Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This could get real ugly


Given the nature of the social structure of many high schools, this story isn't too surprising—as awful as it is.
Nine teens, including three juveniles, have been charged in connection with the death of a 15-year-old [South Hadley] Massachusetts girl who committed suicide after weeks of bullying on Facebook and at her high school.
Where the stuff is going to hit the fan has to do with administrators' and teachers' roles (or lack thereof) in all of this. The Boston Herald seems apoplectic, and the local district attorney is none too pleased either.

I certainly think this is one of the saddest stories of the year, and I believe all the administrators of the school should be fired. While it's possible that individual teachers were irresponsible in the episode, they are not the ones who make conscious decisions about the climate of a school. That is up to principals, assistant principals, housemasters, headmasters, or whatever they're called.

While I don't think the South Hadley case is comparable to what was going on at Columbine High School nearly eleven years ago, in both instances students apparently were allowed to belittle "outsiders" with impunity. When a school devolves to this point, education becomes virtually nonexistent and the school experience, which often isn't pleasant in the first place, becomes awful beyond description.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Today's sign of the Apocalypse


Nine suspects associated with Hutaree, which is purportedly a Christian-based militia group, have been charged with conspiring to kill police officers and then attack a funeral in hopes of killing more law enforcement officials, federal prosecutors said Monday. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said agents moved on the group because the militia members were planning an attack sometime in April ...

The Michigan-based militia group ... is preparing for battle with the Antichrist, according to a Web site purportedly run by the group.
This is obviously a group that's very confused as what would killing police officers have to do with battling Roger Clemens?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The next plague


This doesn't sound good:
Farmers and ranchers across the West are bracing for a grasshopper infestation that could devastate millions of acres of crops and land used for grazing.

Over the coming weeks, federal officials say, grasshoppers will likely hatch in bigger numbers than any year since 1985. Hungry swarms caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage that year when they devoured corn, barley, alfalfa, beets—even fence posts and the paint off the sides of barns.
Barring a miracle, this is sure to affect adversely meat, bread, and who knows what other types of food prices.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

'Tis the Season


With Holy Week imminent for Christians, this story seems topical:
Using computer models, [two scientists] studied the food content and portion sizes in 52 of the most famous paintings of The Last Supper, from the years 1000 to 2000 [and] found that portion sizes in the paintings have increased dramatically over the past millennium. They compared the size of loaves of bread, main dishes and plates to the size of the heads of the disciples and Jesus in the artwork, including Leonardo DaVinci's famous depiction ...

Over the 1,000-year period, the main course size increased by 69 percent, plate size 66 percent and loaves of bread 23 percent. The biggest increases in size came after 1500.
The only thing I can get out of this is that I can eat as much as I want during the Easter feast. Bring on the leg of lamb!

Friday, March 26, 2010

For the love of God


... make them stop.

Can Toyota survive?


One wonders how long the erstwhile number one selling carmaker on the planet can remain standing after news like this:
More than 4 of 10 Americans say that they "would definitely not buy a Toyota," according to a recent Bloomberg National Poll.

According to the poll, a full 44% of U.S. consumers say they are fully shunning Toyota, amid the automaker's massive vehicle recalls and public relations debacle. Of those 44%, 39% cited the recent recall as the reason for why they would not buy Toyota. The poll shows that 36% of the polltakers view Toyota unfavorably, while 49% or less than half of polltakers view the company favorably.
I've never owned a Toyota, and it's not because I didn't trust the company's workmanship; I just never got around to it. Given this poll, it's problematic as to whether I'll have much more of a chance to do so.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not to be missed


No one will ever need an explanation of the notion of the "Party of No" again.

The state of the state


While the rest of the country may or may not be paying any attention to the latest on the heralth care front, any type of meaningful governing in the Constitution State has pretty much ground to a halt.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

If you pass it ...


After Joe Biden's celebrated victory comment to BO on Monday, it took exactly one day for this product to hit the market.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thicker than water?


God, I love it when octogenarians fight.



The expected Republican backlash to the health care reform bill has begun, and it's somewhat interesting on its face. Viz., a number of states (the vast majority red) have announced they'll sue the feds over the bill.

Their rationale is a simple one: The feds don't have the Constitutional right to force individual states to abide by the law.

Now, I have to admit that I'm very amused by this argument, because it essentially brings us back to 1860. That is, the very notion of a federal system has to do with all entities abiding by its laws. This has certainly been the case with civil rights, environmental concerns, Social Security, et allia.

I don't have time to expand on this, but this'll be an interesting exercise as it plays out. If, indeed, it does go to the Supreme Court, who knows what will happen, but it seems to me that overturning the HCR bill would open a can of worms that could get us right back to Jim Crow days.

