Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Following Bonds

The teachers in our district received a little bit of a raise check at the end of July, and my wife and I decided to spend some of it on the salaries of the San Francisco Giants. We are both Giants fans, and attended the games on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday of last week. We were hoping for Barry to make history, but we weren't really going just to see him do it. We just love going to a good baseball game at a great baseball park.

Here are ten reasons why I think you should go to a Giants game before the summer is out.

10. Ticket prices are much more reasonable than the NBA. I've probably been to my last NBA game, as the costs are insane for bad food and crappy basketball. However, head on over to E-Bay or the Giants Double Play Window for really reasonable prices. When Bonds hit the homer on Friday, we purchased tickets for Saturday online ($50 for aisle bleachers, 11 rows up), and bam you are ready.

9. Print your tickets online and pass all the rookies. While the lines get big, you head to the McCovey Cove entrance and avoid all the crowds.

8. Don't drive to the city. Coming from the North Bay you take the ferry from Larkspur. Coming from the East Bay you take BART. Coming from the South Bay you take Cal-Train. If you are lazy, from BART or the Ferry building you can take MUNI to the park. But why would you? Take the 30 minute walk along the bay and enjoy the day! Then drink at the games, and no worries about driving!

7. Speaking of tickets, sit in the damn bleachers! People that say that bleacher seats at ATT Park are bad are lying. There really are no bad seats, and the bleachers are low on the field. Sections 138-141 are great, and with the new jumbo screen, you can catch all the action. Plus, bleacher fans are much more fun! Oh, yeah, bleachers also mean a quick exit. Head down and out in 3 minutes.

6. What's the matter with Andruw Jones? HE'S A BUM!!!!!!!

5. Boo Armando Benitez, and all the Dodgers. I'm a firm believer that you can boo professional athletes all you want. On Saturday, my wife and I (along with 43,000 others) gave Benitez a long, healthy welcome back to San Francisco. Ask real Giants fans this question, which would have been better to watch; Bonds hits the tying home run ball, or anyone hits the game winner against Benitez. Then enjoy the pause.

4. ATT Park is a sight by itself. When all is said and done, ATT/SBC/PacBell Park will stand along with Wrigley, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway as a baseball shrine. Yes, it will take many, many, many years to get to that point, but eventually it will happen. Take the kids early and build a bear, throw some pitches, or have them play in the "small ballpark".

3. Watch one of the best up and coming pitching staffs. You heard me, the Giants are setting up to have one of the best pitching staffs in the last decade. We are talking the old school Atlanta Braves style line-ups. Noah Lowery, Tim Lincicum and Matt Cain are kids that are contractually locked up for a long time. Now if we can only get an offense.....

2. Have pre or post game snacks at Palomino. The restaurant serves Happy Hour from 4-6 every day with $3 margaritas, mojitos and drafts, while also cutting 50% off appetizers and making their yummy pizzas only $5. We are talking yummy food too, not the typical Happy Hour slop. Palomino between the Ferry Building and the ballpark, next to the Hills Brother's Coffee building.

1. It's baseball! Seriously, if Barry Bonds wasn't a prick to everyone, nobody would care about the steroid issue. What? You think he was the only one that was juicing? Ken Caminetti said that at least 60% of baseball was on roids, and the government has such a jones for Bonds because he's a total jerk. Fine, the hey-day of baseball was the 50's-70's. We can call this the "enhanced" period of the sport, where pretty much everyone was taking something to make them better. Baseball looked the other way, and so did you. Don't tell me that you didn't want the Sammy Sosa/Mark Maguire home run race to happen. Don't tell me that it doesn't thrill you to see Roger Clemens back on the mound throwing heat. You like it, you love it, and what you don't see can't kill you.

Go to a Giants game. You'll be glad that you did.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why so entitled?

About two weeks ago I posted about the Wall Street Journal's new passionate foray into Education regarding students with special needs. It was an interesting perspective on a problem that is usually not addressed by the business community.

However, the question of entitlement with young adults has come up more and more among the leaders in business. Managers are struggling with workers coming up after working for two months and asking for paid vacation time, less hours, and perks that rival executives. Now the Wall Street Journal has had a couple of articles on the entitlement problem with young adults. The results are interesting.

Mr. Rogers spent years telling little creeps that he liked them just
the way they were. He should have been telling them that there was a lot of room
for improvement. Nice as he was, and as good as his intentions may have been, he
did a disservice.

Yep, Mr. Rogers is to blame for the entitlement problem. Ok, maybe not totally, but Jeffrey Zaslow writes that the idea that every kid is special has created a generation of kids that expect everything, from grades to a better paycheck. Instead of a culture of hard work, it created a culture of enabling.
Zaslow then pointed out that parents are too accepting of behaviors and don't teach kids to address elders with respect. "They're just children" is one of the most commonly used phrases by parents trying to excuse a child's behavior. It shouldn't be. Their is a line for acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and parents need to teach their kids where that line is. On a personal editorial, I've heard this about teenagers as well. Parents that can't get ahold of teenage behavior say "they're just being teenagers" as a reason to justify the bad behaviors. The author also discusses the problem of parents not actually talking to each other, and focusing too much of their life on their kids. With more and more parents, life is about the kid. Taking the kid from here to there to there, and back to here, and really never having a relationship on parent terms. All in all, the number one reason of entitlement is that parents are allowing the kids to dictate the terms of the child growing up. Kids are now asked about choices that many of us just dealt with; what would you like for dinner, what do you want to watch tonight, where do you want to go on vacation. Adults and children are not equal, but children think that they are. Students, especially Seniors, will often get this idea that an 18 year old student and a teacher of any age hold the same weight in class. Then parents come in and say that the teacher needs to be more flexible in how they do things because Johnny is an adult now. Ok, Johnny is an adult now. You're fired. How's that for the adult world?

