Thursday, November 29, 2007

Alec Baldwin must be disappointed

He never got a chance to stone the guy to death. I am speaking of the death of Henry Hyde. The Illinois Republican who served as Speaker of the House during the Clinton impeachment has died at the age of 83.

During the impeachment, Alec Baldwin got out of his seat while appearing on Letterman, and screamed at the crowd, imploring them to go to Henry Hyde's house and stone Hyde and his family to death. Later, after Baldwin was condemned for his call for extreme violence, he of course just said he was kidding. I have seen the video. Baldwin wasn't kidding.

Baldwin's violent rhetoric was just another indicator of the hypocrisy of the "peace-loving" left who often justify their desire to destroy their opponents by painting said opponents as not just wrong, but evil. Henry Hyde was by no means a perfect man (who is?), but did he deserve to be stoned to death because he was working toward impeaching and removing a perjuring president? According to the left, he did deserve it.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving in God's Country

One thing that I admit loving about being a teacher is the big blocks of time off. Adding the weekends, I had nine days off for the Thanksgiving holiday, and my family and I had the privilege of heading north to visit my parents and feast with them. My parents live in northeastern California, which I think is absolutely beautiful. In other posts, I have mentioned the volcanic topography, dry pine forests, and vastness of this region, and every time I go up there, I find something new to photograph. This trip was no different. Conditions weren't always great for taking pictures, but ya gotta try!

One place we love to go is Burney Falls. My daughter was taking her nap, so she and my wife stayed back at my parents' house. My son however, would never dream of passing up a chance to go tromping through the woods, so he skipped his nap and off he went!

Accompanying my son was his cousin, who is two months older than he. As you can see from the size difference, some kids mature faster than others... that and my brother and sister-in-law are both Amazonian.

Tourists entering Burney Falls National Park must pay a fee to your friendly neighborhood federal government official manning the shack at the entrance. The locals however happen to know about an alternate route whereby you can get in for free. The access road is on the other side of the creek from the main entrance, and to get to the park from the "local" route, all one has to do is cross this footbridge. And what a beautiful little footbridge it is.

I try every time I go there, but I have always been unable to stand at this point and not take a picture of Burney Falls. They are just too beautiful.

It was late afternoon, so the sun was doing some interesting things to the surrounding trees in relation to the falls. Those streaks you see in the photo are actually droplets of mist from the falls. Click on the photo and you can really see the streaks of mist. Click on all the photos for that matter!

This shot of the tourists at the bottom of the falls gives you a better idea of just how big the falls really are - 129 feet high to be exact.

When you are done looking at the falls, there is an intriguing trail that loops around and takes you back to the place where the locals park their cars.

My son was on the last part of the trail before making it back to our car, when I noticed the late-afternoon autumn sun was poking through the tree branches. It doesn't show up well in the photo, but the most ethereal light was illuminating the forest. The photo still turned out pretty well if I may humbly opine.

On Saturday morning, we departed my parents' abode and made our way on Highway 299 for Interstate 5, and home. There is this one place on 299 - not far west of Hatchet Mountain summit - where you can get the coolest views of Mount Shasta. The weird cloud cover made for some pretty horrible photographic conditions, but this time of year, I was just grateful that the mountain was visible at all.

Highway 299 and Interstate 5 link up in the city of Redding, which is by far, the largest city in California that is north of Sacramento. Redding's newest claim to fame is the Sundial Bridge, which spans the Sacramento River. It is a suspension footbridge with quite a gimmick. The gimmick is not so apparent with the above photo, but the next one gives you a better perspective:

In all honesty, a new-agey bridge like this looks totally out of place in a - ahem - rustic town like Redding. I am not making fun of Redding - I love Redding! My wife and I would love to live in Redding! However, looking at this bridge and where it is located brings to my mind an image of a pig in a tuxedo. Depending on your taste in architecture, I will leave it up to you to decide in this particular metaphor if the bridge is the pig or the tuxedo.

Once we walked to the far side of the bridge, we figured the world just wouldn't be right unless we gave the kiddos an opportunity to throw some rocks into the Sacramento River!

My daughter needed to get very close to the water in order for her rocks to make it in. Naturally, Daddy isn't going to let her get that close to the water without being right there with her!

After all the rocks had been picked clean from the embankment, it was time to cross the bridge and head for home. Walking the other direction gave me the opportunity to snap this interesting photo. The sky was doing strange things that day. Personally, I chalk it up to Global Warming!

Here's hoping that you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Now, after my almost week-long hiatus, I am ready to start blogging again.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, November 19, 2007

Illegal Alien? You make the call

This Metro section article is actually from the Sunday, 11/18/2007 edition of the Sacramento Bee, but the case is still definitely ongoing. I will reprint for you, the first two paragraphs of the lead article in Metro, and then ask yourself if the perp is legally or illegally in our country:
For the past week, while Sacramento police searched for Miguel Carranza in connection with the Nov. 8 double homicide of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, he was already behind bars - 103 miles away in Santa Rosa.

Authorities there, apparently thrown off by a plethora of aliases, took days to realize Carranza, a Mexican citizen, had already been identified as a person of interest in the shooting deaths of 29-year-old Martha Lopez-Pachecho and Jever Lopez, 32.
As usual, the Bee engages in literary gymnastics in order to avoid identifying someone as an illegal alien. I have written on this subject before, and the Bee never seems to tire of giving me fresh material.

One more thing - and this doesn't have to do with the illegal alien angle. What is this person of interest nonsense? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like that term has only started to be used by law enforcement in maybe the last five to ten years. I don't ever remember hearing that term before then. Either you're a suspect or a witness. What the hell is a person of interest?

Good Day to You, Sir

*Update (11/20/2007 0705hrs) - I can't believe I missed this the first time, but later on in the article, there is this quote from a Sacramento police spokesman:
The guy has something like 14 or 18 different aliases... when you have an individual without documentation and no identifying characteristics who utilizes a number of aliases, it can be very difficult for our system to track him."
What?! If he's a Mexican citizen in this country, there should be all sorts of documentation to track a foreign national within our borders, right? Right?

Good Day to You, Sir (again)

Plant 'em, then watch their noses grooooooow put together a masterful look into the undecided voters who asked the Democrat candidates what turned out to be planted questions at a recent debate in Las Vegas. The chutzpah of these people is indescribable.

Good Day to You, Sir

Suburban slow burn

On Friday, my wife and I put our house on the market. Several factors have prompted us to attempt to sell our house. With two kids growing up fast, it has become more and more apparent that we will need more than the 1360 square feet and three bedrooms/two bathrooms that we currently enjoy. Also, we have grown tired of the street on which we live. It isn't one of the main thoroughfares like that on which other people live - and I don't know how they do it - but it is a neighborhood street that many use as a cut-through to get from one side of the neighborhood to the other. Then there are our neighbors. Back in September, right when my wife and I began to sorta kinda talk about maybe putting our house on the market, this vehicle joined the four other vehicles already permanently parked in our neighbor's driveway:

Notice that my neighbors parked it as far away from their house as possible, and as close to our house as possible; that is my garage door on the extreme left of the photo. It's bad enough that there is an RV practically parked in our driveway, but to make matters worse, our neighbors' loud obnoxious mother/mother-in-law is living in the RV. We have figured out that she sleeps in it at night, however, they are sneaky enough about it that we most likely would never be able to prove to County code enforcement that she is sleeping there. Not that County code enforcement would do anything about it anyway. From what I understand, they don't have the time or manpower to worry about "small" stuff like that. Believe me, it's not small when YOU are the one living next to the Clampetts. And why can't any of those four other cars fit in our neighbors' garage? That's because they have one of those loud obnoxious speed boats that you cannot even use for pleasure boating. It only has one speed - insanely fast - and only for short distances.

