Saturday, June 30, 2007

Summer is as summer does

The business of summer has come fast and furious, and my blogging, while sparse already, is about to get even more sparse for about a week.

Today was my son's 3rd birthday, so today was full of friend and family fun. Tomorrow, I leave with my wife's family for a week on the beach in the Santa Cruz area. We were originally supposed to make our yearly trek up to our cabin in South Lake Tahoe, but that got scratched because of the fire. Even thought it is contained, the smoke, ash, and general chaos in the area made us seek other arrangements.

I don't plan on blogging for the next week, but my sister-in-law does have a laptop with WiFi, so if something really catches my attention, I might borrow the laptop.

Until then, Kowabunga, my dear readers!

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A teacher can only have so much influence

It's often fashionable to unload on teachers when talking of why our public schools suck so badly. One of the biggest problems I have with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), is that it holds teachers to account for things that are WAY beyond their control.

Educational historian Diane Ravitch agrees that it is time to not just hold teachers to account, but to start looking at the role of students and parents in this mess. Here is a small sample of her article to get you started:
It's time to stop beating up on teachers and ask why so many of our children arrive in school with poor attitudes toward learning. If the students aren't willing to work hard, if they aren't hungry to succeed, then even the best teachers in the world — laden with merit pay, bonuses, and other perks — are not going to make them learn.

Every article and book about successful education systems in other nations say that their students are "hungry" for education, "hungry" for the learning that will propel them and their families to a better life. Our children — with too few exceptions — don't have that hunger. It's not the fault of their teachers.

We will continue to misdiagnose our educational needs until we focus on the role of students and their families. If they don't give a hoot about education, if the students are unwilling to pay attention in class and do their homework after school, if they arrive in school with a closed and empty mind, don't blame their teachers.
It's certainly refreshing to hear someone who is not a fellow teacher state what we teachers say every day, and that is that there is only so much we teachers can do, and then the student is going to have to bear some bit of the responsibility for his own education.

Good Day to You, Sir

When is a "right" not a right?

It has to be one of the most overused words in our society: rights. I have a right to do this. You're violating my rights. In addition to the rights with which we are familiar, such as free speech, bearing arms, and a search warrant requirement, people out there demand other things which they consider a right. Two of the biggest are education and health care. How many times have you heard the mantra that people have the right to an education, that people have a right to health care?

People in this country demand many things which they believe to be their right, but of the rights they demand, how does one determine what really is a right, and what is not?

It's a very simple formula, really. Just ask yourself one simple question: In order to exercise a "right", does it require that someone else be required by the government to pay for you to do it? Case in point: free speech. If you stand on a street corner and begin speaking about a topic of the day, does anyone have to provide you with anything out of their own pocket for you to speak? Nope, you just speak. How about bearing arms? Does someone have to provide you with a gun? Nope, you buy it and maintain it yourself.

Now how about health care? If you exercise your so-called right to free health care, does it cost anyone anything? How about the doctor who must treat you? Does he get reimbursed? How about the lab technician who had to run the test on your blood? Does he get reimbursed? By whom? How much? The simple fact is that you cannot exercise your right to health care without someone providing it for you. If you are not paying for it, the government is, and where pray tell did the government get that money to pay for your health care? That would be from us, the American taxpayers.

It's the same thing with education. If your parents didn't pay for your entire education out of their own pocket, then you most likely attended public (government) schools. The money to run these institutions comes from the same place that pays for government-subsidized health care, and that would be the American taxpayer. How can you have a right to a "free" education when someone else has to pay from their sweat and blood in order for you to receive that education?
As a teacher, I often hear the rote quote from our laws: "Each child has the right to a free and appropriate education." The right to a "free" education? Who's paying for this "free" education?

