Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Good Lord, here we go...

Today, one of my students handed me a letter from his mother that made me shake my head.

First the background: A couple of weeks ago, I made the movie, The Da Vinci Code into an extra credit assignment because we were studying the Renaissance and the movie will undoubtedly have images and references to people and things from the Renaissance. I have already received some turned-in assignments from a few students. So today, this student hands me the letter from his mom, and the letter says something to the effect of:

I will not allow [student's name] to watch the Da Vinci Code. The movie is a pack of lies, including the artwork. Please give him an alternate extra credit assignment.

Oh for goodness' sake! I am not trying to convert your son, lady. I just want him to see the Renaissance referenced on screen. Don't you think she could have just said in the letter, "I do not want my son to watch this movie. Please give him an alternate assignment"? NOOOO - She has to make a special point of letting me know that the movie is a "pack of lies". Golly gee, who is trying to do the converting here? I couldn't give a hoot less about the whole religious controversy surrounding this movie; I just wanted my students to know that Leonardo Da Vinci and the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper are famous icons of the Renaissance - so famous that they are the focal point of a major Hollywood motion picture.

I don't frown upon the mother for doing what she thinks is right regarding the protection of her son's sensibilities. I just got a bad taste in my mouth from her smarmy, heavy-handed, self- righteous tone that oozed out of her written correspondence.

I got a similarly annoying letter from a parent of one of my sixth grade students last year. We were beginning our study of Judaism and Christianity (as dictated by the state standards). A couple of days into it, one of my Vietnamese students handed me the letter. In it, the girl's mom chastised me for daring to teach Christianity in school. I got a rather verbose diatribe on the separation of church and state and the evils of indoctrinating children with my religion. I simply turned the letter over and wrote the following (paraphrased of course, but mostly to the word):

Dear Mrs. [Student's Mom],
Thank you for alerting me to your concerns about our current lessons in your daughter's class. According to the California state standards for 6th grade history, I am obligated to teach my students about the impact upon world history of the Christian and Jewish faiths. These are not the only religions we have similarly studied this year. Since August, I have also taught my students about the burial practices of Neanderthals and their evident belief in an afterlife, the polytheistic religions of the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians, the ancient Greeks, and soon, the Romans. Additionally, I have also taught my students about the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Next year, the students will learn about the religion of Islam.

Religion is a huge component of human history. The study of history would be incomplete without learning the role of religion in people's daily lives and how it motivated them to do what they did.

If you have any further concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you,
Mr. Chanman

Sometimes, I wonder which part of my job I find more trying - my students or their parents.

Good Day to You, Sir

Clint, we hardly knew ye!

At the beginning of every period, I do a "Today in History" segment with my students. It's a neat book from the History Channel that gives a day-by-day account of all kinds of historical happenings.

Today, I was doing birthdays (did you know Brooke Shields turned 41 today?). The one that floored me was that Clint Eastwood turned 76 today. What floored me even more was the collective look of puzzlement on my students' faces and murmured comments of "Who is that?" "I've never heard of him before." Oh Lord, my age is showing, and I'm only 33. The majority of my students have never heard of Clint Eastwood. I tried listing his famous characters like Dirty Harry, Josey Wales, and the Man with no Name. I even tried his famous quotes: "Go ahead, make my day." "Do you feel lucky punk? Well do ya?" Nothing. Blank stares.

Finally, I had a breakthrough. I told them that Eastwood won the best director and best picture Oscar for Million Dollar Baby. Luckily they had heard of this movie, and I got lots of "Ohhhh, he was in that movie?" I said "Yes he was, he played one of the trainers." Then I got another question that floored me: "Was he the black trainer or the white trainer?" I patiently explained, "Morgan Freeman was the black guy, Clint Eastwood was the white guy."

I now live in a world where lots of people don't know who Clint Eastwood is.

Good Day to You, Clint

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The last full measure of devotion

On this Memorial Day 2006, I wish to express my deep and everlasting gratitude to the hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women who have given their lives in order to ensure that our country remains the beacon of freedom in a world that is rife with tyranny and oppression.

I have found that there are few better places to pay homage to some of these servicemen than the American cemetery above Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. Over 60 years after the D-Day Invasion, this cemetery is kept lovingly immaculate, as it should be. I cannot express to you how real and sobering it is to walk among these crosses and occasional stars of David, as I have, knowing that many of these forever-young men died on the beach below or in the hedgerows a few miles away, and that they did it all for me - so that I could grow up in a world in which we would not live under the fascist tyranny of the German Nazis or the Japanese.

Today, we have a new war, and a new generation of soldiers fighting it. The outcome of this war is just as important as World War II. Instead of the tyranny and oppression of Nazism and Japanese Fascism, we are fighting against the encroachment of militant Islamo-fascism. Make no mistake, if given the chance, millions of Muslims in this world would love to bring back the caliphate and make me and my family either convert to Islam, pay the jizya (tax that non-Muslims pay), or die. If you think I am exaggerating or being overly dramatic, I only have to point your attention to a native Christian Europe that is dying, and a fecund and determined Arab/Muslim population that is taking its place. Once again, our brave young men and women have answered the call and currently fight and die to protect our nation.

So again, God bless the soldiers who have died for this country, along with the many more soldiers who have given their limbs, eyesight, and youthful strength in the service of their country. They may not have died on the battlefield, but they certainly left a part of them there.

This isn't an edition of God's Country, but my photo certainly records a place that qualifies.

Good Day to You, Sir, and God Bless America

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rare double feature of God's Country

I forgot about this little photo I took, but I think it is very beautiful. It was also shot near Burney, on a lovely day in early June, 2004. By the way, I have no idea what kind of flower that is. For all I know, it's a weed! Remember, you'll get more out of the photo if you click on it.

Good Day to You, Sir

God's Country

I received a request from one of my readers for another edition of God's Country. I guess it has been at least two months since I posted one. This is Burney Creek, just a few miles southwest of the small town of Burney, California. Burney is located in the high and dry volcano country of north-eastern California. Go there; it is beautiful.

Good Day to You, Sir

He's really a good boy

The other day in the Natomas neighborhood of Sacramento, there was an officer-involved shooting in a shopping center during lunch time. A Sacto PD officer followed a car full of armed robbers and their accomplices to this shopping center right after one of the perps had held up a teenager at a bus stop a mile or two away. As soon as the driver of the suspect vehicle saw the cop approach, he gunned the car and hit the cop's cruiser, then hit the cop. The cop jumped onto the hood of the perp's vehicle and had no choice but to open fire. He pumped 8 shots through the windshield, killing the driver and injuring the front seat passenger. This all happened in front of a huge audience of diners at an In-N-Out Burger and people in the parking lot.

I read a follow-up article about the incident in today's front section of the Sacramento Bee. Family members of the dead suspect and the injured suspect were interviewed. They said the grating words I often hear from family members of criminals. Here is a sample from the article. See if you can find what grates me:
At the North Sacramento home [Eugene] Gallegos (the dead suspect) shared with his siblings and grandmother, a steady stream of friends and relatives Tuesday filed through the front door.

Rosie Aldana, who had helped rear her grandson, said she didn't believe he was solely responsible for veering the car into the officer on Monday.

She said he was likely prodded by those in the car to "go, go, go" and succumbed to the pressure.

"That was out of character for him," Aldana said, surrounded by family, "That's why it's so hard to take this."

Late Monday, relatives told Aldana they had seen newscasts of the maroon Chrysler that Gallegos bought three weeks ago now riddled with bullets.

Gina Gallegos, who nicknamed her brother "Chitho" when he was a toddler, said Gallegos had a good heart and took care of the family, but at times kept bad company.

"He hung around with some of the wrong people," she said.

Tuesday afternoon, as the family grieved, Gallegos' father, Eugene T. Gallegos, 40, was arrested on unrelated charges.

Monday night, members of the police gang unit searched Gallegos' home. Family members on Tuesday said he was not a gang member but acknowledged some of his acquaintances were.
That was the interview with the family of the dead suspect. Let's see what the family of the injured suspect, Saul Rabago, had to say?
On Tuesday night, Marisol Rabago said she planned to see her brother in jail to prepare for his court appearance.

Her brother just turned 19, she said, and recently made a commitment to his family that he would try to change for the better.

"Two weeks ago, he said, 'Give me 25 days,' " Marisol Rabago recalled. "He got a job and was starting to come back to family events, dinners; we started to believe."

But when he got paid Friday, the family said he slipped out of sight. They last saw him Saturday night, before spotting him on the news Monday evening.

"He's not a bad kid," Marisol Rabago said. "He was just at the wrong place, with the wrong people.

"If he was in his right state of mind," she said, "he would not have done the things he was doing."
Family members of both perps essentially said the same thing: OK, so my relative held up a teenage boy with a gun and robbed him, then tried to kill a police officer, but he really is a good boy.

