Sunday, January 28, 2007
While many of us want to throw Captain Lieberman (formerly Oedipus Lieberman [formerly Joe Lieberman]) off the neocon Deathstar of fools--by means of the trash compactor, no doubt, we peeps in CT can take pride and joy in another Joe—Joe Courtney.
As tparty over at My Left Nutmeg notes, D.C. Grandmaster Captain Lieberman has been on more Sundays shows in the past few months that it's as if he were giving Paris Hilton a run for her money. So as the media reveals Hilton’s escapades with Brittany or perhaps the latest home video—pick a vice, Captain Lieberman tries desperately to justify Chimpy’s troop surge/escalation/augmentation—pick a word.
Thank goodness for congressman Joe Courtney. He’s the good Joe that helps us counterbalance the bad Joe; the AP reports today that Captain Lieberman may vote for a Republican in the next presidential election—yet another gargantuan middle finger to CT democratic voters who voted his ass out in the August primary; a double birdie to us bloggers who catch him in more lies than we do Chimpy.
Rather than focus on Captain Joe, though, let’s focus on good Joe. In addition to appearances on local CT television and radio, Courtney was also at Connecticut College this past Thursday evening talking to educators about that dreadful legislation, NCLB, which Chimpy and Maggie “No Qualified” Spellings have been urging congress to re-authorize. My “teacher” sources tell me that Courtney was very articulate and knowledgeable about the issues at the Conn. event. I was not surprised, as not only did my wife and I campaign for Courtney but I also gave a stump speech on education for Joe back in May. Courtney is a good man who understands the trials and tribulations of the classroom teacher—a MAJOR one being the biggest overlooked fact in Washington: the super-duper unqualified Spellings. Yes, Maggie “May” also needs to be jettisoned; she’s barely qualified to be a classroom aide, let alone a substitute teacher. Just take a look at her fucking pathetic performance on Jeopardy not too long ago. Ironic, huh?
Courtney has also been doing the rounds recently at functions hosted by local democratic town committees; last evening, he was in New London for a fund raiser. No doubt, Congressman Courtney in a short time has made it a point to stay in touch with his constituents. Imagine that.
Imagine if that other Joe took a lesson from this Joe? In the meantime, there’s no need to worry about the trash compactor; it looks like the Deathstar is self-destructing from within, and Captain Lieberman still remains tethered to the leviathan Iraq.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
What has been disappointing is that he STILL doesn’t get it, does he? Slowlearningcuve.com? Perhaps. But just like poor, pathetic Pip from Great Expectations, Chimpy still believes in the unbelievable; he stills believes we can win the un-winnable—the war in Iraq. Or at least that’s what he’s telling us in a sad effort to WIN us over.
But no one can convince him and his Sith Lord, Darth Cheney, not even the most right of the Right Wing, Senator “I want to change the constitution” Brownback. Not even Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, who in the past week has not only shown he has a HUGE pair but has also revealed in GQ—a pip of a pipster’s magazine—that the Bush Administration originally planned to overtake the entire Middle East. Ignorehistoryandcolonizationlearningcurve.com? Most definitely.
Like a delusional Pip, perhaps Chimpy got wrapped up in one of his State of Confusion honoree’s work—Julie Aigner-Clark, creator of none other than the Baby Einstein line. Yeah, he honored her for her philanthropy/community service efforts along with honoring exceptional immigrants and war heroes. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Oh, come on! You have to check out Clark’s DVDs, if not her books. The Baby Einstein DVDs and books are both great learning tools that often combine classical music along with mesmerizing visuals, and they expose infants and toddlers to basic knowledge about all kinds of subjects, ranging from art to astronomy to world geography. Even Pip could’ve learned a thing or two from Baby Einstein. Shit, Clark certainly did, as she made a bundle by selling the line to Disney; hence, the reason for pulling the Baby Einstein, Financial Fairy Tale episode. GoodforyouformakingmoneyinAmerica.com? You got it.
But really: My two love the Baby Einstein stories, especially the ones involving the chimp. No, not George, but the one named Jane who also has great expectations to conquer the world. Jane gets in her plane. Jane stops by one land to learn about it. As ambitious as a Pip, Jane goes happily to another land to learn more.
