Friday, August 28, 2009

First Week of School

I admit, the first day of school has always been met wtih sleepless nights and nervous tummies at my house. And I am the worst sufferer. Even in my role as teacher, I revert to first grade status wondering if things will go well. I worry that I am not prepared-although I chronically over prepare for every event. I worry that the kids won't like me, although realistically most kids don't like teachers. I don't enjoy being hated. I will settle for being tolerated. I worry that my evaluations won't go properly or that something from outside, such as real life events, will upset my apple cart.

I am happy to report that the first week went well. Technology is still not up to par, which really is normal. The students are a mix, with some potential doofuses in my third period. It doesn't endear me to students when they jovially discuss their summer fun of running from the police and committing crimes. Nevertheless, the advanced classes show SO MUCH PROMISE. They knocked out a quick piece this week, for me to just see where they were talent wise. I am impressed. I have several kids in Advanced Placement, but there are at least three others who should also submit portfolios, if they can. And....there are more kids in the wings. Our AP gave us a mandate to raise our numbers or risk losing a position. Well, we did that and more. Every section of every art class is FULL. Sure, it's crowded, but it's exciting too because lots of these kids are underclassmen and will fill our classes for years to come.

When I consider the somber tones of today's faculty meeting (yes, on a FRIDAY....) wherein teachers of Health and PE were informed that next year, the new requirements would make those classes 'go away' it makes me both happy and sad. We are holding on in our little corner of the curriculum. I just don't know for how long. Which is why this year, I will finally take that ESL certification test. In Texas, its the one discipline where you can come back from retiring and not take a hit in compensation. *sigh* I guess that's what it's come to.....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Better to Be a British Dog

"...The one kind of reform that America should avoid is one that is imposed uniformly upon the whole country, with a vast central bureaucracy. No nation in the world is more fortunate than America in its suitability for testing various possible solutions. The federal government should concern itself very little in health care arrangements, and leave it almost entirely to the states. I don’t want to provoke a new war of secession but surely this is a matter of states’ rights. All judgment, said Doctor Johnson, is comparative; and while comparisons of systems as complex as those of health care are never definitive or indisputable, it is possible to make reasonable global judgments: that the French system is better than the British or Dutch, for example. Only dictators insist they know all the answers in advance of experience. Let 100—or, in the case of the U.S., 50—flowers bloom.
Selfishly, no doubt, I continue to measure the health-care system where I live by what I want for myself and those about me.
And what I want, at least for that part of my time that I spend in England, is to be a dog. I also want, wherever I am, the Americans to go on paying for the great majority of the world’s progress in medical research and technological innovation by the preposterous expense of their system: for it is a truth universally acknowledged that American clinical research has long reigned supreme, so overall, the American health-care system must have been doing something right. The rest of the world soon adopts the progress, without the pain of having had to pay for it....

Ben Stein: NYT Purges Conservatism

What most of the recent hooha has been centered around are what is known as "free speech rights." In a nutshell, that means that all Americans, not just some, not just certain wealthy people, not just Democrats, not just Republicans, not just Christians and not just Atheists have endowed upon them the inalienable right to have their own opinions and to state them freely without repercussions. Much of what we see in the media is limited speech. By admission, most big time journalists are politically liberal. And that is their right. But there is also a necessary balance that must be served. When vast groups feel they are not being heard, confrontations occur. That is what happened with civil rights, gay rights and just about any other situation we have debated. So why then, considering the ACLU's constant mission to allegedly preserve free speech and the lipservice of the left to the idea of free speech, are conservative outlets, writers and pundits being forced into a type of journalistic purgatory? If you cannot listen to the opposition, then I would contend that your own grounding in whatever philosophy you espouse is weak and meaningless to you. We saw this idea, with the Big Lie making candidates appear to be mindless villains just because the churning entrails of the blogosphere says so. I have cautioned conservatives to avoid entering the type of debate that is a personal attack, but for many people having seen their friends, candidates and coworkers vilified, that is a difficult chore.
At any rate, the reason for writing this blog was that Ben Stein was fired from the New York Times. I am not sure what a conservative with an economics background was doing there in the first place, but I would think in order to at least pretend they gave the full scope of the political spectrum the NYT would keep a few token conservatives around. But as with so many other conservative, the NYT and its ancillary blogs, websites and such chose to create a type of aura that Stein was participating in conflict of interest situation with a company that he was a spokesman for. And to be additionally callous, they emailed the firing to his phone from someone that he had not met and did not know. Who is running the HR department at the NYT? Ron Burgundy? But as with all things, this too shall pass. I hope he writes a book detailing the idiocy that passes for reporting in liberal outlets. I also hope that if some writers, notably the idiot on Reuters, continue to defame his character that he follows up with a lawsuit.
Here's the
column that Stein wrote outlining his fall from grace that began, oddly enough, with a column that was never published which criticized Obama. Are you sensing a trend here?
Excerpt:
"...But the two main things, as I see them, were that I started criticizing Mr. Obama quite sharply over his policies and practices. I had tried to do this before over the firing of Rick Wagoner from the Chairmanship of GM. My column had questioned whether there was a legal basis for the firing by the government, what law allowed or authorized the federal government to fire the head of what was then a private company, and just where the Obama administration thought their limits were, if anywhere. This column was flat out nixed by my editors at the Times because in their opinion Mr. Obama inherently had such powers..."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Is AARP Pushing Obamacare?