Jeffrey Zaslow goes into other aspects of the entitlement culture that are pretty familiar to us teachers. The idea of the "Consumer Culture" and the acquisition of material goods creating some sort of social status. He uses the example of the MTV show My Super Sweet Sixteen, where the advertisement of a lavish, spoiled lifestyle seems to equal a more acceptable place in one's existence. Add to the mix a new generation that needs everything now, now, now. Shipping needs to be now, communication needs to be now, everything must be now. So you have a spoiled group of "rebellious" teenagers that play directly into the pockets of the corporation, who madly advertise on the MTV's of the world.

Finally this issue of self-esteem, which relates to the beginning of the post. Apparently in 1986, California actually created a task force that focused on getting better self-esteem training for kids in schools. So began the "everyone's a winner" situation that we all dread. Kids would do awful in certain situations and constantly be told that they were doing fine. I find this constantly at the high school level, and it isn't all the parents fault. How can kids get all the way to me (Senior year) and still not understand that doing the work isn't enough? "What do you mean I got an 'F'? I did all the work!" Yeah, but you did it wrong. Then I get the call from the parents talking about flexibility, a call that I had more this year than any other. One parent told me "You have a reputation of being inflexible." I don't quite understand the meaning of the word then, because I am literally open at all times with students. What I find is that parents don't like that I don't accept the same crap they accept, and I feel that self-esteem is built when a student actually accomplishes something. That means that an "A" student needs to do excellent work, or it isn't an "A". That means that when I say that I'm going to drop you from the class after five cuts, I'm going to drop you. That means that "no late work" means "no late work". And for all those parents that think that I'm unfair, let me ask you something.

-If you hand in a project for your manager and it is completely wrong, what will happen?
-If you constantly show up late for work, or call in sick often, what will happen?
-If you show up for the presentation four hours late, what will happen?

And yes, I've thrown out assignments that I don't think I explained well enough. And yes, I allow two free tardies per semester. And yes, I do accept late work with an excused absence. And yes parents, you take advantage of it!

To add on to this self-esteem craze is the MySpaces of the world, in which a kid can glorify themselves to the world in complete independence. On the Internet they can show off, lie about their accomplishments, and get praise from complete strangers that know nothing about them, or worse, are looking to prey on someone just like them.

Like it or not, this generation is the most entitled ever in the United States. Kids have more independence, more money, and more control over their environment than ever. They are also more intelligent than ever, which we often confuse with wisdom. They have the brain to make great choices, we are just giving them too many outs when it comes time to use it.

Bye Pete

Those of you that didn't grow up in the Bay Area, or currently live in the Bay Area, won't have much perspective on this post.

When I stayed with my mother in the summertime, we didn't listen to a whole lot of music. We listened to talk radio. She lived in Sunnyvale, which meant that her radio was in perfect range of the 50,000 watts that was KGO from San Francisco. On the station was a straight-shooter named Pete Wilson. His style was to make you sit up and listen to what he was saying. I also remember watching him on KRON, Channel 4 out of San Francisco, and he eventually became a news icon in the Bay Area. He was still at KGO, and still doing newscasts at KGO-TV, Channel 7 in the Bay when he died of a heart attack during hip replacement surgery a few days ago.

Some might be saying "who cares?" It's just one of those things that remind you of your childhood, and maybe one of those connections towards becoming a more educated human being. I enjoyed the news, I enjoyed the discussion, and I enjoyed the fact that I seemed to have a pretty good grasp of what was going on in the world at such a young age. Don't you ever get a tad sentimental? I remember sitting at my grandmother's house as a young kid, like elementary school age, watching Pete Wilson and Gary Radnich on KRON (the latter is still doing sports, and is still excellent), and then watching Dan Rather do the CBS Evening News (before they tried the Connie Chung experiment).
My heart goes out to Wilson's family, and I hope that they know that he made weekday afternoons pretty interesting.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Another "card" being played.

Let me get this straight.

Derrick Ross, who is a quadriplegic, attended a birthday party with his wife and 6 year old nephew at Basketball Town in Sacramento. Apparently the party was upstairs, and the two story building has no wheelchair access to the second level. Being angry that the family had the party upstairs, and that he felt humiliated because he couldn't join, he's now suing Basketball Town for not being in compliance of Federal ADA (American's with Disabilities Act) statutes.......even though Sacramento County saw the building as up-to-code when it was built in 2000. Ross is seeking unspecified damages and that the building be put up to code, even though it looks like the building is already up to code.

I'm a huge fan of Basketball Town because I've watched the building become a mecca for hoops in the Sacramento Valley. Thousands of kids have benefited from workouts, training, AAU, and other sports leagues. And now a bitter man wants to take it away. The man mentioned that if the establishment put in a lift, then they would "be happy to talk about a settlement".

Settlement? I'm curious. Did it even occur to the guy to take the complaint to the family that decided to have the party upstairs, when there are the same type of facilities downstairs? Of course not. This guy is an idiot. He's looking to take out some aggression on a legitimate business that does a whole lot of good for kids.

My hope is that this passes quickly and Mr. Ross is exposed for the fraud that he his. I'm only hoping that the evidence is clear that the building is to code, and then the judge can tell Derrick to piss off. Worst case is that because this guy is in a wheelchair, a refuge is going to close down, shutting it's doors to thousands of kids.

Put your deck away Mr. Ross.

Thanks to the Sacramento Bee.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I've been tagged by Polski (check the blogroll) with a meme, and I haven't done one in awhile, so what the hell.

Four Jobs I’ve Had

1. Teaching: Obviously the single greatest job I've ever had, and one in which I will happily do forever. I can't be for sure that it will be at this level however. I've been to a few conferences that make me desire teaching kids at a higher level.
2. Ice delivery: In Sacramento I worked for Mid-Valley Ice, and drove a truck around to different businesses who begged for the frozen water when their machines broke down. I was "comped" a ton of stuff and the job was a blast!
3. Parking cars: I parked cars for snotty doctors at San Juan Hospital in Sacramento. The job was ok, the hours were shit and the people I worked for were idiots that thought that parking cars was better than sex.
4. Office assistant: Yes folks, I was worked in a dentist office in a little town called Durham. It was simple work, but the conversation was excellent, the staff was great, and I know enough about teeth to keep mine intact!
5. Security guard: When I was scrounging for any money I could, I worked at night with a security outfit. Get this, I sat in my car overnight at an orchard and airfield in the middle of the Sacramento Valley. After harvest, people often had the harvested items stolen. It was easy money and allowed me time to get homework done.