But not our chimp, George. He goes from one land, only to invade another, and then devises great expectations to invade more. If only our Chimp learned from Clark’s chimp, then maybe the recent BBC poll about how the U.S. image in the world has sharply declined wouldn’t be so shocking. Theconsequencesofourpresident.com. Alas, we must journey through one more year with great expectations to reach our final State of Delusion.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
NOTE: This contribution was submitted by ATM; better known as my better half. Enjoy.
My Outrage of the Week
(would George Orwell be proud of George Bush?)
I have a vague recollection of the first time I heard it; in fact, it was probably the State of the Union Address 2006. The term “addicted to oil” rolled out of the mouth of George W., and I remember looking at my husband; we were both thinking: did he really just say that? Of course, this term was used in response to the too casual and rapid rise in oil prices impacting most Americans weekly as they drove up to the pump. Even at our “cheapest” gas station in town, we would fill up our tanks exchanging frustrated grimaces of outrage.
Anyway, good ol’ W. simply suggested that the rise in fuel costs was a direct result of our American addiction to oil. (Next time I teach American lit., I’ll have to add this one to my list of essential questions: How can we, as Americans, combat our addiction to oil?) At any rate, the term was thrown out into American homes via television by our esteemed president; personally, I had no faith in its shelf life. I mean, come on, are people really going to be willing to buy into this blame game? Are we suddenly (curiously during the presidential terms of this oil guy) so addicted to oil that our gas prices have skyrocketed and yo-yoed over the past few years?
How transparent! I remember thinking: Nobody will buy into this madness. It’s right out of 1984. The real information (a direct correlation involving the Bush presidency, the former Republican Congress and our out of control oil prices) has been sent down the memory tube, and the “addiction to oil” has been rewritten into our American history books.
I guess I really never thought that the catchy little phrase would be rooted in talk media for the past year. This morning on the Diane Rehm show, her guest amicably discussed the news of the day and the casual phrase assaulted me like a crack addict in a dark alley (oops, wrong addiction blog). “Addicted to Oil” has stretched its legs in the American consciousness, and it’s not going anywhere.
I wonder what new delightful term will be revealed tonight, allowing us to doublespeak our way into another new reality. I hope Winston and Julia will be watching.
Friday, January 19, 2007
WHY I AM A MODERATE
By Genghis Conn
If only it were that simple. However, there's a lot more to moderation than just paralyzing indecision. In fact, moderation is the ultimate freedom--which can be, in the way that freedom is, both exhilarating and scary.
Since a lot of references to Shakespeare appear on this site, I think I'll draw one to illustrate my point. Romeo and Juliet is a play about, in part, a society torn between two poles. It is only Friar Laurence, the wise old priest, who can move freely in both worlds. Here is, perhaps, a guiding philosophy:
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give,
Nor aught so good but strain'd from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometimes by action dignified. (II.ii)
He's speaking about plants, but rightly compares them to men a few lines later. The world, for Friar Laurence, is not light and dark, good and evil, absolute right and wrong, but a complex mix of all of these things. Romeo and Juliet, when they speak, give us images of light and dark, while Laurence speaks of mixes, grays. Perhaps a better way of summing up this philosophy is what Laurence says to Romeo a few moments later:
Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.
And so I live my life, and practice my politics. Terrible things can happen when we try to move too quickly, without first considering the merits of what we're doing or the possible consequences. Neither those on the far left nor the far right believe me when I say that we can't force social change, and that real, substantial change is generational and not instantaneous. But it's true.
The period we live in now is a conservative one, and a deeply conservative one at that. We may have just found the bottom of it now, with this past election. However, this conservative trend didn't come from nowhere--it was born partly because of the social and fiscal excesses of the 1960s and 1970s--which in turn came from the deep repression of the 1950s, and so on. History can sometimes seem like Newton's laws--there can be no action without an equal and opposite reaction.
If you're interested in philosophy, I think Hegel was essentially correct when he proposed the idea of the dialectic (although that term and idea was later warped by Marxists). Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. If the social revolutions of the 1960s and later were the thesis, the period we are in now is antithesis.
I work for synthesis--the combination of the two into something new and better. I believe we're starting to come into that future now, although we may not really get there until all those who bear the scars of those old social revolutions are out of power. This is why I like Barack Obama. He was too young for Vietnam.
