Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Real Heroes are Hard to Come By...

Jamie Escalante passed away Tuesday of cancer at age 79. Escalante was a math teach in Los Angeles who built up a math program in his low income school system that rivaled anyone else's in the state. In 1982, his students scored so high on their AP exams that ETS suspected that the students were cheating and forced them to retake the exams. There was a movie made about this incident called Stand and Deliver. The movie was a story of triumph. Unfortunately, what happened in real life after the movie takes place is an absolute tragedy. If you want to see everything that's wrong with education in America, have a look. Escalante should've been designing curriculum and programs for use all over the state, not railroaded out of town.

EDIT: "Absolute tragedy" link updated. As PB points out, it went to the wrong place.

Big Brother's Blind Side

Some of our citizens fear for our safety. Other citizens fear our government. The American solution? Only half of the surveliance cameras that we pay for should work at any given time.

What, you thought stuff like this only happened in New Orleans?

And to keep both security threats and government guessing as to which cameras are actually effective, we've put them under the control of government contractors, while the people engage in a "big government vs. small government" debate.

Heckuva system we got here, yeah?

This is why, as I get older, Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 and other "Big Brother" themed literature seems less and less threatening. In our current reality, burning all the books in America would be an enourmous task, and we'd bid it out to contractors with suspect track records.

You'd have some low bidders that don't get the temperature to 451 degrees. Others that would claim to have burned books that didn't exist in the first place to make their quotas. Some businesses would try to hire illegal immigrants because burning books is "work Americans don't want to do;" or they'd try shipping books to India and China and Taiwan to be burned over there.

China would send us toxic drywall made from the ashes.

Democrats would be beholden to union book burning organizations whose exorbitant benefit packages mean less time spent burning books and lower quality fires. Republicans would not like government involvement in book burning, turning instead to market based solutions where only the upper class could afford to burn their books. You can see where the whole theme goes off the rails very quickly.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tu Quoque

The first thing Bookman does is describe this as "unacceptable behavior." Which is exactly what it is. One of the most effective ways to discourage it is to demonstrate disapproval. Maybe we'd get somewhere if more folks stopped rationalizing the bad behavior of people they agree with politically.

Situation:

In California, a national political personality was giving a talk. Because this personality helped develop and implement controversial policies certain Americans didn't agree with, protestors disrupted the meeting and said he "lied" and "destroyed the country." Unacceptable behavior.

Where have I seen this before? Oh, yeah. When we last saw unacceptable behavior.

Thanks for the Latin, DADvocate. Looks like it will come in handy.

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HCR Roundup

JMac at Beyond the Trestle has a roundup of Georgia voices on the HCR.

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Turns of Phrase

Transparency is still a Big F___ing Deal. Jeffery and The Lens are asking the right questions.

In School Choice news: New Orleans' Charter Schools are doing a Heck of a Job, according to RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas. Where have we heard that before?

In Media Criticism news: half an hour ago, the schools link was the lead article on NOLA.com. (While it was published yesterday, it has the most comments of any recent news item.) When I went back to get the URL, it was off the front page, didn't even get a mention on the "News" section until page 2, but was the top article in the Education section.

Not saying there were shenanigans going on here, but it does seem strange to me that an article would go from front page with image to three links in, especially on a controversial topic.

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Question Answered

Growing up, our mutt Mercutio would woof and growl when motorcycles passed. Like he was going to do something to the bike. My grandparents had a Jack Russell named Tippy who would chase cars. I always wondered what dogs would do if they ever actually caught the motor vehicles they seemed interested in chasing.

And now I know.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Anyone You Know?

He may not put his foot in his mouth as often, he has a better record of putting cranes in the sky, and he actually runs the shadow government in his area - but Michael Adams is the University of Georgia's version of C. Ray Nagin.

I've said it before, I'll say it again.

Glad I'm not the only one who thinks so. Maybe a little national press will make this clown go away. Then again, maybe not.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Soul Is Fireproof

Pictures courtesy Tom W.


Yesterday morning, I woke up to my parents' phone call. One of my favorite restaurants on the planet, Southern Soul Barbecue of St. Simons Island, suffered a catastrophic fire.

A historic building, a trove of folk art, and cookin' so good you wanna slap ya mama. Gone before the first firetrucks could show up from down the road.



Thank the Lord, no one died in the blaze. The place had just opened for lunch on a beautiful spring Saturday, and it doesn't take long for the place to fill up. Rebuilding is cheaper than funerals.

I remember when Southern Soul got its start several years ago, as Palm Coast Coffee was expanding to include coffee and craft brewed beers. I took off for New Orleans soon after, and when I came back Southern Soul was everywhere.

They moved into the building formerly occupied by Gisco Seafood. That building faced the Island's most important intersection, and was built in a clapboardish style that let you know you were on the southern coast. The seafood market closed, but Southern Soul got the building. Everyone I know was thrilled that another local business would take over the spot and keep it the way it was. Then it got filled with art and people and good cookin'.



Damn. James Calemine made the call: "This is the Georgia Theatre all over again." He's not kidding. People who grew up on the Island or just vacationed there regularly know this building and these people. This place was something special.

Of course, being special, the soul folks rolled with the punches. Even with the fire, they catered a wedding and served food all weekend at the Island's art market in the Village.

Buildings may burn, but Soul is Fireproof.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Barr on Political Violence

The American kind. Link.

It is probably too much to hope that party leaders would stop bracketing their remarks condemning violence with clever political phraseology implying the other party is somehow responsible; but it sure would be nice if they did.

One thing that is not too much to ask, however, is for both major parties to stop the unseemly spectacle of permitting their fundraisers to use the current climate of combativeness for political and fundraising gain. Such tactics continue to coarsen the debate even if they do not directly fuel the current climate of hate.

Well, said, sir.

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Interventions I Believe In

Netanyahu has a choice: he is either "with America or with the settlers."

And I am glad we have a US President that is making that point.

Israel and the United States are natural allies, friends and effective family in the group of nations. But interventions are supposed to be staged by your closest family and friends.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Intellectual Relativism

My head hurts after reading this article. I'm not sure what one has to do to join the demographic group called "Western intellectuals," or how someone can write a book criticizing them as a group, but I do know they seem to spend an awful lot of time talking about each other's opinions.

But that's just one part of it. The other part: the cultural friction between Enlightenment-trained Westerners and what those westerners ascribe to multi-faceted Islamic civilization and its dissenters. (I hope I got that right.) So there's a cultural relativism aspect to it that I find interesting.

Oh yeah, and the fact that an awful lot of violence has been inserted into the philosophical discourse recently, and "Western intellectuals" aren't really capable of dealing with that fact.

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Off-Season Football Rant

Reporters really have to learn not to get into it with football coaches. Mark Richt is not to be trifled with.

For those of you who need the backstory, please see also this and this.

And since I am a Dawg Fan in Tigerland, forced to deal with the alternate universe of a land populated by LSU fans, I also submit this link for your due consideration.

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No Policy, Just Politics

I can't add anything to Oyster's post-op on HCR, so I'll just post the link.

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Freudian Slip?

