Sunday, July 31, 2005

EW for ET

So I'm in the den working on my 30 units (5 down, 25 to go) when my wife yells, "OH...MY....GOD...EWWWWWW!!!" in that voice that means something is seriously wrong. Upon bolting into the living room, I find Entertainment Tonight on the television showing an entire segment on the wedding of Mary Letourneau. It just might well be one of the more disgusting moments I've ever seen on television. This is a former teacher who had sex with a young teenage boy, being treated like a celebrity on ET?!?!?!?! I went to the ET website, and here is the headline:

MARY KAY WEDDING - Our own JANE CARL sat down with MARY KAY LATOURNEAU just days before her wedding to VILE to talk about the couple's wedding preparations, including flower arrangements, invitations and security concerns. Plus, we have the wedding that was seven years in the making as Mary Kay walks down the aisle!


With all the problems in society and the current incidents of teachers sleeping with students, this one is treated like Jennifer Lopez on television. Everyone associated with this show should be embarrassed that they gave this woman the time of day. In fact, it looks to me that Entertainment Tonight was actually glorifying her actions by making her out to be a celebrity. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! I need a shower after watching that crap.

In other news, my MySpace site went to over 200 views today, although I still only have 4 friends. Not that I blame them for not adding me. Would you have wanted to add your teacher? Hehe. I have received messages from students though, just not publicly.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

If you aren't for Multiculturalism in the classroom, you are a racist bastard.

.........or so the attitude that I'm getting from my Multiculturalism class that I'm taking to get my CLAD.
Sure Darren, go ahead and smile. You too Polski. You both gave me fair warning.

So I'm 4 weeks into the class and I've been called the following:
-a racist
-a bigot
-a capitalist pig
-a supporter of American imperialism (I have no idea why)
-a symptom of the institutional Racism so prevalent at American schools.
-a supporter of corporate America (then he listed Enron, WorldCom, Bechtel, and Halliburton as my choice picks)
-an ignorant supporter of racial profiling

and that is only from answering one question, What are the implications for today's immigrants?

Here was my answer,verbatimm:

It would seem that in today's America, one canÂ’t talk about immigration without being labeled a racist. If a person feels that the United States should close the border with Mexico, then that person is obviously racist against Mexicans. For this prompt, let us drop the idea of race, and focus about the realistic past, present and future for U.S. immigrants.

-The argument that "because this nation was founded and built on immigrants, then the United States should remain totally open to immigrants" is both naive and unrealistic. Every nation has a point at which the problems of immigration begin to outweigh the benefits that they provide. The battle for that line of cost/benefit is constantly being waged in California, where the states primary economic staple is harvested by the sweat of immigrant labor. However, the cost to the state is tremendous. Illegal immigrants are flooding into the state, creating a huge strain on infrastructure and social welfare programs. Eventually, a method must be found to make immigrants give more to the greater piece of the pie, because the current incarnation of social welfare for immigrants is destroying local governments.

-Thoughts about immigrants changed with 9/11. With the southern boarder of the United States so porous, terrorist access to U.S. soil is as simple flying to Mexico City, driving to the border, and walking across. Fair or not, laws that demand more from immigrants will continue to be passed in the near future as the current influx of immigrants poses a threat to national security. With laws like the Real ID Act (driver's license only to citizens), immigrants will have more difficulty successfully assimilating into society. Other laws in states have also began to press immigrants even further. Arizona, California, and New Mexico have created laws that punish companies that hire illegal immigrants, although Arizona is the only state that is actively enforcing the law.

-As national and local security become more and more of an issue, racial profiling will become prevalent. In my opinion, it is only logical until the respective communities decide to take it upon themselves to start solving problems. Nationally, the Muslim community (particularly Arab or Persian) has not been as valiant as it needs to be to stop Islamic extremism. The U.S. government responds by taking it upon themselves to racially profile Arab or Persian people. The question is whether the concept of profiling is worth the security it can provide. My answer would be yes. The same goes for local government policies towards gangs. The Latino community has a horrible problem with gangs that has now spread over the border into the United States. In Mexico and Guatemala, these gangs run rampant. In the United States, evidence of gang activity have multiplied over the last 8 years. Until the Latino community clamps down on the gang activity, local police departments (and high school administrations) are more adept to profile Latino males that dress or act in a certain fashion. Again the question is asked; is this profiling worth the safety and security of towns or school campuses. Again, my answer is yes. Tom Friedman said it best, "If we lived in a perfect world, profiling wouldn't exist. I can't think of anyone who likes profiling. But if Muslim nations don't start policing themselves, deciding to act against the element that is killing innocent people, then what choice do we have?"