We, too, are a sharply divided society. We segregate ourselves--associating with fewer and fewer people who have different perspectives and ideas. The internet is a good example of this. The most popular and influential sites subscribe to one ideology or the other--and they are obsessed, as is often the case with radicals, with orthodoxy within the ideology.
This is pointless. What progress is really made, except among the members of the group? Intelligent governance requires compromise and thoughtful consideration, not ideology and orthodoxy.
That's what moderation is about. Compromise and discussion. A moderate like Friar Laurence can see that everything is a mix of good and bad, and that neither ideological pole is absolutely right or absolutely wrong. I, for example, embrace a smart fiscal conservatism while at the same time championing a cautious social liberalism.
Yet a word of caution for moderates can be seen in Romeo and Juliet: Friar Laurence, when confronted with Romeo's exile, cooks up a perfectly dreadful plan that will theoretically end with no one being angry or finding out about Romeo and Juliet's marriage. He's going to have Juliet drink something that makes her appear dead, then spirit her out of Verona after the funeral. This is a dumb idea, but it's all Friar Laurence can think of. It's very complexity invites something to go wrong, which of course it does (the message never gets to Romeo). Then, worst of all, when Romeo lies dead and Juliet awakes in the tomb, Laurence is so paralyzed that he can do nothing except walk away, leaving Juliet alone with a convenient knife.
The lesson is clear. Be moderate in all things--moderation itself included. Don't be afraid to act and be bold when the situation requires it, and to seek compromise and caution in other times.
It's the ultimate freedom. I can decide and act as I like--no ideology commands me, and I'm free to make up my own mind. That, above all else, is why I am a moderate.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I was a liberal before I became a Democrat. (For ridiculous reasons, liberal is still a dirty word in politics, and calling oneself a liberal would nearly be political suicide. However, since I’m not running for federal office yet, I’m not holding back.) I’m not proud to be a Democrat as much as I’m proud to be a liberal. Don’t get me wrong; it’s admirable to be a part of the Democratic Party at this crucial juncture in the evolution of the United States. The election of 2006 was enormous, and the election of 2008 will be even more momentous. There is a battle for the soul of America, and one party more than any other has a decent chance of pushing through the liberal agenda. This is why I support, enrolled in, and became an elected official of the Democratic Party. It’s because we represent the best chance to take our country forward in the direction in which I want it to go.
My beliefs formed first and then I chose a political party that most suited that ideology second. Therefore, I am a liberal first and foremost. Being aligned with the Democratic Party is secondary, and I would hope it’s the same for most Democrats. For example, if you were a Democrat and the Democratic Party gradually moved from the left to the center, would you follow? Would you change your beliefs because your political party did? Of course not. Otherwise, your beliefs wouldn’t be yours, but rather a belief of a group that makes up your mind for you. If this is the case, step back and decide what you believe in. Maybe this will help.
Empathy is the barometer of humanity. We care for others; it’s just a matter of how much. Often times, we have no means to make a direct difference in the lives of those less fortunate. That's okay. It’s why we have a government. The good government takes care of its people. But the government can’t do it alone. It needs our help.
Taxes are the way you contribute to a better mankind. You don’t have to give to charity, you don’t have to give a bum on the street a twenty, and you don’t have to volunteer at a community event, though all of the above are welcomed and encouraged.
As a liberal, I support the progressive tax policy. Everyone should pay something, and the richer you are, the more you should give for the good of the many. When did it become okay to give big tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of schools, health care, welfare, and the rest of publicly funded programs that help out those most in need of help? How did this get through our society? Should we not be ashamed that this tax cut for the wealthy happened on our watch?
What is better for America: That a rich man's son doesn’t have to work a day in his life OR that the gifted child of a cleaning lady gets the opportunity for a free, top-notch education? You tell me. Which improves society?
The conservative ideology promotes sink or swim. It’s as if they adhere to the belief that everyone has been given an equal chance in this world, or at least this country. “It’s America, where you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you just work hard enough” and all that nonsense. Well, conservatives, guess how they make something of themselves. They need an education, and the better their education the better their chances for success. But, oh shoot, education is expensive. Towns with control over their school budgets are lowering these budgets at an alarming rate. There are conservative taxpayers who wonder why they have to pay into the schools if their children have already graduated. Of all the ignorance in the world…
I mean, it’s our kids we’re talking about – the future of mankind and the future of American society. I always wondered why town pride doesn’t kick in during these school budget fights. Don’t we want our kids to be the smartest? Don’t we want to give them the best chance at life, at getting wealthy, at being successful? Don’t we want these children, especially our own, to have better lives than we did when growing up? This is why I can never understand the ignoramus who grins from ear to ear because he just bought a brand new $7,000 riding lawnmower but will fight tooth and nail before giving an extra $150 in taxes to get his children and his community's children a better education.
