Saturday, June 30, 2007

Where's Waldo?

It seems that the British authorities are about as good as we are at giving clear, actionable directives, because everything I hear in the wake of three car bombs is either contradictory or mysteriously vague.

Do they want to catch anybody?

For instance, people are told to be vigilant, but not to be vigilantes.

My 11-year-old daughter heard me thinking aloud about what specifically being "vigilant" might mean, and she said "maybe they want people to be extra sure that they wash their hands well."

Or maybe it means to make sure you are wearing clean underwear with your name written inside just in case one of those bombs does go off--Mum's advice is so timeless.

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith also said citizens should "report anything suspicious" and "be alert at all times" because the threat they are facing is "most severe".

Does a running man on fire at the airport screaming "Allah" count as suspicious? Is that something we should call in?

What about before we get to that point? What are the early warning signs that an SUV driver is going to ram a highly-crowded public area and turn himself into a fireball? Could you give us a few more clues?

I guess at this point, at least we know to be suspicious of cars. What do they want, panic or help in finding the people responsible?

Why haven't they broadcast that "crystal clear" image of the one suspect all over the country? People could be looking for that guy. That's something they could do vigilantly.

Where's Waldo? How the heck do I know; what's he look like?

Friday, June 29, 2007

The "Do Nothing" Immigration Idea

When in doubt do nothing?

A new article in the online version of The American suggests that the problem with illegal immigration will pretty much fix itself in a decade or so.

Now that's the type of problem solving I like: kick back and relax; no muss, no fuss.

It turns out that a change in the rate of Latin American reproduction holds the key.

"There has been a stunning decline in the fertility rate in Mexico, which means that, in a few years, there will not be nearly as many teenagers in Mexico looking for work in the United States or anywhere else. If this trend in the fertility rate continues, Mexico will resemble Japan and Italy—rapidly aging populations with too few young workers to support the economy."

Since Mexico's fertility rate has dropped 36 percent since 1990, there will soon be too few workers to support the economy, jobs will be more plentiful and wages will rise--presto, no need to come to America.

Several items are cited as reasons that the birth rate has changed, not only in Mexico, but throughout the region. Among those factors are better education, greater acceptance of birth control including abortion, and improved job opportunities for women.

Check it out. It is a short, interesting read.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ding Dong the Bill is Dead!

Now it's time to craft a real immigration solution.

Apparently the little people got to be bit too annoying. They became so annoying that men, hardened by privilege and their distance from reality, couldn't ignore the cries of the masses and even their minuscule consciences pricked at their evil little hearts.

Either that or they were worried about re-election.

Anyway, now that we have their attention, I have a few ideas of where an immigration policy really needs to go.

1. Remember the fence that millions were allocated to construct? Build the darn thing!

2. Stop sending illegals who commit crimes to jail. Send them home with a tracking device on/in them so we know when they come back. Also, demand that their home country reimburse us for any expenses their illegality caused.

3. Stop issuing visas to anyone from any country as long as there is someone in that country who hasn't "checked out" yet. For example: "You want a visa to visit America, Mr. Smith? Well, as soon as Mr. Jones gets out, then it will be your turn."

4. Stop issuing ANY visas to people from countries known to export terrorism. So sorry, but the bad guys have ruined it for all of you. We don't need any more students celebrating the next 9/11 from the comfy confines of our university libraries. Flight school would also be out of the question.

5. We should see people who have overstayed their visas on America's Most Wanted. Since Senator Kennedy can't think of a way to export them, we could put ordinary citizens on the case. The ship/train leaves once a week for their homeland.

I'm going to stop right there. There are many sensible and obvious things we could do if we really wanted to put a dent in the problem, but I am just focusing on the visa-flouters and the criminals. It is a start.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What Makes my Students Proud

Boy was I surpised.

In my summer school class of eighth-graders to be, we were practicing writing and the prompt asked them to tell about an accomplishment they were proud of. I expected things like getting the big hit in a ball game, completing a difficult routine in dance, or earning their own money to buy their first bike.

I was waaaaay off. Here are some of the actual (unedited) "proud" moments:

"One foggy morning it was still kind of dark and it was Friday so I sneak a gun into my backpack it was an M9."

This one was titled, "Lights Out".

"I knocked that white girl out! It turns out she wasn't so tough but her army of skanks jumped me but I could take these clowns anytime."