However insensitive it might seem, these are decisions that the cities, states and the nation must make regarding immigrants and immigration.


I don't think that those statements are out of line at all. However, people go nuts over them. I'll ask you then, are they out of line?

Today it became a classroom issue and I'm interested in the response I get from my post. The question:
Taking as a given that simply good teaching already addresses student needs, in what ways might race and ethnicity influence the way you teach?

My answer:

If I am a good teacher, then race and ethnicity will not influence the way that I teach. I'm not saying that I wouldn't be sensitive to the issues surrounding race and ethnicity, but I'm not going to change my teaching style, something that I think I have been successful with, for the sake of race or ethnicity. Would I change my teaching style because my classroom has more girls than boys? Would I change my style if the class had more poor than rich kids, or more fat kids than skinny kids?
A good teacher in a good classroom will be sensitive to the needs of all the students, but teach in a way is successful for the maturation (academically, socially, emotionally) of all the students. This means that the SDAIE concept of Bridging is used so that the Students and the Teacher can find a link with backgrounds and the subject matter, but not because the student is of a different race. It would be done with all students.
In the end, students all have academic issues that need to be addressed, and those will be met on a student by student basis. Not all students of a different ethnicity have problems with English, and therefore don't need the support. At the same time, primary language students have a 3rd grade reading level and need more support. The issue is not race.
To be perfectly honest, this is a very bad question (speaking in an academic sense). It assumes that a teacher who thinks thdominantominent culture is the best for student's academic success is a bad teacher. I'm of the opinion that other than being sensitive to the needs of the student, a teacher is doing that student an injustice if they decide that learning takes a backseat to constantly tip-toeing around the norms of other cultures. Some of you will call this Institutional Racism. I disagree with not only that statement, but also the definition stated in the textbook. Not everything that is unfair or difficut for other cultures in the United States is racially motivated. In fact, I would say that race is much less of a motivating factor than is constantly charged. Must we forget that it responsibilitysiblity of the immigrant to adjust dominantominent culture? It is nresponsibilitysiblity of the system, which is also successful, to deprive its citizens on account of a culture that does not share all of the same mores and norms.


Let me stress thasensitiveenstive to the backgrounds of all of my students. Saying that, I was pissed about this question and the direction that the class is going in. It's as if teachers are supposed to feel that the educational system is inherently racist and that teachers are supposed to teach poor immigrant children different than poor white children.
Comments please. If I am way off base, tell me. While you are at it, explain to me how this isn't simply a bunch of politically correct crap.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It's a long way to Tipperary, It's a long way to go, It's a long way to Tipperary, to that Education Carnival I know........

Das Boot is beyond being a great war film, it is a great film period.
It is hard to create an epic picture on it's own. Try making an epic picture that takes place inside a German submarine, that seems near impossible. Directed by Wolfgang Peterson, and entirely in German (dubbed in English), the movie follows a U-boat crew along their missions of glory, and dispair. Think about the plot following that of All Quiet on the Western Front, with a crew full of optimism that is overcome by the horrors of war. Here is a movie that explores heroism, duty, patriotism, hope, fear and the futility of war explored in the confined, and collapsing, spaces of a German u-boat. It is brilliant work.

By the way, "It's a long way to Tipperary" is sung by the crew during the beginning of the voyage. It's ironic because it is a famous World War One British anthem.

But before you break out into song, go read the Education Carnival!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Introducing......My Fellow Bloggers!

I can't sleep tonight, so I'll give you guys a little introduction to the yahoos that I read on a regular basis. Those that I have here I check all the time, however I do have 57 blogline feeds that I get to when I have the time.

Bud the Teacher- A teacher out of Colorado, Bud caught my interest by talking about educational technology. Now I'm beginning to look at things like Podcasting and using Wikipedia. He talks alot about teachers and blogging too!

Education Wonks- His blog is Grand Central Station for teacher's blogs. EdWonk has a variety of articles and opinions that seem to reach the essence of the common teacher, while adding in a splash of political banter. He's also the creater of the Education Carnival, one of the best sources of teacher talk around.

Fred's World- Fred teaches in Florida and talks about him and his families adventures. His blog is super personable, and the amount of comments he recieves is evidence of that.

History in Halstead- Mr. Warsnak blogs from Kansas, though we won't held that against him. Actually, he's created another very personable blog that doesn't just address teachers, but students as well. If you respond to his posts, don't be surprised if one of his students chimes in!

