children would have good pre-natal care, loving parents, healthy meals, exercise, time to play, encouragement, and safety. We teachers have no idea the kinds of homes our students live in. We don't know what they go through when they aren't in school. Elementary teachers possibly have a better idea of it than we high school teachers since by then kids have built defenses. Parent-teacher conferences were always instructive because I got an idea of what their parents were like. I always told students to let me know if something were going on that prevented them from getting their work done or turning in major assignments because I'm not a mind reader and needed to know.
There are some really bad teachers, and I don't understand why they went into the profession. Most of those bore students to death and waste their time. Some do damage with their power trips and abusive actions. Goods grief! We're all on the same side. The goal I have is to help children grow up to be independent adults who become productive members of society capable of making informed decisions. There are inspiring teachers who make a positive difference in students' lives. They transcend the subject matter and encourage students to want to learn and try. I hope all of you have had teachers like those. I have.
Students mostly start out trusting, enthusiastic, and excited about school. Then years of classrooms get them out of it way too often. What's going on now is TOO MUCH TESTING and too much emphasis on it. Training students to take standardized tests is not teaching them. You can't believe the lack of knowledge and absence of critical thinking from middle school students entering high school after NCLB and all the testing. Because teachers' evaluations are tied into test scores of their students, they drill them on the "standards" and practice tests. Our director of schools is consumed with it. He was principal of a middle school with no experience in high school and is trying to turn the high schools into middle schools. Those of you who teach know what I'm talking about. The kids are so different at those ages, and the requirements are also different. It's all about test scores with him, and teachers are pressured about it, too.
I maintain that when allowed to teach students to think, study, problem-solve, analyze, communicate, and all those things we're supposed to do when actually teaching, they will be able to pass any of those tests. What's been going on for way too long now is going to take many many years to rectify. The present educational system is failing our students. Yes, there are motivated students who will rise to challenges, inspiring teachers, and involved parents. Let's hope this trend ends soon, and they can all get back to how it needs to be.
Friday, March 12, 2010
New Rule: Let's not fire the teachers when students don't learn - let's fire the parents. Last week President Obama defended the firing of every single teacher in a struggling high school in a poor Rhode Island neighborhood. And the kids were outraged. They said, "Why blame our teachers?" and "Who's President Obama?" I think it was Whitney Houston who said, "I believe that children are our future - teach them well and let them lead the way." And that's the last sound piece of educational advice this country has gotten - from a crack head in the '80's.
Yes, America has found its new boogeyman to blame for our crumbling educational system. It's just too easy to blame the teachers, what with their cushy teachers' lounges, their fat-cat salaries, and their absolute authority in deciding who gets a hall pass. We all remember high school - canning the entire faculty is a nationwide revenge fantasy. Take that, Mrs. Crabtree! And guess what? We're chewing gum and no, we didn't bring enough for everybody.
But isn't it convenient that once again it turns out that the problem isn't us, and the fix is something that doesn't require us to change our behavior or spend any money. It's so simple: Fire the bad teachers, hire good ones from some undisclosed location, and hey, while we're at it let's cut taxes more. It's the kind of comprehensive educational solution that could only come from a completely ignorant people.
Firing all the teachers may feel good - we're Americans, kicking people when they're down is what we do - but it's not really their fault. Now, undeniably, there are some bad teachers out there. They don't know the material, they don't make things interesting, they have sex with the same kid every day instead of spreading the love around... But every school has crappy teachers. Yale has crappy teachers - they must, they gave us George Bush.
According to all the studies, it doesn't matter what teachers do. Although everyone appreciates foreplay. What matters is what parents do. The number one predictor of a child's academic success is parental involvement. It doesn't even matter if your kid goes to private or public school. So save the twenty grand a year and treat yourself to a nice vacation away from the little bastards.
It's also been proven that just having books in the house makes a huge difference in a child's development. If your home is adorned with nothing but Hummel dolls, DVD's, and bleeding Jesuses, congratulations, you've just given your children the gift of Duh. Sarah Palin said recently she wrote on her hand because her father used to do it. I rest my case.