And yet another.

"Jonathon started saying stuff about my mom so I said stuff back and he got mad. I punched him in the face and he fell. That day was one of my proudest accomplishments."

Just another reminder that I might have more important things to teach than writing.

Timeless Profundity

One of the incredible joys of literature is the ecstacy of recognition.

I think that the biggest factor determining whether I will enjoy a book is whether it helps me make connections that reveal universal themes in human nature or connections that suggest historical parallels across the years.

There are tons of both in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

Rather than tell you which historical matches I am seeing, I will give you a scenario from the book and let you discover an apt conclusion of your own. Here goes:

A new metal product that has catapulted one manufacturer to dominence in the marketplace. This is a problem because the tone of things in the country are such that the government and most of the people don't think it is fair that one company is more successful than another. In fact, a law was just passed that makes it illegal for one man to own more than one business.

But this isn't enough to slow down the success of the maker of this new metal, so The State Institute of Science issues a vaguely-worded warning, highly publicized in the press, against continued use of the product. Of course, there is nothing wrong with the metal and there are plenty of people who know it.

Two quotes from this section of the book and then I am done:

"Don't you know what's true? Truth doesn't matter if it gets in the way of the end."


"There are issues involved, besides questions of fact."

So, does this conjure up anything associations in your mind?

You’ve got mailboxes!

Growing up in Southern California where city abuts city and you have to drive for hours to find anything considered “country”, one doesn’t think very much about mailboxes. In fact, a mailbox wasn’t a place where you found your cards and letters, but a place where you put them.

Moving to a more countrified part of the state exposed me to a whole new appreciation of mailboxes, and though I still don’t have one of my own (newer housing development, less-work-for-the-mailman, central, numbered pods), this city kid does pay attention to how the other half lives.

And true to my the-glass-is-half-empty attitude, I have noticed the problems with country living; among them, it seems that someone always wants to mess with your mailbox! Whether its hooligans with a speeding car and a baseball bat or identity thieves fishing for your personal information, you can’t be too careful these days.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options to thwart mailbox-thugs if you know where to look. I found out about Mailboxixchange and its impressive array of mailboxes for any need. I do aspire to a mailbox to call my own, and this website is certainly the first place I will look. If I need an indestructible anti-baseball bat model, they’ve got it. If I want one with the security of a Brinks truck, they’ve got that. If I need a commercial mailbox, they’ve got that too!

I guess I could get a box for purely cosmetic reasons too—you know, just for show. If I ever get my act together and really do my front yard up right, a fancy mailbox would be just the thing to put the finishing touches on it. Whatever theme I choose, it seems clear that the Mailboxixchange will have what I need.

With hundreds of mailboxes to choose from, even if you live in a city where honest-to-goodness residential mailboxes are scarce, Mailboxischange can quickly take you to mailbox heaven.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Tuesday Sampler

As much as I detest the agenda-driven slantings of the L.A. Times, as long as I view the stories with a degree of skepticism--I do this for all media outlets--I find many interesting, in-depth articles.

To borrow an advertising slogan from AM/PM, today they had "Too Much Good Stuff" for me to focus on just one story, so I will recommend a couple that might be of interest to someone besides me.

The first story is on one of my favorite subjects: immigration.It turns out that many border towns have students cross over from Mexico to attend U.S. schools. This means that they don't pay any property tax to support those schools. Here is the money quote:

"They want the American services," he said, "but they don't want to be part of the American system."

Two observations on this: As one who has traveled to many foreign countries, I can't imagine having the expectation that I could just show up at a school somewhere and expect them to take care of me.

Secondly, I am surprised that there are so many Mexicans who bother coming across to go to school because in my experience they are not that interested in eduction. The vast majority of my students show no desire to pick up a pencil, let alone sneak past the border.

But don't take my anecdotal evidence of how Mexicans often place a low priority on education. Read these comments from a post on Laura's Miscellaneous Musings for more first-hand examples. Focus especially on Dana and Laura's comments. Very interesting.

Next up is an interesting article from the health section.

It has been at least five years since I gave up on most natural nutritional supplements in my quest to remain healthy and fit. Always wary that I am being scammed, I gave up on various products that had scant evidentiary support.

I might have to re-evaluate after this article on the herb, echinacea.