Jenny D- A doctorial candidate, Jenny D is one of the high end academics that is trying to figure out why our system is not doing so well for all our kids. Teachers should give her a look because she's one of those that isn't a teacher, but is trying to find the answers. We might be able to help with her quest. At the very least, her topics will get you stirred up. By the way, she helps with the Education Carnival on occasion.

Joanne Jacobs- This blog is made by a California journalist that throws out a more conservative look at education. Her topics are interesting and often controversial. Be care about posting. Most of the responses I get are from right-wing nuts that simply say that the problem is all about the teachers.

Middle School Mayhem
- A relatively new blog about a teacher who is going through the frustrations that most of use can identify with. She rants quite about about things we often want to rant about, but don't.

Mild Melancholy- This blog is about a young woman who moved to New York to teach and chronicles her adventures as such. She was a first year, and is moving to the ranks of the baptized. I love this blog because it gives insight to a couple of things; teaching, New York, women, clashes of cultures, and the development of teaching from idealism to realism.

Miller's Time- This is less about teaching as it is politics here in California. He's strongly Republican, but seems to be able to have fun with it. Plus, he lives in Sacramento and loves the Kings and Giants. He stays on my list.

Polski3- Polski is out of the Southern California Desert and talks about many of the same issues that teachers discuss, but particularly here in California. Really nice guy to discuss reasonable topics with.

Post Hip Chick- Post Hip teaches in the Bay Area and is dealing with turning 30. Her blog is very light and humorous, even when dealing with difficult teaching issues. Warning: it is very slanted towards women, so some of the conversation might not geared for the gentlemen all the time. But its still a good read.

Right on the Left Coast- Another conservative teacher out of Sacramento, but Darren deals much more about teaching than the Miller's Time. Also, Darren is a great source on how the California Teacher's Association is robbing and misrepresenting its members.

What It's Like on the Inside- "Just your average schoolmarm" from Washington state. However, her insights are calm and level, yet make some excellent points. This blog is a good read, especially if you are into science.

What Up, Mz Smlph?- If you took Sarah Jessica Parkers's character in Sex and the City, and you made her a teacher, I get the feeling like it might be a lot like Mz. Smlph. Except that you have to move her to the rural South. This might be the most entertaining blog on the list.

More will be added as I find them a consistent read. In the meantime, hit up these blogs.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Movie Review: Sideways, Napolean Dynamite

So my wife and I have made a commitment to watch more movies, one of my favorite pastimes. When I lived in Sacramento, I went to the Birdcage Movies every week, sometimes twice, and watched movies that were a few months old for $1. Now, we can't even get into a matinee in Ukiah for under $6. So, it becomes a DVD watching Saturday night. Here are a couple of reviews, hopefully without spoilers:

Sideways:
This movie was so hyped that I couldn't wait to watch it. I love a good romantic comedy, and I love good wine. This movie is a little bit of both. The plot involves two men that travel to the Santa Maria Valley to do a little pre-wedding wine tasting and golf. The groom-to-be decides that he wants to see some action before he gets hitched, while the best man is trying to get over a divorce that occurred over two years ago. The movie takes some twists and turn about love, wine and friendship, all while developing a feel for the characters. In fact, if you are really into wine (which I am), you will come away appreciating the movie that much more.
In my opinion, the movie started a little slow. We get a sense of the two guys rather quickly, but the plot felt a little recognizable in the beginning. Once Virginia Madsen (Maya)comes on the screen, the film starts to flow much better. The personal relationships are interesting and cast does a very nice job playing solid roles. The movie doesn't really show serious romantic tones, that's why I would label it a romantic comedy. There are some funny scenes. In fact, a few times were laugh-out-loud funny (golf course, wallet).
Sideways is a nice movie. I was a tad disappointed with the raving about the how it was a "spectacular film", "one of the best of the year". I wouldn't go that far, but a "good movie"? Absolutely. A solid 8.5 out of 10.

Napolean Dynamite:
-If there is one movie I have heard more about from my students, its Napolean Dynamite. My wife had seen this movie about 6 months ago and made this comment, "This is a movie where kids like it more in an 'altered state'". I don't really know if I've seen a movie that fits into that category, until I watched Napolean Dynamite. Now I know exactly what she means.
Napolean Dynamite is about a loser kid in a nowhere Idaho town who goes through some quirky little adventures while trying to survive at school, fall in love with a girl, and work towards electing his friend Pedro as Student President. Sound like your typical John Hughes Brat Pack movie? Well, that's part of the beauty of Napolean Dynamite. Take a John Hughes movie, cut away all the melodramatic episodes, and give the rest to the crew of Saturday Night Live, and you have this movie. Don't get me wrong, this movie is utterly stupid, but in a way that lovers of good film will appreciate it. Jon Heder (Napolean) plays the part of the loser to total perfection, his lines given with such sincerity that you could probably go to any high school and find that exact guy. You will find yourself laughing at things that you don't usually laugh at because the scenes are just so quirky (I couldn't stop laughing at the llama, and I don't know why).
Don't expect movie perfection. In fact, watch this film with no expectations at all because this is a "love it or hate it" kind of movie. Although it doesn't measure up to "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" or the Brat Pack flicks, Napolean Dynamite is THE "high school" movie of recent memory. 8 out of 10.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Screw the Supreme Court, Ukiah willl smoke out anyway