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over

1. The Empire Strikes Back
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
4. Do the Right Thing

Four Places I’ve Lived

1. Ukiah
2. Chico
3. Sacramento
4. Paradise

Four Books I Love

1. Test of the Twins by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman. The final book of the Legends portion of the Dragonlance Series has Raistlin Majere seeking to become a God, and at the same time all the other characters, including the villains, do some growing up.
2. The Boomer Bible by R.F. Laird. My kind of historical, sociological, and political comedy. Offends just about everyone while doing so in interesting prose.
3. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. The greatest techno-thriller of all time, and a great book for anyone that really wants to be introduced to Jack Ryan and the Tom Clancy books.
4. The Stand by Stephen King. Excellent book about the end of the world, and the magical fight that appears after it.

Four Places I’ve Vacationed:

1. New York City. I was there recently and I love it. I will be back soon.
2. Washington D.C. Another one of my favorite cities whose culture goes above and beyond the simple museums.
3. Lake Tahoe/Truckee. I love good wilderness, and if you take your time and look around, you can escape the snotty crowds.
4. San Francisco. Fine, it's only two hours away. However, small vacations are just as important as the long ones.

Four of My Favorite Dishes:

1. A good steak
2. Chips and salsa
3. Angel Hair with almost any red sauce
4. New England Clam Chowder

Four Sites I Visit Daily:

1. The blogs listed on the right.
2. San Francisco Chronicle at SFGate.com
3. Aint it Cool News
4. Drudge Report

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:

1. Munich, Germany
2. New York City
3. A lodge, somewhere in the far mountains, with Wi-Fi.
4. In bed.

I tag no one in particular.

Shitty professional development and $6.50 movie tickets

I officially began my summer about three days ago. I don't have any conferences or visits that I must attend, so I'm beginning to have my time off. Of course, I'm doing professional development on my time off, meaning I'm taking shitty classes from the University of La Verne, a credit factory that is meant to have teachers basically buy units. The two classes sounded interesting, and have ended up tedious. I took an Art History class about Van Gogh, except that the book we have seems to demand that you already understand the concepts of art, which I don't. The second class is a study of Modern Terrorism, which is just a huge collection of essays I have to read on terrorism and fill out a packet of answers. Van Gogh's packet of answers is 52 questions. Terrorism's is 100. Terrorism had a PBS video about Bin Laden that also had 32 questions that might be around 8th grade level. Then the essays I have to write. Van Gogh's involve creating a 4 page modern conversation with the artist, and then an explanation on why his paints are valued so highly. The Terrorism essay is something about my opinion on how likely another terrorist attack will be. I could pump out the essays in a night, but the packet questions are just so damn tedious. I'm dumping any packet work I ever gave kids into a dumpster and lighting it on fire. It is seriously the worst crap. However, at the end of the summer, I'll be all the way over on the pay scale.

I've also been to more movies than usual as of late. Up in Seattle I used a couple of freebies to see Die Hard 4 and Ocean's 13, both good summer fun movies. Then I saw Transformers by myself (I grew up with them), and my wife and I watched Harry Potter yesterday. I really can't believe that a matinee price for a movie ticket is is now $6.50 here in Ukiah. My wife and I were pretty appalled at the realization that going to see a decent movie is now a full $30 proposition if you include snacks. What happened to the good old $1 movies? Those in Sacramento have to remember Birdcage Cinema. The days of the $1 film, that were only a few weeks old and still fresh in the minds of the Sac Town natives. I can remember going to the walk almost every Friday and Saturday nights for a show. Hell, I saw Pulp Fiction there. I remember it so well because I didn't want to see it after my fellow students kept saying it was an "artsy, independent" movie. Then my then girlfriend said, "You haven't seen Pulp Fiction yet??? Oh my God, we are going now and you will love it. You will so love it." I did.

Alas the days of the Birdcage and cheap movies are gone, and the studio is using the excuse that Americans always go to films, even during times of the Depression, as a reason to jack up ticket prices. Bummer.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Don't bother hiking in Mendocino County

I'll take and give credit to KC Meadows from the Ukiah Daily Journal, who has finally created an article that makes sense.
How bad is the marijuana problem here? I'll let Meadows' Op-Ed do the talking.

As sad a comment as it is on the state of the illegal pot growing industry in this county, we hope local residents will heed the warning of our national forest rangers to beware the forests this summer.
As they have had to do in the past few years, the rangers at the Mendocino National Forest have issued an advisory to anyone camping or hiking in the national forests not to ignore signs
of pot gardens. They can be dangerous.
Rangers warn not to enter a pot garden, don't go exploring in one and certainly don't try to find the growers or interfere with their operation. The only thing to do is leave the area immediately and call law enforcement. People have been killed in the forests just for stumbling across marijuana gardens. Usually, gardens grown in remote areas of the forest are large and very valuable in street drug cash. The people
growing them are dangerous criminals and probably well armed. They likely won't hestitate to shoot you.
Even rangers don't go into certain areas of the forest when there's an alert of a marijuana-related killing.
Local law enforcement has eradicated more than 46,000 illegal pot plants so far this year. But any law enforcement officer will tell you that's just the tip of the iceberg in this profitable illegal industry.
So if you're in the national forest this summer watch out for: isolated tents or trailers where no recreational activities are located, a pattern of auto or truck traffic or cars and trucks parked in isolated areas on a regular basis, unusual structures and signs of gardening - buckets, fertilizers, garden tools etc. These could mean a marijuana garden nearby.
If you think you've seen one, walk away and call the Mendocino National Forest rangers at 530-934-3316.