UPDATE — Josh Marshall elucidates.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ratzinger's apology


Needless to say, I've been following the revelations regarding the latest Roman Catholic scandal—that of priestly abuses in Ireland and Germany. The latter is of particular interest because of the nationality of the current pope.

At any rate, the erstwhile Cardinal Ratzinger released a letter yesterday concerning abuses in Ireland, where, apparently, being sodomized or shagged by the village priest was a part of growing up. The reaction to the letter has been less than enthusiastic.
Campaigners for the victims of sexual abuse in Ireland claimed the Pope's letter failed to address the "core issue" of why the perpetrators were protected.

Sexual abuse charity One in Four said the Catholic Church was "still in denial", while a survivor of abuse said the apology did not address the cover-up.
And it appears as if the pope is still not requiring
that Roman Catholic leaders be disciplined for past mistakes as some victims were hoping, nor did he clarify what critics see as contradictory Vatican rules that they fear allow abuse to continue unpunished.
I don't know if any accountability is ever going to exacted—Ratzinger certainly appears to have plenty to hide from his previous stints as a bishop and cardinal—but the fact that those who were abused blindly continue to attend the church where they were debased certainly must make the church think it has impunity in all of this.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Take this job and ...


Given the continued wheel spinning going on in DC these days, and Governor Mom's simpering disappointment with the state's utilities companies, this is easily my favorite story of the week:
A man fired from a Texas auto dealership used an Internet service to remotely disable ignitions and set off car horns of more than 100 vehicles sold at his old workplace, police said Wednesday.
Ain't technology grand?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What an embarrassment


Who is this guy's hero? Jerry Tarkanian?

Monday, March 15, 2010

They're heeeeeeeeere


On the front page of today's Courant.

Give me strength.

The Free Market and the FCC


I'd be curious to know what free market apologists such as the execrable Larry Kudlow would think of a system where, because of the lack of competition, American consumers aren't getting a product that even such a backward country as Eastern Slovakia does. Viz., in its National Broadband Plan that it'll release tomorrow, will the FCC actually
empower consumers—for example, making it easy to access and control medical records, to connect to broadband at schools and libraries, and use the Web to learn about government information and services.

Will the FCC propose other bold changes that might antagonize large companies, including broadband giants Comcast and Verizon, or will it try to accommodate them with relatively moderate reforms?
You know where I think this'll go.

The Fair Market crowd is concerned neither with fairness nor the markets as they affect consumers. Rather, Kudlow and his ilk want the big boys to stay that way with no regulation and, really, with no responsibilities.

We've seen how the airlines' experiment with deregulation has worked out. It remains to be seen whether the FCC has learned that lesson and demand that the AT&Ts and Comcasts of the world provide faster and cheaper broadband service to their customers.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Quote of the day


It's so simple: Fire the bad teachers, hire good ones from some undisclosed location, and hey, while we're at it let's cut taxes more. It's the kind of comprehensive educational solution that could only come from a completely ignorant people.
Bill Maher on BO's approval of the firing of a Rhode Island school district's entire staff
I got too used to the last POTUS sanctioning decisions by sociopaths. I truly expected better from the current one.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Not knowing when to quit


After a season of widespread speculation about the potential for retirement and contract negotiations that moved mysteriously slow, [Jim} Calhoun announced that he will return to coach the [UConn] Huskies in 2010-11 and beyond ...

Calhoun has yet to sign a deal. His current contract expires in June. Courant sources have said the extension is for five years. ESPN reported the extension is for four years.

His current contract pays [Calhoun] $1.6 million this year ... [and] he will be 68 in May.
So, another septuagenarian, whose best days are clearly behind him, will be hanging around while superior alternatives continue to wait in the wings.

On the page where the Courant story can be found, two poll questions appear: Should Calhhoun have stayed on, and should the Huskies go to the NIT.

I find I'm in the minority on the first question, and the second question is running 50-50.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

No more Nomar


In a rather convoluted series of events yesterday, the face of the Red Sox ten years ago, Nomar Garciaparra, retired. The heartthrob of teenyboppers throughout New England, lifesaver, and all-around good guy, Nomah had twelve-year-olds imitating his frenetic swing preparations for nearly a decade.

The six-time All Star went out graciously, magnanimously thanking Red Sox Nation for its support throughout his storied career in New England. I'm sure that in the back of his mind, as is certainly the case for millions of Red Sox fans, there's some disappointment that he wasn't able to suit up with the Olde Towne Team when it won its two World Series titles. In fact, he missed the first one by just a few months.

Oh well, perhaps Nomar Garciaparra Jr. or Ramón Garciaparra II will be able to win one for his dad.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010



Conservative blogs are going nuts over Nancy Pelosi's statement of yesterday that "we have to pass the [health care reform] bill so that you can find out what is in it," and I have to admit that I'm a bit nonplussed by it myself.