The Federal Government might say that it is illegal, the Supreme Court might say they concur, but the City of Ukiah says that it doesn't make a difference. The City Council, in a move that is both naive and contemptible, approved an ordinance that legalized the cultivation of marijuana within city limits. You can read about this idiotic little law right in the Ukiah Daily Journal.
Regardless about how you feel about marijuana, this is a devastating blow for teachers trying to keep kids off drugs. You really can't understand the atmosphere that these kids are in until you live in the town. The drug and alcohol culture in this town is accepted by the community as something that teens do. In turn, this makes our job as educator that much more difficult, as teens remain focused on getting high after school or on the weekends. Hell, I've had a few students show up to class high, and once again, it is accepted by the community. I've had students wave around medical marijuana cards in class and proclaim, "I'm 18, I'm legal, I have the card, bring me the weed." The consequence for that action? Nothing. They aren't breaking any law!
And Mendocino County and the City of Ukiah continue to promote drug use. As the school continues to get complaints about the graduating Seniors having no drive, not having necessary work skills, not being accepted to top universities, not being able to keep students in the classroom, the town turns its head and creates a law that says "drugs are ok, they have no negative impact, go ahead and go them".
Where is a government crackdown when you need it?

Braves 4 Giants 1

My wife and I nailed down tickets to a Giants game again, and again they disappointed me. This time we drove to Larkspur (right near San Rafael) and took the ferry to the game. For those that understand the transportation system around here, we didn't take the SBC Park Ferry, we took the ferry that went to the San Francisco Ferry Building. It worked out perfect as we got to the game faster, and got home quicker than either driving, or taking the SBC ferry. Sure, the walk from the Ferry Building to the park was about 20 minutes, but its San Francisco on a beautiful day!
The pitching in the game was excellent. Noah Lowery pitched well for the Giants, even though he gave up a 2-run homer to some nobody that was just called up, while John Smoltz was throwing 93 mph gas in the bottom of the 8th inning. Give it up for the vet. All in all, the game was still fun to be at, even though there weren't any "unusual" activies this time (check back a few weeks to see the previous game).

Once again, I highly recommend going to SBC Park to check out a Giants game.

Tell me, Clarice - have the lambs stopped reading the Education Carnival?

The X-Files was the greatest show ever to be on television. When I was about twenty, I saw Silence of Lambs for the first time, and the movie is the ultimate X-File. Although the quotes from this movie are used everywhere, it truly does not do the movie justice until you watch Anthony Hopkins play the brilliant psychopath, Hannibal Lecter. So go ahead, watch this movie with all the lights out in the house. See if it doesn't make you jump a little bit.

But before you resort to cannibalism, go read the Education Carnival!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Black Widows, Wasps, Krashen's Monitor Model, and Why CLAD?/Why not Everyone?

This is what my summer has come down to.
Sigh.
Well, this afternoon I poked my head outside the sweltering (104 today) home and heard a buzzing. Low and behold, wasps have decided to make a home in the roof overhang. In fact, they decided to make many little honeycomb style homes. Let me get one thing straight, I paid out a huge chunk of money for this home. If they wasps don't pay up they get moved out. NO FREE RIDES! So I called my father, who owns a pest control business, and asked him about the best way to nail the wasps. Apparently, the Raid Wasp and Hornet spray is excellent. So off to Home Depot to get the spray, along with a seeder and lawn fertilizer/weed killer, because I can't get the damn crabgrass out of my lawn! So I hit the 12-15 little wasp homes with the raid and it worked like a charm. Wasps dead on contact, honeycomb is vacant. Tomorrow I'll nail down the nests.
Then I walked into the garage to find a huge Black Widow hanging out in the garage door. More raid and a dead spider.
Ahhhh, isn't home ownership great? If you have any other ideas on how to nail wasps or black widows, let me know.

