Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Onion lifts teachers' spirits [NOT]

Well Christmas break is over, and spring break is a long ways off. Nonetheless, those who work to educate our youth will go to school tomorrow, full of joy at the chance to teach their brilliant pupils. That is, unless they happen to read this piece from the Onion:

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Education released a comprehensive, nationwide evaluation of American schools Monday indicating that attempts to teach absolutely anything to these little shits is just a huge waste of everybody's time.
"We remain committed to providing every student in the country with access to a high-quality education," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan, adding that good schools are a key component to the success of American democracy. "But to be honest, none of that matters. We're not talking about promising young scholars here—we're talking about a bunch of fucking animals."
"We've basically flushed $11,000 down the toilet for every single one of these little bastards," Duncan continued. "Not to mention 18 years of my life."
The study, which analyzed the effectiveness of both public and private schools, found that efforts to enlighten these terrors on the subjects of math, history, grammar, and science are as productive as slamming your head into a goddamn brick wall. The research also confirmed that the unbearable shits, who take everything for granted, consistently piss away each learning opportunity they're given.
"When I first started teaching, I would see the smiling faces in my classroom and get excited about nurturing their young minds," said Melanie Whitman, 35, a first-grade teacher quoted in the report. "Now I can't look up from my desk without wanting to puke at the sight of all those little psychopaths."
Secretary Duncan said the study is the first to provide detailed evidence in support of the theory that third-grader Scott Kriesel is a complete fuck-up and perhaps even the living incarnation of Satan.
According to the report, billions of dollars in federal resources have been spent to modernize classrooms and improve teacher training, even though the little brats spend their entire days carving profanities into desks, shouting at whoever's in charge, and refusing to sit down, shut up, and actually learn something for once.
In addition, research suggests that school boards across the nation have grown tired of fighting to obtain funding for brand-new textbooks only to have the miserable fucks just deface them all with ejaculating penis drawings on the first day of class.
When asked if charter schools might help solve some of the problems faced by public education, Deputy Education Secretary Anthony W. Miller told reporters the data indicated any difference they made would amount to jack shit.
"Some charter schools perform better than their public counterparts, some don't," Miller said. "You can't change the fact that any school, no matter how it's funded, is ultimately just another type of building to contain these goddamn monsters for seven hours a day."
Miller added that more involvement from home was not the answer, either, as the little shits tend to have shithead parents who just make everything worse. The only findings from the study that provide a glimmer of hope, he said, are student absenteeism and dropout rates, which continue to increase.
"Christ, I dedicated my career to my students, actually thinking I could make a difference in their lives," middle-school teacher Joan Kubickers said Monday. "If I'd gone into public relations, I'd be making six figures by now. And at a PR firm, I bet I wouldn't have to worry about my tires getting slashed in the parking lot."
"Well, I have to go," she added. "The fucking hyenas in my third-period class await."
The Department of Education study comes on the heels of a survey last month that found 90 percent of all elementary school students resent being taught by pathetic losers who couldn't get a decent job in the real world.

I, for one. am glad they included the elementary kids' survey results at the end. They help prevent the article from overly romanticizing what goes on in our schools!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Life in the slow lane...

A helpful reader told me about this fascinating interactive game developed for the good folks of Durham Urban Ministries. The premise of the game is simple: you're down to your last $1000, you need to rent a place, find a job, and then survive as best you can for a month. There's nice realistic touches, like having to choose between paying more for gas or rent (the game is very generous in assuming you already have a car all paid for). The best of the low-paying jobs available requires you to pass an actual typing test. All my poor friends who tried it say the game is too easy. None of my more affluent friends could make it past 20 days (hint: it helps to not bother getting any health or dental care). Anyways, the game is clever and thought-provoking. I encourage everyone who's interested to play it. Let me know if you make it through the month!

This game is called "Spent." You can play it here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

President Obama just needs to stand far away from the GOP circular firing squad!!

Tom Tomorrow, with his usual brilliance, captures the zeitgeist in this recent cartoon:

Last night's SC GOP debate was hilarious-- the more the U.S. public watches these guys the less credibility they retain...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A 1%er who has a sense of humor!!

An alert reader shared this humorous response of a 1%er to the newly aroused consciousness of the 99%. It is very fitting that this piece, by John Kenney, appeared in the classiest of all 1%er (and 1%er wannabee) journals, the venerable New Yorker:

"We, too, have mobilized.