Sorry to rain on your delusional parade folks, but NO! They are NOT good boys! They were nasty little thugs who, of their own free will, did bad things to good people. Don't give me this crap about how they also helped proverbial little old ladies cross the street so they were really not bad. I can think of lots of people who help little old ladies cross the street, and yet, they don't also rob and attempt to murder people. This is an extreme example, but did you know that Hitler was an animal-loving vegetarian? Does that make him a "good boy" after all? I am so sick of this fear that people have of acknowledging evil. I see this all the time at my work. We teachers are constantly told, "Remember, they aren't bad kids, they just exhibit bad behavior." That one always makes me cluck my tongue. So does that mean there is no such thing as a good kid, only good behavior? I'm sorry, but your actions define you. If you do bad things, then you are bad. If that truth hurts, then it is just something that you are going to have to live with.

By the way, Officer Kevin Howland - the Sacramento PD officer who shot Mssrs. Gallegos and Rabago - has some serious knee damage after being hit by the car driven by Gallegos, and is recovering. He is expected to eventually return to full duty.

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Speaking of Michelle Malkin...

I wanted to add one more thing. Michelle Malkin and some other bloggers have started a new blog called Hot Air. What is different about this blog is that it is a video blog. Every weekday, Michelle gives a 3 to 5 minute recap of the day's big stories and her amusing comments about them. If you go to Hot Air, you will see a freeze-frame shot of Michelle from the latest edition of the mini-newscast, which is called Vent. Just click on the freeze-frame, and the day's Vent will begin. Give it a look-see.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Attack of the "Tolerant" Left

I'm sure you are all aware of the common wisdom that people have of the political left: they are often assumed to be "I love everyone", open-minded, caring, and not just tolerant, but celebratory of peoples' race, ethnicity, sex (I mean gender), sexual orientation, physical and mental status, blah, blah, blah.

In reality, what you will find is that quite often, the most intolerant people you will ever meet are people on the left side of the political spectrum. One of my favorite bloggers, Michelle Malkin, even wrote a book about it: Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild. How interesting it is that some of the most vicious, hateful, and intolerant comments made by the left about conservatives are often slung at Michelle Malkin, who is of Filipino descent.

Forgive me for being graphic here, but to truly know the violent and hateful nature of the left that seeths unseen, you must read but a small sampling of some of the things they tell her in their emails to her:

They call her a "slant-eyed gook", they tell her that her (again, forgive me) "cunt should be sewn shut with barbed wire", and in the latest round of barbarity, some lefties are saying to her and among themselves that she is a "whore" who "shoots ping-pong balls out of her vagina." Had enough of the left's compassion and tolerance? So have I. So has Michelle Malkin. Read her reaction to these latest comments here.

Good Day to You, Michelle Malkin - and don't let them get you down.

Incumbent Stupidity: It Never Goes Away

So I just read that Ray Nagin was just re-elected as mayor of New Orleans. This is the same guy who left those city school buses sitting in their parking lots; who waited way too long to finally tell the citizens of New Orleans that they needed to leave the city; who, after Katrina had done her damage, stood before national news cameras and blamed everyone for this mess except for himself; who, in the hurricane's aftermath and subsequent emptying out of the city's population, told supporters that New Orleans needed to remain a "chocolate city". I wonder how the mayor of, say, Burlington, Vermont would have fared in the national media had he said in a speech that Burlington needed to remain a "vanilla city"? There's that racial double-standard again of which I often speak.

So, New Orleans - My wife and I had fun visiting you three years ago, and I will always be glad that I got to see you in person before the hurricane changed everything; but from now on, you deserve everything that is coming to you, because you made your choice, and you re-elected the man who was largely responsible for the catastrophic human factor in that natural disaster. You lefties can try to blame President Bush all you want, but like it or not, disaster preparedness and relief is a local and state function, not a federal one. Remember, in a democracy, people elect the government that they deserve.

Good Day to You, Sir

More Required Reading

I have discovered another writer on the Web who is a must read. I wouldn't so much call him a blogger than I would a columnist. His name is Fred Reed, and he has a website called Fred On Everything. In it, he gives his views on our current military endeavors, race relations, our infantile culture, and the way things used to be. I have linked to his homepage. Just click on the "column" button on the menu, and you will have hours of reading to do; all worth it.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, May 15, 2006

What Did You Expect?

I just read the transcript of GWB's speech on illegal "immigration". What else can I say? He punted, and now we will just get more of the same.

Good Day to You, Muchacho

Should This Teacher Be Fired?