The problem with a menagerie of vehicles like this next door, is that we could conceivably have trouble selling our house because of it. Were I in search of a new house and I saw a mess like that next door, I know that I would be hesitant to give the house a chance. That is the most frustrating part about all this is knowing that the biggest negative mark against our house is something that is not even on our property, and therefore, we have no control over it.

Sorry if I offend anyone reading this to whom the following statement applies, but if you have a big RV parked in your driveway, then shame on you! Try giving a thought about your neighbors and how it might affect their lives. It may be your property, but when houses are built right next to each other, your property is no longer an island. Either park it in your yard or rent a storage space for it.

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I got yer moronic bumper stickers right here

Via Little Green Footballs, here is a post from a blogger who resides in the People's Republic of Madison, Wisconsin. He has listed some of the dippier bumper stickers he sees around the Berkeley of the Midwest, and gives a short explanation of why they bug him so much. His number one most annoying bumper sticker?

And why does he dislike this bumper sticker so much? His explanation makes sense to me:
If some of the followers of the religion represented by the crescent moon “c” on your cute little bumper sticker would stop hijacking planes and blowing up buildings, coexisting would be a little easier.
Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, November 15, 2007

News from the front: The Achievement Gap

A friend of mine emailed me an article from Forbes Magazine. Simply titled The Achievement Gap, the article examines some of the quantified data about societal attitudes that address some of the possible reasons for the huge discrepancy in the academic performance of whites and Asians on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics on the other.

You can read the whole article yourself, but there were some highlights that caught my eye. First was the article's take on the "acting white" attitude that has been blamed for so much academic malaise on the part of black students. There was one study that said, nope! The whole "acting white" theory is a bunch of nonsense, because we found that well-performing black students say they have just as many friends as badly-performing black students. Did you catch that? The study was conducted by asking students if they have any friends. As the article said, they might as well have asked the students if they were virgins. What the hell else did the researchers think the kids would say? After a more realistic study was done, it turns out that yes, many black (and hispanic) students are afraid to try hard in school on pain of being ostracized by their peers.

There was also an interesting computer game experiment done using purple and green employees. You can read the specifics of the experiment yourself, but suffice it to say that a catch-22 quickly developed. The Purples stopped trying harder because they thought it wouldn't do any good, and the employers stopped hiring Purples because they wouldn't try harder.

Finally, the most controversial part of the article (for me anyway). You may have heard about this experiment, where resumes were sent out - some had "black sounding" names like Jamal and Ebony, and some had "white sounding" names like Kristen and Brendan. The "white sounding" names got a much higher callback rate. I have a little issue with this experiment. Did all the white sounding names sound like Kristen and Brendan? Were I an employer, and I received a resume from an Earl or a Cletus - which are also "white sounding names" - I must admit that I might be loathe to give a callback to them either. To me, these names do not reflect race; they reflect culture. I for one have made no qualms about the fact that I detest these ridiculous faux-African names that black parents have been giving their children for the last 30 years or so - the name Shanequa tends to be an archetypal example. The record holder in the annals of my memory continues to be a high school football player from the Sacramento area whose first name was Syd'Quan. Now, for all I know, Syd'Quan could be the greatest, nicest guy you ever could meet, but his name could very well turn off prospective employers before they could find out about these positive attributes. You could also be a hard-working courteous person who dresses like a slob or a thug. Either way, a prospective employer is not going to look past the way you dress, just like he is not going to look past your name that reflects a lower-class upbringing, and the lower-class values that unfortunately too often accompany that upbringing.

What can I say? Life is unfair... get used to it.

Good Day to You, Sir

Worry about the biting, not the barking

That is the advice of radio/TV host and columnist Larry Elder, who is black. In the wake of the brouhaha over "Dog" the Bounty Hunter getting caught using the word "nigger" in an unknowingly-taped phone call, Mr. Elder had a few things to say about it in his latest column.

The gist of what Elder had to say was to say, "So what?" in response to Dog's racial outburst. What can Dog - or other people like him - say or do to keep Larry Elder from earning a living? Elder used a personal anecdote in his column to illustrate his point:
Does an outburst from a man like Dog truly affect one's self-esteem and self-respect? When I worked for a law firm as a young attorney in Cleveland, I once took the deposition of an orthopedic surgeon. The white opposing attorney and I sparred aggressively during the depo, but we respected each other's professionalism. So when we finished, we stood chatting in front of the doctor's office. Soon a raggedy car full of young whites slowly drove by, and one yelled, "Hey, n---er! It's almost sundown! Get out of town!"

The jaw of my opposing attorney nearly hit the pavement, and he said, "Did you ... did you –?"

I said, "And you were saying?"

The attorney again stammered, "Did you ... did you hear?"

"Sure, I heard," I said. "But, look. I'm standing here, making [in today's dollars nearly $150,000], wearing a three-piece pinstripe blue suit and carrying a leather briefcase. And those punks, who didn't even have enough guts to stop before calling me n---er, probably couldn't even get a job working the deep-fry at McDonald's. No, it's going to take a lot more than that to ruin my day. Now, as you were saying ...?"
Elder also took Dog to task for kissing the ring of Al Sharpton in the hopes of being granted forgiveness. Yes, Al Sharpton - the man who has used such epithets as "white interlopers" and "diamond merchants" to describe Jews. You see, Al Sharpton has bite. There are seven dead people lying in their graves, and many lives ruined as a direct result of his "intervention" into racially charged situations.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Whoa Big Fella!

Have you ever heard of a crosswind landing? That is where an airplane coming in to land is dealing with a heavy crosswind and the pilot must point the plane's nose toward the wind, which sometimes means the nose must face away from the runway; sometimes 45 degrees away from the runway. Then right at the last second, the pilot steers the nose straight just before the wheels touch the pavement.

Doing this in a little two-seater Cessna would be scary enough. How about doing it in an Airbus A-380, which is the largest airliner in the world; even bigger than a Boeing 747!

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, November 12, 2007

And then there was one...

Did you know there is only one remaining World War I veteran alive in the United States? He went to France but never saw combat. He ended up guarding German prisoners of war after the armistice had been signed.

His name is Frank Buckles. He was born in 1901, and you can read his story here.

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank you, and Happy Birthday!

First, even though I am now a day late, Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps, which was formed on November 10, 1775 - a mere 232 years ago.

Second, a big Thank You to all Veterans out there - both peacetime and wartime - who have fired a shot, stood a post, or cleaned a latrine. Everything you did and everything you do makes a contribution toward defending our country in that great sea of anarchy known as planet earth.

Good Day to You, God Bless You, and Semper Fi!

Clearing the snowjob on Finland

I currently have a troll in my comments section who seems to believe that Finland's recent school shooting tragedy happened because of that country's "lax" gun laws.

I am happy to concede that Finland has the 3rd highest rate of gun ownership in the world (I like this country already!), which is right behind the United States (We're #1!) and Yemen (Huh?). The biggest reason for such a high level of gun ownership in an otherwise gun-phobic continent is Finland's deep tradition of hunting. This is where we get to the part about Finland's so-called "lax" gun laws.

Here is an excerpt from an Associated Press article about the school shooting where we get an idea about Finland's "lax" gun laws, and all emphasis is mine:
Auvinen, who had no previous criminal record and belonged to a shooting club in central Helsinki, shot the victims with a .22-caliber pistol that he bought from a local gun store days before the attack.

Police revealed Friday that Auvinen had settled for the pistol after being denied a license for a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun.

"The application was rejected because a 9 mm gun is considered too powerful ... for target practice shooting," Detective Superintendent Tero Haapala told The Associated Press. "He was recommended to get a .22-caliber gun."

After Wednesday's shooting drew international attention to Finland's gun culture, the Interior Ministry issued a statement saying firearm sales were "strictly controlled."

Before granting a weapons permit, police "assess the applicant's suitability to posses a firearm, his or her way of life, behavior and possible mental health problems," the statement said. Applicants must prove also they have a legitimate need for a gun, such as hunting or target practice. Self-defense is not a valid reason.
Wow! I can just tell that country wants its citizens to strap one to their hips and walk in shootin'.

Meanwhile, here is my idea of lax gun laws, and notice the absence of air quotes around the word lax. The state of Vermont has a homicide rate of 1.3 per 100,000 people. Here are the gun requirements in Vermont. Check out the items I bolded:
State Requirements

Rifles and Shotguns

* Permit to purchase rifles and shotguns? No.

* Registration of rifles and shotguns? No.

* Licensing of owners of rifles and shotguns? No.

* Permit to carry rifles and shotguns? No.


* Permit to purchase handgun? No.

* Registration of handguns? No.

* Licensing of owners of handguns? No.

* Permit to carry handguns? No.

Other Requirements

* Is there a State waiting period? No.

* Is there a FBI *NICS check for firearm transactions? No. State system.

* Permit to carry a concealed weapon required? No.

* Record of sale: Yes.
Meanwhile, The District of Columbia, which has a population roughly the size of Vermont, and has what have to be the toughest gun laws in the nation, has a per-100,000 murder rate of - remember, Vermont is 1.3 - D.C.'s is 35.4! In the District of Columbia, you can't even own a handgun in your own home, yet in Vermont, you don't even need a permit to carry a concealed weapon! Where would you want to live?

Yes, I know the argument will be that Vermont and the District of Columbia are states (well, Vermont is anyway), while Finland is a whole country. I'll tell you what, I'm not going to do it right now because it is pushing 2am (can't sleep), but how about someone out there do a little research and find out what happened to the gun crime rate in Great Britain and Australia after they both instituted gun bans in the mid-1990s after similar mass-shootings. I'll give you a hint: the rates didn't go down.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More great stuff from Jolly Old England

I'm going to start billing Old Andrew for all the free publicity! I think Scenes from the Battleground is a truly amazing blog that pulls no punches about what plagues today's educational systems, and describes to a tee the same kind of disruptive and deviant behavior that I encounter on a daily basis - not only from students, but from hogtied and gutless administration ("managers" in oldandrewspeak).

Scenes specializes in providing informative lists of things we teachers face in school. Here is one example from a list of the "Top Five Lies About Behavior":
Lie Number 1:“If your lessons are good enough you won’t have any discipline problems.”
Who’s told me this lie: PGCE lecturers, OFSTED, LEA consultants, teachers from posh schools.
The Truth: Pupils don’t misbehave because you haven’t met their high pedagogical standards. The kind of kids that cause most disruption would consider any lesson where they can’t adjust their make-up, discuss their sex lives, and try and make one of the shyer kids cry as unsatisfactory. In fact one of the things most likely to make them kick off is seeing the rest of the class learning. The worst kids are a problem before you’ve even tried to teach them, they don’t care about the lesson, they don’t have a reason for misbehaving. They misbehave because they can. (emphasis mine)
I have lost count of the number of times I have been told that students won't misbehave if my lessons are "interesting" or "engaging" or "fun" or "cooperative". But Scenes nails exactly what I see instead, which is when a lesson actually starts taking off, I get less cooperation from the disruptors instead of more.

Keep it up oldandrew!

Good Day to You, Sir

For the record, I am not gloating

However, I hope the following story serves as a well-needed wake up call those self-righteous Europeans who tsk-tsk us barbarous Americans every time a school shooting happens in this country.

Yesterday, a high school student in Finland who apparently had some scores to settle, killed eight students and staff at his school before turning his .22 caliber pistol on himself. This is a tragedy, and I am so sorry and sickened that it happened.

My hope is that perhaps people on both sides of the pond can learn from this act of violence and come to the conclusion that more gun control is not the answer.

Good Day to You, Sir

Rehabilitating a hero

When people hear the name, Joseph McCarthy, chances are they reflexively blanch at the thought of blacklists and persecution. What people don't often ponder is whether or not Joe McCarthy was right.

One of the greatest books I have ever read is Ann Coulter's Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. The most eye-opening aspect of that book was Coulter's vehement defense of Senator McCarthy. In all my years, I had never once read a kind word about the man, and Coulter absolutely set fire to some of the major lies that lefties have said about him over the years; lies repeated so often, that they are now gospel in the American consciousness.

Ann Coulter's treatment of the McCarthy era was only a couple of chapters in her book. In her weekly column, which, if you have never read a positive description of Joe McCarthy, I highly recommend you read, Coulter tells us about a newly-released book whose only subject is telling the true and heroic story of Joseph McCarthy, who may have been rough around the edges, but was still a hero who helped secure America's future at the cost of his life and reputation. Leftists so hate the man because he was effective, and most importantly, he was right!

Good Day to You, Sir

The Carnival of Education

Check out this week's edition at Right Wing Nation. My post about school discipline in Africa is included in a rather humorous manner!

Good Day to You, Sir

At least he's an honest bum

The time: today around 5:30pm. The place: the bottom of the offramp at I5 and Richards Blvd in Sacramento. The sign being held by the bum at the end of said offramp:


At least he didn't insult my intelligence by carrying a sign saying he was willing to work for food.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, November 05, 2007

Go on, beat the kids

When it comes to their penchant for pride of ignorance, disrespect for authority, and the adulation of the "Gangsta" culture, our young people in this country are world-renowned. But as bad as you think the students are in the United States, apparently Great Britain has it as badly, or even worse.

It has gotten bad enough that some British parents of African descent are sending their children to Africa to be educated and "straightened out". Part of that straightening out involves beating their ass - and I'm not being metaphorical. Schools in Africa tend to be Old School, which means the time-honored (and very effective) tradition of corporal punishment.

The Times of London ran an article on this growing trend of looking to Africa to save kids raised in the excesses of modern Western culture. Here is an excerpt from the article to get you going:
According to Oswald Amoo-Gottfried, the school’s founder and director, the key to the success of pupils such as Sienam is the kind of discipline that has long since fallen out of fashion in Britain. “I believe in caning,” he declared. “I tell the parents: if you don’t want your child punished, then your child doesn’t belong here.”

His school is quiet, the atmosphere studious. The youngest children sit in neat sailor suits; older pupils wear blue shorts and white shirts, while the senior students dress in smart trousers and T-shirts emblazoned with the school badge.

In one classroom 30 pupils are arranged in rows of desks facing their male teacher and the white board. They remain silent until asked a question.
Oh, how I wish... never mind, with so many squid-spined parents in this country, it will never happen.

Good Day to You, Sir

Now this is a poster I'll hang in my classroom!

It's been awhile, but I have previously mentioned a fellow social studies teacher at my school with whom I get along great, but he is a radical Chicano activist who has a poster of Che Guevara hanging in his classroom.

Tonight, I came across a Che poster that I would loooove to hang in my classroom. It is a collage of that famous image of Guevara that is made up of the photos of many of his victims that he had shot at La Cabana prison outside Havana.

Now, the next step is finding out if I can actually procure one...

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, November 02, 2007

Deviation from the lesson plan

Right now with my 8th graders, we are studying the beginning of the American Revolution. My plan yesterday was to teach them about the Battle of Bunker Hill, but I was caught off guard by my 7th period class and the questions they had.

While talking about the uncertainty and fears that men feel while going into combat, I had just finished making a comparison between the men at Bunker Hill and our soldiers in Iraq. That prompted some raised hands, and the questions quickly made it apparent to me that (not surprisingly), my students have absolutely no clue what is going on in that country. The number one misunderstanding that I was happy to correct was my students' belief that we are fighting the Iraqi army.

On the contrary, I told them; we are training, equipping, and often fighting side-by-side with the Iraqi army against the terrorists who are trying to destroy the country. My mention of the terrorists prompted another student to raise his hand and ask me who the "insurgents" were.
And so on and son it went. These students had so many questions about our current war, but apparently no one has taken the time to answer them. I hope I remedied some of that yesterday.

Good Day to You, Sir