Sorry to burst the bubble of some, but education is not - and should not be - a right. The same goes for health care, and any other service or goody out there to which people claim as a right, even though someone else is required by the deadly force of government to foot the bill. That is not the exercising of rights, that is government-sanctioned theft.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Big Government loves the Fairness Doctrine

First it was fringe lefties like congresscritters Dennis Kucinich and Maurice Hinchey, but they were simply testing the waters. Now we have big players like Senators Feinstein, Kerry, and Lott who have either made allusions to putting the squeeze on talk radio (Lott), or have just come out and said that the so-called Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated. Lott has since backtracked on his remarks about "dealing with" talk radio, but not Feinstein and Kerry. Here is an audio of John "F-ing" Kerry lamenting the fact that the Fairness Doctrine is not currently in effect:

Then for Dianne Feinstein, we have audio and video. You have to sit through that slimy idiot Trent Lott before we get to the astonishing elitism of Feinstein:

This all comes back to the question of who decides? Who decides what is one sided? Who decides what is hyperbole, or explosive? Who decides whether something is too politically extreme? You, Dianne? When it gets down to the brass tacks, the Fairness Doctrine involves some government bureaucrat sitting in an office and monitoring radio shows for violations of equal time. It illustrates bucketloads about the true totalitarian nature of our left-wingers out there who talk a good game about freedom of speech... except when it is speech with which they disagree.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, June 25, 2007

Leave Islamic indignation to the professionals

Bloggers out there are beginning to see a pattern at these protests-of-the-week where seething Muslims take to the streets to vent their outrage (again) at the most recent slight against their faith. One protester who pops up over and over is really making a name for himself... literally. The right-wing blogosphere has taken to calling him Islamic Rage Boy. This would all be so funny if what this guy represents weren't so damn scary. Last year, IRB was in photos of violent protests that were carried out because the Pope quoted comments from a Byzantine emperor which insinuated that Islam is a violent faith (hmmmm).

Now, a year later, he has popped up again in news photos of protests against Salman Rushdie being granted a knighthood in Great Britain:

Wow! That is indeed a lot of rage. This guy is going to pop a seal if he doesn't pace himself. This is not the first time that the same people mysteriously pop up again and again in the bad news buffet that is the Muslim world. My other favorite example was the Lebanese woman who, during last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah, apparently made some bad moving decisions because her house kept getting blown up. Here are photos taken of her on two separate occasions as she wails over her destroyed home:

The above photo was taken on July 22, 2006. Then, from what must be the unluckiest woman in the world, she is at it again on August 5, 2006:

Talk about your bad breaks. And then of course, there is the famous case of Green Helmet, a Lebanese rescue worker who seemed to be Johnny on the Spot in the aftermath of every Israeli bombing mission against Hezbollah terrorists who hid within the civilian population, and who had a penchant for carrying dead bodies in such a way that he was parading them as he transported them. He also must specialize in carrying dead children, because that is all he seemed to ever be photographed carrying... again, and again, again:

The odds makers are still betting that another war between Israel and some or all of the terrorist organizations in their midst (Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah) is likely this summer. If the shooting begins again, I have no doubt that we will see more of this photographic chicanery. In the meantime, I will continue to look for new photos of Islamic Rage Boy. His rage is just so... ragealicious!

Good Day to You, Sir

A suspect beyond description

Hat tip to the Smoking Gun for the use of this photo. The waste of oxygen you see before you is a convict out of Utah who, the other day, killed a guard who was accompanying him to a University of Utah hospital. The waste of oxygen then escaped and went on the run. I mean, seriously - did this idiot actually think that he would be successful in his efforts to stay on the lam? I will never understand why someone would want to tattoo his face. I don't think much of tattoos at all, but the face is just a horrendous place to ink yourself, because it is so permanent, and your face really is the window into your soul. It is the one place on your body at which everyone looks.

Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but it seems like this whole face-tattooing thing among gang members is relatively new. If I am wrong, feel free to correct me. This bad ass gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) out of El Salvador that has been growing in the U.S. also seems to have a plethora of members who mess up their faces with tattoos. What a sad and demented hobby for one to have.

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Socrates vs. Jowakka the D.C. student

Columnist Ellis Washington has written a hilarious piece that imagines a conversation between Socrates, a NEA official, a typical Washington D.C. student, and a student from South Africa.

A sample of the conversation:
Socrates: I will ask Jowakka the same question, but before you answer, Jowakka, would you please take the headphones off your head, put away that magazine, take the gum out of your mouth and sit up straight like a lady?