Harry Reid voted "No" on reconciliation. He claims it was a mistake but they redid the vote and he voted "No" again! I'd wager he really didn't want the reconciliation bill to pass to begin with even though his arm was twisted into it. But to break a prediction of mine, reconciliation is a done deal in Congress. It merely awaits the President's signature. I really hate it when opportunities to stab people in the back are missed. It makes politics a lot more fun.

Are they evil or not?

Obama is getting a bit confrontational about Republican talk of repealing the health care bill. Good for him. Republicans rarely know when and how to act like victors. Most Democrats don't really get that concept either.

"If they want to have that fight, we can have it," Obama told a university crowd in Iowa two days after putting his name on the most sweeping change in U.S. social policy in decades.


But I'm far more interested in this line:

"I don't believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat. We've been there already. We're not going back," he said.


If you haven't heard Obama rail against the insurance industry, you haven't been listening. But with all this talk, something occurs to me: If the insurance industry is so damn evil, why are we legally mandating the entire US population become their client? The insurance industry is still in the driver's seat. In exchange for a few restrictions that they'll just pass the cost on anyway, the insurance industry gets a far larger portion of perfectly healthy people who quite frankly don't need their product. Why do them such a huge favor if so they can't even be trusted to run their own operation?

Friday News Potpourri

I think Drudge already scooped most of these but here's the fun Friday news:

Can I get an "Oh hell yes!" The prospects of an Abba reunion show just went from "Definitely not!" to "Maybe."

Teacher gets arrested for teaching while drunk. Is that wrong? I would think a drink or two would be just the thing to get a good lecture or discussion going.

This is a meh story with a picture of Schultz from Hogan's Heros in it. Any Hogan Heros paraphernalia (or even Bob Crane-produced smut) generally warrants mentioning. Ed Schultz from MSNBC wants "socialism" in talk radio. It'll never work for reasons Ann Coulter has already outlined: "To be sure, conservative radio talk show hosts have a built-in audience unavailable to liberals: People driving cars to some sort of job."

I also have a piece on Obama, but I think it's going to get its own post.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blogging Treme

Looks like the usual suspects are all contributing to Back of Town.

Don't know what Treme is? That's a long story. You can find a primer of sorts here.

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Impeachment Articles Drafted

The next phase of the health care debate really puts rubber to the road as Attorneys General from the several states* sue the government over the constitutionality of the helath care bill just signed into law.

An interesting side project to all of that? Georgia's Attorney General, an elected Democrat, has opted not to join the lawsuit. The governor, an elected Repbulican, drafted a memorandum trying to compel the AG to do so, which the AG has ignored. The AG's reasoning** is that such litigation is doomed to fail and will cost the state of Georgia too much for a losing effort.

Because of this, Georgia Legislators are drafting Articles of Impeachment against the Attorney General.

If the comments section to that post is any indicator, reaction to this news varies considerably. I'm wondering what happens if this impeachment gets legs. Impeachment is much more political+ than the boring legal processes of a lawsuit, so I'm wondering if this news goes national.


* Between 37 and 14 of them, depending on which side of the media to which you listen.

** Or, what he states is his official reasoning.

+ And sells more advertising to news organizations and partisans.

(HT: Beyond the Trestle)

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The End Result of Hyperbolic Politics Is...

this.

I can't wait until someone employs the "libruls-do-it-too" rationalization. After all, there were a few college students who threw pies and tomatoes at Ann Coulter and Karl Rove over the last 8 years.

Because everybody knows the equation:

(rotten tomatoes + thrown pies) X liberals = (thrown bricks + cutting gas lines) X (death threats X threats to families) / health care bill


Though I would use this as an example of why more "liberals" need to embrace the 2nd Amendment more robustly.

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Real Republican Sighting!

Pay attention, folks. There are Republicans out there who are running on actual, tangible ideas. They are ideas about how to run government more effectively, and, if I may be so bold, the specific idea under discussion is rather bi-partisan.

Dismantling the Georgia SRTA involves little political name calling or hyperbole. This is a debate that should center on the purpose, effectiveness and process of a government agency that seems to have overstayed its welcome and is doing actual damage to the fiscal bottom line of the state.

That is what 90% of politics should be about. Yeah, my blood doesn't boil. The subject may be boring. Someone may have to read a couple of financial reports. The issue probably won't make the national news. No book deals will result. Protests are not likely to be involved.

But the result could be savings in the 100's of millions of dollars for a state that is facing a budget crisis.

(Bonus points awarded for demonstrating what real "shadow" organizations look like in government. New Orleanians have been wondering... Got to read the comments section for that zinger.)


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When Historians Attack

How many leaders have, when faced with the abject failure of their policies and the ire of their constituents, declared they would be vindicated by history? To be fair, most individuals playing the "history" card let their underlings and cronies do it for them (please see also: Rove, Karl), so they don't have to sound so desperate themselves.

I theorize that the number of leaders who have pre-emptively claimed future historical vindication has to be much higher than the number of leaders actually vindicated by historians later on.

And, no, I'm not basing this theory on the opinons of the Texas Board of Education.

I don't like it when policy is crafted in deference to an elected official's imaginary friends, so I really don't like it when those imaginary friends live in the future.

But at this point, C. Ray Nagin, lame duck mayor of New Orleans and future GOP Vice Presidential candidate, has so many imaginary friends and enemies, it is getting difficult to keep track. It would be one thing if he just kept his delusions local, but he insists on taking them national.

Maybe he's angling for his own show on Fox News? Guess I'll just have to go "back to the future" and find a Texas history book from 2085 to see how it all pans out.

Update: Of course, actual history from 8 years ago tells a different story.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another Strike

I don't know how I missed this terribly important examination of American health care back in September of 2009, but it counts as yet another strike against me this week.

Consequently, it coincides with opinions I have heard from both Dante and my friend Jerzey in the past. Our current health care system is not consumer-driven; well, it is, but we aren't their consumers in the classic sense. Like those two individuals, this article looks at the system from a standpoint somewhere different than our politics and media would like.

The article reaffirms (inferred justification?) several of my beliefs that the current system of health care is irretrivably broken, and conversely that the reform bill signed today will do little to address the core issues behind exploding health care costs in this country.

While the proposed solutions on page six are as utopian as any "let the market decide" or "government should provide" version, the author notes that they may not be the best ideas or lead to the most desirable outcomes. Such proposals prove just how difficult this issue will be to resolve effectively.

Because, Sunday's vote notwithstanding, we aren't done with health care. We've barely even started the journey.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Battle Cry of Freedom

I just finished James MacPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. It may be one of the most important books I've ever read cover to cover. Usually, I'll be reading two or three books at the same time, but this one demanded my full attention. For three months. It was an 800 page birthday present that has literally kept me from reading anything else in hard copy since then.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has this to say about it:

They need to make people read MacPherson's history of the Civil War in order to vote in this country. I don't think I've read an 800plus page book that moved so smoothly. This is the greatest work of history I've ever had the privilege of reading.


So many of the things that make us Americans are (still) tied up in the Civil War, and about how we're still dealing with a lot of the same issues and same rhetoric after 150 years. At this point of my life, I've begun to see the wisdom in Faulkner's "the past is never dead, it isn't even past" quote, but never has it been illustrated as effectively.

And reading the new afterword as it examines "positive liberty" and "negative liberty" within the context of the war and American society was fascinating.

