Thursday, December 30, 2004
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
For a breakdown of the elder Bush's presidency and a reality check for anyone who is nostalgic for the original Bush, this article offers a compelling argument. There's even some nice stuff about our current Bush. A sample:
But Bush also had to figure out how he wanted to end the war. Marching to Baghdad would splinter the coalition, but leaving Saddam in power meant trouble, too. So Bush chose to encourage a rebellion in the Iraqi military, in the hope that a new Sunni strongman might emerge to replace Saddam. While the fighting raged, Bush suggested in February 1991 that Iraqis "take matters into their own hands, to force Saddam ussein, the dictator, to step aside."
Radio broadcasts later linked to the CIA encouraged Iraqis to overthrow Saddam. Things didn't go as planned, however. Shia and Kurds bravely accepted the invitation to rise up, but Saddam's army officers didn't, turning their guns instead on the rebels. Faced with the prospect of supporting a Shia rebellion--and the possible creation of a Shia state, which friends such as Saudi Arabia opposed--Bush suddenly found the
prospect of Saddam's ouster less appealing. So he changed his mind.
Saddam, happy to have a free hand, employed helicopter gunships to kill tens of
thousands of Shia and Kurds as American forces in the region stood by. By early
April, millions of Kurds were fleeing the massacres and crowding into refugee
camps in neighboring Turkey, and Bush was starting to come under fire in Washington. "We went over there for a moral purpose," argued Senator Al Gore at the time, "and now we are insisting that our American forces stand by and watch as helicopter gunships, responding to the orders of Saddam Hussein, open fire on innocent men, women, and children--even firing on hospitals--simply because these people who are being killed responded to our request that they rise up against Saddam Hussein."
Read the rest.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Well, this article is well worth it. Maybe I think so just because I agree so strongly with the author's message. I'm tired of hearing about how Kerry should have had an easy win and that he screwed it up. I disagree. Kerry wasn't perfect, but he did a damn good job. My analysis from election week stands.
I worry about us. We talk and talk about the SCLM and seem to recognize how well the media shapes public opinion yet we fall for it anyway. Are they really that powerful?
Monday, December 27, 2004
Get Over It
Another note about Time: they tagged along with Bush while he visited wounded soldiers. How wonderful of him! Of course nobody mentions the fact that Kerry attended a soldier's funeral before Bush did, or that the wounded soldiers have been conspicuously absent from the SCLM, or that Rumsfeld told the soldiers that even with armor they could get blown up anyway.
Time published a praisebook for everything on the right- even the success of blogs was attributed solely to Powerline, the blog that started the CBS memo controversy. So far the most notable absence in Time's issue is the Abu Ghraib scandal. I suppose the reason I noticed is because Newsweek devoted an article to it.
Something Time did do is remind us that Bush has the most racially diverse cabinet ever (as well as praise Bush for not making a big deal about it)- the Benetton Cabinet. As I read the article and the intended shame crept in for not giving Bush credit, I reminded myself that while Bush's cabinet may be diverse- his agenda is not. The minorities he has appointed stand out for fighting themselves and supporting policy that hurts the very people they are suppossed to represent.
I checked my anger and nursed the nausea brought about by reading article after article praising the right and ridiculing the left, but the article about the racially diverse Bush cabinet really bothered me. Then, I picked up Newsweek. Without getting into too much detail, you might think the two magazines were reporting about two entirely different years. Newsweek, while appearing thinner, has much more information. The big difference though is the race issue.
While Time mentioned only the historic significance of Alberto Gonzales being Hispanic, Newsweek did not mention it at all. They did a story about his role in the "torture memos" and his 17-year loyalty to Bush. I find that absolutely fascinating.
Isn't the whole idea of racial equality to get to the point where people are just people and where someone can be praised (or criticized) for being whatever they are instead of an African-American/Hispanic/Asian whatever they are?
My thanks to Newsweek for giving me a real story instead of a fluff piece about how Bush is breaking racial barriers.
Friday, December 24, 2004
Both hosts made this big to-do about wishing the audience a Merry Christmas. I thought it was a little odd, but enjoyed the rest of both shows enough that I let it go by. Then I read this (you might have to scroll down a couple entries) by Slate's Surfergirl. Suddenly, it all clicked.