We come from near and far, by any means necessary, some on private jets, others on extremely large private jets.

But you will not find us sleeping in a park and waiting in line at a Burger King to urinate. Have you heard of Mustique? Because that’s where we have mobilized. Don’t bother trying to Google Earth us, though, because we have proprietary military software that prevents you from doing so.

Our numbers may be smaller than those demonstrating in New York and other cities, but we are still a movement, coalesced around a cause, sleeping two and sometimes three people to a villa.

Perhaps you are wondering what our cause is. Perhaps you’re wondering why we, the richest people on the planet, have come together. Perhaps you’re curious whether what we’re undertaking couldn’t technically be called a vacation. These are all good questions.

We’re angry. We’re angry at something we’re calling “imagined frustration.” By this we mean that, except for Congress, the White House, banks, major lobbyists, and the editorial boards of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, no one is listening to us. And we’re tired of it.

You claim to know something about us. You think we are rich beyond comprehension, that we can do anything we please at any time, go anywhere we want at a moment’s notice, wander the earth in a state of constant bliss, enjoying abundant and fabulous sex. Perhaps you do know us.

There are those in the more liberal press who have questioned whether the wealthiest one per cent truly understand how difficult life is for so many Americans right now, and to that we would say— Oh, look, someone just brought in lobster and a Bollinger Grande AnnĂ©e.

Except for money and the almost unnatural flawlessness of my skin, we are no different, you and I. I don’t know who you are or what you look like or how much money you have in the bank. Nor does it matter. Because we’re just men. Unless you are a woman. Or a child. Or a pony. But ponies don’t read magazines, do they? Unless they’re precocious ponies, like Mister Ed. And he wasn’t real. But I think you get my point. And that is: we are the same, except for the coarseness of the skin on your elbows. Do you know that feeling, upon waking at 4 A.M., heart racing, your mind looking twenty, thirty years down the road, wondering how you are going to make ends meet? Worrying about what would happen if you lost your job, asking yourself how you’re going to pay for your kids’ college or retire? Well, I don’t. But I read a story about it once and remember thinking, I’m so glad that’s not me.

What do we want?

Here is our manifesto, still very much a work in progress, as it’s cocktail hour and several of our protesters are out at the pool:

—All wealth should be shared equally among the wealthy.

—Eradicate poverty. (Note: Maybe a clearer way to say this would be “Eradicate the poor.” Need to discuss.)

—End business as usual. (Note: Several members like the sound of this, but they don’t know what it means. A suggestion has been made to add the word “hours” after “business.”)

—Implement a rule whereby the public cannot look at us and must keep a distance of at least twenty feet at all times.

Yes, I have more things—more homes and cars and planes and art and underground passages and satellites and private militias and a person whose only job is to grow hair that is genetically identical to my own. But when you take off your pants and I take off my pants and we stand facing each other as naked as the day we were born, except for socks, all I would ask is that you feel my skin and tell me it’s not the softest skin you’ve ever felt on a man. And also realize that we are the same, except for the fact that I have four submarines."

I encourage you to read the rest of this elegant satire in the Nov. 28th edition of the New Yorker!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Plutocrats' "Ace in the hole"

Here's Jamie Raskin, law professor at American University:

In 2000, in Bush v. Gore, the Rehnquist Court, by a 5-4 margin, called off vote-counting by the state of Florida and determined the outcome of a presidential election in favor of one lucky Texan.
In 2010, in Citizens United, the Roberts Court, by a 5-4 margin, declared that private corporations have a First Amendment right to engage in unlimited campaign spending and likely altered, for as long as anyone can see, the outcome of every major contested election in the country in favor of CEOs and Republican consultants who bundle their money.
The Supreme Court stole one election and sold off the rest of them.

This analysis is chillingly accurate. The Supreme Court right now is the plutocrats' ace in the hole. Whenever their paid servants, in the executive or legislative branch, assert some independence and manage to accomplish something that benefits the bottom 99%, the plutocrats turn to the friendly five Justices to put a stop to it. If there was no other reason to prevent, at all costs, a Republican from gaining the White House in 2012, the nomination of new Justices should be enough to make this a priority. "Liberal activist Judges" are actually exceedingly rare. All we need are people willing to decide cases on the merits, without trying to use their considerable power to undo generations of social and political progress. We may get more such nominees from Barack Obama. No Republican President, on the other hand, would resist the pressure from the right-wing to appoint another Alito or Roberts.