The gist of it is that that a new interpretation of a group of pooled studies might have rescued the daisy-like plant extract from the discredited list of natural remedies.

The jury is still out on the subject, but I think I will pick some up since it is relatively cheap, unlike that Airborne stuff that is also unproven to have any affect on the frequency and duration of the common cold. I guess as long as it is cheap, I will give some snake oil a try.

File under strangely ironic

The German government--which many left-of-center leaders hold up as a model of tolerance the U.S. should emulate--has banned Tom Cruise from filming a movie because he is a Scientologist.

Germany has gone through a long self-flagellation for the horrors of WWII and is usually seen embracing a much more liberal attitude these days. It is just bizarre that they would take such a stand. Oddly enough, the movie is about about the plot to assassinate Hitler.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Smart in a Bad Way

In their best Mister Rogers voice, professors in teacher certification classes will happily tell you that "children have a natural desire to learn."

One teensy little detail that they leave out is that children don't desire to learn what we have to teach them.

The real natural desire they have is to screw things up so badly that teachers run screaming from the classroom. One way they do that is by messing with the computers so that the technology-challenged teacher thinks they are broken.

Here are the things they have done to computers in my summer school class:

*Used the function key to make it so that certain letters will type numbers instead. "Look, somethings wrong with the computer; I can't log in because the keys are all messed up."

*Activated certain keystroke combinations so that whenever the computer "sleeps" it emits a high-pitched lazer-gun sound. This always makes the whole class laugh and I am the only one allowed to make people laugh.

*Used a differenct function to make something called "sticky keys". I don't have any idea what the real purpose of this is, but they do it so that when you hit the shift key, it too makes a nasty loud beep.

*Made it so that the display is turned ninety degrees (or completely upside down) on the screen.

*Disabled something (not sure what yet) so that the computer can no longer find the educational software we are using.

*Pretend that they don't know how to plug in headphones so that all of a sudden in a quiet room whatever sound plays is audible to everyone. What they really do is pull the plug out ever-so-slightly when whatever noise they want to make comes on.

They have the amazing ability to do these things very quickly even though I have them seated in such a way that I can see them all. Of course, they NEVER have any idea how it happens and when I tell them that they did it, they act like I called them an ax murderer.

It is amazing what they can accomplish when they really want to!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

S.F. Mayor Bans Bottled Water

San Franfreako Mayor Gavin Newsome has finally done something that I agree with.

It seems that in the past 4 1/2 years, city government has spent more than two million dollars on bottled water--Newsome is going to put a stopper to that.

Frankly I don't understand how it became a city function to buy water for its employees in the first place. Last I checked, the City of San Francisco had running water.

In a way I think it is ironic that a place that is a hotbed for environmental (did you ever notice the word mental was part of that adjective?) activism should be switching to water au natural. After all, it's on the strength of their wailing that people think we actually have unclean drinking water--us, the United States of America.

So, the people who contributed heavily to the myth of our polluted water helped lead us to the idea that we needed to pay for what we could get for free.

I actually drink bottled water. I take a bottle and fill it up from my tap.

Friday, June 22, 2007

For the funny bone

Apparently the guys at "The Brown" do more than throw our packages around in order to have their fun at work.

I don't know whether their planes are brown like the trucks (kinda doubt it), but they do have a very good safety record as the only major airline to never, ever crash.

Maybe its because of the "gripe list" that pilots fill out after each flight, listing things for the maintenance crews to check out before the plane goes out again.

Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked by P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by the engineers:

P : Left inside main tire almost needs
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit
S: Something tightened in cockpit

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a
200 feet per minute descent
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to: straighten up, fly right,
and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

And the best one for last..................

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel.
Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Are You Panicking?

Monday was International Panic Day and you missed it. I think it originated with Al Gore and all of those people who believe everything they hear on the news.

Maybe in honor of them we should all pause for a moment of hysterical screaming.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

They Should Pay Me for This

This is not a sponsored post, but that doesn't stop me from sharing when I find something cool.

I love magazines. If I could find a job that pays me to hang out in libraries and Barnes and Nobles to read magazines and nap, I would be a happy Ugly Naked Guy.

Alas, some dreams are not to be.

Today while I was in Home Depot buying a $6.47 box of screws when I only needed six of them, I saw a magazine that caught my eye, and I made a point to look it up online when I got a chance.

