Quote Of The Day: Blasphemy Rocks Edition

So basically, God created men he later had to control by having other men kill the men who he created in the first place all the while knowing that they would do what they did because he is all knowing. And this is all ok, because God has a reason and we shouldn't question it.
Random Facebook comment

Quote Of The Day: Civil Rights = Oppression

If Arne Duncan’s views on equality are evidenced in his actions, it leaves us with a troubling realization. For to understand that for Mr. Duncan to be right in saying that “education is the civil rights issue of this generation,” we must stand shamefaced in admitting that civil rights now demands from equality what we previously could expect only from oppression.
Jim Horn


Do You Know This Kid XVIIII? Updated

Chuck Norris

This little boy is insane.  Well, not really insane, but clearly crazy--Sarah Palin crazy.

He made movies.  I remember when he got his ass kicked.  Others remember him doing the ass-kicking.  He's a complete douche.  This is easy, right?

And, should this be XIX instead of XVIIII?  I don't remember how to do Roman Numerals...

Updatelet:  Oops, I forgot to tell you he was born in 1940, is still alive, and still a douche.

Update:  This is Chuck Norris (the guy on the right).  Bruce Lee kicked his ass.  He is pictured here with Mike Huckabee.

The Vienna Declaration On HIV And International Drug Prohibition

This seems important, especially for all my influential friends who should sign it!!
In response to the health and social harms of illegal drugs, a large international drug prohibition regime has been developed under the umbrella of the United Nations. Decades of research provide a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of the global “War on Drugs” and, as thousands of individuals gather in Vienna at the XVIII International AIDS Conference, the international scientific community calls for an acknowledgement of the limits and harms of drug prohibition, and for drug policy reform to remove barriers to effective HIV prevention, treatment and care.

The evidence that law enforcement has failed to prevent the availability of illegal drugs, in communities where there is demand, is now unambiguous.2, 3Over the last several decades, national and international drug surveillance systems have demonstrated a general pattern of falling drug prices and increasing drug purity—despite massive investments in drug law enforcement.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that increasing the ferocity of law enforcement meaningfully reduces the prevalence of drug use.5 The data also clearly demonstrate that the number of countries in which people inject illegal drugs is growing, with women and children becoming increasingly affected.6 Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, injection drug use accounts for approximately one in three new cases of HIV.7, 8 In some areas where HIV is spreading most rapidly, such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia, HIV prevalence can be as high as 70% among people who inject drugs, and in some areas more than 80% of all HIV cases are among this group.

In the context of overwhelming evidence that drug law enforcement has failed to achieve its stated objectives, it is important that its harmful consequences be acknowledged and addressed. These consequences include but are not limited to:

-HIV epidemics fuelled by the criminalisation of people who use illicit drugs and by prohibitions on the provision of sterile needles and opioid substitution treatment.

-HIV outbreaks among incarcerated and institutionalised drug users as a result of punitive laws and policies and a lack of HIV prevention services in these settings.

-The undermining of public health systems when law enforcement drives drug users away from prevention and care services and into environments where the risk of infectious disease transmission (e.g., HIV, hepatitis C & B, and tuberculosis) and other harms is increased.

-A crisis in criminal justice systems as a result of record incarceration rates in a number of nations. This has negatively affected the social functioning of entire communities. While racial disparities in incarceration rates for drug offences are evident in countries all over the world, the impact has been particularly severe in the US, where approximately one in nine African-American males in the age group 20 to 34 is incarcerated on any given day, primarily as a result of drug law enforcement.

-Stigma towards people who use illicit drugs, which reinforces the political popularity of criminalising drug users and undermines HIV prevention and other health promotion efforts.

-Severe human rights violations, including torture, forced labour, inhuman and degrading treatment, and execution of drug offenders in a number of countries.

-A massive illicit market worth an estimated annual value of US$320 billion.4 These profits remain entirely outside the control of government. They fuel crime, violence and corruption in countless urban communities and have destabilised entire countries, such as Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan.

-Billions of tax dollars wasted on a “War on Drugs” approach to drug control that does not achieve its stated objectives and, instead, directly or indirectly contributes to the above harms.

Unfortunately, evidence of the failure of drug prohibition to achieve its stated goals, as well as the severe negative consequences of these policies, is often denied by those with vested interests in maintaining the status quo.25This has created confusion among the public and has cost countless lives. Governments and international organisations have ethical and legal obligations to respond to this crisis and must seek to enact alternative evidence-based strategies that can effectively reduce the harms of drugs without creating harms of their own. We, the undersigned, call on governments and international organisations, including the United Nations, to:

-Undertake a transparent review of the effectiveness of current drug policies.