This election season has turned "Merry Christmas" into a challenge. There's even a campaign to boycott stores who hang "Happy Holidays" signs instead of "Merry Christmas" signs. Just looking at that stuff makes me ill, but more on that later.
I got my hair cut last week and my hairdresser was selling little angel ornaments for a woman raising money for a soup kitchen. I was trying to decide if it would be okay to get one for all of my homeroom students. I usually do get a little something for my homeroom students, but this year I have a couple students who don't celebrate any holidays. As we chatted, the other woman getting her hair done made some remarks about being too PC and about other religions ruining Christmas for everyone else. Interesting comments. In the end, I bought a bunch of ornaments to support the cause and figured I'd decide what to do about my students later.
I feel like the Christmas issue is being blown out of proportion on both sides and I also feel that those professing the greatest commitment to Christ and the meaning of Christmas are the very ones destroying it. Let us alienate and divide in Jesus' name, Amen. Let us vilify those who would show respect for all mankind and insist that our way is the only way, peace be with you.
My thoughts: I don't care for the super-PC atmosphere we've entered, but don't really think it's a one-party or one religion issue. I'm okay with tradition and don't agree with the folks who make a big stink over small town Christmas displays. They are done in good spirit and should be regarded as such. I feel the same about big city displays though I do think Christmas should be kept out of courtrooms and classrooms.
Let me clarify. I exchanged and accepted gifts from teachers and students. I gave some cards out. I sang in the school's Christmas concert. I sang Christmas songs with students and played a Christmas CD but only in those classes where all the students celebrate. I also made sure not to put any Christmas decorations in my room. The other math teacher at my school put a Christmas tree in her room. I thought it was inappropriate. Many, many students asked why I didn't put one up. I kindly explained that not all of my students celebrate Christmas and that I didn't want anyone to feel excluded. On our last day of school, while everyone else attended the fifth grade Christmas concert, I stayed in my classroom with those students whose religion barred them from attending.
I didn't hide my religion or my beliefs. The holiday spirit was alive and well in my classroom and my conscience was clear because I made what could have been a very difficult day for some of my students a bit easier. I also learned a lesson from them.
These students didn't make a fuss about their beliefs. They socialized with their peers and stuck around during gift exchanges and holiday wishes. None of them asked kids to stop singing or to take off their Santa hats or refused to do anything. They did request that they not be asked to participate in activities that were against their reliogion and did so respectfully. Some teachers complained and wondered why these kids couldn't just sit in on the concert, etc. I wondered how we could be so disrespectful to these kids after the amazing amount of respect they showed toward our religion.
I watch these students stand for the pledge although they can't recite it. I watched them stand to the side as the other students voted when they couldn't. I graded papers they did relating to the election although their religion bars them from voting. I watched them come to school ,and do their work and face questions from well-meaning but uninformed kids at Christmastime as all around them everyone just assumed that everyone celebrates Christmas. I heard them wondering allowed if attending our school's Santa's Workshop would be okay or if they needed to ask to sit out.
The least I can do is tell them to have a safe vacation instead of a Merry Christmas. The least I can do is not put a Christmas tree in my classroom knowing they will be surrounded by Christmas everywhere else. The least I can do is offer them a place to stay during an activity they can't participate in. The least I can do is show them 1/10 of the tolerance they show the rest of us everyday.
These kids aren't going to complain if someone on TV wishes them a Merry Christmas and they probably won't be offended. What is offensive is a lecture about how Christmas songs are ruined if we change all the Christmas references to holiday or a note about how the announcer isn't trying to offend and he hopes that his message is taken in a spirit of peace and giving or a group of people complaining because a store decided that all of their customers deserve respect, not just the Christians.
I don't agree with fighting stores and towns to take down their Christmas decortations but I also don't agree with faulting them for choosing to do so. And seriously folks, look around. Do you really think anyone is kicking out Christmas? How many radio stations in your area have switched to all-Christmas music? Are there any that aren't making any references to Christmas? How about TV channels? Are they showing Christmas movies? Have they added mistletoe and holly to their logos? How many commercials aren't Christmas related? Have you been in any stores that don't have Christmas decorations and displays?
Nobody needs the lecture, folks. How unChristmaslike.