Well, I now have another place marked in my bookmarks--no thanks to Jon at Chimeric Daydreams who said that he would explain what all those cute little icons at the bottom of his posts were for, but never did, leaving me to figure it out on my own.

Anyway, the magazine is called ReadyMade and it is a very hip kinda do-it-your-self projects magazine "for people who like to make stuff."

I'm not sure why I like the magazine and the website because I never make stuff. I guess I am in love with the idea that if I weren't so lazy, I could make stuff using this cool magazine as a guide.

I know that Opal at Vegan Momma would make this stuff (if she hasn't already). She would especially like the sod couch (above) or the tips on recycling. These are not your typical How-to-Remodel-your-Bathroom-on-a-Budget projects.

Another nifty project would be perfect for the aforementioned Jon whose photography would be great paired with the picture book frame project.

One of the most useful features of the website version is the part where you can go back in the magazine's archives and find all of the projects they have featured. Each of those tasks has a recipe-like index card telling you what you need (including skill level), how much it will cost, and step-by-step instructions.

If any of you try the sod couch, let me know! (Opal?)

Monday, June 18, 2007

How Would You Survive?

Libraries, pizza restaurants, and church.

Three places that are plentiful in any city would serve me well if I suddenly found myself in a strange place with no resources other than my wits and the clothes on my back.

That's assuming that I am not creepy looking--being creepy would be a huge handicap.

From the looks of the the advance press, Michael Weston of USA Network's Burn Notice won't give too many people the heebie-jeebies as we watch him use his special ops training to survive in the show's premiere, June 28th.

Unless you call being incredibly cheap "special ops training", I can't match Burn Notice's creativity and methods, but I think I would do pretty well.

First of all, there is plenty of food to be eaten. And I'm not talking about dumpster diving either. I once saw a news feature where people called freegans found huge hauls of food from posh New York restaurants' dumpsters. But I digress.

Anyway, ever since I was twelve years old and used to watch Mike the Magician at my local Shakey's Pizza Parlor, I have noted how much delicious pizza goes uneaten at your typical chain pizza place.

If I needed food, I would just cruise through the restaurant and take a few slices before the busboys clear the the table. I am sure this would be very very easy.

Then there is sleeping. This is one area where I do have special skills, inasmuch as I can sleep anywhere. In 1985 I had a very satisfying nap sitting on the floor of a noisy gymnasium during a basketball game in Obrenovac, Serbia. But I digress.

I would do my sleeping during the day for safety's sake, and I would do it mostly in cushy chairs at a library or large chain bookstore. I don't know that it would be a deep sleep, but heck, I don't have anything else to do, so I have time to take twenty cat naps a day. Remember, I am not creepy and dirty (yet), so nobody is going to kick me out.

Finally, I would utilize a large church to meet people who could help me get on my feet and even find a job. It might take a few visits to prove that I am not some weirdo, but I am confident that I can muster up enough charm to make friends and gain the trust of some people who do have resources.

I am not sure how Mr. spy-guy-special-ops Michael Weston is going to handle things in USA Network's Burn Notice, but I am pretty sure I can survive just as well as he. Either way, it would be interesting.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

One of the R words

In a moment, I will tell you of the miracle I saw today.

There are a lot of re words associated with Christianity: redemption, renew, repent, reconcile, recompense relationship...

Today's word is restore.

A man was introduced as our new pastor over the Men's Ministry and received a standing ovation. There were tears of joy.

The last time this man stood front and center of our church was about four years ago and there were tears then too. Tears of pain.

Sandwiched between those two appearances were many more tears of each variety as this man, our church, and God worked at bringing back a faithful servant to the position where he could minister again.

There is a saying among churches when it comes to Christians who stumble and struggle with a season of sin in their lives: We are the only army that shoots its wounded.

In this man's case, at least, the saying was proved wrong.

Four years ago this man--pastor, former Bible professor, husband, father, grandfather and friend--stood before us and confessed that he had been brought down by the scourge of Internet pornography.

As we tearfully listened, he recounted how this sin had come to dominate his life and pull him away from God. He was open and honest about his weakness and his inability to control his desires. He apologized. He resigned.

There's another re word.

An amazing thing happened after that day. He and his family didn't disappear. People didn't shun him, they hugged him. His daughter continued singing on the worship team. He got another job.

And God got to work on bringing him back to where he could minister again. The man worked on getting his mind back from the images that stole his thoughts and blocked his ability to connect with God. He worked through issues with his wife and family. He worked with the leadership of our church. I'm sure he prayed. A lot.

He experienced restoration.

What a glorious moment it was today as he stood in the same spot where he was previously a broken and defeated man. His confession and admission of failure that day was the first step down a long road to where he stood today.

I am sure glad we didn't shoot him.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Reflections on water

Here is another picture that my wife and I took when we were trying to be artistic in San Francisco.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A growing need

Since I am officially the Grinch and a Nazi all rolled into one when it comes to using the air conditioning at my home, I felt a measure of satisfaction when I saw this poll.

When my wife and kids complain that an 83-degree living room is too hot for them, I have occasionally told them that for most of history, people--tough, manly people--did not have climate controlled lives.

They don't care.

So anyway, this poll proves that people are getting whimpier (is that a word?). In just the past ten years, the number of people who think air conditioning is a necesity has risen 18 percent. Since 1973 it has grown 50 percent!

I guess I should have been an accountant. Seeing how little electricity I can use is a bit of a game for me. When most people I know have $200-300 electricity bills, mine is rarely above $75.

Whoo-hoo! I win!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Look out, Jack, here comes...


That's right, last year the second most popular name of babies born in Britain was one of the fourteen variations of Mohammed.

Jack. Mohammed. Jack. Mohammed. Mohammed. Jack.

I can think of no better illustration of Britain's immense cultural divide than those two names side-by-side.

Don't understand it, but I'll try it

Much thanks to Opal, the Raw Vegan Momma for this traffic increaser for your blog. You should check out her site as she has tons of tips for increasing traffic to your blog. She is also a very neat lady.

Just follow the directions below.

========= Copy and Paste this line and Below==========


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Host Tag: Business as usual

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Business as usual

It never ceases to amaze me how inefficient, ineffective, and inept public schools are.

So I needed the money to pay for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary bash and I signed up to teach summer school.

Today I was ready to quit.

Even though I was never a very good Boy Scout, I do live by their motto of "Be Prepared." If I so much as show a video clip for a class, I make sure that everything is set up and ready to go so precious time is not wasted.

You would think that something as important as a new computer-based summer school curriculum would be given great care and preparation. Yeah, right.

I worked over the weekend and came in earlier than the administrators to ensure that everything was ready for a smooth start.

I wish the school district cared as much. Not only was the software not loaded yet onto the computers they would be using, but once it was loaded, it didn't work.

Yep, I had to wing it for three hours; a lot of good being prepared did.

So Day Two would be better, right? In a word, no. We were still unable to use the curriculum and I have severe doubts that I ever will.

This is going to be a long three weeks.

Day Three update: I guess I am an optimist because I actually thought it would work today after talking to our district technical experts who would be working feverishly on the system.

Wrong. No improvement whatsoever. But here is the most amazing thing: the highly paid district mucky muck in charge of summer school came in to check this morning and she said, "I might have to call the company's representative to see what can be done about this."

MIGHT? You mean the vendor rep wasn't called the first day! How is this possible!

Do it the free weigh!

It always cracks me up when people spend money to lose weight; I mean, to not do something (in this case eat), should cost less, not more.

That's why I can really appreciate a service like that offers all kinds of neat tools to help people shed pounds without dropping dollars.

The backbone of this powerful tool is the easy-to-use diet journal that doubles as a calorie counter. If you can better keep track of what you eat, you are well on your way to making positive strides in your weight-loss journey.

Not only does have great way to track your intake, but it can also tell you how many calories your activities are burning--it's kind of like making entries in a checkbook, except in this case you want a negative balance!

Another positive thing about the site is that it isn't another diet fad. No matter which diet you are on, is your friend.

If there are dieters in your household, this would be a site to add to your favorites. It provides a supportive community, a database of over 6,000 food items, and a personalized diet profile.

But to me, the best part is that it is totally free!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Really Ugly House Colors, Part Duex

Here it is, the follow-up to the wildly popular "Really Ugly House Colors" feature that I introduced a couple of weeks ago. Caution, this might make you wish for a black and white computer monitor.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Who is John Galt?

The truth is, I don't yet know who John Galt is, but I am enjoying reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged when I can drag myself away from blogging and surfing.

I thought that I would share interesting quotes and ideas I encounter as I plow through this 1000-page epic.

Here is a definition of morality that a minor character in the book offers up:

"Judgment to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, courage to act upon it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the good at any price."

The quote is finished up with the query, "But where does one find it?"

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Purely about profit

I have always been fascinated by business and how various ventures make money, so this feature in New York Magazine had my rapt attention.

As you can see from the logo above, it is called "The Profit Calculator" and it consists of a series of inside looks at New York businesses ranging from a taxi driver to the Yankees.

My curiosities about profitability were certainly entertained as I read each short profile. Among the more interesting findings:

Making the rent is usually the foremost concern if you want to make it in NYC. The rule of thumb for a restaurants is that you need to pay the lease with a week's worth of business. For a bar, Friday night's need to bring in the rent money.

Small copy centers are everywhere and are very lucrative, making a big percentage of their profit printing fliers for area restaurants.

A Hamburger that sells for 5.45 at one small diner, costs the restaurant $1.75.

Most taxi drivers lease their vehicles for 120 bucks a day and hope to finish their 12-hour day with a profit of 150-300 dollars.

Sex-toy stores see their business tied very closely to the rise and fall of consumer confidence in the economy.

A private investigator has lost most of his locating business to the Internet, but still has plenty of $100-an-hour work to do following suspicious spouses around.

Publishing companies make about 50 cents on the sale of a book.

These are just a few of the items of interest to me. I just eat this stuff up. It was written in a format that made for quick reading, with lots of charts and graphs.

I didn't even say anything about the drug dealer (you'll be surprised), the pharmecuetical company, the four-star restaurant, or the dollar store.

Tell me which one you find most interesting!

Cruel and inhumane?

People's opinions are split on what the right thing is.

At my school, the eighth-graders practiced Wednesday and Thursday for today's graduation. Those who did not meet the meager standard required to walk the stage (1.5 GPA) sat in the back of the gym by themselves while the rest of their peers marched to "Pomp and Circumstance" and practiced shaking the principal's hand.

Some think it is a shame that the non-grads have to sit there in shame, while others think it is something they need to see.

What do you think? Is it "mean" to make them watch, or is it justice and a good life lesson?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Indoctrination, Hollywood style

I just witnessed the most obvious attempt at brainwashing I have ever seen out of Hollywood.

In tonight's episode of "Law and Order", the anti-American bias was none too subtle; it was heavy-handed, stunning in its obscenity, sickening in its hatred of America.

Did I mention that its portrayals were wildly inaccurate too? As I count the ways, I will tell you what they showed, and why it is so ridiculous:

1. An angry band of Orthodox Jews are attacking an illegal alien with a chain saw as revenge "for taking our jobs" and for accidentally running over a Jewish mother with a baby in a stroller.

Hollywood can make up some pretty unbelievable stuff, huh? Jews who are upset that Mexicans are taking their jobs? Yeah, I hear that a lot of illegals are becoming bankers and lawyers? I know, I know, that's a stereotype, but a heck of a lot more plausible than what the show suggested.

2. When detectives approach the Mexican day laborers for questioning, they all run because they are illegal and don't want to be caught standing on a street corner looking for work.

Mexicans running away because they are worried about being illegal? I wish. They make it like the police actually care that they're illegal. Most departments aren't even allowed to ask a person about his immigration status. Sheesh.

3. When a Muslim woman is found murdered and "4 9/11" is scrawled in blood near her body, the detectives remark, "Fourth hate crime against Muslims this month." The Muslim family of the murdered girl used to have a nice restaurant, "but after 9/11 nobody came anymore" and they had to shut the door. Now they are poor and destitute.

Maybe, maybe there were some attacks against Muslims in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, but years later? This is pure fiction, of course, but fiction that NBC wants us to think is true because in their twisted world, it is Americans who are dangerous aggressors in an otherwise peaceful world.

Well, I promise you there was more, I just need to wrap this up. The entire show was so utterly slanted that I wonder whether it was meant as a farce, but that is giving Hollywood way too much credit.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

One of the WORST things you can do

It's amazing what passes for scandalous these days.

Today was the last day of school and a bunch of teachers went to the local Red Robin to unwind and celebrate. We deserve it.

During a meal that brought to light more than a few vices (drinking, foul language, inappropriate sexual comments--you know, things we hope our students never do), there was one thing that was clearly unacceptable to that enlightened group.