-Implement and evaluate a science-based public health approach to address the individual and community harms stemming from illicit drug use.

-Decriminalise drug users, scale up evidence-based drug dependence treatment options and abolish ineffective compulsory drug treatment centres that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

-Unequivocally endorse and scale up funding for the implementation of the comprehensive package of HIV interventions spelled out in the WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS Target Setting Guide.

-Meaningfully involve members of the affected community in developing, monitoring and implementing services and policies that affect their lives.

We further call upon the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to urgently implement measures to ensure that the United Nations system—including the International Narcotics Control Board—speaks with one voice to support the decriminalisation of drug users and the implementation of evidence-based approaches to drug control.28

Basing drug policies on scientific evidence will not eliminate drug use or the problems stemming from drug injecting. However, reorienting drug policies towards evidence-based approaches that respect, protect and fulfil human rights has the potential to reduce harms deriving from current policies and would allow for the redirection of the vast financial resources towards where they are needed most: implementing and evaluating evidence-based prevention, regulatory, treatment and harm reduction interventions.

Friday Cartoon Fun: The Sherrod Affair Edition

Carly Fiorina Agrees With The Tea Party

Dear DonorsChoose.org,

Accountable Talk wrote a post:
DonorsChoose Stabs Teachers in the Back

So you get a crappy $150 in Teacher's Choice every year, which will most likely be eliminated entirely this coming school year. DonorChoose.org seems like a good solution. You join up, tell donors what you need, and hopefully good hearted citizens will contribute to help support your classroom projects. Sounds like a great idea, right? And it was.

Until the ed deformers ruined it, that is. I was shocked to receive an email from DonorsChoose asking me to see the anti-teacher, anti-union film Waiting for Superman. If I pledge to see it, the email said, DonorsChoose will get some money to support more classroom projects. Never mind that if the film makers get their way, you most likely won't have a classroom or a job, so your need for project funding will be drastically reduced.

Here's a quote from the email: This fall DonorsChoose.org is poised to receive support from hundreds of thousands of movie-goers who see Waiting for "Superman," a new film from the director of An Inconvenient Truth. Just as An Inconvenient Truth inspired action on climate change, Waiting for "Superman" aims to inspire the nation to improve public education opportunities.

Uh, yeah. More like "Just as the actors in The Devil In Miss Jones did to each other, Waiting for Superman is trying to do to teachers."

I canceled my account there today, and I urge you to do the same. Let them know why you decided to cancel and why. Tell them they need to support teachers, not help villify them. Contact them at http://help.donorschoose.org/app/contact.
I agree and cancelled my account too.  After getting a respnse from Donors Choose as a comment to the above post, a letter was written in a subsequent post:
I was rather surprised to see a reply from DonorsChoose.Org in the comments section of my post accusing them of having stabbed teachers in the back. I do welcome the response, however, because if it is genuine, perhaps there is an opening to set the record straight. In brief, DonorsChoose has seen fit to urge their members--who are teachers--to pledge see the film Waiting for Superman. In return, DonorsChoose will get money for every pledge. Apparently, DonorsChoose sees nothing wrong with this, but I know a lot of teachers do, as well as some of my fellow bloggers, such as NYC Educator. I'd prefer to continue the dialogue here, in public, as DonorsChoose themselves claim to want to spur debate. So here's my open letter to you, DC--I'd love to hear your response (in email as well--I want to be sure you're really who you claim to be).
Dear DonorsChoose.org:

Thank you so much for replying. I'd like to respond by asking you a rather simple question: Why do you exist?

I'm not being facetious--I am dead serious. In my view, you exist because of the sorry state of public education funding today. In NYC, public school teachers receive a measly $150 a year for supplies, which for many of us works out to less than a dollar a year per child. We don't get a pencil, or a piece of chalk, or a sheet of paper unless it comes out of our own pockets. Many of us work in dilapidated classrooms and trailers, with no air conditioning in the summer and not enough heat in the winter. We work in severely overcrowded classrooms--the highest average class size in the state--and we take on any and all comers. No child is ever refused entrance to a public school, even if they're disruptive and completely unmotivated. Public schools take on this challenge every day, and we do a damn fine job.