And shouldn’t teachers be among the most respected occupations? And with this respect, should not their salaries be the envy of most other workers? The best salaries attract the best minds. To be against teachers earning more money is to be against the improvement of public education. To be against the improvement of public education is to be against a better tomorrow. The antagonists to public education tear apart the fabric of society. The town could crumble around them and they won’t bat an eyelash because they won and didn’t have a tax increase. These people are more than conservatives – they are terrorists.
And if you, Tom Q. Uberconservative, are just running out the clock on yourself, if you’re just looking out for old number one, if you honestly don’t think everyone in a town of 2,000, 5,000, or 100,000 can’t chip in an extra hundred dollars to pass a school or town budget, then I don’t want to know you. You’re a selfish son-of-a-bitch and I won’t forgive it.
As a liberal, I believe in helping those less fortunate. America’s a great land for many people, no doubt about it. It is undeniable, however, that there is a great deal of citizens in dire poverty across this country. Americans die from starvation, from exposure, and from a premature failure of health. I choose to not let them go hungry. And since I cannot give thousands of dollars to the cause, I want to be part of a society that chips in together and helps.
I believe our government should help these people. Don’t ignore suffering. Many prominent Republicans in America today are proud of their faith and in their following of Jesus Christ, but these same Republicans are quick to go to war, become corrupt in order to stay in power, and not help those in poverty in favor of helping the rich. Hypocrisy doesn’t begin... you know what, let's just say it: If Jesus were alive today, he wouldn’t be a Republican.
The fact of the matter is that some children can never battle out of the poverty they were born into…if they survived that childhood at all. Let's remember that there were ways to prevent this from even happening.
Liberals want to teach kids about safe sex, including why our bodies do what they do during puberty, teaching about sexually transmitted diseases, and putting free condoms in the schools. Conservatives fight this, saying it’s improper to teach these issues in schools. They think teaching kids about sex and giving out condoms are ways to get kids thinking about sex.
Surely we know it’s not sex education that drives kids to want to have sex. In the words of Aaron Sorkin via character Toby Ziegler:
Random conservative: “Show the average American teenage male a condom and his mind will turn to thoughts of lust.”
Toby: “Show the average American teenage male a lug wrench and his mind will turn to thoughts of lust.”
Teaching abstinence will not stop the unmarried from having sex. It’s been proven, though, that teaching abstinence makes it less likely that students will know to use contraceptives, thereby not limiting unintended pregnancies.
Ultimately, kids make mistakes, as do all humans. Our imperfection is well documented. From Napoleon’s March on Moscow to Mariano Rivera blowing four straight saves against the Red Sox, even Greatness blunders. What are we to expect of the layman? Sometimes these mistakes are huge. Sometimes they are unavoidable. Sometimes, there is only one way to correct them.
There are a variety of places to stand on this issue, factoring in causes, trimester count, and other extenuating circumstances. But without a doubt, there are two general camps that everyone will find themselves in. Either there are conditions under which you will support an abortion or there are no such conditions. Either you do not what the government to step in (Pro-choice) or you want the government to make it 100% illegal (pro-life).
Liberals are pro-choice. Rape, incest, poverty, health of the mother, health of the embryo, decision made by the would-be parents…these are reasons to support an abortion. Sometimes, it’s just better that the embryo does not develop. Who are politicians to force a mother to have a child if she does not want it? Roe vs. Wade had it right. The woman’s right to control her body outweighs the rights of an embryo.
Conservatives could not in clear conscious think liberals are fans of abortions. We wish there was a world without abortions, but only if it were a world where abortions weren’t necessary in the first place. This is why (cue yet another connection) we wish to teach our citizens while they’re still young about safe sex practices.
In other words, contrary to what conservatives would have you believe, liberals value life just as much, if not more than conservatives. For example...
Again, Republicans who cite Jesus Christ need to run away from him on this one. He did not say eye for an eye, but rather turn the other cheek.