Sad, but true. You must be on the look out if you camp or hike.

Friday, July 13, 2007

This definately warrents a lawsuit

Wycoda Fischer, a freshman in high school, tried out for the Yorktown High School junior varsity cheerleading team and didn't cut the mustard. She complained to no avail. Her parents complained, again to no avail. What happened next was the last, reasonable recourse for poor Wycoda.


Yes it's that time again folks, when parents feel that it is necessary to bring an already overloaded judicial system into the ranks of extra-curricular activities! According to the Victoria Advocate, some cheerleading coach made an exception for one player (accidentally or not), and not Ms. Fischer. The exception strictly went against the "high school cheerleader's constitution", which Wycoda's family must be using as legal precedent.

I'm really trying to imagine my reaction to my daughter not making the cheerleading squad, and lawsuits don't exactly come to mind. In fact, I'd summon up past experience. I got cut from the Junior Varsity baseball team my sophomore year in high school. You know what I did?

I went and played basketball. Hey Wycoda, check out something else.

Ken Burns gets pushed around

Morgan Freeman had a conversation with Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes.

How can we get rid of racism?

"Stop talking about it. I'm going to stop calling you a white man," Freeman says to Wallace. "And I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You wouldn't say, 'Well, I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.' You know what I'm sayin?"

I love Morgan Freeman. I love the fact that he is a powerful actor, and a powerful person. If we actually lived by this quote, the world would be a better place. Period.

That might explain why the world in it's current form, sucks.

It is a sure sign of the Apocalypse when Ken Burns, one of the greatest documentary film makers of our time, has to re-edit his film, The War, because he doesn't have enough Latino representation.

Yes, I'm really not kidding.

The War is a documentary about World War 2 that is slated for a late September release on PBS. PBS, Burns, and a bunch of Latino advocate lawyers met and worked on an agreement to add sections on the film that portray the plight of the Latino soldier. Oh, and it had to be Burns that did the research and edit too, because God knows that documentarian Ken Burns has a history of slighting minorities and must pay penance for his sins. And get this, the Latino groups are still not satisfied because they actually want entire film re-edited from the beginning. With all that primary source information, all that musical score, all those voice overs.....it's just plain disgusting.

Ken Burns' actions of backing down set two disturbing precedents. First, it continues to show that race is becoming a trump card that is used by special interest groups looking for some play. World War 2 isn't about certain groups of people that fought in the war, it's about the Americans that fought in the war. That would include all nationalities and all colors. Mention the harsh conditions, the discrimination, and the valor of minority soldiers, but this focus on specific groups becomes the equivalent of a sixth grade classroom; you had to help out one person, now you need to address the others who say "gimmie". The issue doesn't become about America, it becomes about factions that want something else. Malcolm isn't Black History, Chavez isn't Latino History, and Stanton isn't Women's History. It's all American History.

The second bad precedent is addressed well by Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Here's PBS' most important filmmaker, signed to a long-term exclusive deal, whose vision this time (and next?) could be altered by another group's "interest and enthusiasm."

Damn right we should question PBS, and Paula Kerger, the CEO of that once proud network. Does this mean that every time an artist wants to paint a portrayal of society that said artist must get permission from every person on the street with an agenda?

We are settling in weird territory, again (Imus), and this issue of race being waived around as the final domino needs to stop.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Special Education stories from an odd source

There are many places in the media where you can find a multitude of stories regarding Special Education. Some sources are just dying to find that story of a school teacher who loses it with a kid, or that story of a nutcase parent that wants horse-drawn-aqua-therapy, or some damn thing, as "stated in the kid's IEP".
However, the last place I'd expect to find articles on Special Education has started to release a flurry of stories about impact of Special Ed on Education system as a whole.
That source?
The Wall Street Journal.
In mid-June, the Journal released an article that describing the challenges that teachers were facing in classrooms in regards to mainstreaming. The point of the piece was that schools were placing students into General Ed classrooms, but not giving teachers the support they needed. It also brought up the question of what a teacher is supposed to do with an out of control student. In this case, the teacher left the district.
Earlier this week, the WSJ posted an article that talked again about an out of control student, but this time looked at schools using physical restraint and "time-out" rooms for discipline. The article was less than complementary to the schools, and rightfully so with the examples they used. Having had some experience with very difficult students, I can say that physical restraint is usually the very last resort, and I mean last resort, that should be used on a student. At the same time, you can't let a student literally destroy a classroom around your ears.
Anyone care to guess why the Wall Street Journal has a sudden interest in Special Education? Education related stories are usually Economics based or the common prattle about charter schools. Interesting change of pace.
Speaking about Special Education, I'm at a conference where many teachers are of the same opinion; Special Education is massively expensive, the government does not fund the laws it enacts, and way to many students are being diagnosed as Special Education. We all feel that Second Language Learners, poorly performing students, and students who are major troublemakers are often inappropriately labeled "Special Ed", and then present all kinds of difficulties because of the imfamous IEP.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Fine, we are all adults anyway. And I teach Seniors who are 17 and older.

A real Live Earth assessment

First of all, Live Earth, like most of these symbolic, egotistical exercises in "civic responsibility", is a joke. Some dumb ass promoter rang the bell of Al Gore, pulling him away from the Big Mac, and got him to commit to some huge Farm Aid/Live Aid/Aid for Whomever Looks Impoverished style concert that will bring a lot of young people to concert venues to become more environmentally aware........or to get drunk, get high, and flash Sting their boobs. Of course, most of these singers are nowhere near the stage of even Bono in International awareness of anything, and are out to promote themselves. You think that these artists really give a shit about the environment? Try taking some almighty dollars away from them and then ask them to perform. Go to these artists' concerts, homes, tour buses, or luxury jets, and then tell me they give half a care about global warming.