On the other side of the coin, we have charter schools--the kinds of schools being touted in films like Waiting for Superman. Charters are often given the most prime locations in their neighborhoods, frequently pushing out public school kids. I have never heard of a charter classroom being run from a trailer. Similarly, I have never heard of a charter school that didn't have more than adequate supplies. They are given the basics that are denied to public school teachers. Add to that the fact that many charters cherry-pick their students, and the ones that don't can kick out unruly children or even kids who don't perform up to their standards. When they are thrown out, guess where they go? Back to public schools.

Despite the huge advantage for charters, they show no better results than public schools nationwide.

Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein are pictured as the heroes of Waiting for Superman because they want to "reform" schools. By reform, they mean they want to eviscerate teacher contracts, eliminate seniority and tenure, and create charters where teachers are hired as will employees who can be fired at the drop of a hat. Check out any review of the film--this one by Roger Ebert, for example--and you will see that teachers and unions are cast as the villains in this script. According to the reviewers, teachers are seen as do-nothings who hide behind their union for protection. The truth is that all teachers are hired by the system, and the system has 4 years to evaluate whether a teacher is good enough. After that, if they believe a teacher is incompetent, there is a process to remove teachers by giving them a due process hearing.

What message does it send to teachers when an organization like yours, that claims to be working in the interests of teachers, accepts money from the producers of a film that casts public school teachers as the enemy?

Now, I'll be the first to admit I'm no Superman. There's no S on my chest--just a little chalk dust. I do my best to instruct whatever students show up in my room, in whatever numbers, and with whatever paper I can buy at the dollar store. I've been doing this for more than two decades. The vast majority of my 80,000 colleagues do the same thing, day in and day out, even when the roof is leaking.

So yes, DonorsChoose, there IS a superman, but if you're looking for red boots and a cape, you'll surely be disappointed. But if you peek into the typical public school classroom, you'll see dedicated teachers working hard every day. They are your members, and they want you to lend us a hand in a very difficult job--not to add another brick to an already far-too-heavy load.

If you want the support of teachers, reject the funding of those who want to see us lose our jobs.

I look forward to your reply.


Mr. Talk
Good stuff!


Do You Know This Kid XVIII? Updated

This young man, seated with his little sister, was born in 1918.  He was eccentric, rhythmic and sought after.  He invented stuff, played music, traveled, and explained shit.  He is dead.

He looks as an adult pretty much as he looks in this photo--see the slightly devious grin?

He is world famous.  Althea probably already knows the answer, and I haven't even posted it yet!

There, it's posted.  Althea....??

Update:  Kathleen got it (as did a couple others in private emails)--Richard P. Feynman.

Richard Feynman

Here is a video of Feynman talking about the Space Shuttle Challenger panel and whether he should accept a seat or not.

There is quite a bit of Feynman video available. He is so watchable!! Feynmanchaser of youtube has most of them.

California Has Higher Standards

Thursday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Spam Edition

Thursday Cartoon Fun: The Three Branches Of Government Edition


"Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Waltons, and other rich theorists"

It's nice to read something about education reform written by someone who has actual experience as opposed to people who are simply rich and powerful.
By Marion Brady

Just about everybody who’s ever been to school has a theory about what’s wrong with education. And a good many of them have a theory about what would make what’s wrong right.

The list of those reform theories is long and getting longer: Get back to the basics! Lengthen the school day! Separate the sexes! Require more math and science! Toughen the standards! Add end-of-course exams! Increase the number of Advanced Placement courses! Put mayors in charge! Replace superintendents with retired military officers! Pay kids for good grades! Abolish teacher unions! End tenure! Lengthen the school year! Tie teacher pay to test scores! Adopt vouchers! Open more charter schools! Close colleges of education! Require school uniforms! Force parental cooperation! Give every kid a laptop! Fire the worst 25% of teachers, rank the rest, and publish the ranking in the newspaper! Adopt national standards for every school subject! Partner schools and businesses! Transfer authority from local school boards to the feds! (Just to begin a list.)

The school reform picture is chaotic, and I add to the chaos by advancing yet another theory (one almost nobody likes). I say the familiar “core curriculum” in use in America’s schools and colleges is a problem-plagued, dysfunctional,19th Century relic that fits the 21st Century about as well as the first Model T Ford fits into I-75 traffic.

An emergency national conference should be called to rethink it.

Currently, of course, the only reforms being taken seriously are those being pushed by Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Waltons, and other rich theorists. [I bolded this because it is my favorite line]


Do You Know This Kid XVII? Updated

I know this picture is a bit grainy and it looks a little like Bob Dylan.

This American kid was born at the turn of the last century, a couple years before my paternal grandmother was born. He became very famous, some would say infamous, and died of natural causes amid old questions of his integrity.  He enjoyed riding horses and poetry.