Even if a person kills someone or many people, is it not enough to keep them away from the society they have wronged by handing them life imprisonment? Why is taking their life justice? In a world where a set of circumstances exist that someone wishes to take the life of another, how can we consciously execute someone, even if they took the life of someone else?
Moreover, all capital punishment prosecutions are not on equal footing. If O.J. Simpson were poor, would he have been founded not guilty? No, the evidence was overwhelming. In the words of Chris Rock: “If OJ drove a bus he wouldn’t even be OJ. He’d be Orenthal the bus driving murderer.”
If an innocent man is poor, he will have awful representation. Therefore, he has a worse chance of escaping conviction. In sum, the richer you are, the more likely you will get off for a crime you are accused of. Does this seem fair? I mean, at all? Especially when we’re talking about cases that could involve capital punishment?
Many rape cases have been overturned once DNA evidence was brought in years later. But how did those unfortunate souls get convicted in the first place? Bad representation. This easily translates to murders and other crimes where DNA might not come into play. Who’s to say all of those are convictions are accurate?
Indeed, American society is not fair on this issue at all. Currently on death row are 1,527 whites and 1,411 blacks, making up 45 and 42 percent of the death row population, respectively. Do 45 and 42 percent even CLOSELY resemble the racial makeup of the United States? No, the United States is currently about 67% white and 13% black. There are too many things wrong with the death penalty if the makeup of death row is so drastically deviated from the American demographic. Either a society has been created where blacks have a higher propensity than whites to commit a capital crime (blame lack of welfare, education, and sex education) or a legal system has been created that arrests and convicts blacks at a higher rate than whites, or it’s somewhere in the middle of those two injustices.
Either way, does it seem fair to continue executing before this is resolved? Not at all. I know of a quote, it’s not mine: “A system that will take life must first give justice.”
It’d be grand if we could cut down on murders. I think liberals and conservatives can stand shoulder to shoulder on this one. Then again…
Guns are bought legally in this country. Someone can look for the gun, buy the gun, buy bullets for the gun, take the gun home with them, load it, then step back into society, and they can do all of that legally. Indeed, they can step back into the society where our children go to those dilapidated schools with underpaid and overworked teachers, they can go into the society where families happily attend their religious ceremony, they can go into the society where a single mother is working two jobs to raise her two children. And until this gun owner aims it at someone and pulls the trigger, they haven’t committed a crime.
I am a liberal, and I want this scenario to never happen. Therefore, I am for the most stringent gun control laws possible. We live in a time where a rogue nation or terrorist cell with a nuclear missile could throw the world for a loop. A microcosm of that is an unpredictable individual with a gun and nothing to lose. Because the rest of us have a lot to lose. We have children, wives, husbands, siblings, parents, girlfriends... So much to lose. And it can be taken away with the pull of a trigger by a gun obtained legally.
I want a government that protects all of us, a government that takes care of both the majority and the minority. It’s meant to be that way from the beginning, from the bicameral Congress to the Bill of Rights.
Protection of Citizens
Clearly, as a liberal, I believe in equality and I believe in assistance. This means I want equality for all Americans, regardless of social status, wealth, race, and sexual orientation.This means that I care for the weak. This means children are promised a good education at a safe place. This means the elderly have medical aid whenever they need it, as well as Social Security. This means our collective contributions (taxes) go towards the public good, i.e. public libraries, public transportation, law enforcement, fire fighting, emergency response, street lights, infrastructure, museums, recreation, and so much more. With a conservative no-to-low tax policy, all of those would gradually crumble into the dust of yesterday. And would society be better without those things? No.
What liberals have done for America
In retrospect, liberals continually improved the United States and have acted in the best interest of human rights. They have fought these low-tax, slow-to-change conservatives in order to improve our society and our culture. Thanks to liberals, we abolished slavery. Thanks to liberals, we have cleaner air and water. Thanks to liberals, women have the right to vote. Thanks to liberals, we’ve improved the rights of all voters. Thanks to liberals, we have Social Security and Medicare, meaning our grandparents have assistance for arthritis and a weakening heart, which keeps them happily in our lives longer. Thanks to liberals, we don’t have to inhale secondhand smoke with our bacon cheeseburger at the local pizza place. Thanks to liberals, our bacon cheeseburger is up to code, as well as the rest of our public food and beverage. Thanks to liberals we have Head Start, which gives a much-needed helping hand to low-income children who have done nothing wrong but be born into a poor family.