First, let's set the record straight: I wholeheartedly disagree with this teacher's view that blacks are inferior to whites. I think there are inferior cultures, but not inferior races. In my almost 34 years, I have met many inferior people of every color and ethnicity; no one race has a monopoly on ignorance and stupidity; those are both equal-opportunity afflictions.

With that said, I think it would be a travesty to fire this teacher as long as teachers on the other end of the political spectrum are allowed to teach while holding their own repugnant and dangerous views. I'm sure you have seen my pictures of my fellow teacher's classroom adorned with a poster that glorifies a mass-murdering communist, thereby letting his students know that he ascribes to a political philosophy that is responsible for the brutal deaths of around 100 million people in the 20th century alone. I know the article says that the teacher in the article isn't leaving his current school because of his views, but I'm sure he would have most likely been fired anyway. What bothers me isn't so much that he would be fired for publicly advocating views like his; it is that people with views just as abhorrent - but on the other side of the political spectrum - are in classrooms all over America, yet the media doesn't utter a peep.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, May 11, 2006

She "Chose" to Shoot Her Baby

You gotta love the so-called "Pro-Choice" crowd. They stop at nothing to keep people from realizing what is really involved when an abortion takes place, right down to downplaying the word "abortion" in their moniker. Now look at what the abortion rights crowd and their precious court decisions such as Roe vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey have wrought. I am ashamed for our country because of this incident.

On February 23 of this year, a woman in Virginia who was nine months pregnant, shot herself in the stomach on the same day her baby was due. She did it with the sole intention of killing her baby. She already had two kids and decided that she didn't want a third. If she had waited a few hours and let the baby be born before shooting it, she would have spent the rest of her life in prison. Instead, since this full-term baby was still inside her womb, this woman faces no charges at all, save for filing a false police report - she originally told the police she was shot by a carjacker.

When I was younger, I was mildly "pro-choice". I went along with the whole, "It's her body" mumbo jumbo. Of course, it is her body, but when a woman is pregnant, now we have another body to protect as well. As I have grown older and wiser, I have remained "pro-choice", but in a different sense: The choice was made when the man and woman decided to get horizontal with each other. If you choose to have sex, you must be prepared for the consequences, no matter if you welcome them or fear them.

The situation we have now regarding abortion in this country is one of absolute lunacy. If a woman shoots herself in the stomach and kills her full-term baby, she gets off scot free. If she waits a few more hours until the baby is born, she goes to prison. I once read an account of a woman in, I believe, South Dakota, who was using drugs while pregnant. The prosecutor charged her with a crime for doing this. You wanna know how the woman got out of this mess? She got an abortion. She was in trouble for harming the unborn baby with her use of drugs, so she got out of trouble by killing her baby instead.

I usually stay away from the topic of abortion because people are so locked into their position on the subject, that changing their minds is usually not even an option. I guess I am an exception as my views have swung from pro-abortion to pro-life over the last decade. You could try to chalk it up to the fact that I am now a dad, but I had made my conversion before I was even married, let alone a father. But this story of a woman who will face no charge whatsoever in the killing of her baby makes me want to scream! How cheap life has become in our day and age. Because of our rampant use of and tolerance for abortion, I see our society as being little more respectable than the human-sacrificing Aztecs.

So I have to ask those who consider themselves "pro-choice", do you approve of this woman's "choice"? With the exception of blatantly harming herself in the process, how was what this woman did, any different from what goes on in abortion clinics everyday?

Good Day to You Sir, and God help us!

Did You Know that Bruce Lee Could Dodge Bullets?

What a bizarre day today in my classroom. Every morning during 1st period homeroom, the media class puts on a school-wide broadcast that is shown on the t.v. in every classroom. Every once in a while, the broadcast teacher throws in a safety special - showing old films that tell about how to deal with bullies and what to do if someone offers you drugs. Today's special was about gun safety. What do you do if you are at a friend's house after school, the friend's parents are still at work, and your friend pulls dad's gun out of the closet for a show and tell? This subject is one that is near and dear to my heart, as it deals with the mysterious (to most people) world of firearms. I went ahead and added a little mini-lesson to my lesson plan regarding gun safety. Just consider it a supplemental to today's broadcast. What I found was some highly disturbing fallacies that my students indulged in. Essentially, they don't have a clue about firearms.

My bellwork for today required my students to answer a question about what you should do if your friend wants to show you the gun in the house. The correct answer is get out of the house as soon as possible. Do not pass go, do not collect $200; get the heck out! Someone from every period invariably made the following statement: "But, if you run, won't your friend shoot you? Running away will get you shot!" The first time a student said that, I was dumbfounded. After the fifth or sixth time a student from another period said the same thing, I was even more dumbfounded. What in sam hill are they talking about? I had to tell each class, "Look folks, this is not a liquor store robbery we are talking about here. I am talking about you being in your friend's house and he wants to show you his dad's gun. Your friend is not likely to chase you down and shoot you if you try to leave."