And by the way, I gave my students the angel ornaments. I told my class I got them angels, told them the money went to a charity, put the angels on a desk and told the students they could take one. They all did. One of my non-Christmas kids remarked that it was a tree ornament and said he'd hang it on his refrigerator. In the end, they're kids. They don't want to be excluded, just respected.
Update: The marketers response to the boycott is here. I completely agree with their statement, especially their final remarks:
It is regrettable that an attempt to bring all people together in peace and love at this time of year is being perceived as offensive by some when clearly the intent is just the opposite. Nevertheless, we are proud of our commitment to diversity, and we believe this is a tradition worth embracing during all the seasons of the year.
Here's another article on this from The New Republic.
Friday, December 17, 2004
Neither Bush nor Kerry had enough votes to win the election.Therefore, it was decided that there should be an ice fishing contest between the two candidates to determine the final winner. There was much talk about ballot recounting, court challenges, etc., but a week-long ice fishing competition seemed the manly way to settle things. The candidate that catches the most fish at the end of the week wins.
The contest would take place on a remote and cold lake in Alaska. There were to be
no observers present, and both men were to be sent out separately on this remote lake and return daily with their catch for counting and verification. At the end of the first day, Kerry returns to the starting line and he has 10 fish. Soon, Bush returns and has zero fish. Well, everyone assumes he is just having a bad day or something and hopefully he will catch up the next day.
At the end of the 2nd day Kerry comes in with 20 fish and Bush comes in again with none. That evening, Dick Cheney gets together secretly with Bush and says, "I think Kerry is a lowlife cheating son-of-a-bitch. I want you to go out tomorrow and don't even
bother with fishing. Just spy on him and see if he is cheating in any way."
The next night, after Kerry comes back with 50 fish, Cheney says to Bush, "Well, what about it - is Kerry cheating?" "He sure the hell is," Bush says. "The son of a bitch is cutting holes in the ice!
Company offers service for drunk dialers
An Australian wireless company is offering a new service aimed at helping "drunken dialers" before they place that embarrassing call. The new service comes after Virgin Mobile found 95 percent of the people it recently surveyed admitted to making phone calls after drinking too much, Sky News said Tuesday. Of those people, 55 percent grabbed their phones first thing in the morning to find out who they called. Among the recipients of drunken calls were ex-spouses, current partners and bosses. Under the new service, customers can call a special number before they go out drinking and enter in numbers to be blocked from their cell phones, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., reported. They can't dial those numbers out and those numbers cannot dial in until 6:30 a.m. the following day.
I love mathematics. I consider it to be as beautiful as poetry and there are few things I enjoy doing more than math. If it were up to me, I would repeat high school and college over and over and over just so I could keep doing math. I never wanted to teach math.
I fell into teaching by accident and discovered that I not only loved it, but that I prefered working with middle school students (!!). I love being one of the first people to introduce students to abstract ideas and Algebra. I love that my students are still young enough to be awakened to the beauty of mathematics, but not so young that my teaching is limited. I feel that one of my greatest responsibilities is to keep my students from becoming adults who cringe at the thought of doing math.
I'm particularly fascinated by mathematics education, maybe because I've already mastered the mathematics, maybe because I love a challenge. As with all of my interests, I eat books on teaching mathematics. I spend hours each weekend looking for new ideas to introduce a particular concept. I am energized by the good lessons and devastated by the bad ones, but mostly I am energized by my students, especially the ones who have been told over and over that they can't do math but have the persistence to keep trying so that they finally find success.
Our system is broken. I didn't need this article to tell me that. I only need to look around. So I've decided to become more active. I finally feel like I have enough experience to have a voice, the election is over, and NCTM is calling for advocates. I just ordered my advocacy toolkit so that hopefully I can figure out where to begin.
While I will continue to cover other political articles, expect more information about politics and education along with some opinionated posts about education today.
Thanks for sticking around during my little vacation.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Sunday, December 05, 2004
PITTSBURGH, Penn. - It seems that the State Department is not a fan of smiles. According to new State Department Rules that went into effect this summer, passports photos that display unusual or unnatural expressions, such as big, toothy grins, are prohibited. A State Department spokes-woman says that smiling has the ability of distorting other facial features. She explained that for a proper computer analysis of a photograph a neutral facial expression is becoming the standard. So, if you're going out of the country for a fun vacation remember to contain your enthusiasm.