Conservatives opposed all of those.
Therefore, I like to think liberals are ahead of the curve. We know what is good for the country and for society. History has proven this. I hope you’re with us. Unless, of course, you're a proponent of segregation, poor public schools, suffering elderly, and dirty air and water. Then maybe the liberal ideology is not for you.
“Generation Next” and the Fate of the Current English Class
Do you ever think that the work we do as English teachers is becoming more and more irrelevant to the lives of our students? I’ve always known that part of the work we do as educators is finding ways to link the content of our courses to the experiences of those we teach. I also understood that even with my best attempts, I often fell short, and students got the increasing sense that school in general was some inconvenient interruption in the middle of what they perceived as the real stuff of their lives: time with friends, sports, music, work, etc. But lately it’s occurred to me that what we are asking of students now is more distant from their real lives than ever before. In the past few years, English class has become even more irrelevant, more superfluous, and more disconnected from what matters to them, or at least what they think matters, than in any time previous, mostly due to the increasing role of technology in their lives.
Just in the last five years, maybe even the last two years, technology has moved into our students’ lives in ways that may be altering the very way they think. Whether or not that development is advancement or not remains to be seen, but in the meantime the simple competition for students’ time is fiercer than ever. The first major intrusion into their time was video games. As a mother of three teenage girls, video games were never hugely popular in our house (although the hours they filled playing in the world of the Sims were pretty daunting). Still, I was amazed to learn about students who filled most of their free time playing video games. When Halo II came out, I saw just how devoted some of my students were to this activity; quite a handful played this game hour after hour for days on end, even avoiding sleep. Play Station III, which came out this past fall, had more than a few of my students skipping school and waiting on line, starting at midnight the day before, so they could purchase this new unit. I remember thinking to myself then, when do they do their reading? What about their schoolwork?
Also several years ago, we had the onset of Instant Messenger. Instant Messenger allows students to continue to engage in social conversations with classmates long after they’ve left the school building. Soon, having a screen name became a means of joining a kind of cyber-party. Everybody was talking and God forbid they be talking about you, so the best defense is a good offense, right? Get on line and STAY on line! Be a player~ who wants to be left out? So maintaining these conversations became a whole new way to develop and maintain friendships. I can even write an essay and talk to my friends at the same time! What’s more, the conversations I’m having with my friends are a lot more interesting than writing that compare / contrast essay. It’s not easy to maintain my line of thought when I’m composing with all these interruptions, but whatever.
It’s hard to believe that Facebook and then Myspace are relatively recent developments in the menu offerings provided by the Internet. Maintaining “your space” on these sites could take hours of your day, and then there’s checking out everybody else’s contributions. Profiles, surveys, blogs, comments, messages – there’s so much to click on! And it’s all about them (that is at least until Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace for a reported gadoozzle dollars). But these sites remain the place to be for Generation Next to communicate, create, network, gossip, listen to music, etc. etc. etc. (And you want me to take my English book and find a quiet corner, cozy up, and read? And miss this party?)
Even more recent distractions include YouTube and of course Google. Just think about how the teaching of the research paper has changed in the last five years. And leave us not forget cell phones -just one more piece of this pie- which allow interruptions to follow you wherever you go. Constantly in touch – ready at a moment’s notice – write a text and send it along. Take a picture – you can use it on your Facebook!
Take all of this in and then think about what you do in the classroom.
What will happen when schools become irrelevant to more and more students? Perhaps you have a core group, you say, that love to read. True devotees. And this core group will…remain stagnant? Can we imagine this group growing? What would be your best educated guess as to direction of the trend? Here is one pressing question that rises first to the surface of these ramblings: Is it critically important for students to read works from the past? Because if we believe that it is, then we have to figure out a way to ensure that students are sold on the notion that literature matters to them, literature from the past as well as the present.
But keep in mind: most students ARE reading now: they are reading videos. They are reading instant messages. They are reading comments left of their My Space or Face Book (or both) pages. And they are writing here too. They are very much concerned with the language of the present, with the stories of today (ask a teenager to tell you about “Jackass II” for a sample of the kinds of stories that interest them). So it’s not that they are separate from the written or visual world – it’s just…well, have you looked at that world lately?