However, some good bands were live so my wife Tivo'ed the sucker, and we watched it over three hours using a lot of fast forward. Here are the highlights:

Genesis: Phil Collins looks like he's living the good life and he sounded excellent.

Black Eyed Peas: Hey look, Fergie is back with the group. Fast forward.

Duran Duran: Sweet! Girls on Film! All together now; Girls on Film!

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Kalifornication is good, but I wish the network showed some old school. Anthony Keidus hardly looks like he aged.

Metallica: Enter Sandman is great, but James sounds ragged and old.

Beastie Boys: Still fucking rock! Even in their forties!

Pussycat Dolls: Um......Uh........Spice Girls dressed like Sin City hoes? Fast Forward.

Foo Fighters: Fast Forward

Madonna: The best act of the night! This lady still rocks the house! I may have to see her on
tour before she goes off into the virgin moonlight.

Fall Out Boy: Who? Fast Forward.

Melissa Ethridge: God. Get out. Fast Forward. Not fast enough.

Akon: Who? Fast Forward.

John Mayer: Sounded pretty good. Went on long, but sounded good.

Alicia Keys: Nice voice, but stick with the jazzy tunes. Leave the pop to Beyonce.

Dave Matthews Band: Ahhh classic. Nice interlude in a show full of crap, like the next artist.

Kayne West: Who in the hell is this guy? Seriously, all I hear is "UH" and "Yeeeeeeaaaaahhhhhhhh", and "Get yo hands up". Old school fo eva!

Kelly Clarkson: She can seriously sing, but her stage presence is terrible. She acts like a 16 year old kid on stage, a complete ditz. Both my wife and I notice that you could probably show the new Harry Potter film on her ass.

Bon Jovi: Fast forward to Dead or Alive and Living on a Prayer. My wife and I rehash high
school days and thank God we never met each other back then.

Smashing Pumpkins: Ew. This guy looks like he needs to get back to Folsom. Fast Forward.

Roger Waters: From Pink Floyd? My wife and I watch him with kids on the stage, singing from The Wall. We also see the floating pig. Something is not right. Roger Waters singing Pink Floyd makes you think of psychedelic beats, acid, and shrooms, not little kids singing on the stage.

The Police: Ok, Sting rules, let's get that straight. Rooooooooooxxxxxxxxxxxannnnnnnnnneeeeee. Yes, the band was in full effect and the songs were excellent. Even John Mayer came out and strummed along. Then came Kayne West. What the fuck????? He's singing Message in a Bottle????????????????? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fast

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood: Boy, they are married. Fast Forward.

Wolfmother: Who? Fast Forward.

Crowded House: Ahhhhhhh, an oldy and a goody. Pleasant music.

UB40: Red, Red Wine................nope, not in the mood. Fast Forward.

Joss Stone: Get out. Fast Forward.

Rihanna: You stole from Tainted Love, and therefore, you should be executed. Fast Forward.

Shakira: Um, she moves her.....um......wow.......uh.........Spanish something or other....um...

Lenny Kravitz: This man can play a guitar!

Nunatak: Hey, they're in Antarctica! Fast Forward.

And you had the presenters, the best of which was Chris Rock, who played to his strengths. The worst of which was Al Gore, who is now on my list of media whores that include the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Sean Penn, and Rush Limbaugh. He needs to "go away" more than any human on the planet.

How effective was the concert? How about quoting Chris Rock?

"I think that this event will do for global warming what Live Aid
did to end the global hunger problem."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The 2006-2007 Television Season Review

Yes, it is time to review the best and the worst of the TV world. Those that read this blog know that I'm a sucker for good television, and I frown upon those that condemn the magic box as a tool of Satan. Everything in moderation, I say, especially if you have Tivo (the single greatest invention in the history of the world).

Here's a little review of the shows I was looking forward to, as stated in a September post:

Imus in the Morning:
As we already know, the whole idiotic Rutger "Nappy Headed Hoe" remark, including how that media bitch Al Sharpton took total advantage of a camera in his face, made the heads of CBS and NBC lose their spine while pissing on the 1st Amendment. Apology, fighting for racial equality, and philanthropy didn't really matter in the eyes of Rainbow Jessee and the rest of the agenda driven assholes, they just wanted a media minute. They had it, and now it looks like the backfire has succeeded in putting the I-Man back in the radio chair. I listened to WFAN's Imus tribute and got a whiff, then read the excellent news in the New York Post. Guess what? Biting humor and intelligent conversation are going to win out. August can't get here soon enough. But for those that can't wait, here is a little "Cardinal Egan" for you. WARNING!! IT WILL OFFEND YOU!! Do your duty as an American, and f-ing ignore it and never visit this blog again if it is that bad. It is your right.

The Newshour with Jim Leher and Frontline/Frontline World:

The Newshour is as good as always, although I'll never look at Gwen Ifill the same after her bitching and moaning about Imus. Frontline was ok this season, with some of the best episodes focusing on Politics and the Environment (including how Al Gore totally screwed the U.S. at Kyoto), Retirement, Domestic Spying, and an excellent look at media in America. Frontline World was even better, with short stories from all around the world, including a neat diddy on Islamic comic books.

60 Minutes:

I know, Iraq is important. But come on, almost every week? It is a news magazine, that can go ahead and find more interesting stories. I'm not diminishing the war, I'm looking for information around the world. The interview with that little nut Ahmadinejad was pretty good.


After a slow start being at the mercy of the Others, the show kicked into major super gear with some explanations of who the Others were, how they got here, and the serious issues with Ben Linus. The last few episodes were some of the best of the series, and you are starting to get that feeling that the show is now headed towards some conclusion. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of questions that still remain, but they are the kind that continue to fill the stomach of a true fan in ways that remind me of the X-Files ten years ago. Who could forget the finale?

"I am sick of lying!"

The show is legs, and it is continuing to roll.