Jowakka: {indignant} Huh? What you say to me?! ... What-ev-ar! Yeah.
Read the rest right here.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, June 23, 2007

And here is why I married my wife!

I had my wife take the political survey. Here are the results:

My Wife's Political Profile:

Overall: 70% Conservative, 30% Liberal

Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Way to go, Honey... except for the ethics thing!

Good Day to You, Sir

Gosh, I guess I'm a Conservative

Found this little survey at Ms. Cornelius's blog (see blogroll left):

Chanman's Political Profile:

Overall: 90% Conservative, 10% Liberal

Social Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Ethics: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, June 22, 2007

The statistics that shape my work day

My regards to Alice Cooper: Schoooooool's out! For! Summer! That's right, today was the last day of my school year, and I spent it speeding down some water slides while chaperoning the 6th/7th grade trip. We went to a local water park, and after the students were let loose, there was little for my fellow teachers and me to do but join in and get wet.

It is probably still too early to look back and fully digest this school year just ended, but I do know that I experienced some big problems. For the first time in my teaching career, I had a class that was incorrigible, and I use that word in the strongest sense. Right up to the very end, I was forced to remove certain students from the classroom, and right up to the very end, I had days where I was never able to begin the lesson, because a good number of the students refused to cooperate. Whether the consequences were negative or positive, nothing that I tried worked; and believe me, I tried everything and then some. I was just simply overwhelmed by too many misbehaving students. This fact really hit home when I finalized grades the day before yesterday. In addition to their letter grade, I am supposed to give each student a citizenship grade as well. The choices are:

O = Outstanding
G = Good
S = Satisfactory
N = Needs Improvement
I = Improving
U = Unsatisfactory

Prior to this year, the very worst class I ever taught had three students with a U, and believe me, those three students raised hell. But three is manageable. I now have a new record. This third period class that caused me so much grief this year had a total of eight - count 'em - eight students with a U for a citizenship grade. Additionally, I had another four students with an N. When it comes to a situation like that, as a teacher, where does one begin regarding how to get a class under control? As any teacher can tell you, classroom behavior often predicts academic performance, and this class was a textbook example. I had two students who earned an A. I bet you're probably wondering how many F's were earned. Out of a class of 31 students, 17 of them received an F, including every one of the students who got a U for a citizenship grade. And these F's were not the just-missed-the-cutoff-58% variety. I am talking hardcore F's in the 10%-40% range. I have always been of the belief that one has to work very hard to earn an F that low. Seriously. Grades like that are earned by failing to turn in assignment after assignment after assignment. The funny part is when you call the student up to show him his final grade for the trimester, and with a shocked and indignant tone, he says, "Why do I have an F?" I got a lot of that over the last couple of days, and all I had to do was point my index finger at the succession of zeros that permeated the students' grade report.

So those are some of my classroom statistics that I have been enduring over the last few days. Let's look at some other statistics that make a significant impact. Looking at the students who caused such a ruckus in my class, I couldn't help but notice that almost all of them came from a single-mother household, or from a divorced household where the student lived with the mother. I think only one of my incorrigible students lived with both parents.

National statistics show that this is not an unusual situation. I receive a thrice-weekly email newsletter from the Federalist society. In one of their issues that came out around Father's Day, they had these percentages to share:
Here are some sobering statistics: According to the Center for Disease Control, Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of the Census, the 30 percent of children who live apart from their fathers will account for 63 percent of teen suicides, 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions, 71 percent of high-school dropouts, 75 percent of children in chemical-abuse centers, 80 percent of rapists, 85 percent of youths in prison, 85 percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders, and 90 percent of homeless and runaway children. In fact, children born to unwed mothers are ten times more likely to live in poverty as children with fathers in the home.
All I have to do is think of that student whom I mentioned in a recent post, whose gold tooth-wearing mother told me that she didn't have time to return my phone calls about her son's gross misbehavior in my classroom because she is a single mother with nine kids. According to the above stats and the evident behavior that this student is already exhibiting, and I would suffice it to say that the future looks very bleak for that young man, and the rest of the aforementioned students in that class.

The fun part is that since these students are seventh graders, chances are good that I will have some of them in my class next year. All I ask is that next time, please don't put them all together in the same period. Please?

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The straight skinny

My students know that if I see them passing notes, I will confiscate them, and most likely read them. During my credential program, I remember one of my textbooks addressed note passing, and admonished us teacher candidates to not take students' notes because it is their private business and the note wasn't meant for me to read. Uhhhhh, no. First, during class, their business is my business. Second, of course the note isn't meant for me to read! Isn't that entirely the point of the note? The students know that writing and passing notes is not what they are supposed to be doing in class, and my confiscating notes is part of the risk they run when they attempt to do it in my classroom.

I have no problem sharing the juicier notes I confiscate with you, my dear readers. I have found that one of the best ways to get past the filter and find out the straight skinny of what is going on with the students I teach is to read their notes; and believe me, some of what I have read has literally taken my breath away. Many a parent has gotten a juicy quote from their darling child read to them over the phone by me. I wonder how a parent would feel if she got to hear what this student wrote in a note I confiscated last week during a final exam. As usual, I have typed this note as it is written, with all the misspellings and symbols, and yes, bad language, left as is:
DEAR Shaquille,
I dont know why da fuck you want Me to Fight Some Bitch over you, but if she wanna fight me then the Bitch could fight me, But if we do fight, i aint finna waist my time Fighting over you. But Fuck dat, wat u doing? Me? Mad @t yo ass, but i want 2 let you Know how I feel, even if you don't care. I Know dat you don't care about me, and you don't have feeling 4 me, but to keep it real wit you i do... I Knew along time ago that if i go out wit u, then We would have to brake up someday, and I never wanted that 2 happen. First of all, I never broke up wit u, And if anything you broke up wit me! I never wanted us 2 brake up to tell the truth, cuz wit you I feel a feeling I never felt with none of da niggaz i went out wit. I told all da....
And that is as far as she got before I took the note and put it in my pocket. I read something like this and then shake my head in disbelief. Do these kids have any shame at all? I have to admit, I couldn't write something like this if I tried. It defies imagination.

Tomorrow is my last day of the school year. I am chaperoning the 6th/7th grade trip to a local water park, then we teachers will blow off some steam at the home of one of our fellow pedagogues. I have already brought home the expensive items from my classroom that I could easily see being stolen over the break, the grades have been computed and entered, and today was my last day of dealing with that 3rd period class that just about sent me over the edge. Too bad that they were 7th graders, and chances are good that I will be seeing many of them again in August.

But until then, it is time to spend some quality moments with the people who matter most, and that would be my own children, rather than someone else's. And yes, of course, my wife too. C'mon now, she is in a category all her own!

Good Day to You, Sir, and let the summer begin!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Inca needed the Spanish like a hole in the head

Via (see blogroll), I found a link to a fascinating video from National Geographic detailing the discovery of a body in an Inca cemetery that has a entrance and exit wound from a Spanish musket. The unfortunate Inca is believed to be the oldest gunshot victim ever discovered in the New World.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My eyes, my eyes! My ears, my ears!

I conducted quite the anthropological observation this afternoon: I chaperoned a 6th/7th grade dance at my school.

It has been quite a while since I have attended a secondary school dance, and oh my how things have changed. I'm sure you all remember or have seen how kids danced in the 1940s and 1950s. They coupled up and did all these amazing moves. Think Enchantment Under the Sea Dance from the Back to the Future movies. By the 1980s, dancers still coupled up, but they didn't really make any body contact. Think the school dance scenes from Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Sixteen Candles. Being a 1990 high school graduate, this is how I danced.

Now? They don't even couple up. Everyone in the whole gym congregates into one big group and dances with no one in particular. The other thing I noticed is the lack of variety in music (and I use the term music very loosely). At my dances, you would get a little Rock, a little Pop, a little R&B, maybe even a little Rap (relatively harmless stuff like Tone Loc or Young MC). Now? Hip-Hop. End of story. And even though I believe the DJ used cleaned-up versions of the songs, some cuss words sneaked into the songs every now and then. This is at a middle school dance remember. My goodness, how far standards have fallen, even since I graduated from high school.