Maybe, I imagine, asking students to pull away from their present world has always been a challenge for educators. My concern is that now – at this point in time – the task of getting students to unplug from their world is fraught with enormous challenges, challenges that need to be met by tapping teachers’ most creative and imaginative resources.
Do we want reading to be a computer activity? More and more, I think the answer is yes. But then again, what will that mean for us as a society of independent thinkers? Do we need to make reading and writing social activities? Primarily, yes, and yes. But what about the life of the soul? The development of the solitary mind? What would Thoreau say? Surely, there will be losses along the way. Certain beloved works from the past may not be translated into this new age as well as others. But others may find continued – even renewed life. And there will also be new works – and new means to access these works. Let students lead the way in this area, perhaps. I have learned so much from watching my own children, who are now members of “Generation Next.” Most significantly, I have learned that things are changing, without a doubt. Are we accelerating exponentially? Is it possible we are on the verge of an enormous human shift? These are just a few of the questions that have surfaced for me in the past few months. But this I do believe: teachers need to pay attention to the current changes in society as brought forth by technology. If we fail to adapt to the reality of today, we are doomed to become relics, frozen dioramas like those Holden Caulfield would admire in the halls of the Museum of Natural History: frozen in time, unchanging, and totally disconnected from the current flow of change and evolution.
Monday, January 15, 2007
FOLKS, MEET OUR: EDUCATOR-IN-CHIEF
You can't make this stuff up. Read the transcript.
Did Capt. Lieberman and Chimpy forget to take their meds.? Or should we take ours to dull the pain? Whatever you do: you might need something to get yourself through this transcript. Do yourself a favor: check it out and check out the DailyKos for more commentary.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
HIT HER WITH YOUR BEST SHOT: THE BOXER IN BARBARA
(dedicated to KT—a woman [ & good friend] with balls)
Quite frankly, I’m pretty stunned by all the coverage Senator Barbara Boxer received in her most recent smackdown of Condoliar Rice during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Thursday. The folks over at Wonkette, one of my favorite blogs, claimed that Boxer “c*nt-punched” Condosleezza—“s” intended. Whiny feminists have been clamoring that it wasn’t “fair” of Boxer to insinuate that Condi couldn’t empathize with the war dead because she’s not a mother. Snap out of it! The New York Post, which is fair, balanced, and Murdoched asserted that Boxer’s questioning was a “low blow.” Even Rush Limfart weighed in—picture that—scary, huh? Viagra-taking Flush said that Boxer’s treatment was, get this: unfair. I won’t even go into the orgy fest that Fox Fiction is doing this weekend about Boxer. Boo-hoo, poor Condi. Would you like me to do my impression of Linda Blair in The Exorcist now or later?
That all this commentary centers around “the delta of venus,” that feminine space below the belt, rather than the reality of the more than 3000 dead Americans and countless wounded, is a bit troubling. First off, Boxer has been Rice’s nemesis since Rice went through her confirmation hearings for Secretary of State in January 2005; that Boxer had conveniently forgotten, in the summer of 2006, how Captain Lieberman opposed her opposition against Condi is a different story for a different entry. It was Boxer, not her Democrat male colleagues at the time, who had the balls to throw Rice up against the ropes by showing Rice where and when she had repeatedly contradicted herself and the president. This gained so much media attention that SNL couldn’t resist doing a spoof. Maya Rudolph was a better Condi than she had been a Donatella.
Since that initial bitch slap, Boxer has been relentless against Condi in hearing after hearing, and the good senator has said far worse than what she said on Thursday, including a verbal scud about Condi’s dishonesty to which a shaken Condi asked Boxer not to “impugn her integrity.”
The question is: Where have these “venus” spectators been? Second off, and perhaps even more importantly, Condi has just as big a pair as Boxer does. I’m sorry: all this sudden sympathy for steely-eyed, dominatrix-boot wearing, serial lying Condi makes me think about Linda Blair and the right kind of consistency of pea soup for my interpretation.
Why do we Americans “fixate” on and try to “castrate” women with balls? Interestingly, the media has sort of downplayed Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his treatment of Fangoliar Rice on Thursday, which included a scathing exchange about the meaning of escalation—or augmentation as Condi would have it.
