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December 30, 2003

Subtle, Very Subtle

07-classday2-450.jpgI was in Half-Price Books the other day and, since I had enjoyed their previous political satirical works, decided to look for Al Franken's new book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them or Molly Ivins latest work, Bushwhacked. Both Al and Molly are nationally-recognized liberal political commentators, so I looked in the political section but couldn't find them. I did, however, notice Rush Limbaugh's diatribes there.

Strangely enough, I later found both Al Franken and Molly Ivins' books in the comedy section, even though they are both largely the same tone and certainly as political as Limbaugh's books. I even saw Jim Hightower's books there, and he's a serious populist speaker, albeit with a down-home sense of humor.

I don't want to read too much into the choice of placement of books, but the obvious disparity in how liberal and conservative thought and commentary is treated is disturbing. Rush is taken seriously while Molly Ivins is a comedienne?

Posted by tat at 06:58 PM | Comments (3)

December 19, 2003

Fundamental Order

Ya know, it's the little things about teaching that really give insight into human behavior. For instance, when kids hand in assignments, they make individual piles of tests and answers, or maybe worksheets and answer sheets. Inevitably, in classes with low averages, the piles are a jumbled mess that I have to organize before grading or putting in a folder. Conversely, in classes with relatively high averages, the piles are much more ordered, even to the point where sometimes all papers face the same way and require no organization on my part. It's as if there is a fundamental order that's understood in the high-achieving classrooms. The behavior problems and failure rates in low-achieving classrooms are obviously rooted in a group's sense of order, in what's right and wrong, and manifested in that little pile of jumbled papers.


Posted by tat at 12:10 PM | Comments (2)

December 16, 2003

Saddam on Trial? I Don't Think So.

handshake300.jpgIt'll be interesting watching how the U.S. avoids putting Saddam on trial. He would, after all, be a very embarrassing witness to how we armed him, financed him, and finally dumped him after the Kuwait invasion. Michael Moore put it best when he said we created our own Frankenstein monster.

Prediction: Saddam will either die in captivity, commit "suicide" somehow, or consensus about how he should be tried will never be reached. One way or another, we'll never get the chance to hear from his mouth about the U.S.'s hand in creating this mess.

BTW, that's Donald Rumsfeld on the left, greeting Saddam in Baghdad as a special envoy for Reagan in 1983.

Posted by tat at 11:29 AM | Comments (1)

December 15, 2003

Baby Philosophy Crisis

Having a child on the way has put me in a crisis of self-examination and reflection about what I believe and, consequently, what I want to teach our child about the world and the mind.

I long ago realized that my point of view is the result not of the positive acceptance of any one religion or philosopher, but rather from a paring down and stripping away of all I see as false or superficial. I think it takes more self-integrity and honesty to say, "I don't know" to many of life's questions than to accept a myth or creed as a mental salve. But, after shedding the fetters that religion and popular culture impose, I have to admit that at times I feel very nihilistic and cynical, and that's not a pleasant perspective, I think, to teach a child.

What, then, to teach Molly? I don't want her to be some atheistic freak that other kids avoid, but I also don't want her to end up suckered into some evangelical cult seeking her spiritual side that I failed to provide. I don't want her to be soulless super-analytical scientist or reject-everything anarchist, but without a positive philosophy of life, what can I do?

I'm happy, but only in the context of rejection of most of my society's beliefs. I'm happy, but only because, as an adult, I appreciate the miracle of life, consciousness, my body, and the universe. I'm happy, but only because the option--to face up to my mortality and the futility of existence--is too unpleasant and self-defeating to accept openly. I'm happy, but only because I survived a childhood questioning everything about my culture.

So, my crisis: find a positive way of presenting my worldview. I, of course, want a child who thinks like I do. But I think the way I do not because of what I was taught in my youth, but rather in spite of what I was taught. Get it?

Posted by tat at 10:46 AM | Comments (6)

December 08, 2003

Making Iraq Safe for Gasoline

gas-price-phillips-pump-ico.jpgToday, a soldier was shot and killed while protecting a gas station in Mosul. A gas station.