It's funny, I remember when the George Michael song, I Want Your Sex came out on the radio in the summer of 1987. The radio station out of Medford, Oregon that I listened to refused to play that song as is. They ran an edited version that only included the verse I Want Your Love. At this dance today, music was played that made I Want Your Sex sound like a Frank Sinatra tune.

I was definitely reminded today of why I refuse to chaperone dances. All I got for my trouble was a pair of ringing ears and a splitting headache.

Good Day to You, Sir

Setting the wildfires Americans won't set

Here's a new diversionary tactic:
U.S. Border Patrol agents seeking to secure the nation's border in some of the country's most pristine national forests are being targeted by illegal aliens, who are using intentionally set fires to burn agents out of observation posts and patrol routes...

At least five fires were set below a Border Patrol observation post during the operation in an effort to burn the agents out, according to a Forest Service report. The fires were extinguished, and no one was arrested.

Wildfires are being set by alien and drug smugglers, authorities said, to create a diversion in an attempt to gain undetected access across the border. The fires correspond to a dramatic rise in assaults against Border Patrol agents — up more than 100 percent over last year.
But of course, there must be some mistake. I thought these illegal aliens were all upstanding people who just want to work. Silly me!

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Our governor knows of what he speaks

I have been rather amused by the Spanish-language media in California, along with the state's Spanish-language politicians, and their hyperventilation over remarks made the other day by our German-language governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The governor's sinful remarks were made in response to a question about how Hispanics in California can be more successful. According to a Fox News article:
"You've got to turn off the Spanish television set," Schwarzenegger said Wednesday night at the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in San Jose, Calif. "You're just forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn the language faster."

Schwarzenegger answered a question about how Hispanic students can improve academic performance, saying he was about to make a politically-incorrect statement.

"I know this sounds odd and this is the politically incorrect thing to say and I'm going to get myself in trouble," Schwarzenegger said. "But I know that when I came to this country, I very rarely spoke German to anyone."
Judging by the reaction of the Hispanderers out there, you would have thought that our governor suggested they all ram their heads into a television set instead. The comments from some were downright funny when you think of the circumstances of our governor's past:
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated his ignorance on immigration issues once again by perpetuating the myth that immigrants have to reject their old culture and language in order to learn English and assimilate," said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens...

A Hispanic advocacy group said Schwarzenegger's comments show his "ignorance on immigration issues..."

"I'm sitting shaking my head not believing that someone would be so naive and out of it that he would say something like that," Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition...

Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., called the governor's advice a "typical sound bite solution to an important issue," said Jim Dau, a spokesman for Sanchez. Sanchez said immigrants face the challenge of taking an ESL course because of long lines and up to a three-year wait to get into a class...
I'm sorry, did IQs drop sharply recently, or are these people purposely being disingenuous? I vote for the latter. Hello? Imbecils? "Ignorance on immigration issues"? Arnold Schwarzenegger is an immigrant himself. He could barely speak English when he emigrated here in the 1970s. In fact, if my memory serves correctly, his German accent was so thick in his very first movie, that his voice had to be dubbed over. And far from "rejecting his old culture", he kept his last name when he went into acting, even though movie execs pressured him to change it because they thought it would be too difficult for American movie audiences to pronounce.

There are many issues about which Governor Schwarzenegger and I disagree, but on this subject, I would think he knows what he is talking about. Not only that, whatever he did to assimilate must have worked, because look at him now: love him or hate him, he is a successful businessman and twice-elected governor of the most populous state in this country, with one of the largest economies in the world. For these nitwits to say that Governor Schwarzenegger is ignorant on the question of how to become a successful immigrant is simply laughable.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A long time coming

Mike Nifong, the corrupt prosecutor from Durham, North Carolina, who tried to railroad the Duke lacrosse players into prison on bogus rape charges, has been disbarred. I can only hope that this is only the beginning of the negative things that should happen to this piece of human filth.