I then went over with the class, the three cardinal rules of gun safety. To keep from making it look like I was trying to teach them how to shoot - which I wasn't - I framed the purpose of teaching them the rules as reasons they should get out of the house, because chances are, their friend with the show-and-tell gun would be breaking one or all of the following rules. I wrote the rules on the board as such:

1. You must assume that a gun is ALWAYS loaded.
2. Do not aim a gun at anything you do not plan on shooting.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger unless you are ready to fire the gun.

Incredibly, many students had trouble with the first rule. They kept trying to rationalize and justify: "But, what if you double check the gun to make sure it is unloaded?" "But, what if you keep the safety on?" "But, what if you keep the slide jacked to the rear?" "But, what if... what if... what if?" I just kept telling them that it does not matter how sure you are that the gun is unloaded, you must always treat the gun as if it is loaded; if nothing else, so that you stay in the habit of not pointing it at anyone or putting your finger on the trigger whether it is unloaded or not. I told the students that most gun accidents happen because the person with the gun was sure that the gun was unloaded. As an example, I mentioned that dumbass DEA agent in Florida who was giving a gun safety demonstration to a classroom full of students and parents in Florida. He was handed what he assured the crowd was an "unloaded" pistol. A few seconds after admonishing the crowd that he was the only one "professional" enough to be handling this pistol, he shot himself in the foot. Hilariously enough, he attempted to continue the seminar as he limped around the classroom.

Then one of my students got even more absurd. He asked, "Can't you just dodge the bullet?" I had to request that he repeat the question, just to make sure I heard him right: "Can't you just dodge the bullet?" The first thing I asked him was, "You're joking right?" No, he wasn't joking. I told the student, "No, you cannot dodge a bullet." Incredibly, a murmur sprang from the small crowd of students who disagreed with my assertion that you cannot dodge a bullet. The student then said, "You can dodge a bullet! Bruce Lee could dodge bullets! I saw him do it in a movie once!" Now I figured he had to be pulling my leg. I said, "Yes, exactly; it was in a movie! In real life, you cannot even dream of dodging a bullet. There is a extremely small chance you might be able to anticipate when the shooter is going to pull the trigger and then jump out of the way, but I don't recommend you try it. But you can't dodge a bullet. Once that bullet has left the gun, you don't have a prayer of dodging it." But still, the student steadfastly stuck to his belief that one can dodge bullets, even after I told him that bullets are traveling at about 2000mph as they travel through the air. And honest to goodness, he wasn't joking with me; this kid was as serious as a heart attack.

OK, I hate to sound like a codger and say, "Kids these days!", but "KIDS THESE DAYS!" They live in a media-constructed dreamworld where their friends are out to kill them (OK, that might be a little true sometimes), and where you can dodge bullets, just like Bruce Lee. Remember folks, these kids are going to take care of us in our old age.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Thank You Judge, for Throwing Me Under the Bus

I believe I blogged a couple months ago about a little speech I gave to my 7th graders in which I laid out for them how important the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) is. I told them that what they learn now in school will come back to haunt them on the exam, seeing as how they are tested at the 8th grade level in math and about the 10th grade level in English.

Then I hear about some disgrace of a judge in Alameda County who has indicated that he is going to block the implementation of the CAHSEE and allow the 44,000 students who haven't passed it (in their 3 years and 10 attempts at trying) to walk in their graduation ceremonies. As an aside, I plead legal ignorance here: How exactly can a superior court judge in Alameda Country put a stop to the Exit Exam that was passed by the state legislature and applies to the entire state. Wouldn't his decision only affect students in Alameda County? I know there is obviously some kind of legal mumbo jumbo that makes the decision apply statewide, but whatever the case, I'll tell you what - that judge's decision is going to really make my 7th graders take my speech to heart and step up their efforts in ensuring that they pass the CAHSEE... Not.

In an article in the Sacramento Bee (registration may be required), a teacher who was interviewed put it in understandable terms,

"Personally, it's frustrating," said Shana Just, the exam's coordinator at Hiram Johnson. "Just when we get the kids to take this test seriously, somebody undermines us. We've told the kids: You cannot rely on a court to do this for you."