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End of America Roundup

Today, I woke up, and I thought, "my God, the Republicans are right!! My nation and my world as I know it have come to an end! There will never be another good thing."

Then I realized: this was just my allergies acting up. Thank goodness the GOP and right-wing never lose any credibilty for predicting the end of the world that never comes. What political strategy would they be left with, then?

NOLA bloggers react to last night's 219 - 212 score:

Health Care bill passes; world prepares to don brown shirt and commit suicide.

(Shameless plug: He also links to my previous post.)

Oyster also drives our traffic to Library Chronicles, who notes,

Republicans could have written the damn thing themselves. In fact, they sort of did sixteen years ago when they proposed much of the substance of this legislation as a counter-argument to the Clinton era reforms.


Huck pulls no punches in criticizing New Orleans' representative. In all the "Democrats will lose in November because of this bill" talk, there is one Republican almost guaranteed to lose his seat. Though I'm not sure his vote on health care will be the primary reason, it will be taken into account.

My November vote will still depend on who is running against him.

Meanwhile, over at Peach Pundit, they are aware that every GOP candidate for office has a press release stating their outrage. That is not "news."

JMac reacts at Beyond the Trestle,

this is a centrist bill that closely resembles what the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation put forward as an alternative to President Bill Clinton's proposal in 1994.

Likewise, contrary to the existing conservative narrative, it simply isn't the end of the world.


Though it still sounds like it in some quarters. DADvocate predicts a massive blowback against Dems in the Midterm elections. I'm still smarting from my failed predictions of late (thank goodness I didn't put money on a bracket), but I find it hard to think that the folks who are currently vehemently opposed to this bill weren't already involved during the last election cycle.

How much blowback can there be if everyone who voted Republican during the last election votes Repbulican in the next election cycle? At some point, all the apocalyptic rhetoric only appeals to the same people who vote the same way every time. The Dems won the last two election cycles through (in order) Republicans who refused to govern; increasing turnout from their base; independent voters. The health care resolution really came about because of the first; passing it was the only way to keep the second in play; and I fail to see many independents moving away from how they voted last time. Massive blowback only happens if the Dem base stays home on election day - a possibility at this point, but not a guarantee as it would have been had they failed to pass health care.


More to come, I'm sure.

Update: Over at the AJC, Cynthia Tucker examines just what the GOP will be running for in the fall:

this is what they’d be for: allowing insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions; forcing young adults off their parents’ health insurance; re-opening the “donut hole” that left some seniors with high prescription bills; re-instating the lifetime insurance caps for coverage of expensive, chronic medical conditions.
And as we've just seen, it is fairly difficult to pass a bill through Congress, even with a large majority.

She points us to the "Waterloo" post by Frum. I've seen this article all over the place today. It is yet another examination of how apocalyptic rhetoric lost this issue for the Republicans. But don't worry, y'all, this is really good for the right-wing talk-radio industry.

So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.


Also at the AJC, Bookman notes John McCain's new mantra. Wait, was there a lot of GOP cooperation before last night?

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wait. It Passed?

I've been wrong before. But never this wrong. That's a big miss on my part. I did not think Pelosi could get the votes to make this thing work.

Not that I think Reid and the Senate will let this stand. And then there are also all the court challenges sure to arise. And that this bill doesn't really solve enough of our problems. But that's another conversation.

My money was on this thing failing in the House. I was wrong, and I have to own that.

I didn't think they had the stones to pass the Senate bill + reconciliation. They sure hadn't given me a lot of evidence that they would find 216 folks in their caucus to agree on coffee and pastries for tomorrow's continental breakfast, much less on health care. But they did. They may lose every seat in November, but you can't say they didn't go down swinging.

Now that I've admitted my failings, can we talk about the GOP and the right-wing for a moment? You mean to tell me that an issue they've successfully blocked since the Truman administration just got finished by Pelosi and Reid? All the Kennedys, LBJ's, Clintons, O'Neils, and Democratic heavyweights (and many notable Republicans, to be inclusive) failed whenever they sniffed health care.

And Pelosi and Reid got this thing hammered out? The GOP lost to them? Really? I don't know if I'm willing to admit that. Maybe Obama really is some sort of chosen one? I'll have to reexamine that, too.

What, exactly, is the GOP excuse tomorrow morning? Because this is epic fail on their part, and if their rhetoric is to be believed, the very universe was at stake on this legislation. The (white, right-wing) American people had spoken (during the last two elections) and they wanted their country back (from us crazy folk who cast votes for this President and majority)! How could they have let this happen? It is the End of the World!

I just walked outside, and no, the sky is not falling. It is kinda chilly, but what can one expect after 24 months that has seen the election of a black President, a New Orleans Saints Superbowl Win, and Democrats finally passing Health Care.

In Hell, ice in the new FIYAH, baby.

Could this flip the script? Will Republican and conservative voters now turn on their party's representatives for failing to block this bill? After my big failure to accurately predict this outcome, I'll have to wait and see.

I'll admit, it will be fun to watch the GOP & right wing's hyperbolic reactions over the next 48 hours, because they were politically all in on this with much more apocalyptic rhetoric. I mean, there's only so much credit we can give to boys crying wolf and Chicken-Little's sky-is-falling-every-issue memes. Where do you go from here?

Eventually, all the "this is the end of America" talk wears out. They've gone to that well since at least 2001, and probably aren't done with it, but at some point, you've got to accept that apocalyptic rhetoric and overexaggerated hyperbole are going to become political liabilities.

It goes like this: they backed the Dems into a corner with this one. First of all, the Dems are a fairly fractious bunch (as a registered Democrat, I disagree politically with about 48% of other registered Democrats), and the GOP has long depended on that disunity. But with all their end-of-the-known-omniverse-all-that-is-good-and-apple-pie clownery, they built a Democratic bunker that even the Democrats couldn't ignore.

Dems had two options. One: pass the bill and try to survive as the GOP throws everything at them in November. And with all the current GOP and right-wing rhetoric focued on the apocalypse, I fail to see how they can ratchet that up any more than they already have. Or, Two: abandon the bill and .... try to survive as the GOP throws everything at them in November. And with all the current GOP and right-wing rhetoric...you get the idea.

The only possible way out was to pass the bill. That is their ONLY chance at surviving November's elections. Because, while I could never cast my vote for a sky-is-falling Republican, I might stay at home if I thought I'd just be voting for another well-the-GOP-doesn't-like-it-so-we-can't-pass-it Democrat.

Oh well. Interesting times. On to the next one.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Got All That Mouth But Can't Step

Oh, to be a child again, and to explore the wonders of categorization far from the prying eyes of adults. If you don't see the humor in this, I just don't know what to do with you.

All I have to say is Thank the Risen Lord we didn't have internet when I was in 3rd grade.

The follow up post, which includes the phrase "Here are some different bitches in a white, Internet-savvy vernacular", is additional required reading. The whole thing. The comment from the DC teacher = For. The. Epic. Win.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Strangest Political Narrative Involving Health Care Reform

You know, I can write off the talk of death panels, dictatorships and secession as the strange legacy of Fire-Eaters hyperbolizing every political issue this country deals with in Chicken-Little fashion.