When there are no books in the house, and there are no parents in the house, you know who raises the kids? That's right, the television. Kids aren't keeping up with their studies; they're keeping up with the Kardashians. We're allowing the television, as babysitter, to turn us into a nation of slutty idiots. By the way, one sign your 9-year-old may be watching too much One Tree Hill: if she has an imaginary friend with benefits.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Btw, Janis Joplin and I were born the same year. She died on October 2, 1970, the day before my 27th birthday. She'd already been 27 since January.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Dr said these are quite common, but I would like to know how I got it. Strange and painful.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
A Theory of Health Care Spending
For a good while, I've had a half-baked and only half-joking theory that health care spending would not be so high if we were not constantly reminded of all the things that could be wrong with us.
I watch or listen to television news in short bursts of a few minutes each throughout the day. My general impression is that well over half – perhaps even three-quarters – of commercials are disease related. To see if that is anywhere near true, I grabbed a book yesterday morning and settled down to spend a random hour with television to make notes on the topics of the commercials.
That much time was not needed. I was shocked to find that in the period of one, three-minute commercial break, remedies for the following diseases and conditions were advertised:
High blood pressure
That's a lot of health problems to cram into three minutes and it is repeated all day on all channels except, possibly, MTV which undoubtedly highlights acne cures.
I don't remember so many health-related commercials when I was a kid. “The heartbreak of psoriasis” comes to mind, along with “Speedy Alkaseltzer” and Bayer aspirin, but certainly no prescription drugs back then. I still don't understand why that last is done; it must drive physicians nuts to have patients demanding drugs advertised on television that may or may not be relevant to the patients' ailments.
My theory is that it all adds up – that we are bombarded with so many pictures and words about what might be wrong with us that thousands of people who otherwise feel healthy, run to their doctor asking for prescription drugs they saw on television and/or start buying over-the-counter remedies. Certainly the advertising must have an effect similar to reading disease symptoms – too much of that and you believe you've contracted something terrible.
It's just a theory, but I wonder – and I wonder if there were less health-related advertising, how many fewer doctor visits, prescriptions and OTC drug purchases there would be.
Here's an excerpt:
And here's what I think: they are all hateful and corrupt.
There is so much rotten business going on with all federal elected (and not a few appointed) officials that it is impossible to keep track of it all (which may be what they're counting on.)And it's like that every day in Washington on every issue: individual advantage to the powerful over the good of the nation.
Monday, March 8, 2010
We met at the Publix parking lot in Bellevue. All that was fine, too. They left and I went in to get a few groceries. As I was heading to the car and reached into my purse to get my keys, no keys. Yep, I locked them in the car. For some reason I put them in that console between the front seats instead of that pocket in my purse where I always keep them. I went to the customer service desk at Publix to ask if there were a security guard or policeman around who could help me get in my car. She said they aren't allowed to do that any more, which I recalled after she mentioned it.
She got me the number of AAA since I didn't have my card with me. Talk about planning! Why didn't I put it in there when I changed purses? She also wrote the address for the store which came in really handy, and in my panic never occurred to me to ask for. I went outside to call AAA and was afraid I hadn't sent in my renewal form and check. Of course! My membership expired March 1. I thought I would just cry and live at Publix right then. She said I could renew on the phone with a credit card, so I did gratefully. I'm not usually such a ditz but believe I got the Bernice award for all this so far.
I waited outside for over an hour and a half for the AAA truck. Fortunately, the weather was great - warmer and sunny. Felt good. It didn't take him long to unlock my car. I was so glad to be able to get home! Later on (too late) I wondered if I should have given him a tip. I was certainly thankful enough to have been generous. I googled it last night and got several different opinions on it. I still think I should have. What do you think?
The woman who answered the AAA call was very nice. Her first question was, "Are you in a safe location?" Then we went from there.
When I got home, I changed clothes and took a nap. Then to add to my already not-so-great day, when I woke up my foot hurt. I couldn't remember hitting it or anything and finally decided that something must have bitten me on the top of my foot. It still hurt just as much this morning and is reddish and swollen. I think it's a regular spider bite based on my online research. It really hurts.
So today has involved complaining about my foot. Yesterday definitely could have been better.
I've decided I have low expectations for being entertained during the Oscars. Sure there are things that would definitely make it better, but I'm mostly interested in who won, what they say, who they are with, and what they are wearing. Occasionally the speeches are exceptional or so over the top that I remember them. I've always watched the show and added all the awards shows leading up to them. Don't judge. I like awards shows.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Sarah Palin and Entourage Descend like 'Locusts' on Oscar Swag SuiteSOURCE
BY Brian Kates
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sarah Palin and her entourage descended "like locusts" on the Oscar swag suite, scarfing up freebies in a binge that "practically cleaned the place out," celebrity gossips reported Thursday.