Gilmore Girls:

We didn't get the sense of closure. We didn't get the fun back, we didn't get the whitty banter, and we didn't really ever get Luke and Lorelai back together like we wanted. What we got was a horse that needed to be shot about a season and a half ago. The season was too serious, with constant relationship tears, heart attacks, and agonizing life choices that made the show painful to watch. The new writers also managed to make the show's characters do a lot of settling for things. Chris disappears again? Lane is now a housewife???? Please. What is disappointment. Entertainment Weekly said it best, "Come on, you know you watch out of habit".

The Amazing Race:

Well, I still find it interesting, even though the most boring group won the race. It is only going for one more season, and that's probably in January. I'll be happy with one more run and then it should go away.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip:

Ok, at first I was, "How the hell can this be cancelled???". Then at the end of the last four episodes I had a clear understanding of why NBC didn't want to shell out for another Sorkin romp. Yes, the show was smart and well cast. Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry were great. So was Amanda Peet. But the show became depressing, political, and worst of all, un-interesting. So many jokes were inside jokes for West Wing fans or simply jokes that not even Gilmore Girls pop culture fans would really get (Juliette Lewis impersonations are not funny). In the end, I would probably watch this again next season if it were around, but it isn't, and I'm not that broken up about it.

Watched the first two full episodes, then watched the next four with serious Tivo fast forward going, then I dropped it altogether. The characters began to annoy me and the story was less intriguing and more "look at all the problems with the small town"ish. I was looking for back story on a nuclear disaster and was greeted with some half-baked covert ops situation that sort of worked. Huh? The show was cancelled, and then a rabid fan campaign got CBS to renew it for a half helping of episodes that start next year. I may take a peek, but probably not. Too much that is already good.

The Nine:

My wife and I were so excited about this potential knock-off of Lost. A bank robbery that goes terribly wrong, and creates the backdrop for what happened during the 52-hour standoff. The problem was that the story went nowhere and left TV viewers horribly let down. Mysteries didn't connect and often seemed to have nothing to do with the main part of the story. ABC cancelled the show last year, half way through the season. However, it looks like ABC will air the remaining episodes starting August 1. I'll be there for the short term, however I don't expect a very good pay-off.

Doctor Who:
Fine, call it a guilty pleasure. This season found the departure of the hotter-than-hell Billie Piper, who ended being one of the better companions that the Doctor has ever had. The episodes themselves ranged from downright campy, to outright fantastic. A Queen Victoria/Werewolf story was fun, a visit to a planet where Satan might have resided was actually quite frightening, and bringing back Sarah Jane Smith (a companion from the mid- 1970's) for an episode was classic. The concept of Torchwood, a secret government operation, was interesting. David Tennant is an excellent Doctor Who, probably second only to Tom Baker. I'll continue to watch. Sue me.

Battlestar Galactica:

Still the best show on television. The season started with the brutal portrayal of the current situation in Iraq, as the survivors had been taken over by the Cylons on New Caprica. The escape only brings us to the quarter point of the season, as questions arise about the "Final Five" Cylons, the location of Earth, and real intentions of Gaius Balter. The season ender was a little weak, but the questions that it left were excellent, and with the announcement that next season will be the last, I am totally hooked.

My second favorite show is simply The X-Men in modern form. I was afraid that it would be some sad attempt to create a corny version of the comic masterpiece. Instead, the show has become one of the top sci-fi shows in U.S. history. The second I saw Sylar cut open a skull, I knew this was going to be cool. Of course one of the most famous taglines, "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World!" helped in gaining my interest. The finale was a little weak, but the characters are very strong, especially Horn Rimmed Glasses, a man that came close to Cigarette Smoking Man in terms of mystery. Next season looks good, count me in!

What's on tap for the summer?

Top Chef, Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares (got a cooking thing going), new season of Doctor Who, and a healthy dose of another excellent show, Rescue Me.
Did I mention that I love TIVO!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part Three "What were things that Mr. Silva-Brown did well?" 2007 edition

And finally, we end on a good note. These are all the things, word for word, that the students thought that I did well.

-We didn't just read from the text, we did projects and the lectures made sense (I had a master teacher who was great, but refused to lecture. I've also ran into teachers that think that lecturing is the single worst way to give out information. I disagree. Lectures that are discussions work well. And kids often want the information right in front of them)
-Explaining terms.
-Be as available as possible to help.
-Public speaking.
-Good tests.
-Power Points
-Make learning easy, good jokes.
-Like Jeopardy (our method of test review).
-Your enthusiasm, use of technology, lectures, humor, loud voice that woke me up.
-Well organized, mixed humor and work.
-Liked the examples you used and references, really liked Zinnia (a labor/management simulation that I 'borrowed' from a college professor)
-Taught well and made us feel comfortable
-Got point across
-Leave in Stock Market Project and Econ Expo.
-Power Points, fun projects, make himself available
-Well organized, explained good, got to the point.
-Lots of information
-Make me laugh. Loud voice woke me up.
-Very knowledgable, made class fun
-Website, able to be contacted, explained things well
-News, Jeopardy, Power Points, Notes
-Enthusiastic, lectures were fun
-Fun and interesting projects
-Everything (everything?)
-Sweat (hey, I'm working here!)
-He let you think and talk about it
-Power Points and Jeopardy
-Tests weren't tricky, they were from the notes
-Kept me awake, good lectures, news
-Easy to learn from
-Taught us a lot
-Made a difficult subject fun
-Keeps things interesting, wouldn't let you sleep
-thought (?)
-Informative lectures, I learned a ton
-teaching and notes
-Got us to talk about the topics outside of class (YES!)
-notes, and making sure we understood the notes, news
-got his message across
-The notes were what was on the test
-Notes, website, availability
-Projects, explaining things, showing examples
-Kept things interesting, good examples
-Kept class under control, knew what he was talking about, hiding his political preference
-Made class fun
-News, lectures, Jeopardy
-Explained well
-Understood projects
-Well organized
-You didn't take shit
-Kept attention
-Very good
-Knows how to be loud, explains well
-Made class and projects fun
-Most things
-Taught good
-Teaching, relates to students, knowledge of subject
-Charisma, you could tell that you loved what you were teaching
-Waking you up, daily agenda
-Interesting subjects, technology, stayed away from busy work
-Keeping our attention, allowing debate and discussion
-Teaching, talking, technology
-Confidence, class control, humor, knowledge, no opinions
-Being with the class
-News, Jeopardy, website
-Your fucking cool
-wore ties
-Broke everything down and explained it well
-Brought different ideas
-Gave different instructions
-Turning on the TV
-Booming voice, class activities, looked good in a toga (Yeah I do)
-Well talked about topics
-Kept my attention
-Stock Market Project
-Good teacher
-Teaching about Iraq
-Good explanations
-Kept us awake and taught well
-Made Econ fun
-Able to joke around
-I understood
-Always knew what he was doing
-Fun discussions
-Made me understand things
-I payed attention and understood
-Talked about things, took people's phone
-Teach the class
-Very organized
-Explained well and helped with work
-Relating teaching and the teenage attitude
-Well organized
-Talked and taught
-Kept class in order
-Explaining subjects
-Explained stuff and fair assignments
-Giving notes
-Went over notes and power points until we got them
-He was funny
-Organized homework
-Made sure everyone understood

