Credit Where Credit Is Due

Here's a guy who doesn't get enough credit for ruining America. I just thought I would give my California brothers and sisters a little reminder.

Merry Christma....Wait


Tuesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Modern Stone Age Edition

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Diabeetus Edition


The Story Of The Mangled Dishwasher: Updated

Do you see the little white rectangular thing, the right side of which is obscured by the sharp edge of the sheared whatever within the red circle? Good. And you clearly see the wires, still attached to the hanging, broken whatever (referred to previously), wires which are hot. Indeed, if you notice, there are 3 little lights on telling me that my dishes will air dry, on a normal cycle, with high heat. On the right side of the bent whatever (okay, it's a faceplate) you can see the dial, the controller, command central. It's in great shape, still seated properly and rotating as if what precariously gapes to its left never happened.

The Frustrated Son (TFS) and I have had Thanksgiving here at home, just the 2 of us, twice. Both times we brined the turkey and did everything perfectly. At some point at the first Thanksgiving--3 years ago--I had to get something from the oven, forgot an oven-mit, and burned my hand. Otterpops work great in that situation (as an ice pack). This year, nothing and nobody was burned.

However, there did come a point in this most recent Thanksgiving when there was something in the dishwasher we needed. Normally this would pose no problem. But, as I have indicated previously, I have had some major appliance problems (get it?), so why should the dishwasher be any different?

I reached to open the door of the dishwasher, which opens with a bar that works by putting your hand on it like a car door, from underneath, but you sort of push up instead of pulling out. For a while I could tell that the mechanism was getting worn, or loose, because you really had to jam it up there to get the thing open for the last year or so. So I jammed that sucker up there, and it snapped. You could hear it, and I felt it. The door was locked shut.

TFS is not fond of my methods in certain situations, and in a general sense. Rightly so. I looked, briefly, for a way to get the faceplate off so I could get to the mechanism inside and fix it, or at least open the door. After 2 or 3 seconds of studying it I began to manhandle it. I was able to do the damage you see above quickly and easily, without the need for tools other than my powerful hands. I opened the door by pushing down on the little white thing in the red circle, and after our delicious dinner we put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and ran it. Awesome.

It wasn't until a couple of weeks later that I realized the wires were hot, and 3 of them had become disconnected. I realized it when I felt a jolt of electricity shoot through my wet hand and up and down through my body (when TFS was very little, he called electricity, "trick city" the cute little f*cker). I have since taped the wires up, poorly, with blue masking tape.

How much are dishwashers?

Update: They cost about $350 (well, they also cost $1500), but then you have to spend another $125 for installation.  I thought of installing it myself, but then realized it would cost me a lot more that $125 when I screw the whole thing up.

The new one is white, quiet, has nylon racks to prevent rusting, and best of all has no center spout taking up prime lower-rack real estate.  It also has no hot wires sticking out of it, nor does it leak.  I think I forgot to mention that the old one up there in the picture also leaked.

I have purchased all the appliances from a small, local business.  They are nice, knowledgeable, prompt, fair and always easier and more personal than the big box stores.  I like supporting my little town, too.

I hope I don't see them for a long time.


Song Of The Day II: Ship Of Fools (2 Versions!)

Elvis Costello

The Grateful Dead

Song Of The Day: The Rain Song

Saturday Cartoon Fun: Human Progress Edition


Holiday Preview Appliance Post

I have mentioned appliances in the past. They like to break. There is a story behind this recent breakage, as you may have guessed from the looks of the dishwasher (which is in perfect working order!)

I'll deal with the explanation later.

David Frost Interviews Julian Assange


Tuesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Qualifications Edition

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Great News Edition

Highly Qualified Teachers? We All Know It's A Sham

Slipped at the 11th hour into the Continuing Resolution to fund the government, the provision at issue proposes to call novice teachers still learning how to teach in alternative preparation programs on nights and weekends "highly qualified" under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). That designation relieves districts of having to tell parents of the teachers' sub-par preparation and allows their continued concentration in poor and minority schools.

Pushed by Teach for America so that they can continue to operate business as usual, it appears more important to Congress to change the law to accommodate TFA than to ensure the equity provisions of NCLB operate as intended. Alternate route trainees (only a few percent of which are actually from TFA) are disproportionately concentrated in low-income, high minority schools despite NCLB's requirement that teachers lacking full credentials be equitably distributed across schools.


Dear The South: F#ck You

On this, the 150th anniversary of the Ordinance of Secession, from annotated rant:
Fuck the South. Fuck 'em. We should have let them go when they wanted to leave. But no, we had to kill half a million people so they'd stay part of our special Union. Fighting for the right to keep slaves - yeah, those are states we want to keep.

And now what do we get? We're the fucking Arrogant Northeast Liberal Elite? How about this for arrogant: the South is the Real America? The Authentic America. Really?

Cause we fucking founded this country, assholes. Those Founding Fathers you keep going on and on about? All that bullshit about what you think they meant by the Second Amendment giving you the right to keep your assault weapons in the glove compartment because you didn't bother to read the first half of the fucking sentence? Who do you think those wig-wearing lacy-shirt sporting revolutionaries were? They were fucking blue-staters, dickhead. Boston? Philadelphia? New York? Hello? Think there might be a reason all the fucking monuments are up here in our backyard?

No, No. Get the fuck out. We're not letting you visit the Liberty Bell and fucking Plymouth Rock anymore until you get over your real American selves and start respecting those other nine amendments. Who do you think those fucking stripes on the flag are for? Nine are for fucking blue states. And it would be 10 if those Vermonters had gotten their fucking Subarus together and broken off from New York a little earlier. Get it? We started this shit, so don't get all uppity about how real you are you Johnny-come-lately "Oooooh I've been a state for almost a hundred years" dickheads. Fuck off.

Arrogant? You wanna talk about us Northeasterners being fucking arrogant? What's more American than arrogance? Hmmm? Maybe horsies? I don't think so. Arrogance is the fucking cornerstone of what it means to be American. And I wouldn't be so fucking arrogant if I wasn't paying for your fucking bridges, bitch.

All those Federal taxes you love to hate? It all comes from us and goes to you, so shut up and enjoy your fucking Tennessee Valley Authority electricity and your fancy highways that we paid for. And the next time Florida gets hit by a hurricane you can come crying to us if you want to, but you're the ones who built on a fucking swamp. "Let the Spanish keep it, it’s a shithole," we said, but you had to have your fucking orange juice.

The next dickwad who says, "It’s your money, not the government's money" is gonna get their ass kicked. Nine of the ten states that get the most federal fucking dollars and pay the least... can you guess? Go on, guess. That’s right, motherfucker, they're red states. And eight of the ten states that receive the least and pay the most? It’s too easy, asshole, they’re blue states. It’s not your money, assholes, it’s fucking our money. What was that Real American Value you were spouting a minute ago? Self reliance? Try this for self reliance: buy your own fucking stop signs, assholes.

Let’s talk about those values for a fucking minute. You and your Southern values can bite my ass because the blue states got the values over you fucking Real Americans every day of the goddamn week. Which state do you think has the lowest divorce rate you marriage-hyping dickwads? Well? Can you guess? It’s fucking Massachusetts, the fucking center of the gay marriage universe. Yes, that’s right, the state you love to tie around the neck of anyone to the left of Strom Thurmond has the lowest divorce rate in the fucking nation. Think that’s just some aberration? How about this: 9 of the 10 lowest divorce rates are fucking blue states, asshole, and most are in the Northeast, where our values suck so bad. And where are the highest divorce rates? Care to fucking guess? 10 of the top 10 are fucking red-ass we're-so-fucking-moral states. And while Nevada is the worst, the Bible Belt is doing its fucking part.

But two guys making out is going to fucking ruin marriage for you? Yeah? Seems like you're ruining it pretty well on your own, you little bastards. Oh, but that's ok because you go to church, right? I mean you do, right? Cause we fucking get to hear about it every goddamn year at election time. Yes, we're fascinated by how you get up every Sunday morning and sing, and then you're fucking towers of moral superiority. Yeah, that's a workable formula. Maybe us fucking Northerners don't talk about religion as much as you because we're not so busy sinning, hmmm? Ever think of that, you self-righteous assholes? No, you're too busy erecting giant stone tablets of the Ten Commandments in buildings paid for by the fucking Northeast Liberal Elite. And who has the highest murder rates in the nation? It ain't us up here in the North, assholes.

Well this gravy train is fucking over. Take your liberal-bashing, federal-tax-leaching, confederate-flag-waving, holier-than-thou, hypocritical bullshit and shove it up your ass.

And no, you can't have your fucking convention in New York next time. Fuck off.

Sunday Bonus Cartoon Fun: "Eliminate Them Except For Mine" Edition

Sunday Cartoon Fun: Guilty Of What? Edition


"We should primary Obama, even if it's with a piece of fruit, a garden trowel, or Jane Hamsher."

Do You Know This Kid XXV? Updated


This young lady was born in Ukraine one year before my maternal grandmother (who was born in the 19th century). She moved to America, but became famous neither in America nor Ukraine. She was Jewish. She was loved. She was feared.

Update: Golda Meir was the 4th Prime Minister of Israel, and was considered "the best man in government" by David Ben-Gurion. Yeah, Jews are funny.  My good friend, Pat, who used to blog but now has a life, got this one.  And, as a good Jew (not by birth or choice, rather, he was married to one) all he said in his email to me was, "Golda."

Golda Meir

Do You Know This Kid XXIV? Updated

This famous American kid was born in 1858 and went on to great things. He is still regarded as totally awesome, and one of the coolest, toughest Americans ever.  If you can't get it by tonight, I will post another photo of him, a bit older, and looking much tougher.

Teddy Roosevelt

Update:  This mean looking dude is none other than Teddy Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States. As usual, Althea got it in about 4 seconds.


Captain Beefheart, R.I.P.

Don Van Vliet (pronounced /væn ˈvliːt/; born Don Glen Vliet,[2] January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American musician and visual artist best known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work was conducted with a rotating ensemble of musicians called The Magic Band, active between 1965 and 1982, with whom he recorded 12 studio albums. Noted for his powerful singing voice with its wide range,[3] Van Vliet also played the harmonica, saxophone and numerous other wind instruments. His music blended rock, blues and psychedelia with free jazz, avant-garde and contemporary experimental composition.[4] An iconoclastic mix of complex instrumentation, atonal melodies, and often humorously surreal lyrics, it was crafted through dictatorial control over his musicians and creative vision.

Friday Cartoon Fun: American Edition

Quote Of The Day: Chuck Rhee Cheese Edition

It's like Michelle Rhee scribbled for an hour on a tablecloth at Chuck E Cheese, and then Michael Madigan used the tablecloth as the agenda for this committee.
Tim Furman


DFER: The Real Billionaire Boys Club

L to R: David Einhorn, another hedge-funder on DFER’s advisory board, is president of Greenlight Capital, LLC; Board member Whitney Tilson is chief of T2 Partners and Tilson Funds and vice chair of New York’s KIPP Academy Charter Schools; Hedge-fund manager John Petry, a DFER board member, co-founded the Harlem Success Academy Charter School with Eva Moskowitz; DFER advisory board member Joel Greenblatt is a protégé of fallen junk-bond icon Michael Milken; Joe Williams heads Democrats for Education Reform and its sister organization, Education Reform Now.    
Who are these people? They don’t sound like Democrats.

If party registration and political donations indicate political allegiance, these DFER deep pockets are blue-blood Democrats. The group’s financial records show board members, advisers and the organization itself contributing heavily to Democratic campaigns as well as to the Democratic National Committee and its Senate and House election committees. However, when it suits their anti-union agenda, DFER leaders are only too happy to cross party lines and endorse Republicans, as DFER’s Whitney Tilson did in supporting Republican-Conservative Harry Wilson for New York State Comptroller against the victorious Democratic incumbent, Tom DiNapoli.

Can you name names?

Certainly. Among the group’s eight-person board is hedge-fund manager John Petry of Gotham Capital, who with Eva Moskowitz co-founded the Harlem Success Academy Charter School. The board also includes Tony Davis of Anchorage Capital, the board chair of Brooklyn’s Achievement First East New York school; Charles Ledley of Highfields Capital Management; and Tilson, chief of T2 Partners and Tilson Funds and vice chairman of New York’s KIPP Academy Charter Schools. Tilson alone gave $50,000 to the New York branch of DFER in the first half of 2010.

Of DFER’s seven-person advisory board, five manage hedge funds: David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, LLC; Joel Greenblatt, founder and managing partner of Gotham Capital and past protégé of fallen junk-bond icon Michael Milliken; Vincent Mai, who chairs AEA Investors, LP; Michael Novogratz, president of Fortress Investment Group; and Rafael Mayer, the Khronos LLC managing partner and KIPP AMP charter school director.

Orbiting the group is billionaire “venture philanthropist” and charter school funder Eli Broad, whose foundation gave upwards of $500,000 to plug advocacy related to the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” and another charter-touting film, “The Lottery.” Though not himself a DFER board member, Broad is a major funder of Education Reform Now, DFER’s nonprofit sister organization, also headed by Joe Williams.

Meanwhile, Andrew Rotherman, recently retired DFER director and EduWonk blogger, is co-founder of and a partner in for-profit Bellwether Education, described as “offering specialized professional services and thoughtful leadership to the entrepreneurial education reform field.” Rotherman sits on the Broad Prize Review Board, while DFER board member Sara Mead is a senior associate partner at his Bellwether Education and sits on the Washington, D.C., Public Charter School Board.

Birds of a feather.

Blake Edwards, R.I.P.

Blake Edwards (July 26, 1922 – December 15, 2010) was an American film director, screenwriter and producer. In 2004, he received an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of his writing, directing and producing an extraordinary body of work for the screen.

Thursday Cartoon Fun: Yummy Edition

Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

A very cool video that graphically shows the results of 200 years of imperialism, war, and peace. It's really good!

Charts Of The Day

Unicef issued a report (pdf) that pretty much shows that the U.S. is failing its most vulnerable, and that is why education is in the privateers' sights.


Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Scumbag Edition

Bernie Sanders, Hero, Writes Letter To DOJ In Opposition Of NBC/Comcast Merger

Doj Comcast/Sanders letter

Song Of The Day: Loser

Barton Hall, Cornell, 5-8-1977.  Jerry playing his Travis Bean.

Barton Hall, Cornell, 5-8-1977

If I had a gun for every ace I have drawn,
I could arm a town the size of Abilene
Don't you push me baby, because I'm holdin' low
And you know I'm only in it for the gold

All that I am asking for is ten gold dollars
And I could pay you back with one good hand
You can look around about the wide world over
And you'll never find another honest man.

Last fair deal in the country,Sweet Suzie,
Last fair deal in the town
Put your gold money where your love is baby,
Before you let my deal go down

Don't you push me baby, cause I'm holdin' low
And I know a little something you won't ever know
Don't you touch hard liquor, just a cup of cold coffee
Gotta get up in the morning and go

Everybody's prayin' and drinkin' that wine
I can tell the Queen of Diamonds by the way she shines
Come to daddy on the inside straight,
Well I got no chance of losin' this time

Last fair deal in the country,
Last fair deal in the town
Put your gold money where your love is baby,
Before you let my deal go down

Everybody's prayin' and drinkin' that wine
I can tell the Queen of Diamonds by the way she shines
Come to daddy on the inside straight,
Well I got no chance of losin' this time.


Richard Holbrooke, R.I.P.

Veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, a special U.S. envoy on the Afghanistan war, died Monday after falling ill Friday from what doctors said was a tear in the large artery that moves blood from the heart.

His death came just hours after President Barack Obama had called Holbrooke "a towering figure in American foreign policy" who was a critical player in developing the administration's policy on Afghanistan.

Teachers Are Losing The Reform Battle

There. I said it. We are losing. As I read the blogs, newspaper articles, and comments left, I am seeing many folks resigned to the fact that reform, in the guise of charters, longer days, paternalistic pedagogy, and bribery, will continue until the last ounce of professional dignity among teachers is ground into bits by the boots of the oligarchs and their puppets in government.

I have no faith in the intelligence of those in charge. Look what they have done so far--hired a publisher as an educational leader for the largest school district in the country, published the names and rankings of teachers in L.A. of a widely regarded as crap measure of competence, fired hundreds of teachers, closed schools and replaced them with schools that are no better (how could they be?), and all led by a former b-baller turned top education officer in the richest country in the world(?).

I am finished with the reform movement. It is a scam, just like everything else rich people control.

It's time to take our schools away from those who are destroying them. It's time for a national strike.

I propose that no teacher return from Winter Break until some conditions are met:

1. End RTTT and NCLB.

2. Replace Arne Duncan with an educator.

3. Require charter schools to find their own buildings and not take them away from existing schools.

4. End high-stakes testing in favor of portfolios judged by teachers.

5. Raise starting pay of teachers to attract a better pool of talent--pay for it by taxing billionaires.

You with me?


Two Charts About Finland's Education System

Everyone seems to think Finland's education system is the best, and it may well be. Here are a couple charts that help explain how they do it (besides having far less poverty, better social services, and a more homogeneous society).

From Rebel 6


Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa Is A Complete Douche

Mayor Anthony Villagairosa and family, sans his mistress.
Remarks as Prepared for Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa - PPIC "California's Future" Conference - Education Keynote, December 7, 2010

Thank you for that kind introduction. It is a true honor to address such an esteemed audience. I would like to thank the Public Policy Institute of California for organizing this conference and bringing us together. And I would like to congratulate Mark Baldassre and the entire staff at PPIC for the thoughtful and influential work they continue to produce every year.

It is more than fitting that we begin the day on the topic of education reform, because there are few issues more pressing than ensuring that all Californians have equal access to a world-class education. When most of us went to school in the 1950s and 1960s, we were blessed that California public schools were synonymous with excellence. We were the gold standard, a national model that complemented our State's image as a land of opportunity.

But somewhere along the way, the schools in which we invested so much time, thought, and capital, slowly began to crumble - figuratively and literally - and we were left with what we have today:

Schools that consistently rank in the bottom third among all states. Schools that spend, on average, $2,400 less per pupil than most other states. Schools that are, in too many instances, more segregated than they were in the 1950s. And schools that are viewed as so ineffective and irrelevant, that one in every four students drops out, believing their time would be better spent elsewhere.

Education may be the most important issue of our time. It is an economic issue, it is a civil rights issue, and it is the foundation for the common values that bind us as Americans: the belief in a democratic and free society. A quality education should not hinge on your ZIP code, or your parents' tax bracket, or the color of your skin. Our public schools should be the true embodiment of the American Dream, a place where people are judged on achievement and rewarded on merit.

But when you consider that California's so-called "drop-out factories" are comprised of predominately Latino and African American students, one has to ask whether we are actively creating a second class of citizens among a demographic that now represents the majority of our students.

Even within our storied UC and Cal State systems, long heralded for their excellence and diversity, we have made few gains and in some cases, lost ground over the past 25 years. In 1989, African-American students represented over 5% of the student body at our UC schools. Today, they are just 3%. And even though Latinos represent nearly 40% of the population of California, and over 50% of our public school population, they make up just 20% of our UC students. This is the stark reality.

Sadly, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know to be true. The question isn't whether we have reached a crisis point or arrived at a critical crossroads, the question we must ask ourselves today is:

What is stopping us from changing direction?

Why, for so long, have we allowed denial and indifference to defeat action? I do not raise this question lightly, and I do not come to my conclusion from a lack of experience. I was a legislative advocate for the California Teachers Association, and I was a union organizer for United Teachers of Los Angeles. From the time I entered the California State Assembly and became Speaker, to my tenure as Mayor of Los Angeles, I have fought to fund and reform California's public schools.

Over the past five years, while partnering with students, parents and non-profits, business groups, higher education, charter organizations, school district leadership, elected board members and teachers, there has been one, unwavering roadblock to reform: UTLA union leadership.

While not the biggest problem facing our schools, they have consistently been the most powerful defenders of the status quo. I do not say this because of any animus towards unions. I deeply believe that teachers' unions can and must be part of our efforts to transform our schools. Regrettably, they have yet to join us as we have forged ahead with a reform agenda.

By partnering with the Los Angeles School Board, we created the Public School Choice program that is now allowing non-profits, charters, teacher groups - anyone with a proven track record of success - to compete to run new or failing schools. By 2012, over 50 low-performing schools will be under new leadership, with a new chance for success.

UTLA leadership fought against this reform.

Thursday Bonus Cartoon Fun: F#ck John McCain Edition

Thursday Cartoon Fun: Greedy Bastards Edition


The View From His Window

I was working with a student today at his house. He is starting a new school soon, but due to family travels has missed some critical instruction in English conventions and mechanics. He also learned Spanish as a little dude, and now his 4th grade phonemic awareness is a little Latin. He is a bright kid, and he'll get it all figured out in no time.

He is easily distracted, partly because we work in his house, which is very nice and full of light and windows. Today, as we were working on common ways to spell the sound of various long vowels, he stopped. He looked out the window and mentioned that the tree across the street has many different color leaves. All on the same tree! He was mildly amused--as if this sort of thing is what nerf-wielding 4th graders comment on normally. I have a new phone with a camera and let him take the picture you see up there. He was right! Cool picture!

This post has nothing to do with Andrew Sullivan.

Straight Outta Compton

COMPTON, Calif. (AP) -- Chanting "yes we can!" and "si se puede!", a busload of parents on Tuesday became the first in California to try to force reforms at their children's failing school using the state's new "parent-trigger" law.

The group of Latino and African-American parents delivered a petition signed by 62 percent of parents at McKinley Elementary School to Compton Unified Acting Superintendent Karen Frison.

Fisrt, who paid for the bus? Second, a guy named Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution, an organization with ties to Green Dot Charter Schools among others, spearheaded the law in California. With the law on their side, these "shock doctrine" abusers can organize 51% of parents in a school and get the district to create a charter school. And guess what, a CMO will make money from it.

These parents have no idea what they will reap by sowing such a damaged process.  Surely you all know where Compton is, right?  Compton's school district was once taken over by the state.  I think the Crips and Bloods started in Compton.  Ever heard of Gangsta Rap?  Ever heard of a song called Straight Outta Compton?

This is what the rich and powerful do--they find a vulnerable population, scare them, then use the fear to promise safety from the fear, and then they make their profit.  It is pure Shock Doctrine.  It's sickening, abusive, and usurious.

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