This kind of thinking hardly seems to promote legislative transparency.

Not with a bang ...


I don't know if anyone in the Constitution State will dare say this, but the UConn Huskies men clearly gave up for the last three games of the season after the agonizing loss to Louisville at home.

This, however, comes close:
Disinterested, confused and lifeless, UConn stumbled through one of the worst performances in its proud tournament history, perhaps a fitting stamp on a four-month malaise.
For much of the season (And I have to be careful here, because this is a team that had quality wins over Texas, West Virginia, and 'Nova, and near misses against Georgetown, Syracuse, and Kentucky.) the Huskies looked like they were mailing it in. Certainly last night's performance was demonstrative: Kemba Walker driving to the basket with no thought to dish off possession after possession; Jerome Dyson taking all of seven shots in 26 minutes (hitting on two); overall, under 40% shooting from the field and the foul line. It really was painful to watch.

Now, of course, fans are wondering what the Huskies will have next year. The team's two ostensible big guns—Dyson and Robinson—will be gone, and, with Walker the only one left who's had any consistent playing time, the season could be even more unsuccessful (in terms of wins and losses) than this dreadful year.

As the death watch continues, there's some speculation that the team will play in the NIT. Here's hoping that doesn't happen. The team seems to have no interest in continuing the season; any more competition would only make an ugly season uglier and would add to the state's angst.

Meanwhile, a certain amount of speculation is swirling around the man who just couldn't get this team excited about anything. Nevertheless,
After his team's 73-51 loss to St. John's in the first round of the Big East tournament, coach Jim Calhoun said he is not considering retiring and has already been out recruiting for next year. Calhoun said he's in talks with the university about a contract extension.
This situation is starting to make me a little nervous. After all, St. Jim
was forced to take a 3.5-week leave of absence in late January due to a medical condition. When he returned on Feb. 13, his team struggled in a loss to Cincinnati that had Calhoun saying he was "embarrassed" about the performance.
This situation isn't entirely unlike a football coach "coaching" from the press box, but I don't want to be accused of a syllogism here.

In the midst of all of this, though, Huskie fans still have one star to hitch their wagons to.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Less than two months away


This seems like a no-brainer.

Poseidon strikes again


I think there's only one solution to Poseidon's continued ire: human sacrifice.

I can think of one person who might be expendable.

Money talks; education walks


A small but growing number of school districts across the country are moving to a four-day week, in a shift they hope will help close gaping budget holes and stave off teacher layoffs, but that critics fear could hurt students' education.
As I approach the end of my long and storied career in education, I keep wondering what the purpose of modern-day education actually is. To be sure, the ostensible purpose of education has always been to provide for the workplace whatever its status happens to be, but lately things have changed drastically.

Viz., I keep hearing that the vast majority of jobs that'll be in existence in ten years or so haven't even been created yet. Thus, I have to ask myself what—exactly—are we as educators up to in the way of preparation. It certainly doesn't stand to reason that we're preparing students—of any capability—for real work. And now, given the economic climate, the time allotted for preparation of any kind is being cut by 20% in some instances.

I wish succeeding educators luck in trying to figure this all out.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Off to the Keystone State


Off to visit Momocle for the next two days. Posting will be sporadic at best.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Lost Decade


For some reason, I was thinking of the last ten years the other day. It may have had to do with thinking about how flat my investments have been in the last 120 months, or maybe I was just thinking about them as my second career hits its tenth anniversary. At any rate, I couldn't help but think of Gertrude Stein's famous line to Hemingway, "You are all a lost generation," as I considered just how vacuous the 2000s have thus far been.

Apparently, I'm not the only person who feels this way.

For those of you who joined the real world ten years ago, may your experiences improve.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Murder in Madison


Personally, I think Horatio Caine would've had this wrapped this up by now. At any rate, it's got everything a typical episode of CSI:Miami would comprise: house on the water, trophy wife victim, missing husband, bankruptcy proceedings, etc., etc., etc.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

One theist's spin


It comes as no surprise that various superstitious kooks are seeing the recent earthquakes as some kind of warning—or whatever. Viz.,
The earthquakes in Chile and Haiti are a strong warning of much worse to come. Hopefully, some people will wake up and turn to the Almighty God before it is too late physically. God is sending ever greater warnings—but what will it take before people will wake up?
Centuries ago, the supposedly learned Greeks thought that the earth shaker, Poseidon, was responsible for such cataclysms. It's not exactly encouraging to know that similar feelings are all too prevalent in modern America.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Today's Rumination


Every so often I wonder what possessed me to major in English.