I can think of few things more cowardly, frustrating, and disgusting than for a public official, especially a law enforcement official, to abuse his position of authority. That is because it is so easy for someone in the public trust to do the most heinous things, and make it look legitimate.

I am always reminded of this in a scene in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Eraser. Near the end of the film, a bunch of illegal weapons are being loaded onto a ship to be sold to terrorists. Rogue U.S. government agents are the ones loading the weapons. When some union dockworkers go to investigate what is happening, one of the government gate guards tells the union dockworkers to go away, saying, "Gentlemen, this is a matter of national security." Boom! All you have to say is that it is a matter of national security, and the illegal transaction has been legitimized. I know that it's only a movie, but you can imagine some of the things that federal, state, and local government agents have gotten away with over the years, just by asserting their authority in order to make it happen.

Mike Nifong's malfeasance in the Duke Rape Lacrosse case is a perfect example. Now that he has been disbarred, it is time to invoke the very laws that were written for people like him.

On the criminal side of things is Title 18 United States Code, Section 242. This states in part:
Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or
custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory,
Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or
laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or
penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his
color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or
This allows the federal government to prosecute government officials - federal, state, and local - for doing the very thing that Nifong did.

On the civil side of things is Title 42 United States Code, Section 1983. It reads in part:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation,
custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia,
subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or
other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws,
shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in
equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....
This law makes it possible for private citizens to sue government officials - federal, state, or local - for doing the very thing that Nifong did.

It would do the entire country well to see Mike Nifong prosecuted under 18USC242, and sent to prison if found guilty. It would do the lacrosse players well to file a lawsuit against Mike Nifong under 42USC1983, and take him for everything he is worth. I can't tell you how sick this case makes me when I think about what Mike Nifong tried to do to these young men, all the while using his status as a district attorney in order to legitimize and cover up his actions.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Farewell to an inspiration

My Great Aunt Eunice died a few days ago. She was born in 1913, so she was 94 years old. In the past 30 years, I had seen her a total of maybe five times. However, Aunt Eunice left a very important legacy in my life, and that would be this humble blog. In fact, I mentioned her in my very first post that I wrote, almost two years ago.

I signed the Guest Book at Aunt Eunice's online obituary and explained her legacy this way:
To my Great Aunt Eunice,

I will admit that I only saw you regularly when I was a small child, and then only a couple times after that. However, I will always remember you for something very important. For my 18th birthday in 1990, you sent me a blank journal. After a couple months of hesitation of keeping a "diary", I finally gave in and began writing. To my surprise, I very much enjoyed it, and continued to keep a hand-written journal until 2001. Soon after that, I switched to blogging.

Writing down the important happenings in my life and my observations of the world around me would probably never have happened without your inspiration, and when I go back and read what I wrote almost 20 years ago, and see some bit of information that I NEVER would have otherwise remembered, I know I have you to thank.

Goodbye Aunt Eunice
Without the practice and confidence that came with keeping a hand-written journal for all those years, who knows if I would have ever had the gumption to start Buckhorn Road?

Good Day to You, Aunt Eunice

Justice delayed is justice denied

...but it is still nice to see someone get his just desserts. I have always been fascinated in a satisfied sort of way every time some white supremacist or ex-Klansman from the Civil Rights Movement-era South finally is held to answer for a horrific crime that he committed so many years ago. It is a tragedy that these thugs got to live free for so many years before finally being convicted, but it is good to see past wrongs finally being made right.

Tragically, plenty of my students apparently think that the Klan is alive and well, and is probably still holding parades through Washington D.C. like they did back in the 1920s. Every year, I inevitably get the questions about the Ku Klux Klan, and do they really still rule the South and everywhere else? I tell my students that the Klan used to be pretty powerful - especially about 80 or 90 years ago, but nowadays, it basically consists of a few yahoos holding a meeting in their swamp shack.

What I want to tell my black students who still fear the Klan is that statistically, they have an astronomically bigger chance of being killed by a fellow black than from a hooded night rider or from a Doc Marten-wearing, shaved-headed scumball for that matter.

I do tell my students about a former Klansman who is a current member of the U.S. Senate and was at one time the Senate Majority Leader: The Democrat, yes I said Democrat, Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Imagine the indignant uproar from the Democrats were Byrd a Republican.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, June 11, 2007

Another anti-air show idiot

And this time, we have video, not just a letter to the editor. This tool for the anti-military peace kooks in San Francisco (naturally) tries to paint his opposition to the Blue Angels flying in San Francisco as a safety issue, but his true feelings quickly become apparent when he refers to the F-18 Hornets that the Blue Angels use as "weapons of mass destruction", and begins to lament that the Blue Angels' job is to make war look "cool".

Who are these people???

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Yes, we have to defend the morons, too

Don't you just love it when people wrap themselves in the liberties of our country, and then turn around and denigrate the very institutions and the tools they use to guarantee and preserve those liberties?

Sacramento is abuzz this weekend with the California Capital Air Show being held at Mather Field. From our backyard about an hour ago, my son and I watched an F-22 Raptor going through its paces. It was very far away, but you could definitely see it, and you could most certainly hear it. There are many airplanes on display at this and many air shows across the country; some are military aircraft, some are not. They not only showcase the military might of our nation, they excite the crowd with demonstrations of things that most of us will never get a chance to do ourselves.

Nevertheless, we have the following letter to the editor in this Sunday's Sacramento Bee written by one Maurya Perazzo of Sacramento. It appears Maurya has a problem with our local air show because... well, you'll just have to read her letter yourself. Prepare to cluck your tongue a bit:
Air shows aren't family-friendly

As the death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq passes 3,500, I find it appalling that the Bee printed three stories this week publicizing the California Capital Air Show at Mather Airport.
My, don't we just love our war toys when they are presented in such a "fun-for-the-whole-family" fashion? A show that promises spectacular aerobatic stunts and ear-shattering, flyover formations starring our military's finest birds such as B-1 Bombers, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15 Hornets (sic.), and U-2 Dragon Ladies.

In the June 5 article ("Time to shake, rattle and roll"), the writer states that the activities are intended to have residents "reflect" on the Air Force's role. Well, folks, reflect on this: Air shows are simply venues for glorifying war, violence, and militarism.
Warplanes are touted with such pageantry and splendor that it's easy to forget that they have killed millions of innocent people.
What is most disturbing is that these events are designed to recruit children and youth into joining the military when they grow up by associating fun and excitement with technology that kill and destroys.
We must stop supporting events that glorify war and start putting our time and energy into activities that heal our community, unite our world and promote peace!
OK, everybody join in!

Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbayaaaaaa

Wow! Party, meet the pooper. This woman is a prime example of a sheep that hates the sheepdog because she refuses to acknowledge that there are wolves out there who want to devour her.

By the way Maurya, for the record, it's F-15 Eagle, and F-18 Hornet.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Stop the world! The Pope was called "Sir"!

I didn't realize that something like this could merit a headline. Apparently, when President Bush met with Pope Benedict XVI the other day, President Bush said (GASP!), "Yes, Sir," instead of, "Yes, Your Holiness."

I say good for President Bush. I get very irritated at all these made-up little titles that people from other countries invent, and then expect us to respect. My mother always told me that if she ever met the Queen of England, she'd be damned if she would curtsy before the Queen. If you are a British subject, then by all means, curtsy; otherwise, keep your petty little customs to yourself. Same thing with the Pope; if you are Catholic and you feel obligated to call him "Your Holiness", then feel free. But as a non-Catholic, please do not drag me into your rigid customs and courtesies.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that we Americans are constantly being admonished for not respecting the customs of other nationalities and cultures, yet these other people of the world don't seem to worry about reciprocating.

This all reminds me of little kids and their secret handshakes that are required to get into the tree house. The gasping minions who were shocked at Bush's supposed taboo really need to grow up, and get out of the tree house.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Need some typing practice?

Here is your totally gratuitous website for the day. I got kind of addicted watching the letters float away as I typed them, along with the popping noises the correct keystrokes made. Intrigued? Check it out.