There you go.

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part Two "What recommendations would you give Mr. Silva-Brown" 2007 edition

Here are all my recommendations, to the letter, from my Seniors. I'm leaving none out, however some students did not fill out every category, which is why the numbers will not be the same. My comments are in parentheses.

-Let people get done taking notes, then explain them.
-There are none.
-Keep up the good work.
-Look at people better if you think they are sleeping. (I nailed a couple of kids this year that I thought were sleeping, but were just "resting their eyes")
-Don't change! You're great!
-Don't be so demanding.
-Don't talk so loud
-Don't be so annoying.
-Don't be so strict on your rules and grading. It's really overrated. (Think that's overrated? Try failing.)
-Less Star Wars.
-Keep it up.
-Keep up the good work.
-Don't grade so harsh.
-Kids need to make up work because of family.
-Practice more at basketball.
-Nuthin, you are pretty good.
-Liten up, you should be able to turn things in late.
-Go easy on next year's students. They're only kids.
-Show more movies.
-Have better attendance
-Be more relaxed on cell phones and cd players. (Wrong, and I'm going to be worse this year.)
-Use squirt bottles on eye resters.
-More games to study for tests
-Relax and don't be so uptight about assignments.
-Take it easy on the work and allow late work.
-Explain things more in depth
-Take singing lessons (bah, you're jealous)
-Be less Bill O'Reilly like (this was from a liberal elitist that if you didn't want to argue about hating George Bush, you must be Bill O'Reilly)
-Take better care of your web page.
-Be nice
-Don't sing
-Be nice
-Save economics for Economics classes during Senior year (this must have been from an International Studies student)
-Calm down (No)
-Keep it fun, and spend more time on Globalization
-More time for certain assignments
-Keep the level of the class high.
-Listen more, be open to new ideas
-Cut down on meaningless discussions, but keep the meanginful discussions going (I understand this comment, going back to the Bill O'Reilly guy. Some discussions went on too long and took away from the class)
-I enjoyed the debates. Do more of them.
-Assignment values
-Keep website updated
-Allow us to eat in class
-Make essay prompts easier to understand (I'm available all over the place for questions)
-Lighten up. You're too loud and can be a jerk.
-Sometimes you can be a little immatue with your jokes. It doesn't bother me, but it might bother others.
-Don't shave your gotee
-Have way more rough drafts for Econ Expo
-Put notes online
-Listen to entire question or statement before you start yelling.
-Don't be so vague
-Try to remember what you taught the class.
-Remove annoying students from class and focus on students with bad grades.
-Be more understanding
-More help with Econ Expo
-More rough drafts for Econ Expo
-Make harder tests
-Be more lenient
-Choose between Econ Expo and the Final. I liked Econ Expo, but felt that the only thing I learned was the stress in starting a business.
-Let people listen to iPods
-Role playing assingments are unneccessary
-Update the website faster
-Answer questions nicely
-Have a quieter voice
-Be more lenient
-Better explaination of Stock Market Project and Econ Expo
-Don't waste time goofing off with students during class.
-Sing less
-Less quizzes
-Knock off the arrogance, and don't be so hard
-Find and alternative to notes
-Don't do Econ Expo
-Add more detail to Econ Expo
-Be nicer to the poor freshmen.
-Don't be so hard on students, and be there for them.
-Lower your voice
-Don't be vague
-Lower your voice, and stop laughing
-Don't talk so loud
-Explain Elasticity better.
-More on changes in supply and demand before you hand out homework.
-Pass back work, most students forgot that it was in the back. (Most work goes into bins in the back. 90% of students won't touch it, why waste my time? I hand back notes, essays and tests)
-More time for assignments
-Be fair for homework on the Senior Trip (I didn't approve of it, plan it, or agree with it. Drop it and be done.)
-No idea
-Good to go
-I honestly have none
-Improve the website. List absences on the website. (Too much of my time)
-Nothing really. Everyone learns and has fun.
-Keep doing what you are doing
-Allow late work
-Shorter Final
-Chill, loosin up.
-Make quizzes worth less.
-Make essays worth more.
-Read more material that is relevent
-Be fair. Warn kids about the late policy.
-Less group projects.
-More space between Econ Expo and Stock Project
-This is not an AP class. You should not have Stock Project and Econ Expo in the same semester.

And there you have the student recommendations.

Mr. Silva-Brown's Report Card, Part One "Ratings Game", 2007 edition

Like last year, it is time to check out the reviews of Mr. Silva-Brown, live and uncut.