I can even excuse the soothing balm of "let's-start-over-ism" as an attempt at "more reasonable" political discourse. It has good selling points.

But the strangest meme of the whole Health Care Reform debate, to me at least, is when Republicans and right-wingers advise that if a Democratic colleage votes for the bill, their re-election chances are surely doomed.

When did the GOP start worrying about the Democratic chances of re-election? Is there a district anywhere in the country where some local GOP will not throw everything they have at a Democratic incumbent, should that individual vote against this bill? I thought that was what the death panels, dictatorship and secessionist talk was all about in the first place!

I mean, if your opponent is about death panels and dictatorships, should it matter what their vote is on any issue? Haven't you already demonstrated that you're going to launch into hysterics and hyperbole regardless of any decision they make?

If this bill passes, and I still maintain that it won't, it will be because the GOP, through use of such hysterics, violated one of Sun-Tzu's old truths and have allowed the Democrats no position to which they believe they can withdraw. The Dems have to fight at this point, they have to go down swinging, and they know it.

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Protest Fail

heh.

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One Time!!

As a Dawg fan in Tigerland, I am subjected to the strange psychology of LSU fans on a daily basis. I mean, this link speaks for itself. So much explained.

I only hope Jeffery's head doesn't explode trying to keep up with the "score."

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

If Endymion Happened 7 Times A Year

Its like the tourists took the worst aspects of Mardi Gras back home with them.

UGA Administration attempts to ban assclownery on UGA's North Campus. If it can't be done with folding chairs, blankets and picnic baskets, you can't do it anymore.

(Can you imagine NOLA doing this with ladders? Be still, my heart.)

While it is a shame the UGA administration has to resort to this measure because too many classless idiots choose not to control themselves at football games, I am confident the real tailgaters in the Bulldawg Nation will roll with these new restrictions at their usual high level of professionalism.

My old tailgating crew knew how to make stuff happen. Despite all our accoutrements (coolers, tables, chairs, tents, washtubs full of ice, kegs, grills et al), we always left our area cleaner than we found it, and we were able to do so before the game. Such lessons paid dividends for tailgates later hosted in New Orleans at the Endymion parade and in Baton Rouge for Georgia road games.

We didn't leave messes. And we didn't act like jackasses. No exceptions to these rules were allowed, and individuals who could not behave themselves found themselves disinvited to future events. As UGA has just disinvited many of the jackasses to North Campus, I can't get too upset about the changes.

Are there different ways to ward off the jackasses? Absolutely. Drop a few $200 citations on major offenders, or take them to the pokey when they complain, and watch how fast people start cleaning up after themselves. Every student caught for underage possession has to show up that evening and clean campus. A couple extra dumpsters wouldn't have been a bad idea, and neither would some designated areas for more port-a-potties.

But all that requires planning and money and effort UGA isn't willing to spend. With Adams (UGA's version of Ray Nagin) at the helm, you just knew he'd take the easy way out and start cracking down. Frankly, after seeing pics of how bad some of those folks trashed North Campus, I'm loathe to raise a hand in complaint.

It is a shame for those who played by the rules. But it ain't a suprise.

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No Country For US Security

I remember a few short years ago, when idiots inside the United States started calling French fries "freedom fries" because of all the terrible things France did to us. You remember what it was they did?

They didn't join us in a war against Iraq.

Oh, the calamity! What a terrible insult! The outrage! We are Americans! We saved France! Twice! How dare they not do exactly what we tell them at all times! Who do they think they are?

We don't let any nation behave like this towards America!

Well, except that one...

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Medicaid Prescription Drugs? If you can find them...

The Medicaid prescription drug program has so far done a decent job of keeping costs within original projections. That's probably about to change. It's been pretty common for smaller pharmacies to not take on new Medicare patients. They don't get that good a deal on the drugs and would have to sell them at a loss. After all, the pharmacy is only reimbursed 86% of the average wholesale price. That number has now dropped to 84% and Walgreens has all of the Walgreens in Washington state have officially bowed out of serving new Medicare patients. Walgreens isn't a small independent or even a small chain. They're huge. If they can't cover the cost, then there is a big problem on the horizon. Medicaid is either going to have to start raising what they reimburse or cutting deals with pharmacies to keep them covering new patients to the program.

EDIT: Looked into it and this decision only covers the state of Washington for now. That's not as bad as I originally thought but it's still 121 stores. And if the tactic works there, you can bet it'll be carried over to the rest of their stores.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Worst Roads?

I'll give you one guess which state has 'em...

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You Have Failed

Fail phone to Nancy Pleosi and Harry Reid: if you don't have the votes to get your legislation reconciled, you have failed. The GOP will come after you in November if you pass the bill or not, at this point.

No proceedural matter can save you now. You lose. You have failed.

That's what it means when you don't win enough votes. Please ask the GOP from 2006 and 2008 what it feels like to not win enough votes. As a matter of fact, don't worry about it, you will learn soon enough.

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Happy St. Patrick's Day

We've got fine Irish weather here in New Orleans. Slate-gray sky, morning fog, temperature between 50 and 60, rain possible at any moment.

Obviously the reason the ancestors left the Emerald Isle, came to America, settled in Georgia, and raised their decendant on a sunny island with a beach.

At least we kept the "island" theme in the family. It took a few generations, to be sure, but genetically, I am predisposed to live in areas surrounded by water with local populations given to enjoy the fire-water.

Case and point. And that recipie looks so good, I think it made the "now available year round" menu of my life.

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Speaking of Investment

I'm sure that a city education task force filled with charter school proponents and advocacy group members will give New Orleans a fair, balanced and effective set of suggestions for improving our local schools.

I'm confident these individuals have only the best interests of students in mind.

< / sarcasm >

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chocolate Moose News

The other day, I was excitedly talking about the coming Palin/Nagin 2012, Chocolate Moose Party, Baby! campaign.

Someone asked me if there was anyone in politics crazy enough not to be included in the future Palin/Nagin administration.

The answer to that question is yes.

(HT: Peach Pundit)

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Spinning Clockwise

There is an old adage that says something like: "when you're young, if you aren't liberal, you don't have a heart; when you get older, if you aren't conservative, you don't have a brain" or some such bunk. I hate cliches.

Though, I must admit, I am absolutely more conservative now than I was when I was in college. I also admit that probably isn't saying an awful lot.

Counterintuitively, this continuing maturity is driving me further and further away from so-called "conservative" thinkers that make money using cliches to rile up Americans. Today, Republicans, their pundits and an awful lot of crazy people who identify themselves as "conservatives" are rapidly abandoning what I always intellectually valued in conservatism in favor of "regression" and "hyperbole" (what I define as "so-called conservatism"). Then a lot of them get mad that they are not abandoning conservatism for so-called "conservatism" fast enough.

What I've always identified as "conservative" ideas turn out to be just more liberalism, according to these so-called "conservatives."

For example, my position on public education makes me an unapologetic, "big-government liberal," according to most so-called "conservatives."

I want the government to fund public schools. I want the government to fund public colleges. I want the government to fund adult education programs. I want the government to do so robustly, even if it requires tax dollars. I want those things to be a high priority. But I also want them to be run efficiently, and I want bad administrators and teachers to be fired, and problem students removed so other students can learn. I want to abandon models that are unsustainable and accept models that work.