That leaves the worst part of the day; making an essay about Krashen's Monitor Model of Language Acquisition. Now, I know Darren from Right on the Left Coast is probably getting a kick out this, but my god it is painful to write. Here is a ballpark summary of the model:

There are five main points to KrashenÂ’s Creative Construction Theory, also known as the Monitor Model, of SLA. The first point is acquisition versus learning. Krashen makes the argument that information, in this case language, that is acquired is better retained and understood than that which is learned. Language is acquired through use and often time means more than principles that are learned in the traditional sense.
The second point in KrashenÂ’s theory is the monitor hypothesis. Krashen believes that given the right conditions, learners monitor themselves. This hypothesis focuses on the learnersÂ’ use of the correct form when speaking. Proper grammatical forms tend to be learned rather than acquired.
The third component of KrashenÂ’s theory is input, what he calls comprehensible input. This is information that the learner is exposed to that he can understand. The input must be expressed in terms that are understandable to the learner. There must be enough input for the learner and it must consist of various grammatical forms and structures as well as a variety of vocabulary.
Natural Order is the forth part of Krashen’s theory. The idea is that grammatical structures are learned in a certain order within the learner and that you can’t rush the process. A sort of “internal syllabus” is at work. For example, the learner generally learns negation before questions formation, he learns the progressive –ing tense before other verbs tenses, etc. These structures build on each other. It is important to know these things as a teacher when designing instruction because you can’t teach concepts out of order.
The last part of KrashenÂ’s theory pertains to the Affective Filter within the learner. The learner needs to be relaxed, in a positive, nurturing environment for learning to take place. If the learner is uncomfortable, apprehensive or anxious, his affective filter goes up and input stops entering his schema. A teacher needs to make sure that they foster a nurturing, positive and supportive environment for his studentsÂ’ emotional needs to be met and the affective filter to be down.


I don't know about you, but this is simply good teaching that is given a name and needless research support to show that it works. The learners needs a "positive, nurturing environment"? Hey, no kidding? I need to pay two grand and get a piece of paper to tell me something that I already have been doing for five years? But that isn't the most frustrating part of the program. CLAD is focused on English Language Learners, meaning students that use English as a second language. When I told the instuctor of one of my classes that I felt this wasn't preparing teachers to teach to all students that need help with English, I was told that ELL'ers (English Language Learners) need "good teaching plus". When I asked about the 50% of white kids that were in my Intro classes that read at a 3rd-7th grade reading level, the response I got was "those students already have a foundation and support system that migrant students don't have".
Oh really?
Either the instructor is assuming white families are more supportive than Latino families (which is insane, since the whole county is impoverished), or that the high school has more support for white students. Let's see, for poor white students counselors
-Counsulars
-Resource teachers
-Classroom teachers
-Tutors
Latino poor latino students we have the above, plus:

-MAYO
-MESA
-MECHA

Don't tell me the support stuctures are not there. Don't tell me that socially disadvantaged white kids have an advantage simply becuase they are white. And finally, don't tell me that it is more important for one student to know better English than another because it is politically correct. For the record, 80% of my teaching credential classes had to do with teaching subject matter to students that don't know English and theories of language acquisition. You want to know how much time was actually spent on learning how to get all students to read? None. So how about we spend less time on multiculturalism and more time on instructing teachers on how to teach students to read while making their classes a safe and professional environment.
And while your at it, figure out how to kill the damn spiders and wasps!!!

Friday, July 15, 2005

This is me



One of my former students sent me this picture that is in the yearbook this year. It is of me coaching my freshmen this year against Maria Carillio at home. The caption in the yearbook said, "Mr. Silva-Brown directs his team against the Cougers, in his usual polite way." Hey, dammmit, I was being polite :) And we won too!
I actually had a lot of fun with this group of guys this year. They are nice kids with a lot of potential to be good basketball players. The bummer is that only two of them consistantly practice over the summer, which means we will beat crappy teams next year, but we won't be a great squad.

I love to coach. There are people that say that coaching is not teaching, and that is dead wrong. Coaching is the ultimate form of teaching because you are taking a group of kids, making them develop new habits, and then you get to see the result (assesment) right on the court that same week.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing while reading the Education Carnival!

I remember when the American Film Institute rated Atticus Finch as the greatest hero in movie history. That Institute may be very correct. Can any educated person in America not want to be Atticus Finch by the end of this movie? Is there another character more thoughtful and courageous? You will be very hard pressed to find one.
I've been doing homework all damn day! I'm about reading to look at language acquisition questions and respond, "Yes, I know English and so should you. Anything else?" I know, I sound insensitive for English Language Learners, but 12 units of CLAD will make you bitter.

But before you go to work on being the moral fiber that holds the world together, go read the Education Carnival!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Another reason that I'm not Catholic

From LifeSiteNews

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Vatican City
March 7, 2003


Esteemed and dear Ms. Kuby!

Many thanks for your kind letter of February 20th and the informative book which you sent me in the same mail. It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.

I would like to suggest that you write to Mr. Peter Fleedwood, (Pontifical Council of Culture, Piazza S. Calisto 16, I00153 Rome) directly and to send him your book.

Sincere Greetings and Blessings,

+ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger


For those of you who do not recognize good old Cardinal Ratzinger, let me enlighten you. Mr. Ratzinger has a new title, Pope Benedict XVI. However, not to worry ladies and gentlemen, you can have your soul saved! Simply send your $50 indulgence to:

Coach Brown
Ukiah, CA

And God Bless the Catholic Church.

Busy

Sorry for the lack of updates, I've just been real busy lately. This weekend I ended up playing taxi, driving from Ukiah to Marysville to Ukiah on Friday, Ukiah to Willits to Richmond to Ukiah on Saturday, and Ukiah to Cordelia Junction to Santa Rosa to Ukiah on Sunday. I love driving, but it takes a lot of time!
Lately I've been really trying to focus on maintaining the house and drilling at my 30 units. I'm done with 2 units of Web Design in which I tried to create and maintain my webpage. Now I'm doing the following classes online:
-History/Social Science Resources on the Internet
-Active Youth Citizenship
-Summer Prep
-California Representing America
-Introduction to CLAD
-Language Acquisition
-Multiculturalism
-Language Development

and I'll nail 4 units by attending an Economics Conference in San Francisco in August. Anyone else local attending the Economics Standards Conference at Moody's in August?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Tonight I'm thankful that I left the Valley

No, not that "Valley".
I'm talking about the Sacramento Valley. For those of you that are not familiar with California geography, everything north of Sacramento to Red Bluff is the "Sacramento Valley", while everything from Sacramento south to Bakersfield is the "Central Valley".
Got it?
Well, I lived all over the Sacramento Valley after my years at Paradise High School. I lived in Sacramento, Live Oak, Durham and finally, Chico. Today I travelled to the thriving metroplex called Yuba City and Marysville. Actually, the area has made a very strong rebound since being called "The Worst Place to Live in the United States" by Money Magazine in 1995. A year later, the "Worst Place" became Peoria, Illinois (Ha, Ha!). Yuba City was second. Now, Yuba City is becoming a place where Sacramento professionals are coming to live and commute to work. Homes are springing up all over the west side of town! Anyway, I dropped off my wife with her mother in Marysville. You see, her family is having a "ladies only" weekend in Soda Springs at a cabin. Well, it was 5 p.m. in Marysville and still in the mid-90's. Damn, I really hate the heat. I can't believe that I survived the nasty heat that drenched the Sac Valley year after year after year. In Chico it gets worse. The entire city is surrounded by miles of rice fields that are flooded and create massive humidity. Add in the mosquitos in September/October and you have the miserable weather that I left 4 years ago. It will get to around 100 in Ukiah from time to time, but the second that sun drops over the hills, the temperature drops and it is actually very nice outside. For instance, it is actually pretty cold outside right now, as the overcast has rolled in. Thank god I live in Ukiah; you couldn't pay me to move back to the valley.

In other news, my MySpace experiment is continuing. I had one new "friend" add, a former basketball player that will is still a student at the school. Four days later, he eliminated the add. My guess is that his friends found out that he added a teacher and pressured him to remove it. How do I come to that conclusion? I only had about 35-40 views on my site before he added. Since the day he added, I've had over 150. So I'm out there, even though students don't dare and comment.

Hope all of you have a nice weekend.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London, another chapter in the Third World War

I got the call from my mother at 7 this morning. She lives in London.
Apparently, the bomb blast at King's Cross was only about 2 blocks from where she works, and she had taken the London Underground only 15 minutes before the explosions occurred. Thankfully, the first words out of her mouth were;
"Did you hear what happened? Well, I'm ok........."
Her problem was that she was at work, and getting home was going to be tricky. We'll see how everything goes, but at least she's ok.
I can say a lot about the bombings today in London, but the only thing that stands out is how stupid and senseless that this bombing is. I'll go beyond the typical grief about an attack on transportation systems and the disregard for human life, and simply state that this attack was not politically sound. The more attacks that occur in the world against Western powers, the more President Bush's ideas about the War on Terrorism become realistic. Although a tragedy, this attack strengthens the resolve of Europe against terrorism, hopefully to the point that more is done to combat it around the world.
In 2002, I made a statement to my colleagues that I thought the United States was fighting in World War 3. Most of them thought it was nonsense, a few were silent, and I'm still sticking to it. The argument against it is that it is not big enough in terms of involvement and troop size. My response is that warfare has changed, and if you look closely, you will see that battles are being fought against Islamic extremism on 6 continents. Here's a list of attacks from only al-Qaida since 1998. Include this with current American troop deployments, foreign troop deployments (not only Coalition, check out Russia in Chechnya too), and tell me this isn't a worldwide conflict.
-1998 (Aug.): Bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa; 224 killed, including 12 Americans.
-1999 (Dec.): Plot to bomb millennium celebrations in Seattle and Los Angeles foiled when customs agents arrest an Algerian smuggling explosives into the U.S.
-2000 (Oct.): Bombing of the USS Cole in port in Yemen; 17 U.S. sailors killed.
-2001 (Sept.): Destruction of World Trade Center; attack on Pentagon. Total dead 2,992.
-2001 (Dec.): Man tried to denote shoe bomb on flight from Paris to Miami.
-2002 (April): Explosion at historic synagogue in Tunisia left 21 dead, including 14 German tourists.
-2002 (May): Car exploded outside hotel in Karachi, Pakistan, killing 14, including 11 French citizens.
-2002 (June): Bomb exploded outside American consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killing 12.
-2002 (Oct.): Boat crashed into oil tanker off Yemen coast, killing one.
-2002 (Oct.): Nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia, killed 202, mostly Australian citizens.
-2002 (Nov.): Suicide attack on a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, killed 16.
-2003 (May): Suicide bombers killed 34, including 8 Americans, at housing compounds for Westerners in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
-2003 (May): Four bombs killed 33 people targeting Jewish, Spanish, and Belgian sites in Casablanca, Morocco.
-2003 (Aug.): Suicide car-bomb killed 12, injured 150 at Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.
-2003 (Nov.): Explosions rocked a Riyadh, Saudi Arabia housing compound, killing 17.
-2003 (Nov.): Suicide car-bombers simultaneously attacked two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey, killing 25 and injuring hundreds.
-2003 (Nov.): Truck bombs detonated at London bank and British consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, killing 26.
-2004 (March): Ten terrorists bombs exploded almost simultaneously during the morning rush hour in Madrid, Spain, killing 202 and injuring more than 1,400.
-2004 (May): Terrorists attacked Saudi oil company offices in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, killing 22.
-2004 (Sept.): Car bomb outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, killed nine.
-2004 (Dec.): Terrorists enter the U.S. Consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, killing nine (including 4 attackers).
-2005 (July): Four terrorist bombs explode within minutes of each other on subway trains and a bus in London, England, killing 37 and injuring hundreds.

And those that compare this conflict (including the War in Iraq) with Vietnam are simply ignorant or in denial about the situation. Vietnam was a war that was fought on foreign soil, fought very poorly by the commanding military, and fought against a group of people that simply wanted to keep their home. The Vietnamese fought for nationalism. The Islamic extremists fight because they hate the Western way of life. I'm not talking about Islam, I'm talking about the idiots that use the religion to justify a war against Western civilization. We are talking about a group of people that live a life that is considered beyond medieval in terms of social policy and women's rights. We are talking about people that hate Americans more than they love life. We are talking about a group of people whose supposed leader said he would call off the holy war if America got rid of "Gambling, immoral sex, homosexuality, alcohol, women's rights, Jews, and personal freedoms". That sure doesn't sound like a nationalist statement to me. It sounds like a group of people who want to end a way of life, for better or worse.

Look, we can argue about the War in Iraq constantly. Hell, I even believe that Bush entered the conflict all wrong, and then made a huge mistake about the rebuilding of Iraq. However, Iraq is simply on front on a war that is going on around the world. Operations against Muslim extremists stretch from Brazil to Chechnya, from the Philippines to France, from North Africa to Indonesia, and Spain, England, and the United States.

Sure sounds like a World War to me.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

You either surf, fight or read the Education Carnival!

My wife was away for a week when I popped in Apocalypse Now for the first time. There are very few movies that leave me with my mouth wide open in shock and awe. Apocalypse Now is one of those movies. In fact, it continues to astond me every time I see it. Make no mistake about it, this movie is not a history movie about the Vietnam War. It would be better to see this movie as psychologically complex and dark, only using the Vietnam War as a backdrop for the story. I highly recommend the movie for everyone, but prepare for a very powerful and disturbing movie. Watch it and be changed.

But before you witness the horror......the horror.....cheer yourself up by reading the Education Carnival!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Pardon my French.........But FUCK THE NEA.

Out the door with being diplomatic.
Nice to know that I'm a forced member in an organization that is deciding policy for me. Forget the fact that I'm paying dues when I have no choice but to open my wallet, know the National Education Association is deciding that I agree with political practices that they have chosen to back. This is more than enough to get me real pissed. At the wholly undemocratic national convention that was held last week, this is what Politburo decided;

1) That it might be necessary to boycott Gallo wines. (I collect wine, I live in wine country, and this is idiotic).

2) That teachers should be anti-Wal-Mart. (And spend money at some place more expensive. And even if you teach Supply and Demand, lets not practice it).

3) That teachers must support the International Criminal Court. (Nice to see my money going towards bogus foreign policy decisions).

4) That universities not use the SAT, because is discriminates. (They specifically pointed to the writing portion).

5) Teachers should strike against the War in Iraq. (And it is none of the NEA's fucking business how I feel about the war.)

I give money to this organization and all they do is make policy that I don't agree with. Here's what I think, all the local unions need to rise up and refuse to pay the CTA and NEA until total accountability is presented. I mean, come on. Unions are not the government, and the people need to regain control of that entity which was created to provide the worker with "A fair days work at a fair pay."

Screw you CTA and NEA. I'm a teacher and you do not represent me in the slightest.

Reds 11 Giants 10

Well, I got my first taste of SBC Park at China Basin in San Francisco. For those that are thinking about it, I highly recommend the experience of going to a Giants game.
My wife came across three bleacher tickets for almost nothing, so we decided to take in a day at the ballpark. It was an added plus that it was July 4th and the promotional deal was a salute to the military. So we hopped in the car and drove to The City on Monday. The drive down was terrific, only about 90 minutes from my door to the south side of the Golden Gate. To get to SBC, the directions tell you to go along a route that is besides the bay from the Gate to Fort Mason, then it cuts inland and makes a beeline on Bay Street to the Embarcadero near Lombard. Then you drive along the Embarcadero until you hit the park. It was easy in, and easy out as I will explain later.
The park itself is a beauty to behold. Candlestick was a dump to play baseball in, windy, cold and huge. SBC is simply "a yard". The views from all over the park are excellent. The brick architecture gives the venue a classic feel that makes it seem like going to a baseball game is a very special event. Our seats were almost dead center, about 25 rows up in the bleachers. While my wife had to strain to see balls and strikes, I was fine. Both of us had no complaints otherwise, although it was almost impossible to see the Astrovision screen.
The game was a typical Giants game for this season. The G-Men jumped all over the Reds in the first and came away with a 6-1 lead. Kirt Rueter couldn't hold it and eventually it was tied 8-8. LaTroy Hawkins (the bust that we traded good young arms for) gave up a 2 out triple and the Reds took the lead. It got exciting in the ninth as Ken Griffey Jr. misplayed two balls in center field and the Giants cut the score to 11-10 with a man on third. But the Orange and Black didn't finish it up and lost the game. The middle innings were a little slow (both teams have awful pitching), but the game picked up in the 8th when a drunk fan leaped over the center field fence in front of us, did the 'worm', and mooned the crowed. The idiot surrendered quickly and we saw him enter the 'paddywagon' on the way out of the park.
Going to a game in the future? Here are some recommendations:
1. Don't sit in the bleachers. You can't see the Astrovision, and you can't tell who is batting.
2. Don't park in the SBC parking south of the park. It is $25 and a nightmare to get out of. For $20 or lower, and an easy out of SBC, park from Brannon St. north to Lombard and walk. Brannon is about 3 blocks north of the park, $5 less and it is a breeze to slip right onto the Embarcadero to head home. Want to plan way ahead? Park at the Safeway near Fisherman's Wharf, pay $8 parking, and take Muni to SBC.
3. Don't get your garlic fries from the Gilroy Garlic booth. They skimp on the fries! Instead, find a hot dog booth or the Gorden Birsch booth on the main level. They pile'em on!
4. The park is great for kids. Take them around by McCovey Cove, then inside to the Coke Slide. Next, let the little ones play in the small whiffle ball field (complete with jumbotron), finally, let the kids take four balls for $2 to try and 'strike out' a batter (complete with radar gun). I pitched the four and hit the batter twice. The idiot was crowding the plate and he looked like Shawn Green.

In other news, someone visited this blog after Googling 'Mr. Silva-Brown' and 'Coach Silva-Brown', and they read for awhile. Its a good guess that students know that this is here. Oh well, all they will read is what it is like from this side of the desk.