Monday, August 22, 2011

What the Koch Brothers are Doing to Kill Public Ed

Some days, I am just so inspired by other people taking the initiative to tell the truth, to get the word out, and to embolden others to resist the tyranny that oftentimes surrounds us.

See this great blog:

Specifically, click on the August 15, 2011 posting, which is a YouTube video about what the Koch Brothers are trying to do--via the "Americans for Prosperity" organization they fund--to public schools in Raleigh.

You next job? Resist. Signal your alarm and your displeasure. The Kochs aren't running for anything, but they do control many politicians and even school board members. They are "Libertarian" (I don't agree with Libertarianism, for the most part, but some members of this party seem relatively innocuous...definitely not the Kochs, however).

However you are inclined to vote, first always follow the money trail and dig for the true agenda.

Ask: what are these people doing with their power? Are they trying to change the world for good...or for the sake of their own money-making? Will this agenda help me, or hurt me and others?

Billionaires don't need more money and power. But people everywhere do need a strong, equitable, fully-funded system for public education. That is, in fact, a cornerstone of our democracy.

Don't let any people, no matter how rich and scary they are, try to bully their way into controlling education for the masses.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Big Lobster Stories: Always Favorites

Jennifer Vargas holds up a freakishly large lobster that was saved from the kitchen. (Wildlife Conservation Society).

I love stories about animals being saved from slaughter. Speaking of this, I once saw a huge lobster when I was a reporter...and I wrote a story about it. 

It, too, was saved--and it weighed in at a slightly larger 20 lbs (and looked pretty much the same as this one). I mention that not for the sake of one-upmanship, but only to emphasize that Big Lobster Stories are perpetual favorites and never cease to amaze.

Just think of how much garbage such a large creature has eaten during its lifetime...that makes lobster just a bit less appetizing, hmm?

Good luck, lobster. After 75 years of avoiding traps and nets, you deserve a break.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

When You Write About Your Problems, You Control Them

Here are some wise words on leading writing workshops by Marion Winik of the University of Baltimore. I saw this piece because of my writer friend, Jessica Anya Blau (via Twitter). 

I am a writing teacher, too, and I've lived through some traumatic workshops back in Iowa (traumatic in a good way), and this is a classic essay about the experience. I love how Winik shows how helpful and scary leading a workshop can be...and in light of the "too-much-coddling" we often see in schools, I think the workshop experience is useful and enlightening, if sometimes difficult.

For more on teaching writing, see the film "Wonder Boys"--this is also a novel by Michael Chabon, but I think the film does more to illustrate teaching writing, even though I do love the book.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Don't Photograph Michele Bachmann in Casuals, But DO Snap Her Eating a Corn Dog

I am not a Michele Bachmann fan. I'll just put that out there (the astute reader could surely infer as much). This has nothing to do with her gender, which I share, but instead has everything to do with her ideology. I could not disagree more with Michele Bachmann...on just about any issue. I don't want to get wonky, now, though. I want to focus on the subject of image.

As someone who knows PR, I had been impressed with Bachmann's carefully coiffed domination of the media and her meticulously manicured appearance (although I thought the recent Newsweek cover shot was pretty funny. Yes, it was a bad photo of The Candidate, but then again, as the saying goes, "The eyes have it," and her eyes--more than most people's--are saying "crazy," so it works).

Speaking of Newsweek, the article that just ran this past week (about Bachmann) mentioned her handlers' decree to the journalists who follow her: "Do not photograph Michele Bachmann in casual clothes." Like, ever.

They agreed, and never shot Bachmann in the cargo pants she wore on her plane.

Bachmann and her campaign have this rule for the media..and yet...and yet...Michelle Bachmann enthusiastically posed for a phalanx of photogs chomping a foot-long corn dog.

It looked disgusting--and not just because of the sleazy sexual innuendo (which, to be fair, she may not even understand). 

Take a look. I'd post the photo, too, but it's really grotesque. (Well, you could have taken a look earlier, but now it seems the infamous corn dog photo has disappeared. Hmmm. Anyway, it came from this site:)

Bad, huh? 

It's so bad that I actually feel pity for Bachmann. This pity will not keep me from discussing the photo, however, because there is an important lesson for humanity here.

The lesson is this: Don't be stupid.

This corn dog photo wasn't a "gotcha" shot. There is proof that Bachmann did this on purpose. The whole eating-a-corn-dog-in-Iowa scene was a photo op. She wanted it documented--I suppose because her people think it makes her look fun and non-elitist.  (Hint: Michele, get new people. Either they know nothing, or they wanted to make you look bad.)

Here's the same scene from the side: - does it look like she didn't know she might be photographed eating a corn dog?  (comment on DT article)

Bachmann happily bit into a very long corn dog, in front of dozens of paparazzi and international media. And yet I recently handed back the chocolate-covered banana I considered buying at the pool snack bar because I was paranoid, once I saw it, that it might look untoward to put that in my mouth in public. (You know, smartphones are everywhere; everything ends up online--even if no one knows who I am. I still am not going to go there.) It's called having sense.

So, think about what these pictures of Bachmann tell you. Consider the questions they are begging--namely, "Is this the person you want leading the United States? Does she look dignified? Does she show good judgment?" 

It looks nearly as bad when her husband, Marcus, takes a bite. At least he was smart enough not to open wide.

The rule for Bachmann apparently is: no shots of casual ensembles, but YES for the foot-long-corn-dog-eating photos.

Hmmm. Something's amiss...I think it's Bachmann's judgment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Matt Damon Decries "MBA-Style Education Policy"

Among several reasons (none having to do with his appearance--seriously--not that there is anything wrong with the way he looks) why I  like Matt Damon is that he is unafraid to enter the fray and tell people when and how they are being stupid.

Check out this clip of Damon being interviewed. It was filmed by the vomitrociously-named "Reason TV" at last weekend's "Save Our Schools" march in D.C., and is being covered again by Yahoo.

I love the look of disbelief Damon gives the Libertarian "journalist" who challenges why teachers should get tenure.  Even better, I like his responses. Why do teachers put up with the "shitty pay" and long, long hours? Because it's their calling. 

Does that mean everyone should put up with those conditions? Um, no. 

And yet, teachers put up with that and so much more, and keep having to defend their profession against loudmouths who know nothing about what it's really like to teach.

The only way to stop the mindless blather of people with loud opinions who have no basis in fact for those opinions is to speak up and speak over them. I wish more people spoke the truth, as Damon does here, in defense of teachers (like his mom).

Here's the SAME CLIP, just interspersed with more interesting commentary by Anderson Cooper, getting all funny in his "Ridiculist."