Without polling their members, AARP is choosing to blindly support the president's healthcare bill unseen and unread. Below is an account from a townhall meeting with state of Texas AARP reps. Note that they are dismissive of members concerns, ignored members questions and left in a huff when they were asked to justify their actions. I am of an age where I get literature from AARP, but I have known for quite awhile that they were lobbyists for a type of socialist system. Here's the account from one of my good friends in the group who was at the meeting: "...I went to the AARP meeting today (billed as a listening meeting - AARP was to do the listening) at the rec center on White Rock Trail. I asked the coordinator how it was that AARP was interested in the Obamacare bill in that it was unconstitutional. No answer was given. The crowd got upset that the question was not answered. A retired professor explained the 6 issues and opened for questions. The major questions were about why AARP was supporting the bill. They said they weren't. Most of the members did not agree, expressing their disagreement verbally. Once the questioning got to the coverage of those age 50 - 54, the audience asked questions that were not answered. The audience was not accepting. There was some discussion about why AARP didn't poll the members as to whether they supported Healthcare. AARP said that that was decided by the policy board. The policy rep that was there said it was because of all the stories that they had received about how bad the current system was working for them. The crowd did not accept this answer. Further valid questions from the audience brought answers from AARP that were not acceptable to the audience. It deteriorated. After, maybe 20 minutes, the AARP coordinator and the AARP expert pulled the microphone and left the building. We were told the meeting was ended because some members that agreed with her were leaving. The policy board member (to his credit) stayed for the whole time to hear the members views. After the AARP people closed the meeting there was a lot of preaching to the choir. One believer in the Healthcare program did stay and had heated discussion with others. It was at this time that I spoke with the AARP policy board member who told me that he had a problem with AARP wanting to cover the illegal aliens. I once again brought up the constitutional issue. Again no answer but he was friendly..."

Internet Intimidation

I don't know if this is organized or not, but it sure seems to be. I was a long time blogger on a local news website. I would sometimes discuss political things as well as current news events. On our blog in DFW, two posters came about three weeks ago. Their mode of action is to trash other people's blogs, even when the blogs are something as inncuous as commenting on the weather. In talking to some other people, this seems to be a growing trend. As conservative bloggers start truly pressing the issues, there seems to be a coordinated action to silence us. I find this disturbing because it is a denial of freedom of speech, a denial of freedom of the press and has all the earmarks of a political group trying to seize the blogosphere for their own political ends. We already deal with a mainstream media that is in throes of ecstacy over anything uttered by the current administration, I shudder to think what would happen if indeed all other information sources are systematically bullied out of existence. On a larger scale, now the Justice Dept has pulled the rug out from a case that was already won regarding voter intimidation. As with Gates' Gate, one has to wonder if the racial makeup of the people involved were different, would this ever have happened? And how is having a paramilitary organization within the legal boundaries of a polling place a good idea-unless you mean to influence the election. Is this a precursor of what we will see in 2010?