How much crazier can we get? Now we're not allowed to smile when having our picture taken?
Thanks to Bizarre News for this one.
Saturday, December 04, 2004
Across the street from my school is a large park. Around the entire park is a six-foot wide concrete walkway. At all hours of the day, you will find people walking or jogging on the walkway.
There is a pseudo-street running along two sides of the park where most of the employees from the school, neighboring church, and neighboring hospital park. I call it a pseudo street because there are two actual streets that run parallel to the pseudo-street. Mostly it's used for parking.
There are two women who are out walking every day when I arrive at work. Now I am, shamefully, a smoker so I usually sit in my car for a few minutes having a cigarette before heading into the school. These two women drive me crazy. Instead of walking around the walkway in the park, they walk in the pseudo street. Now I could handle it if they kept their distance, but they don't. They practically brush up against every car they pass by and one of the women has the annoying habit of peering into all the cars she passes.
It's creepy and weird. Ladies, I implore you, use the park for your walk!
Sorry it's been awhile. Between report cards and internet connection issues, it just wasn't a blogging week.
Worried about discrimination against gays? I am after reading this (including the comments) and the gay-book banning news on Capitol Banter and The Daily Grind. A lesbian mother is actually being sued by a teacher after the mother complained about her kid being punished for using the word "gay" in school. This kind of stuff scrares the hell out of me. On a related note, I recommend The Kid by Dan Savage. I'll write a full recommendation on my other blog.
Ever wonder about fascism? Wonder no more. Read this. Convincing stuff.
Do you think we've come a long way in responding to sexual abuse? Do you think people won't tolerate sex offenders and will stand by victims. Think again.
Want a great, subtle, anti-Bush Bumper sticker? Go here. (and no it's not my store.)
Wondering about our two-income society? Do you think that people are just irresponsible today? Are you buying the negative stereotypes about struggling single woman? Are you worrying about your own finances? Read this.
Do you think we've started to ignore Bin Laden again? Read this.
And an article about what should have happened here. For anyone who thinks I should shut up, Newsweek ran a little piece this week arguing that concern about voter fraud needs to become contagious because it is a real problem in our country. That's right, Newsweek thanked all the folks sending them letters about voter fraud and told everyone else to stop dismissing those people as tin-hat conspiracy lovers and to get on board and fix things.
Finally, some words from our President:
I want you to tell your children that when they hear all the talk and all the speculation and all the thousands of hours of so-called experts babbling away about this, that or the other, that the true policy of this government is to achieve peace for generations to come.
-- And apparently debate has been relegated to babbling, South Bend, Indiana, Sep. 5, 2002
You need to tell your loved ones, the little ones in particular, that when they hear the President talking about al Qaeda, Iraq and other places, I do so because I long for peace. -- Echoes of George Orwell's "Ministry of Peace" in Louisville, Kentucky, Sep. 5, 2002
We're allowing our forests to grow up like giant piles of kindling, and just hoping that something doesn't happen. We're -- backwards policy.
-- Denver, Colorado Sep. 27, 2002
I say priorities. I say priorities. The most important priority we have today and tomorrow is to protect the homeland. That's the most priority in America. -- Trenton, New Jersey, Sep. 23, 2002
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
They're going to hold a re-vote in January because they found a machine that failed to record over 4,000 votes. They know the people, but not their votes.
According to my friend, none of the details have been worked out yet, but I did a google search and came up with this article.
What's interesting is that they're even going to allow people who didn't show up the first time to vote in January.
It probably won't swing any of the state elections, but it's progress as far as voting irregularities is concerned.
Update: (from the source)
Our state Board of elections has decided that since 4,400 votes were lost in Carteret County, NorthCarolina, they will have a limited, partial re-vote. All 4400 whose votes were lost (their identities are known), plus anyone living in that county who failed to vote, will be allowed to re-vote on some date to be set before Christmas. They will vote in only one race, Agricultural Commissioner, since the candidates in that race were within 2,000 votes of each other. Approximately 24,000 registered voters in Carteret County did not vote on election day, meaning up to 28,400 votes could be cast, although it is estimated very few people will actually do so. Is is just me or is this the most ridiculous solution they could have possibly arrived at? I say, let us all vote for President again too! I mean the whole country. =)