Typical of our society isn't it? No one is held accountable. Someone always comes to your rescue to relieve you of any pain you may feel, even if that pain might be a well-deserved and much needed kick in the ass that will benefit you in the long run.

And you know what? I don't care if you are poor, or a minority, or if you no speak English real good, or (this will really piss some people off), if you are a special education student, you should also be held to the same standard on the CAHSEE. If you cannot meet that standard, you do not deserve a high school diploma, even if you were in special ed. The high school diploma used to mean something. If you can or cannot meet a set standard, then there needs to be an indication that you have or have not met that standard. By giving away high school diplomas to people who just showed up, future employers and colleges are not being told the full story. If you were in special ed and had your tests read to you, and you got extra time to take those tests, and you got modifications for your assignments that others did not, and you were guaranteed at least a C, because to fail you would be illegal, shouldn't a potential employer or college official know about this when he takes a look at your diploma that looks exactly the same as the one that was given to a 4.0 honor student? If you cannot pass this ridiculously easy exam, then you do not deserve a diploma. Please understand, I have taught some special ed students who were mainstreamed into my classroom who were hardworking, polite, and did everything I asked of them. Those are attributes that will gain them employment someday. However, it does not change the fact that if they fail to meet a simple academic standard, then they haven't met that standard. Bottom line about special ed: Newsflash! Once you are out of high school, no one cares that you need more assistance to finish a project or an assignment. The cold cruel world won't give you a pass because (poor you), you were in special ed. The whole special ed concept as currently practiced, does nothing but build a protective bubble around these kids, and once that bubble is inevitably removed and reality comes crashing down around them, they crash also when they find out that no one (especially employers and colleges) cares, and they shouldn't have to.

I truly wish that the CAHSEE had existed when I graduated from high school back in the olden days of 1990. Not only would I have possibly taken school a little bit more seriously, I also would have been that much more proud of myself when I walked across that stage.

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What Did Your Kid Learn in School Today?

On several occasions, you have read my mentions of the teacher in the classroom next door to mine. This morning, I felt a little frisky, so I walked into his classroom with the digicam and snapped some photos of some of his juicier posters that hang on his classroom wall for all of this students to see. I don't know why these words are underlined. The Blogger host site never ceases to mystify me.
We start with my favorite poster. It advertises some annual festival in San Diego called Chicano Park Day. I find this poster to be one of the most disturbing displays. The middle banner says, "Reclaiming What's Ours", and then look what your friendly neighborhood heart-ripping Aztec is holding in his hands... or is it a her?

Ahh, what would a radical Aztlan proponent be without his trusty Che Guevara poster? I have written about this Che cult before. The man was a cowardly and brutal murderer. He ordered the killing of and personally killed thousands of prisoners at La Cabana prison outside Havana during the late 1950s - early 1960s. The prisoners' crime? Not wanting to live in a communist "paradise". Keep in mind, this sociopathic mass murderer is lovingly displayed on a teacher's wall.

Yep, forget about national defense. Don't need it. Let's unconstitutionally spend our federal money on education instead.

This poster looks innocent enough unless you can read Spanish. Notice the sign in the lower left hand corner? It says "Viva La Raza" or "Long Live the Race". What "race" would that be, hmmm? Imagine a White Power festival with signs that say "Long Live the Race". 'Nuff said. Also take note of "La Guerra Esta Aqui". That means, "The War is Here". Funny, I didn't think we were at war with our neighbors to the south, but apparently, they think they are at war with us.

So there it is folks. I know some might find me to be a bit sneaky and underhanded walking into another teacher's classroom while he is not there and snapping pictures. But remember something. That is not his classroom. It belongs to the taxpayers, and they are paying him tens of thousands of dollars a year to shove his treasonous propaganda down the throats of a young and impressionable captive audience. If someone came into my room to take pictures, I would be proud to take them on a tour.

Good Day to You, Sir

When is the Last Time Our Media Showed You This?

A Magnificent and Honorable Film

I just got back from watching United 93 at the local multiplex. When I drive alone in the car, I usually sing to music or talk back to idiot callers on talk radio. Tonight on my way home from the theater, I didn't say a word. I was absolutely overwhelmed with emotion, both from what I watched on the screen, and my own memories of that infamous day that is now approaching five years ago.

United 93 was shot in what I can best describe as a you-are-there style. The camera is a little shaky, and the background musical score was kept to an absolute minimum. The dialogue is not spoken in the usual way that you are used to in a movie. Screenplays bind dialogue to the plot. Characters use an economy of words and often only say what is needed to drive the plot forward. As I listened to the passengers and air traffic controllers interact with each other, I didn't feel like I was watching a bunch of actors reciting their lines. I felt like I was watching people have real conversations about seemingly meaningless things, and they even stuttered and stammered from time to time as people often do in real conversation. The events on board the plane were riveting and predictable enough, but what kept me spellbound for a good portion of the movie were the scenes involving both civilian and military air traffic control agencies. The movie brilliantly captured the slowly evolving horror experienced by these mundane people doing their mostly mundane jobs as they began to realize what was playing out on their watch. What made even more of an impact was that many of the major players, both civilian and military, played themselves in the movie. The writer and director of the film, Paul Greengrass, could only piece together a most-likely scenario of what was said on the plane itself because no one on board survived the incident. But the scenes showing air traffic control personnel were verifiable both because the people who were there are of course still alive, and also in many cases, they played themselves. I found this to be absolutely fascinating, and I tried to put myself in their place. Can you imagine having to act and recreate one of the most traumatic moments of your life? Do you think you could recreate the emotion and the fear that you genuinely felt at the time? The first scenes of air traffic control (ATC) show a bunch of people starting what is looking like just another day, and then little things start to happen. American Airlines Flight 11 won't answer back. Then it drops off the radar screen, then the World Trade Center is smoking. At this point, the ATC people can't even confirm that it was American Flight 11 that hit the World Trade Center. They are told that it was a light airplane. Heck I was told that too. The news reported it as a light airplane as I was watching the live footage as I was getting ready for work that morning. One look at the hole in the side of the building told me that was no light airplane. The ATC people said the same thing. One guy said, "A Cessna would have bounced right off that building!" The movie did a great job of showing the audience just how confused ATC was that day. Have you ever heard of Delta Flight 1989? ATC tracked that plane for a long time, thinking it was also hijacked. Did you know that quite a while that morning, ATC thought American Flight 11 was headed south toward Washington D.C. even after it was the first plane that morning to fly into the World Trade Center? All this confusion and mayhem, and meanwhile, planes keep getting hijacked. When the order is given to ground all aircraft over American airspace, one cannot help but wonder; were there other planes with would-be hijackers aboard who didn't get a chance to take over the plane?

The four hijackers are not portrayed as some Muslim Arab caricature like those bucktooth squinty-eyed Japanese that you see in old World War II movies. The hijackers are portrayed as very businesslike, somewhat nervous with sweat, but with the proper religious fervor that one expects from a dedicated Jihadi. No punches were pulled as the hijackers were shown stabbing a passenger, the pilot and co-pilot, and a stewardess in cold blood. It was also satisfying to watch the passengers - in a rage of animal survival instinct - do to the hijackers what you can probably imagine they did as they fought for control of the plane; no punches were pulled in that depiction either.

One aspect about this film that I liked better than the one I saw on A&E a few months back was that no time was spent focusing on any family members back home who spoke to their loved ones on the airplane. The whole movie takes place either in the airplane or in one of the air traffic control centers. The only allusion to family members of the passengers was when you saw a passenger talking on the phone. This kept the tension unbearable as you are stuck with the people who, even though they don't know what is going on, know more than anyone else. And they know that their destination is not an airport, but a building..

By the time the inevitable scene arrived where the passengers began breaking into the cockpit, I was shaking like a leaf. The you-are-there style continued to the end as no exterior shot of the plane was shown as it flew into the ground. Instead you see the ground approaching fast in the cockpit window as the camera is right in the middle of the fight to the death between the passengers and the hijackers.

It is almost a cliche that people, especially younger generations, don't fully appreciate the sacrifices made by the people that came before them. I have read so many stories of people who lived through Pearl Harbor and World War II shaking their heads as they read about the majority of today's schoolchildren not even knowing what two countries we fought in World War II, let alone know why we fought the war in the first place. But World War II was over 60 years ago. September 11, 2001 is just now approaching a mere five years ago, and yet I feel as if too many people have already reinserted their heads in the sand. When the first trailers for United 93 began to show in theaters a few weeks ago, movie-goers reportedly shouted at the screen, "Too soon!" Are you kidding me? World War II movies were showing in theaters while the war was still raging, and people think five years is too soon to show a movie about September 11th? To the contrary, we need more movies about September 11th. We need to shake people awake and remind them of what was done to our country on that day. We need to show photos of the people jumping from the World Trade Center rather than burning to death inside. The news media had no problem assaulting us with Abu Ghraib photos for months on end, but when is the last time they showed any video or photo footage of the jumpers or of the planes hitting the buildings for that matter. As far as our illustrious press is concerned, the events of that day have been flushed down the memory hole, and they only show that footage if they absolutely have to. After all, if they show that footage, we Americans might get (gasp!) angry at the cockroaches who did it too us, and the supporters and benefactors of those cockroaches as well.

Bottom line ladies and gentlemen, go see United 93 in the theater if you can, or otherwise rent it on DVD. It is hard to watch at times because of the scab it tears off, but it is a wound of which we need to be reminded.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Error Correction

Sometimes, a feature will change on my blog, and I don't even know how or why it happened. Case in point: it used to be that when someone commented on my blog, the comment would immediately show up. Now, the comment goes to my email first, then I have to authorize the publishing of any comments before they show up on my blog. So today, I noticed on my email that I had three new comments for my "Si Se Puede Skip School" post. I thought I published them, but instead, I think I accidentally erased them.

So... the first comment was from George over at MimmenBlog. He simply approved of my post by saying, "here, here". The second comment was from Darren at RightOnTheLeftCoast. He informed me that in his school district, the superindendent sent out an automated phone message to parents and staff that encouraged attendance at school on the day of the protest. My third comment was from a new reader named Roberto. He said it was an interesting post, but he took me to task for using the term "seditious crap" to describe the posters on my fellow teacher's wall that advocates the invasion and annexing of our southwest states back to Mexico. First, thank you for visiting my blog Roberto. I am thrilled to welcome new readers. And I think you are right, I should not have used the word "seditious". Thinking about an American working toward having part of our country taken away from us and given to another country made me change my mind. I should have used the word "treasonous" instead.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, May 01, 2006

Si Se Puede Skip School

So I returned to work today after my week at home while on paternity leave. I must say, I wasn't surprised to find that about a third of my students didn't show up; most of them having hispanic surnames. At least three teachers of hispanic descent didn't show up either. I ended up having to cover for one of them on my prep period because the entire district was short of substitutes. I assume this was because many teachers at other schools in my district didn't show up either. My work email inbox had an email from our principal waiting for us this morning. The email warned us teachers that a lot of students would probably not be showing up today, and that the decision of those students and their parents should "be respected". In fact, here is the email, copied and pasted for your viewing pleasure:
Re: Rumor of May 1st Student Walk Out
I am fully aware of this. There is nothing we can do about it. Many immigrant families are expected not to attend work and school on May 1st. We need to respect this decision.
Abide by the decision because I have to? Okay. Respect it? Bite me! All of this bruhaha was because of the "Day Without an Immigrant" protests that took place today throughout not only California, but all over the nation. I just got done watching 24, my favorite TV show of all time. After 24, the 10pm news on our local Fox affiliate came on. Of course, the lead story was about the protest marches that took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento. Not once in the almost 15 minutes of coverage did any of the reporters use the word "illegal" or "alien" in any of the stories they filed. It was "immigrant" this, and "immigrant" that. This isn't about immigration. It is about ILLEGAL immigration! Specifically, the legal and proper term is "illegal alien". I expect the protesters to repeat the purposeful and outrageous lie that people like me are against immigration, but for the supposedly professional reporters to do it is just disgusting. What was also disgusting was the video footage of todays protests where the Mexican flags were ubiquitous. I guess a lot of these protestors didn't get the message that was learned from their earlier protests that flying the Mexican flag while you are demanding the right to live in the United States kinda pissed a lot of people off. But you can't expect many of these morons to be able to control themselves. They just gotta fly that Mexican flag and demand that I learn to speak Spanish like I heard one caller say to a local AM talk duo while I was driving to work this morning.

To add insult to injury, the teacher for whom I covered today was that Che Guevara-loving Aztlan proponent about whom I discussed in one of my first blog entries way back in August '05. I had time to revisit some of the posters on his classroom wall. One was advertising a Chicano Day March from a few years back that depicted a Zapata-looking character holding in his arms the states of CA, AZ, NM, TX, UT, and NV. Below this guy was a banner that read Let's Take Back What's Ours (or something to that effect). I think I will go in there and take a picture of that poster, along with a couple of other interesting ones I saw, so that you can see the seditious crap that is being exposed to our students. Don't get me wrong, I get along with this teacher just fine, and I think he is a great guy, but his politics scare the hell out of me. Funny, he probably says the same thing about me.

By the way - for those of you not skooled in the Spanish language, "Si Se Puede" means "Yes, We Can". It is on a lot of the signs being carried by the protesters. Now I think the title to this post will make a little more sense. Another common sign was "Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote". Think about that.

Good Day to You, Muchacho