Good Day to You, Sir

The free market, made easy

Leave it to Walter Williams to take the complex and explain it in a simple way. Here is his example of how the free market works, and how it helps all of us:
Say that I mow your lawn and you pay me $30, which we might think of as certificates of performance. Having mowed your lawn, I visit my grocer and demand that my fellow men serve me by giving me 3 pounds of steak and a six-pack of beer. In effect, the grocer asks, "Williams, you're demanding that your fellow man, as ranchers and brewers, serve you; what did you do to serve your fellow man?" I say, "I mowed his lawn." The grocer says, "Prove it!" That's when I hand over my certificates of performance -- the $30.
To read the rest of his column about the compassion of the free market and the tyranny of socialism, click here.

Good Day to You, Sir

How do numbers make you feeeel?

Instructivist (see blogroll) has this Simpsons clip posted, and I just had to do likewise. As only the writers of the Simpsons can, they skewer the fuzzy self-esteem-laden "education" that many schools continue to dole out.

Good Day to You, Sir

I love stuff like this

Handwritten letter from Abraham Lincoln found in the National Archives.

The National Archives on Thursday unveiled a handwritten note by Abraham Lincoln exhorting his generals to pursue Robert E. Lee's army after the battle of Gettysburg, underscoring one of the great missed opportunities for an early end to the Civil War...

...At a news conference, archivist Trevor Plante said he was looking for something else last month when he found Lincoln's note tucked away in a drawer among other papers. His reaction was "wow" when he recognized the handwriting and Lincoln's signature.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Time to Carnival!

This week's Carnival of Education is home at the EdWonks. Check it out.

Good Day to You, Sir

D-Day, June 6, 1944

This day of days happened 63 years ago. I continue to marvel at the seemingly impossible conditions that our boys endured that day. When D-Day was over, about 1,500 American soldiers lay dead... that's in one day of fighting, ladies and gentlemen. To put that in perspective, it took six months of fighting on Guadalcanal for that same number of American Marines and Soldiers to be killed, and a couple years of fighting to lose the same number in Iraq. Even at Iwo Jima, the number of dead on the first day was about 550. To compare the loss of that many Americans in one day's fighting, you need to look back to the major battles of the Civil War.

God Bless the veterans of D-Day, whether they are in this world or the next, for the freedom they guaranteed for us - guaranteed with their blood and youth.

Good Day to You, Sir

Update on Shoebat's appearance at UC Irvine

Lee Kaplan of Front Page Magazine gives a complete rundown of Walid Shoebat's speech, along with two other ex-terrorists who also talked on stage. Just like the speech I attended at UC Davis in February, the crowd was admonished that any attempts to disrupt the event would lead to arrest and prosecution. Funny how actually enforcing the rules makes people think twice about breaking them.

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Al Gore and his harem of hypocritical hippies

My favorite muckraking blogger, Zombie made a trek to a Marin civic center to record a visit from the Goracle, where he pushed his new book and spoke the same ol' same ol' about anthropogenic global warming, which is the fancy way of saying humans are causing the earth to burn! If this is true, as Gore and his minions attest, then bask in the hypocritical hilarity when Zombie makes a little visit to the parking lot...

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I didn't leave the party, the party left me

You have heard that oft-repeated mantra, and for many Republicans, it is starting to become their new reality. I have been a small-r-republican for about ten years now, keeping my party membership only to be able to vote in the primaries; otherwise, I vote as I please in the general elections.

Lately though, due to President Bush's shenanigans with spending, his mishandling of the Iraq War, and now especially, his lunacy regarding immigration, he has managed to do what Jimmy Carter has done, and that is to piss off both sides of the political aisle with his obtuseness and incompetence. The time has finally come when many Republicans are finally starting to say they've had enough.

This fact has been wonderfully articulated in an important column by Wall Street Journal writer and former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan.

The problem for Republicans is that if they leave the party, turning to the Democrats is simply unacceptable, since the whole problem in the first place is that the Republican leadership are becoming more and more like the Democrats every day. If this betrayal keeps up, I can see the Republican party going the way of the Whig party, which is ironic, since the Republicans replaced the Whigs in the 1850s.

Good Day to You, Sir