Somebody smoked a cigarette.

Oh, the humanity! (I can't believe my computer didn't crash just because I wrote the word!)

That's right, when Kelley and Anea walked off together to light up, there were voices of outrage and a chorus of disgust. Somebody yelled, "Let's shame them" as if it was time for some sort of intervention (and he wasn't joking).

You would have thought they had admitted to being child molesters. It is amazing to me that all sorts of behavior is tolerated in our society--even celebrated--but let someone smoke and all of a sudden people forget that they love to say, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

It's like the unpardonable sin! Why, they're killing us all and contributing to global warming all at the same time. This is no time to take lightly the foibles of man. This is war!

I am not a smoking advocate. I have never smoked and I hate the smell like most of us do. But it never fails to amaze me how well the anti-smoking lobby has turned so many otherwise tolerant people into a bunch of church ladies.

Sometimes an Ugly Naked Guy has got to wonder...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Learning to get off on a technicality

More end-of-the-year theatrics by parents looking to absolve their offspring of the consequences of their bad behavior...

A particularly nasty student of mine--we'll call him Donald--is learning some skills that might prove useful later in life when avoiding, say, a prison term or other unwanted consequences.

With a huge assist from his mother--it's always the mothers--he managed to whine his way back into the end-of-year privileges he lost because he had two unsatisfactories for citizenship.

It turns out that one of the teachers who had to deal with his disrespect this year neglected to fill out the proper paperwork. Mom pounced on this technicality and the administration melted in the heat of her scorn.

Once again a toxic parent protects a child from the consequences of his actions and another real learning opportunity goes down the drain.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fun with inflation

I am always wondering what things cost. I am the cheapest person in the world and I rarely buy anything, but I am curious what it might cost anyway. I would be great on The Price is Right.

I also like knowing what things used to cost--you know, so I can complain about how much the things I'm not buying cost now.

Tom's Inflation Calculator meshes both of my desires: I can enter how much things cost in a certain year and it tells me how much it should cost now if it changed at the rate of inflation.

Not only did I learn that the 10-cent pack of baseball cards I used to buy in 1972 should cost me only 49 cents (they're at least a buck, without gum!), but I can find out whether my wages kept pace with inflation as well.

This is a cool tool that I have already used many times since discovering it last week. I has three modes: one for figuring retail prices, one for showing wage inflation, and one showing only medical care inflation. The retail mode goes back to 1666 and the wage mode dates from 1914.

Leave a comment to show me the interesting thing you learned from it. I will leave the first note to show you what I found out and why.

Monday, June 04, 2007

No boom so no room?

The old news maxim regarding front page stories used to be "If it bleeds it leads."

Apparently the New York Times is a staunch adherent to that practice since it didn't think a foiled plot to DESTROY KENNEDY AIRPORT! and half of Queens merited much of a mention. No explosion? (Best Soup Nazi voice here) No front page for you!

Why does the mainstream media--especially the Times--constantly downplay efforts to inflict massive harm to our country? This is one of the most bizarre things I have ever observed. Usually the media falls all over itself to blow things out of proportion and scare people to death (see Alar, Y2K, Global Warming, etc.).

So why aren't they playing this chilling discovery up for everything it is worth? I'll tell you why: to the Times, there is something far worse than terrorists blowing us to bits. It's called racial profiling.

Does anybody remember the guy who shot six people at LAX less than a year after 9/11? They couldn't tell us soon enough that the incident had nothing to do with terrorism.

Of course the overwhelming clues led to a terrorist connection, but it took nine months for the FBI to admit this and by then nobody--including the media--was paying attention.

I don't have time to research and catalog the rest of the occurrences, but please feel free to list your own if you comment on this post. In brief, there seems to be a pattern to the news reporting:

*Immediately quote somebody as saying that there is no link to Al Qaida.

*Avoid at all costs mentioning that the perpetrators are Muslim.

*If the suspects are American converts to Islam, always use their given names and hide their Muslim name until bloggers find out the truth (see Richard Reeves, the shoe bomber).

*If none of the above is feasible because the connections are too obvious, make sure the story doesn't have much shelf life (Fort Dix plot). Get it out there and move on to something really important like Paris Hilton.

Yes, it seems that one thing that the media can't stomach is Americans being suspicious of people who might want to blow them up. How intolerant of us!