When I was growing up, all the "conservative" folks I knew wanted their kids to go to college, and loved the idea of sending their kids to public UGA, paid for in part by the HOPE Scholarship administered by the state government and created by a Democratic governor.

While I would think this is a fairly bi-partisan belief, so-called "conservatives" of today continually remind me otherwise. (HT: JMac)

Nowadays, I must assume the so-called "conservative" attitudes would oppose efforts to "teach a man to fish" so that man can participate in and help grow a dynamic economy. I must assume that because of what they are saying about other areas of public education.

I hear often that a big part of so-called "liberalism" is too many "handouts," and so-called "conservatism" is about rolling up your sleeves and getting to work without complaint (which is pretty funny, hearing how loudly so-called "conservatives" complain about everything). I have serious trouble reconciling the idea that we can deconstruct public education and reduce "hand-outs" at the same time, and I don't think it is very consistent to advocate for adoption of both policies at the same time.

Conservatism used to be about much more than just taxes. Until it returns to that, I guess you can just count on me to become more liberal as I get older.

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Bayonets No Longer Part of Basic Training...

The army is significantly changing up how they do basic training. The amazing part about this isn't that it's happening, it's that the new training schedule was based largely on actual input from combat veterans. The lack of bayonet training is specifically interesting to me. My father has told me several times of the they wasted on in basic training on bayonets. They apparently spent the entire day learning how to use one. Then in the last 5 minutes of class, their instructor told them if they were ever really out of ammo in a combat situation, just chuck the bayonet, hope you hit someone, and run.

Manufactured Violence

Here we go again. Remember folks, this was Netanyahu's plan all along. The same thing keeps happening every time the Palestinians are quiet for too long, or Americans start seriously talking about the peace process.

Too many people, in the Middle East and America, are invested in this conflict continuing. Peace might be cheaper for all of us in the long run, but it hurts the bottom line of a powerful few.

And always remember that everyday Israelis, Palestinians and American soldiers overseas are the ones who have to pay the highest return on that investment.


Update: Talking about people invested in this conflict continuing, let us not forget all the lobbyists.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Media Brutality

Jeffery pens a must read post.

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Put Down that Crack Pipe and Save the Rainforest...

Ok, so the article is really about cocaine, not crack. But the same general principal applies. This quote from the article probably sums it up best:
Group chairman Keith Vaz said: "We were horrified to learn for every few lines of cocaine snorted in a London club, four square metres of rainforest is destroyed."
I'm surprised the rainforests survived the 80's with those numbers.

And it wouldn't be complete without a dig at celebrity hypocrisy:
...Models who wouldn't dare to wear a tiger fur coat show no qualms about flaunting their cocaine use.
Let's really put environmentalism to the test, Hollywood. You want to do you part? Stop shoving massive amounts of rainforest up your nose.

This brings me to my favorite Ann Coulter quote which sorta fits here:
Why not go to war just for oil? We need oil. What do Hollywood celebrities imagine fuels their private jets? How do they think their cocaine is delivered to them?
Indeed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Like Your Style, Schweikart...

Suppose you're a history professor and you're looking over several textbooks to determine which one to use. Where do you start? Professor Larry Schweikart of the University of Dayton (an institution so reputable it wasn't listed in the mentioned article) flips the section(s) on Reagan. How the textbook handles Reagan is a good test in his mind of how they handle other issues historically. I've found that sort of test handy when evaluating history books. From the Alamo (Check the death toll. If it's under 600, someone's drinking the land-grad Kool Aid.) to sports history (Can you really have a list of greatest defenses that doesn't include the Dallas team that didn't allow a single TD for the last 2 games of the regular season, throughout the playoffs, and through the Super Bowl?), I often find myself looking for a quick tell of the author's slant.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Charter Side of the Coin

With all our talk about charter schools in regard to education reform, it is always important that we look at how we got to this point in the first place.

Though national publications like Newsweek and the New York Times may parrot the "blame the teacher" narrative favored by "school-choice" or educational privatization advocates, it is refreshing to see the Atlanta Journal Constitution put the blame where the blame belongs.

The very first sentence of this article sets the tone in describing systemic problems, by calling out the people who run the system.

Lagging test scores. Crowded classrooms. Inattentive school boards. Aloof superintendents.

This balanced and informative article goes on to describe how the parents themselves lobbied for a charter school, and some of the drawbacks even charter schools experience.

So the Shaginaws appealed to neighbors on an East Point play group Web site. Many of those who responded were also trying to decide between relocating or private school. The neighbors formed an interest group to research the idea for a charter school and held community forums that drew hundreds. They established a nonprofit and cultivated relationships with two national education management firms.


This article is a far cry from the cheerleaderism from the lobbyists, national media and invested public figures that we are usually subjected to on this topic. It also describes a completely different, and probably more healthy, state attitude towards charter schools. Furthermore, you can almost hear the parents' desperate voice through the words on the screen.

The unnerving thing is still that parents feel the need to abandon public schools because those schools are failing them, and there doesn't seem to be anything parents or communities can do about it. One only imagines why that is in a representative democracy, as the individuals ruining our public schools are being hired and paid by someone at the local and state level.

I'm sure this builds a receptive market for those who would privatize our education system, which explains why so many organizations want to get into the business of education.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dirty South Fashion

This may be the best post Christian has ever written. Best one I've read, at least. Strange that I would say about someone who usually writes about politics and culture, that they may have missed their calling as a fashionista.

Though, how can one possibly go wrong with lines like:

Before I go any further, I have to say that I’ve never really been able to understand why scantily clad tattooed women in fur bikinis do it for me. Maybe it was growing up reading too many Savage Sword of Conan comics, but this was hot.


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Intergalactic Planetary

This morning, I interacted with a local who bastardized a popular euphemism to read: "Who erroneously proclaims that their area's sports franchise will score more points than my area's sports franchise before the conclusion of this competitive activity."

So, in a strange way, I was already prepped for this Glox News report.

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"Everything With Nothing"

I've always wondered how so many people can continue to vote Republican in Georgia, even as the so-called "conservatives" (who have controlled the state, and most localities, since 2002) have overseen the near wholesale dismantling of every advance the state had made over the last two or three generations.

At every turn, they have talked the talk of "tax relief," "fair (sales) tax," "small government," "run government like a business," and "do more with less." I mean, when, exactly, are the 8 years of bending over for corporate interests, lobbyists and the super-rich going to pay off? All y'all got was this lousy real-estate bubble, a bunch of empty McMansions in Atlanta and whole lot of discount golf down on the coast.*

How is that working out for y'all, nowadays? I mean, this couldn't have gone worse for the state than if this was the actual plan.

I guess this means we can party like it's 1877 and start calling right now the era of "Deconstruction."

You're about to start tearing apart one of the South's great university systems. Maybe the plan is to just sell it to the Athletic Association and we can privatize UGA too. I mean, since everybody else is doing it, why can't Georgia?

As one of the comments on the above links made clear, the logical result of the do-more-with-less theory of government is that, eventually, you are trying to do everything with nothing.