There have been books written about him. There has been at least one movie made about his trials and tribulations. He had a less-famous (though not infamous) brother.

He was Jewish. He was brilliant. Those two things are not connected.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

Update:  As usual, Althea got it.  This J. Robert Oppenheimer, leader of the Manhattan Project, father of the atomic bomb, suspected Communist, and brother of Frank Oppenheimer who founded the Exploratorium in San Francisco (bet you didn't know that!).

There is very little video of Oppenheimer. The video below is the only one I could actually find, though I am sure there must be more somewhere (from the trial, or hearing, or whatever it was).

In this video, after a verbal description and some shock-wave footage of the test, we see Oppy talk about the reaction to the first atomic bomb by those involved with the Trinity test.  This is his famous "I am become death" statement.

It's interesting to note that although he seems bothered by the bomb's use both in the video and in correspondence at the time, he was giving advice to the military as the bomb was being dropped on Hiroshima.

I read a very good book, called American Prometheus (the link has music, so don't get startled), that is thick (maybe too thick, but so detailed) with details about the suspicion he fell under of being a commie. Check it out (it's where I got the picture, though it is also online in its original form with Ernest Lawrence standing there with Oppy--I cropped it for this post).

I came away from reading the book pretty confident that Oppenheimer was not a commie.

Tuesday Bonus Cartoon Fun Bonus: Old Meme Edition

Do You Know This Kid XVI? (No Cheating!!) Updated Again

Antonio Banderas

Let's try this again.  If you use TinEye or look at the file name, you are a cheater.

This kid was born in 1960.  He is an actor, director, producer, and singer.  He is not American, but he is famous here.  Hollywood famous.

Update: It's not Hugh Grant or Kenneth Branagh.  Maybe you need some more hints?  Or maybe you just don't care?

He is married to another Hollywood star.  She used to be married to a different Hollywood/tv star.  Look at those sultry eyes...

Update II:  Yes, Althea.  Here we have Antonio Banderas.

Do You Know This Kid XV? Updated

John Travolta

He was born in 1954 and was a tv star, then a movie star.  He certainly has stars in his eyes!  Who is he?

Update:  To all you cheaters out there: Cheaters never prosper!!

Althea, who likes to cheat, looked at the file name and deduced that it is indeed, John Travolta.  He is a Scientologist (Scientology twitter fun here).

Tuesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Strange Urges Edition

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: No Big Deal Edition

A Tweet Exposes The Truth

I think the above tweet says it all; charters are for poor kids.


Monday Cartoon Fun: Mel "Foulmouth, Racist, Catholic, Misogynist" Gibson Edition

Update: Some Chris Hitchens on Mel:
We live in a culture where the terms fascist and racist are thrown about, if anything, too easily and too frequently. Yet here is a man whose every word and deed is easily explicable once you know the single essential thing about him: He is a member of a fascist splinter group that believes it is the salvation of the Catholic Church.

Sorry Ain't Enough No More

From DM:
New Orleans musicians Bennie Pete of The Hot 8 Brass Band, trumpet player Shamarr Allen, rapper Dee-1 and Paul Sanchez of Cowboy Mouth collaborated on Sorry Ain’t Enough No More, a stinging slap in the face of Tony Hayward and British Petroleum.

Protest music is alive and well in this powerful video.

"854,000 People...Hold Top-Secret Security Clearances"

Dana Priest of The Washington Post publishes her first part of a multi-part series on secrecy in America. Here are some rather sobering, if not frightening, findings:
A hidden world, growing beyond control

The investigation's other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.


Robert Reich Reminds Us How It Used To Be (And How It Has Returned)

Unjust Spoils

Wall Street's banditry was the proximate cause of the Great Recession, not its underlying cause. Even if the Street is better controlled in the future (and I have my doubts), the structural reason for the Great Recession still haunts America. That reason is America's surging inequality.

Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation's total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the circle of prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America's total annual income. But after that, inequality began to widen again, and income reconcentrated at the top. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928—with 23.5 percent of the total.

An Hour Of Franken Sanity On The Floor Of The Senate

Yes, he should be president!

Sunday Cartoon Fun: Do Nothing Edition

Do You Know This Kid XIV? Updated Again

He is now in his seventies. He was on television for many years, in more than one capacity, and on more than one show. He also made movies, acted on stage, and wrote books.

Update: It is not Steve Martin.

Update II: Althea figured out this is Alan Alda, sometimes known as Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H.

Total Pageviews