A nod to Laura over at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings for the info on the Times snub of the Kennedy Airport plot (the link in the headline).

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Let the whining begin!

Now they care...

School lets out next week and the beggars are at the schoolyard gates, pleading for grades that will allow their children to graduate from the eighth grade.

I think the fact that I now have three mothers whining, complaining, and blaming is a beautiful illustration of why they are in the position of having to do so in the first place.

I mean, if your mommy can come in and save the day at the last minute, why bother lifting a finger yourself with tedious things like reading and writing? It seems that one thing some kids do learn is that their parents will always support them by finding someone else to blame. They might be in trouble for a few days, but it beats the heck out of actually working for nine months!

How many other years have they made this mad rush, pulling out all the stops in order to save their babies hides academically? I'll tell you how many: plenty.

Of course it is my fault, just ask their mothers.

It is my fault that one kid writes more on the desk than he ever did on a piece of paper.

It is my fault that in spite of intense personal attention--George, go ahead and open the book and get started. George, please put that away and start your work, George, can I help you get started...--I have students who turn nothing in, but still expect to get a grade.

It is my fault that I have the audacity to actually keep track of the times they are tardy.

It is my fault that the parents "had no idea" even when I send home progress reports and e-mails regularly.

The problem these days is we have too many no-fault parents and students.

Can I give just one example?

I have one student who will scribble a few things on the paper if I hover over him constantly (never mind I have 30 other students). When mom finds out he is getting an F, she pleads that I give him a C. She is shocked that I would be so callous as to not comply with that request.

She calls again towards the end of the year: She understands that he hasn't done anything the entire trimester, but would I please be so kind as to give her a list of the assignments so he could turn them in late?

Instead of saying no, I tell her that we should just start with seeing how he does with a couple of extra credit projects. I do as the mother wants and hand the student a list of extra credit assignments that very day. I explain the simplest of them to him and make sure he understands that this is the first step toward getting out of the hole he is in.

I occasionally check with the student to see if the assignments are done and he gives me a smirk that clearly says, "Yeah, right. Like I had any intention of ever doing them."

Now there is a week left in school and he is at 30 percent. Mom is hopping mad that I plan to give him an F. She says that if I had only e-mailed her the list of assignments (easily available from my website which I always told her about), he would have done them.

She just informed me that she is going to complain about me to the district. Maybe it is because my last words to her via e-mail were: "If you are unhappy about the grade that your son will be getting, maybe you ought to talk to him about that."

Only four more days til the end of school!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Next up: Refrigerator View?

A few weeks ago I mentioned in a post that a lot of people blog about and post pictures of their cats. Now there is a lady who is mad that her cat can be seen on the internet.

Turns out that Google has a new feature on their map service called Street View where one can put in an address and get an actual view of the area. This lady's cat could clearly be seen sitting in the window.

I say that if the cat doesn't want to be seen, then don't be sitting in the window!

It seems like Google is ready for its close-up. Pretty soon we might be able to put in an address and see what is in our neighbor's refrigerator. Or how about Medicine Cabinet Cam?

Now it's my turn!

I've had a serious case of blog envy for some weeks now.

What's got me aching is the fact that I see more and more fellow bloggers who are getting paid to post and I haven't been able to get in on the fun.

Not anymore!

This is the first piece I have been paid for since I was a sportswriter for the Long Beach Press-Telegram almost twenty years ago. This time I am part of the Bloggerwave staff and I will occasionally write some paid-for posts.

I had tried to post for cash before, but it seems that other such services have some rules that make it difficult for me to participate. The way I read one service's rules, no matter how often I post from now on, I can never work for them because I once had a lengthy gap in my blogging past. It's a sad thing to be haunted by the poor choices made in one's past.

An outcast no more, I have been redeemed by Bloggerwave and they are looking to accept others into the fold. Hallelujah!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Really Ugly House Colors, Part 1

Depending on what I find in my daily travels, this may be an on-going series. I have two more in the hopper, so stay tuned!

Amazingly, this looks worse in person--think pumpkin or yams, except this isn't a seasonal decoration. They just did this a few weeks ago--on purpose!

Now to be fair, there is a culture somewhere that appreciates colors like this; it's just not here.

Next time: How do you think bright yellow and kelly green would look next to natural stone?