* Not that there is ever anything wrong with discount golf down on the coast, but I thought maybe y'all public education would have been given a higher priority by actual, you know, legislators.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Morally Ambiguous

I really guess I shouldn't be surprised that the mainstream media has trouble understanding the definition of terrorism.

After all, a lot of our government officals and voting citizens don't know what torture looks like.

Just keep repeating to yourselves that good ole right-wing mantra:

It ain't torture; but even if it was torture, they'd deserve it. We'd never do this to someone who didn't deserve it, even though it ain't torture, and is a perfectly legitimate way to extract information from a suspect.

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The Refrain

It is never a slow news day in New Orleans.

Liprap ties together this week's list of grievances, and points us to G-Bitch's dismantling of the way "school choice" was imposed on New Orleans.

In the past 40 years, dozens of things could have been done to improve schools. But only privatization got approval. Few people question why private industry is so hot to get its hands on federal education dollars. Millions and millions of dollars.
Wait.

You know, I rarely straight up repeat something on this site. But that one is important enough.

In the past 40 years, dozens of things could have been done to improve schools. But only privatization got approval. Few people question why private industry is so hot to get its hands on federal education dollars. Millions and millions of dollars.
Yep.

And like I used to say when playing rock & roll, ONE MORE TIME:

BUT ONLY PRIVATIZATION GOT APPROVAL.


One paragraph. Four sentences. Fourty-two words. A complete summary of all that is wrong with public education in America? Priceless.

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The don't have to trust the Senate...

For those not keeping score at home, the Democrats have a plan to push through health care reform without having to worry about Senate filibusters. There are currently two health care bills that have passed one chamber of Congress. One is a House bill and one is a Senate bill. (Both are labeled as House bills for a procedural reason that made sense when I read the reasoning, but I do not recall the resoning.) The idea as it stands is to get the House to pass the Senate bill, use reconciliation to alter the Senate bill to add things the House wants in the bill (and to bypass the required 60 votes for cloture), and then the President will sign it all as one big package.

There are some wranglings and restrictions on reconciliation that make this approach problematic. But I think this FoxNews piece is right about a lack of trust being a major roadblock. The House doesn't trust that the Senate will pass the reconciliation bill. But the House trusting the Senate isn't a roadblock at all.

From the FoxNews arcitle:
But what if the Senate never passes a second bill?


Now that's really the kicker. Because under the pitched scenario, no reconciliation to go along with the Senate bill would mean the President doesn't sign both. The House doesn't really need to trust the Senate. The House just needs to trust Obama not to stab them in the back if things get hairy in the Senate.

But let's be realistic. Suppose health care reform is sitting on the President's desk. There's no reconciliation package to go with it. Obama is a signature away from achieving his goal. He doesn't care what the > 50% of Americans who oppose this bill think. Do you really think he's concerned with double-crossing a couple hundred Representatives to get it done? And that is the main trust issue. The House doesn't trust the Senate but they don't have to. The House does have to trust the President. The lack of trust between the House and Obama is what is threatening this plan.

Bureaucracy Gone Wild

Georgia Bulldawgs - We Put the Red in Red Tape.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

The Pipeline

Sarah Carr's Times-Picayune article concerning the unsustainable demands on teachers in New Orleans' public schools is an example of good reporting.

Married to a 13-year veteran of the schools, Editor B posts his reaction point by point. Brutal indeed, but a fantastic read. Do yourself a favor and read his.

I'll wait.

From all the young teachers I know and the training I recieved, B's concern "These kids are too young and fresh to realize they’re being exploited," hits home the hardest.

After hearing how bad things were in the schools in 2006, I went through teachNOLA's summer institute and taught in the RSD for the 2007-2008 school year.

During training, there was an omnipresent theme of "your classroom vs. the world." Having experienced plenty of "bunker mentality" in the restaurant kitchens where I've worked, I recognized that was what they were teaching.

Bunker mentality works in the restaurant business, when you get slammed and are in the weeds for a few hours, because you know at some point, dinner service is going to end and you get to go home and stop thinking about work.

When I was teaching, the bunker mentality lasted from the first day of teacher training in June of 2007 to the last day of school in June 2008. I have a tremendous work ethic. I put up with a lot of crap. But after that year, I gave SAWB permission to break my fing legs if I ever decided to teach children again, ever.

Back to the bunker mentality, I know they have to do this, as in so many school situations that is the truth on the ground: disengaged administration, colleagues hostile to "new" teachers or outsiders. I was lucky to land in a good school situation (relatively speaking) and I know it.

But with all the energy that was going into training and institute and everything we were doing, I always wondered why there wasn't more focus on changing the system. There were an awful lot of my colleagues, new and experienced, who didn't even make it the year I did.

A lot of other teachers (new & experienced) did fantastic jobs, designing lessons, learning (or re-learning) classroom control on the go, designing best practices where there were none before, creating progress prone cultures in very difficult circumstances.

All of this and they raised test scores.

Their reward? Getting surplused at the end of the year. That's where the school system doesn't "fire" you, but says they have too many teachers and you have to apply for a new spot, teaching a different subject to different grade levels at a different school with different colleagues and a different professional culture.

And if you think that would piss you off, watch what happens when a system official tells you that the same day the system supervisor announces how happy he is that "nearly 200 new Teach for America students will be joining us to help put teachers in our classrooms."

Yup. Brutal.

Updates: Former teacher Em calls it the Vortex of Doom

G-Bitch references a completely different T-P article.

Jeffrey reminds us that this crap ain't gonna stop any time soon, no matter who we vote for.

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"Something is Needed"

Not content to quietly commit credibility suicide debating the various pop-culture frames for terrorism, (hint: it isn't terrorism when Americans do it) Newsweek is this week butchering articles about education.

The first one I ran across was promoted as Why Teachers Can't Control Their Classrooms. This was emerging as the number one problem for teachers as I was graduating from high school and was the primary challenge when I spent a year teaching for New Orleans' RSD. My friends who continue to teach call this their number one problem.

I have my own opinions and theories to answer "why teachers can't control their classrooms," and I know what solutions I would propose to improve the situation. I was hoping this article may explore something, anything along those lines.

What I read was this.

Really? A tired personal expression of the "good ole days" followed by the breathless information from a Department of Education press release?

One reason things are so bad in schools is because there aren't many individuals in the mainstream media who will dedicate the time to really investigate what is going on and actually inform the voting population about it.

Exhibit B: Why We Must Fire Bad Teachers. Inflammatory promo, dud article. I don't know a single teacher who hasn't had to pick up a mountain of slack for some shitty teacher that didn't deserve their paycheck. Fire bad teachers? Hell Fing Yes.

That's not what the article is about, however. Do not be fooled.

I'll sum it up: "Teachers bad, teachers unions bad; KIPP, Teach for America good, like Marines & Special Forces. New Orleans should be thankful for Hurricane Katrina." Or: no real information, just a bunch of tired old cliches framing an Arne Duncan press release.

We all remember how Arne investigates a situation and the wise things he has to say about it, don't we? Lets have more of that, please. Luckily, Arne proves Obama's bipartisanship is real, as Duncan would have fit right in with the Bush administration.

Heckuva job, Dunkie.

The Final Straw: The War On Education (WOE).

Wait. I'm sorry, the actual promo for that one was The Battle for Education Reform. My bad. I can get my media-driven, inappropriate military metaphors confused sometimes, what with my public school education and all.

This two-page article can be summed up thusly: "Randi Weingarten and Michelle Rhee are powerful, well connected women who do not like each other or communicate well; their lives are dominated by politics and media-types. They have something to do with public schools in Washington, D.C."

Lost in all of this is any actual discussion of education or any in-depth reporting. Maybe Newsweek ought to act like the small-government types they're shilling for here and contract their work out to the likes of the New Orleans Times-Picayune or The Lens.

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Can a movie be too popular to win an Oscar?

I don't actively seek out Oscar news but it sort of beats you in the face around now. There aren't that many sports stories to put out there and people are searching for anything and everything to fill our over-saturated 24-hour-cycle news pipeline. So I got to hear a lot this weekend about how Avatar's popularity may hurt it in the Oscar hunt. I heard other Oscar-related musings, too, but those went in one ear and out the other. So I decided to do a little research and see if there is a bias against the highest grossing nominee.

I'm going back 20 years since I really don't want to bother going back further. There are 5 nominees in 19 of the 20 year and 10 nominees this year. So the odds of the highest grossing film winning are (19*.2+1*.1)/20 = 19.5% So we need 20*.195 = 3.9 (we'll just round to 4) Best Picture Winners to be the highest grossing nominee in those 20 years. Let's see how we do:






















YearWinnerHighest Grossing
1990Dances with WolvesGhost
1991The Silence of the LambsBeauty and the Beast
1992UnforgivenA Few Good Men
1993Schindler's ListThe Fugitive
1994*Forrest GumpForrest Gump
1995BraveheartAppolo 13
1996The English PatientJerry Maguire
1997*TitanicTitanic
1998Shakespeare in LoveSaving Private Ryan
1999American BeautyThe Sixth Sense
2000*GladiatorGladiator
2001A Beautiful MindThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2002ChicagoThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
2003*The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004*Million Dollar BabyMillion Dollar Baby
2005CrashBrokeback Mountain
2006*The DepartedThe Departed
2007No Country for Old MenJuno
2008*Slumdog MillionaireSlumdog Millionaire
2009The Hurt LockerAvatar


So we should've gotten 4 and ended up with 7. If anything, being the highest grossing nominee helps more than hurts your chances. Breaking down by decade doesn't change that. Even if you don't count 2003 and 2006 where they should've just folded up the tents and admitted that there just really wasn't a film good enough to be Best Picture, you still get more than enough examples to make the case that the highest grossing nominee has a distinct edge in winning. The Avatar and Saving Private Ryan losses are probably the biggest "upsets" I recall, but there's a clear trend showing that their losses have nothing to do with haughty Oscar voters looking down on the common folk. The voters just thought there were better movies out there.

EDIT: And for the record, those results surprised me. I thought I'd find a clear trend the other way.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Hidden Cost of "School Choice"

I think it is professionally unsustainable and bad policy to require the teachers in your system to be superhuman individuals who work a 60-80 hour work week in the first place, and pay them as if they work a normal work week in the second.

So, I'm glad to see this article in the Times-Picayune.

I discontinued teaching not because I am lazy and do not have a work ethic. I stopped teaching because I was asked to go from my usual 65 hour work week to an 80 hour work week with no increase in pay, while attending (and paying for) less-than useful teacher certification courses at the same time.

I don't blame my boss at the time for asking me to do that. Lord knows she worked 80 hour weeks, too. She was just trying to make the school work with the paltry resources she was allocated.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

College Rock

Huck mentions the Athens' music scene in a comparison with the indie/progressive rock scene in New Orleans.

Athens, GA, from what I gather, has a growing reputation as a kind of indie/progressive music place.


Of course, the first thing I had to do was get over my contractually obligated cultural comparison reaction: "But, Huck, Athens is the greatest college music scene on the planet, and here are eleventy reasons why," etc.

The second thing I had to do was think: New Orleans has an indie/progressive rock scene? Where? Who? What??

Guess I better start listening to WTUL.

And I was just thinking the other day, that since New Orleans has WWOZ radio, and that radio station is the greatest on the planet, that all other music radio that I can pick up consistently in NOLA has to suck.

I can barely hear the Ragin' Cajun' anymore. "Rock of New Orleans'" evening classic rock barely balances the "We Hate Obama With Funny Voices" morning talk nonsense. The lackluster rotation on every other local station makes me miss the days I lived under the cultural hegemon that was Jacksonville (FL) radio. < / sarcasm >

So, thanks, Huck. I'll have to tune in.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Waiting

MSNBC notes the growing incidence of men filing sexual harassment complaints. I am not at all surprised that many of the cited incidents occured in restaurants. Anyone who's spent any time in the service industry knows how bad things can get on any given pirate ship.

Now, I've seen some crazy stuff in the "back of the house," where I've worked off and on since I was in high school, but I've been lucky. The crews I've worked have generally been stocked with good people who kept on the right side of that line. I'm not saying there weren't any shenanigans in my experience, but nothing like what that article describes.

I do know for a damn fact that crap like that does happen in some restaurants. They are usually the ones without strong professional management, are lax on who they hire, and generally aren't places you'd like to eat, anyway.

Again, I've been lucky never to work at such a place.

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The War on Farmers

No, this post isn't about that. It is about spring practice at LSU. As a Dawg Fan in Tigerland, I'm going to Baton Rouge on Saturday for the basketball game, so I have to have my research on lock. Knowing is half the battle, ya herrd?

I also know Jeffery lives and breathes Les Miles press conferences, so I thought he'd appreciate that link.

Enjoy!

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Pop Culture Sexuality

Because of my own baggage, this article about the backlash against casual sex strikes a bit of a nerve. I'll be thinking about that one for a while.

It ain't just women that think about that stuff, is what I'm saying.

What I will say about it, though, is this: on an individual level, deep down, we all know which behaviors we engage in that make us feel healthy and positive, and which behaviors make us feel unhealthy and negative. A hallmark of maturity is understanding that, and making our own decisions based on knowing ourselves rather than what other people tell us we should do.

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Fear & Loathing in New York

Oh, of course. We can't send KSM to trial in New York City due to our new all-encompassing culture of fear AND real estate values.

Because the resale value of your condo is what I think of when it comes to justice and national security.

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It's Not a Contract

It's a Roadmap, and it is an actual conservative vision of American tax burden and fiscal domestic policy. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

Of what I have read, I can't say I agree with too much of it. But that's not to say I don't appreciate the vision. This plan has balls, son. And just associating your name with something like this takes big brass ones.

What it looks like, however, is the actual implementation of all those things Republican leaders around this country like to go on Fox News and tell us they believe in.

One wonders why, then, this Roadmap for America's Future has such little Republican support?

(Things that make you go, "Hmmmmmm?")

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Crazy in Six Panels

Yes, it still snows in winter.

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ACORN Teams Up with GOP in New Orleans

Maybe with inflammatory headlines like that, I too could work for the Batt campaign.

For my non-NOLA audience, here's the rub. We have a City Council runoff election on Saturday, which pits a Democratic candidate vs a Republican. The Republican has been sending out mailers that "connect the dots" from ACORN to the Democratic candidate.