It was Pat Benatar, a petite woman with a big voice and big pair in the 80s, who howled against her opposition in such anthems as “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” & “Love is a Battlefield.” It was Senator Boxer who hit Condi once again with her best shot on Thursday that made many of us realize perhaps all is not fair in love and war for women with balls.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Yesterday, in the beltway, Joey and Johnny got together at none other than the American Enterprise Institute, the epicenter of neoconservativism, the site, I am sure, where Bill Kristol wants to be laid—no, not in that way—to rest. Still stunned by the party that disowned him, Joey must now rebound since Nancy, the liberal, and Harry, the Mormon, wrote that nasty letter to Chimpy, the asshole. “No more troops,” they’ve said, echoing everyone from Jimmy Baker to Joey Biden to the ghost of Gerald R. Ford to every General whom Chimpy—that Texas Air National Guard Specialist—has ignored. You see, when Nancy met Harry, they decided to flex some of that blue muscle and fast. But where did that muscle come from?
Joey, who disdains big blue muscle, who allegedly disdains partisan politics—because really he’s beholden to no one but himself, still insists that it’s “about people, not partisan politics”—the pathetic mantra of his senatorial campaign that does a have a kernel of truth to it: in your case, Joey, it IS about people—approximately 40,000 more troops—to send to their deaths. But where did that blue muscle come from?
Clueless in the capitol, Joey buddies up once again with Johnny after their trip to Iraq. They’ve done their ceremonial tributes to Robert Bly and male bonding, I’m sure, scratching themselves at the Imus zoo with all the goons to cheer them on. Now they must go to the Delphi of Neoconservative lunacy: the American Enterprise Institute, to respond to Nancy, the liberal, and Harry, the Mormon, and every other far out lefty who disagrees with them because everyone that disagrees with them and Chimpy are communists, lefties, Nazi sympathizers, Islamist militants, and let’s see: members of the falafel club who attempted to bring O’Shitty down. But where or where did that blue muscle come from?
Johnny turns to Joey and says, “Are you sure we’re doing the RIGHT thing, I mean the really RIGHT thing here, Joe? Because I’ve got a 2008 campaign to launch and I can’t fuck up.” Joey retorts, “Of course we are. We want to be tough. We want to be consistent. And furthermore, Karl helped me; he’s helped you. And we owe them something.” A bit perturbed, Johnny says, “I know, you’re somewhat RIGHT. But will it backfire? For Pete’s sakes, even Ford knew this wouldn’t work.” Arrogant as Captain Ahab, Joey responds, “John, we’ve got the ship under control. Don’t worry.” More than a bit perturbed, Johnny responds, “Look, Oedipus, I’ve said: I’ve got a campaign to launch. And furthermore, where the HELL did all of this blue, democrat muscle come from all of sudden?” Annoyed, stunned, angered, Joey grinds his teeth and responds, “It’s that son-of-a-bitch Lamont.”
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
M a c b u s h
Chimpy and his administration are resembling Macbeth and his insanity more and more with each passing day. We’ve moved from the end of Act IV to the beginning of Act V, folks. And it’s not looking good at all.
Today’s editorial in none other than the Wall Street Journal is particularly psychotic. Obviously grappling with the fact that HE is responsible for his party’s election losses this past November, Chimpy publishes a well-written essay—shocker, I know—I didn’t claim he wrote it, which seems more like a conversation he should have with a therapist rather than with the American people.
For those of us who have been enduring this political tragedy while on the edge of our seats, the ironies once again continue to abound--and amaze. From calling for “common ground” to appealing to the other side with a disingenuous “together,” from making the absurd claim that his principles are “no secret” and that he dislikes the “secretive process” to yet again conflating the operation in Iraq with 9/11, from praising “our tax cuts”—yeah, right—to hallucinating about a balanced budget in…2012, from suggesting reform for “Social Security” to warning congress not to pass bills to make “political statements”—how about that Terri Schiavo cabaret number, there, Georgey?, Chimpy has evidently lost his mind.
Perhaps the most seismic irony here is that we just witnessed the passing of a dignified leader in President Gerald R. Ford only to be subjected to the indignant behavior of George W. Macbush.
But Just like Macbeth who, on the brink of his own self-induced demise, fails to grip the emerging realities of “Birnam Wood” and “No Man Born of Woman,” Chimpy fails to heed the warnings of the Baker Group that No More American Men or Women should be left to die.