The former Alaska Gov's Wednesday pigout included jewels from Pascal Mouawad, watches by Skagen and a fancy new hairdo for her daughter Willow. The new coiffure came courtesy of Erick Orellana, Jennifer Aniston's longtime hairstylist, witnesses said.
The Los Angeles Times reported Palin was supposed to donate all of her gift items back to the Silver Spoon Oscar Suite for auction, as well as $1,700 of her own cash, in support of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies efforts in Haiti and Chile.
But E! Online insisted, "we can assure you she did not give up any of her swag."
The entertainment news outlet quoted an unnamed vendor who said that as many as 20 people from the Palin camp swarmed the event.
"They were like locusts," he said.
News of Palin's grabfest ignited the blogosphere.
"She insisted every person in her huge entourage get something, and there were assistants, nannies, security - insanity!," an unnamed HollywoodLife.com source said.
HollywoodLife.com also reported that Palin picked up a blue Kenya robe from designer Jenna Leigh, facewash and a pair of foam Bandal sandals.
"She kind of cleaned the place out," Ben Russo of EMC/Bowery told AOL's Pop Eater. The website said swag-grabs included 40 pairs of AIAIAI earphones.
One witness said security swept the venue and would not allow photos.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Now that we've found out the celebrities who will be competing in Season 10's "Dancing With the Stars," ABC has announced the second (but no less important) part of this reality TV show equation: the professional dancers each contestant will be paired up with. Here is the complete list:
-- Astronaut and resident moon walker Buzz Aldrin teams up with Ashly Costa (formerly DelGrosso)
-- Pamela Anderson is coupled with new "DWTS" pro Damian Whitewood
-- ESPN reporter Erin Andrews is partnered with resident "DWTS" bad boy Maksim Chemerkovskiy
-- Actress Shannen Doherty steps out with two-time champ Mark Ballas
-- Kate Gosselin is matched up with Tony Dovolani
-- Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek is with Anna Trebunskaya (pictured)
-- "Reno 911!'s" Niecy Nash will be with Louis Van Amstel
-- Cincinnati Bengal Chad Ochocinco teams up with two-time champ Cheryl Burke
-- Newly engaged "Bachelor" Jake Pavelka is matched with Chelsie Hightower
-- Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger partners with Season 7 champ Derek Hough
-- "All My Children" star Aiden Turner is paired with legwarmer queen Edyta Sliwinska, the only pro to compete in all 10 seasons.Note that there's no Dmitry Chaplin, Karina Smirnoff, or recent champ Kym Johnson this season.
So far they've gone to a waste management business, Hooters, 7-Eleven, and White Castle. If you have On Demand with Comcast, they're all on there or HERE.
Aiden Turner, 32, probably best known as Soap heartthrob, 'Aidan Devane', on ABC's 'All My Children'.
Buzz Aldrin, 80, goes from moon walking to ballroom dancing.
Chad Ochocinco, 32, wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Erin Andrews, 31, ESPN sports reporter.
Evan Lysacek, 24, Olympic gold medal winning skating star.
Jake Pavelka, 32, 'The Bachelor' who just chose 'bad girl', Vienna, for his bride.
Kate Gosselin, 35, best known for her role in the reality TV show, 'Jon and Kate Plus 8'.
Niecy Nash, 40, actress, known for her roles in 'Reno 911!' and it’s spin-off film 'Reno 911: Miami', 'The Bernie Mac Show' and 'Do Not Disturb'
Nicole Scherzinger, 31, singer, songwriter, actress and lead singer of 'The Pussycat Dolls'.
Pamela Anderson, 42, former 'Bay Watch' swimsuit beauty, actress, model...sex symbol.
Shannen Doherty, 37, actress known for her roles on 'Beverly Hills, 90210', 'Charmed' and 'Breaking Up With Shannen Doherty'.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Until then, I do have the Oscars to look forward to Sunday night and the Independent Spirit Awards Saturday night. Top Chef Masters returns April 7. Check out the chefs HERE. Some of you will have feelings about at least one of them now, but we'll all have opinions once it begins.