One problem: ACORN never endorsed the Democratic candidate. And as a matter of fact, during the last election, ACORN endorsed the Republican in his losing bid for the seat.

Despite his historical connections and former political alliances to the local chapter of this nationally disgraced voter(registration)-fraud-and-prostitution organization, the local GOP has thrown all their support behind this candidate.

Guess I'd better grab my chinchilla jacket and some secret video cameras when I go to the polling station on Saturday!*

(HT: Yellow Blog)


* Maybe not a bad idea, since my plan includes a trip to Baton Rouge for the UGA-LSU basketball game. Woof. Dat.

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Bio-Medical Blues

New Orleans isn't the only city going to the bio-medical well when it comes to future development. Athens, Georgia is also trying to incentivize development of bio-medical facilities in Clarke County.

Kevan Williams explores some of the drawbacks of large scale bio-development, and offers some interesting possible alternatives.

He doesn't stop at bio-medical industries, either, but explores development in several of Athens' emergent industries.

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Shutting Georgia Down

At some point, the people who participate in the government of the several states need to grow up. So do the advocates, so do the voters. You simply cannot have cake and eat it, too. You usually cannot even do so during flush times. You definitely can't get away with it during a recession.

Government services have to be paid for. Yes, they cost money. You can either pay for the service, or cut the service. Sometimes you can scale back the service. In really bad times you have to pay more for a service that is scaling back at the same time.

I know doing so isn't popular, but at some point, you have to at least consider the least bad option. You can't just shout "NO" like an ornery two-year old about everything, even though I know that kind of behavior brought about short term "rewards" in the past.

But now, reality is rewarding us with this mess.

JMac at Beyond the Trestle sums it up thusly:

The ship's sinking, the Republicans are rearranging the deck chairs ... and the Democratic Party of Georgia wants to complain about where those chairs are being placed? It's unbelievable.


Yes. Yes it is.


Update: Please see also this illustration for graphic representation of this problem...

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Independence Bowl Security

I guess hosting the Georgia Bulldawgs and Texas A&M Aggies was too much for little ole Shreveport to handle. I think this might be a little bit of overreaction on the part of the locals.

That was the only feasable explanation I could come up with, anyway.

Other lines of thought I was going to try:

1. End of the world scenario, hunh? Maybe someone in Shreveport has been spending a little too much time on this website.

2. This is why you shouldn't let your imaginary friends and science fiction dictate government policy.

3. Readiness for really real world emergencies seldom involves combat training and vehicles with .50 caliber machine guns. If they were for real, they'd spend 99% of their time working on logistics and communications and they'd make sure they had plenty of TRAILERS.

4. Ten bucks says they are doing this because Shreveport is a destination city for hurricane evacuees from New Orleans and Houston.

5. Can't blame 'em for worrying about the End-of-the-World, can we? Saints won the Super Bowl, after all.

Any others?

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Cult of Parliamentality

Alex Massie is guest blogging at the Daily Dish, which has brought a more Britannic theme to this side of the Atlantic this week.

One thing I didn't know is that Prime Minister candidates in the UK will be having US-Presidential-style television debates this election season. For the first time ever.

I wonder who it was on that side of the pond who thought that emulating the worst American political traditions is some kind of a good idea. Massie nails this one on the nose:

All this is perhaps inevitable and the debates are, in this sense, simply a recognition of the way the wind is blowing. Only a handful of voters will have the chance to vote for either Cameron or Brown but the debates will encourage all voters to ignore the competing claims of their local candidates and endorse instead the party, not the man (or woman). This is not the way to improve the quality of MPs.


Americans who share my low opinion of the cable news clown car we call the United States Congress should take particular note.

Most fascinating is reading the arguments against televised "gladiatorial-style" debate from the Conservative point of view*.

We were also reminded of how Nixon beat Kennedy among radio listeners but Kennedy beat Nixon on TV because of the latter's five o'clock shadow. That's what election debates are primarily about. They're about soundbites and how the politicians look.


That is what a great many Americans have found problematic with the current state of our politics. Though I am not sure if British politicians, media-types and marketers will be as culturally successful in hypersensitizing and infantilizing their population as their American counterparts have been. One would hope not.


* Not to be confused with American-style right-wingery.

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We're Going Plaid (Or the New Arrogant Power Grab)

So Obama is going to try to pass the Senate bill through the House and use reconciliation to "fix" it. I was planning on grabbing the clipshow of Democrats deriding the use of the "nuclear option," but I really think this clip is far more fitting:



Ok, so I'm putting the clipshow up, too:



Get your popcorn ready folks. I think I hear the Right Wing Attack Machine warming up.

"The Asshole Quotient"

Lot of good reading these days on the interwebs.

Adrastos works his way through the maze of the NOPD's recent troubles.

Where do we go from here? As I said earlier, the truth of all the post-K NOPD horrors needs to come out and the worst offenders should be fired and prosecuted. But as a practical matter, we cannot fire the entire police force and start from scratch. People need to stop thinking that police corruption is like a virus that contaminates everyone: it's more individualized than that, the majority of cops ignore it and pretend that it's not happening. Deniability leads to denial.


Update:

Cliff also wrestles with what to say about police and race in New Orleans. I think his responses to this situation are completely rational and understandable.

And this thought gives us all something to think about:

The problem is they all live by a code. Good officers don’t lose any sleep when a bad cop goes down but they won’t step up and speak out against those same officers. There’s a code. People in the community know who the killers are and whether they admit it or not, no one loses sleep when they get shot or go to jail. As rough as the environment is they are not going to call and turn in Ms. Jones’ grandson especially to the police that disrespected her nephew last week. It’s the same kind of code and a viscous cycle.




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"Rubble In Waiting"

Culture matters.

So do democratic institutions, effective government and progress-prone behaviors.

The real thought provoking thesis of this Christopher Hitchens article is thusly stated:

Seismology in this decade is already emerging as the most important new department of socioeconomics and politics.
...
The effects of upheavals of the earth can now be quite expertly studied, and even predicted, along a series of intersecting graphs that measure them against demography, income level, and—this is a prediction on my part—the vitality of democratic institutions.


Seismic sociology? Of course, I will want to hear a learned opinion from Maitri on this, but it all appears to feed into a broader, emerging field that focuses on catastrophic social science.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Every Time a Bell Rings

Or, in this case, every time the House Ethics Committee goes after a Democratic office-holder, a a Republican House member has to resign his seat.

Wait, what?

But there are no implications. The Congressional Democrats are too connected to write real health care reform, too incompetent to actually fight for those things that will help Americans and hammer opponents, and too disorganized to pass that thing they have come up with.

The Dems can pass what they have right now. This very instant. The GOP hasn't been in the way for a long, long time. Deal's vote only mattered the first time.

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At Least He Didn't Use a Balloon

I have to think that, were he alive today, King Solomon would have all video cameras cut in half. A few thoughts on this item:

1. If Mommy & Daddy can't agree on religion for the kid, I hope they can agree on how to split up the therapy bill later.

2. There are many healthy strategies to placate your in-laws. Religious conversion is not one of them.

3. One wonders what insidious factors destroyed this obviously devout traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

Any to add?

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