I present to you, part one of a three part series that looks at the "graded" Mr. Silva-Brown. At the end of each year I give out a report card with about 15 questions about my performance during the year.
The questions are:
-One a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being excellent), rate Mr. Silva-Brown's teaching this semester.
-Was I well organized?
-Did you understand what was going on?
-Do you think I have improved since September?
-Did you feel safe?
-Were students treated equally with respect?
-Describe your overall experiance in the class
-What did I do well?
-What recommendations can you give?
-Give one piece of advice for next years students.

Today, I'll give you the numbers rating. The rating is first, followed by how many students rated me at that level.

Here it is:

Ten- 19
Nine- 33
Eight- 35
Seven- 16
Six- 3
Five- 2

My average is an 8.9, a B+. Up from an 8.3 a year ago.

Take a hit on this, bro! Then pass it on!

Joseph Frederick's banner, BONG HITS FOR JESUS, is not protected speech at a public school event. Wow, what a surprise.

Actually, when you read the Supreme Court opinion, you find quite a few surprises, some pleasant and others scary. For those not in the know, young Joseph unfurled a banner that said BONG HITS FOR JESUS during the running of the Olympic torch in Juneau, Alaska. The event was a school sponsored event, and the principal demanded that he take it down. He refused, and was suspended for ten days. Frederick sued on the bases that the banner was protected under the First Amendment, and demanded damages from the principal.

Amazingly, the court went 5-4 against the student, upholding the schools right to decide what is and is not acceptable. The court stated that schools have the right to restrict Free Speech when it comes to promoting illegal drugs because it is counter to the duty of teacher trying to keep the overall group safe, and to promote them an education. I'm still trying to figure out the reason to go in dissent on this opinion. In fact, I'm dumbfounded at the dissent period. Reasons used:

1. It erodes the First Amendment.

Except that it clearly does not. Two cases were mentioned a lot. Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeir, which clearly states that schools can suppress speech at school related activities, and Tinker vs. Des Moines, which is the political speech protection for students. First of all, it is a school event, and the court even stated that this speech is protected if it isn't at a school event. Second, the question is whether or not this is free speech. I think that it is clear that this isn't a logical discussion of legalization, it is a blatant message (no matter how dumb) to promote drug use. No political speech here. Students do not have the same protected speech as adults outside the school.

2. The banner was a stupid prank with no message.

Tell that to the principal that needs to make a split second decision that could impact students, her job, parent support, the community, and if television cameras are present, the reputation of the people of Juneau. Was it stupid? Of course. Was it trying to promote something outright? Regardless of the borderline nature, don't we side with the principal? You think we should side with an 18 year old pot head who is a Senior in high school?

3. We shouldn't be so hard on drugs anyway. The drug war is questionable.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is Constitutional law at it's best!

Darren over at Right/Left (check the Roll) made a reference to Clarence Thomas' opinion to this case. Now, don't start spouting off that I'm partisan until you read the quote. Hell, I just read Thomas' opinion today regarding the Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld case, and I'm pretty sure someone needs to take Clarence down to Gitmo and show him a good waterboarding. It was terrible. But when it comes to education, Justice Thomas has the right idea.
Here, he discusses the idea of in loco parentis.

“One of the most sacred duties of parents, is to train up and qualify their children, for becoming useful and virtuous members of society; this duty cannot be effectually performed without the ability to command obedience, to control stubbornness, to quicken diligence,
and to reform bad habits . . . . The teacher is the substitute of the parent; . . . and in the exercise of these delegated duties, is invested with his power.”

I think that this idea is fairly ingrained into the heritage of this country, and society accepts it. Why else would parents willingly allow their kids to attend public schools for 13 years under the instruction of the government? Then came Tinker vs. Des Moines, the case that protected the political expression of students on campus, as long as it did not instigate violence. I agree with the fundamentals of Tinker, but I also agree that the courts have created a mess with the idea of "free speech" for students. His argument is that in a free society, parents have other options (homeschooling, private schools, charters, moving) to educate their children, but in the end should be using the local political process, not the 1st Amendment.

In the name of the First Amendment, Tinker has undermined the traditional authority of teachers to maintain order in public schools. “Once a society that generally respected the authority of teachers, deferred to their judgment, and trusted them to act in the best interest of school children, we now accept defiance,disrespect, and disorder as daily occurrences in many of our public schools.”

Don't think so? Ask a teacher.

What does this mean for the classroom?

I'm putting this quote on my syllabus for dress code:

Because schools may take steps to safeguard those entrusted to their care from speech that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use, the school officials in this case did not violate the First Amendment- Morse vs. Frederick

Might sound stupid, but in a down that has a culture of weed (and plenty of clothes that promote the ganja), having legal precedent can make my consequences more legitimate. In the end, students will know that the classroom is a haven for learning, not expressing your desire to get high. So sure, bring on the legalization arguments, bring on the opinions on the War on Drugs, bring on the medical marijuana debate, that's what my classes are for!

But know the difference between informed, academic discussion, and juvenile attempts at attracting attention.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Live, from Sacramento, California

Ya know, the moment I get back into town, it looks like I gotta head out again. This time, a someone is in need of a friend, so my wife and I decided to jaunt over to Sacramento and spend some quality time with good people. Of course, it decided to break triple digits today, which sucks because I simply can't run away from this heat.

One thing that I did partake in was something I haven't had the pleasure of doing for over ten years. Eating a French Dip Sandwich from Bud's. If you are in Sacramento, or anywhere within a 50 mile radius, you need to hit downtown on 10th between J and K streets. At that location is Bud's Buffet, basically a hof brou that has managed to perfect the roast beef sandwich. I used to frequent the establishment back in my major Sacramento days, and I was pleased to find that nothing has changed. Walk in, order a roast beef and swiss with the bread dipped in au jus, throw on a heaping of meat, cheese, some lettuce-tomato-onions, ask for a side of "juice" (au jus), and BAM, you have a masterpiece.

So I'm in relaxation mode right now. Come on teachers. Join in!