The irony and tragedy of this is almost beyond words. The naked futility and servility in which the U.S. military finds itself, surrounded by hatred and finding itself dying managing gas lines, create a schism in the infantryman's mind. The disparity between the reality they experience and the news stories their loved ones are seeing is past the smirk stage with these guys and is now starting to feel like denial of Why They Are Dying. The honor is gone, and the ignominious deaths of their comrades can't be reconciled with the empty rhetoric of Bush and his minions. They long ago realized they are expendable slaves to Halliburton and, I promise you, are deeply, deeply resentful of the people and reasons they were sent to Iraq.

Posted by tat at 09:28 PM | Comments (1)

December 05, 2003

George Bush Resume

president-bush_icon.jpgPast work experience:

I ran for Congress and lost.
I produced a Hollywood slasher B movie.
I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas; company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.
I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. Biggest move: Traded Sammy Sosa to the Chicago Cubs.
With my father's help, the name and a heap of cash from Texas oil and other industrial titans, was elected Governor of Texas.

Accomplishments as Governor of Texas:

I changed pollution laws for oil and power companies and made Texas the most polluted state in the nation.
I replaced Los Angeles with Houston as the most smog-ridden city in America. I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas government in a swamp of billions of dollars of borrowed money.
I set a record for most executions by any governor in American history.
I became president after losing the popular vote by over 500,000 votes, with
the help of Republican appointments to the Supreme Court.

Accomplishments as president:

I attacked and took over two countries.
I spent the country's surplus and bankrupted the treasury.
I shattered the record for biggest annual deficit in history.
I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.
I set an all-time record for the biggest stock market drop in its history.
I am the first president n decades to execute a federal prisoner.
I am the first president in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.
In my first year in office I set the all-time record for the most vacation days taken by any president.
After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, I presided over the
worst security failure in U.S. history.
I set the record for most campaign fundraising trips of any president in US history.
In my first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their jobs.
I cut unemployment benefits for more out of work Americans than any president - ever.
I set the all-time record for the most mortgage foreclosures in a 12-month period.
I set the record for the lowest number of press conferences of any president
since the invention of television.
I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed.
I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history and refused to use the national reserves as past presidents have done.
I cut healthcare benefits for war veterans.
I set the all-time record for the most people worldwide to simultaneously take to
the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the record for protest
against any person in the history of mankind.
I dissolved more international treaties than any president in U.S. history.
My presidency is the most secretive and unaccountable of any in U.S. history.
Members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history.
(The "poorest" multimillionaire, Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her).
I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud of any market in any country in the history of the world.
I created the largest government bureaucracy in the history of the United States and set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any president in U.S. history, while at the same time proposing tax cuts.
I'm the first president in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the elections monitoring board.
I withdrew from the World Court of Law.
I hold the record for most corporate campaign donations.
My biggest lifetime campaign contributor, one of my best friends, presided over
one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).
I am the first president in U.S. history to unilaterally attack a sovereign nation against the will of the United Nations and the world community.
I am the first U.S. president to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and stability.
I set all-time records for the number of administration appointees who violated
U.S. law by not selling huge investments in corporations bidding for government contracts. *Top of the class: VP Dick Cheney and his Halliburton Corp. - awarded, with no bid, the single largest of the multi-billion dollar contracts for the
rebuilding of Iraq (paid for out of the U.S. treasury).
I failed to get Osama Bin Laden "dead or alive".
I failed to capture the anthrax killer who tried to murder the leaders of our country at the United States Capitol building.
In a little over two years, I created the most divided country in decades.
I entered office with the strongest economy in U.S. history and in less than two years every economic category plunged.

Records and References:

I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving
record has been erased and is not available).
I was AWOL from National Guard.
Records from my tenure as governor of Texas are in my father's library, unavailable for public view.
All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed and unavailable for public view.
All minutes of meetings for any public corporation I served on the board are sealed and unavailable for public view.
All records regarding public energy policy are sealed and unavailable for public review.

For personal references please speak to my daddy, George H.W. Bush, or uncle, James Baker. They can be reached at their offices of the Carlyle Group, a company well known for war-profiteering.

I would encourage you, as fine American citizens, to circulate this resume to as many people as possible. Anything we can do to find this man a job suitable for his qualifications will be appreciated by tens of millions of people.

Posted by tat at 03:48 PM | Comments (3)