Monday, January 9, 2012

NYPD pulls the plug on OWS Global Revolution TV

Orwellian echoes

I had the somewat unusual distinction of graduating college in 1984. At that time, as I recall, many political observers felt obliged to take stock of how far we in the developed world had "progressed" towards George Orwell's dystopia, imagined in his famous novel set in that year. The year was chosen by Orwell in 1948 by merely flipping the 4 and 8. This was supposed to make us feel better about our dubious honor of becoming the "class of '84." I remember breathing a sigh of relief that, according to intelligent observers, we had only moved part of the way towards Orwell's dark vision-- and, according to the most optimistic at least, we might never get there in our lifetimes.

Even the miseries of Reagan's second term couldn't shake my generation's firm belief that the U.S. would never slide into a totalitarian regime. The collapse of the Soviet bloc, was, except for hard-core Stalinists, generally taken as evidence that humanity was sailing off on a new course, away from the harsh realities of our parents' experiences fighting fascism abroad and McCarthyism at home. Sure, President Reagan's firing of the air-traffic controllers was very disturbing to those of us concerned with workers' rights, but we were confident that organized labor would begin to recover some power with the election of Bill Clinton. How much we wanted to believe President Clinton's assurances that NAFTA would turn out to help working Americans after some initial dislocations! Yet some of us noticed right away that even Mexican labor wasn't sufficiently cheap for the global capitalist elites. "Outsourcing" jobs to Bangladesh, Vietnam, and wherever else men, women, and children would work for less than three dollars a day, proceeded at a tremendous clip. Don't worry, class of '84, a new golden age of plentiful hi-tech careers was upon us! Those of your neighbors and friends with less education could retrain and find good work at computer help desks and other fun places like that. And, for a few years in the '90s, there were Americans happily answering phones for Apple, I.B.M., and Microsoft. By the end of the decade, however, these jobs too had been "outsourced."

Well, O.K., the American middle class was firmly under the heel of the global capitalists: wages were falling, and folks were leveraging their home equity to take on massive debt and keep consuming at accustomed levels. Vague worries that things were going south were replaced with very specific outrage over the Supreme Court's coronation of President Bush II before all the Florida votes were counted. At least we could still speak our minds freely and travel without undue restrictions. Right?!?9/11 and the Patriot Act changed all that. Before long, once proud Americans were meekly accepting unnecessary and ridiculous humiliations in their daily lives. Soldiers with machine guns at airports, train-stations, bus terminals. Grin and bear it! 3-oz. maximum tube of toothpaste, take off your shoes and your belt, look "foreign?" then follow me, Abdul! Long-cherished 1st Amendment, and 4th Amendment rights were quickly thrown aside in the new "war on terror." Indeed, we were told, we should be terrified, and our taxes should be spent to bomb cities in Iraq so that we'd be "safer." Don't like killing innocent, men women, and children? Sorry, but we can't avoid "collateral damage" in the struggle against "islamofascists." The terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is killed, yet we don't even pause in our worldwide "war on terror." Could it be that killing thousands of innocents throughout the globe might be creating new generations of terrorists? Don't ask that question, Ulysses, your facebook posting privileges might be revoked...

2012 dawns with a new "indefinite detention" policy the law of the land. The military can take you and throw away the key with no questions asked. Quaint notions of innocence before proof of guilt, due process, habeas corpus, freedom and liberty are destroyed overnight. Here's how George Orwell had Winston paint the picture in Chapter 3 of 1984:

  • "He knew in advance what O'Brien would say. That the Party did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better. That the party was the eternal guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of others. The terrible thing, thought Winston, the terrible thing was that when O'Brien said this he would believe it....

    • The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites....
    • We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

    It may have taken an extra 28 years, but the global Party of the 1% has succeeded in destroying our political, economic, and personal freedoms. Legislation that will allow the Government to prevent me or anyone else from pointing this out in a blog is already pending in Congress. "Homeland Security" has replaced "Home of the free and the brave." My ancestors sacrificed much, over more than three centuries, to build this great country. I call today on all patriots, liberal or conservative, to demand our country back. Read the Bill of Rights!! Occupy the Commons!! AWAKE NOW OR SLEEP IN ETERNAL SLAVERY!!!

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    A more serious post is on its way...

    Our friends at mockpaperscissors.com hit another one outta da pahk: