Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"Truth Seen Too Late"

Although it is now over two years old, this article is a good defense of Massachusetts' historic and heroic decision to allow gay marriage.

Monday, June 26, 2006


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has just received a gift of $30 billion, thanks to Mr. Buffett. This will make it by far the largest charity on Earth.

On the surface, that is pretty cool. The foundation has done some outstanding things in world health and with access to education. For those of you who don't know, however, there is a dark spot in the foundation's educational philanthropy. It's name: small schools.

Now, if you read the page from the last link you will see all kinds of superficial buzz words about how kids are being left behind, there's an achievement gap, etc. It's basically stuff everyone already knows. What you WON'T find are solid reasons for implementing small schools the way they have been implemented so far. In general, it's a good idea: take huge urban schools and transform them into small ones. Brilliant! Kids get more access to adults, teachers, and other mentors. Great thinking, Bill & Melinda. The problem is: these dollars are NOT spent on decreasing class size, as one might logically infer from the site. Hmm...

What the B&MG Foundation means by small schools is NOT more teachers, NOT more resources, NOT more educational equity. What they mean is more administration, more red tape, more internal strife. The small school initiative basically turns the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" on its head.

"But public schools are broken," one might say; and he or she would be right. But these grants are the equivalent of fixing a flat tire by driving the car off a cliff. My wife and Mochi's wife work in one of the guinea pig schools in Boston. Maybe one of our better-halfs will be kind enough to post a follow up that will surely be much more insightful than this post, but I want to get the conversation started.

Let's do some simple math. A school before the grant had 'X' amount of money. X is a fixed number that's not likely to increase any time soon. Each school has to do the best it can with 'X'. Now the Gates come along and give the school a finite amount of money to divide itself into several smaller ones. This money gets blown through rather quickly on enormous logistical challenges: how do the new schools share the cafeteria, the gym, the library; how are team sports and arts (if the school originally had them) divided, etc. This is not to mention the substantial increase in payroll from hiring several new, highly-paid (relative to teachers) headmasters and their assistants. Then, at the start of the first year as several smaller schools, you have the same amount of kids per class and the same level of resources. The only difference, besides the new sense of intra-school resentment (I mean, healthy competition), is that there are several more headmasters.

Another old adage: "too many chiefs and not enough Indians." That is exactly where this formula leads. You have more administrators, who don't interact with the students as regularly as teachers, fighting over the remaining scraps of capital like starved, wild hyenas. What was the purpose of this exercise again? Oh yea, to help children.

The generosity that the Gates and Buffett families have shown over the years is amazing. They are to be commended. But such incredible gifts must be given only after careful research has been conducted. Otherwise, all that money and promise go to waste.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Interesting Bumper Sticker

I was in a parking lot this afternoon and saw a car with this bumper sticker:

Chai Vang 8
Wisconsin 0

Chai Vang is the Hmong who killed 6 people and wounded 2 hunting in Wisconsin. Then I looked online and found this gem:

Save a Hunter, Shoot a Mung.


Friday, June 09, 2006

You don't know the history of psychiatry

Ann Coulter and Tom Cruise have something in common. They both made complete asses of themselves in front of Matt Lauer. 9/11 widows don't make the easiest target for a conservative writer particularly when you are mildly retarded. Coulter sounded extremely weak even when defending her position on Hannity and Colmes . But she's number 1 on's list. What a bitch...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Keillor on San Franciscophobia

We're stuck with a terrible war and a worse president, and all the GOP can do is scream, "Pelosi and her Nancy boys are coming"? This is pathetic.

By Garrison Keillor

Jun. 07, 2006 People who live in mud huts should not throw mud, especially if it comes from their own roofs. As Scripture says, don't point to the speck in your neighbor's eye when you have a piece of kindling in your own.

I see by the papers that the Republicans want to make an issue of Nancy Pelosi in the congressional races this fall: Would you want a San Francisco woman to be Speaker of the House? Will the podium be repainted in lavender stripes with a disco ball overhead? Will she be borne into the chamber by male dancers with glistening torsos and wearing pink tutus? After all, in the unique worldview of old elephants, San Francisco is a code word for g-a-y, and after assembling a record of government lies, incompetence and disaster, the party in power hopes that the fear of g-a-y-s will pull it through in November.

Running against Nancy Pelosi, a woman who comes from a district where there are known gay persons, is a nice trick, but it does draw attention to the large shambling galoot who is speaker now, Tom DeLay's enabler for years, a man who, judging by his public mutterances, is about as smart as most high school wrestling coaches. For the past year, Dennis Hastert has been two heartbeats from the presidency. He is a man who seems content just to have a car and driver and three square meals a day. He has no apparent vision beyond the urge to hang onto power. He has succeeded in turning Congress into a branch of the executive branch. If Mr. Hastert becomes the poster boy for the Republican Party, this does not speak well for them as the Party of Ideas.

People who want to take a swing at San Francisco should think twice. Yes, the Irish coffee at Fisherman's Wharf is overpriced, and the bus tour of Haight-Ashbury is disappointing (where are the hippies?), but the Bay Area is the cradle of the computer and software industry, which continues to create jobs for our children. The iPod was not developed by Baptists in Waco, Texas. There may be a reason for this. Creative people thrive in a climate of openness and tolerance, since some great ideas start out sounding ridiculous. Creativity is a key to economic progress. Authoritarianism is stifling. I don't believe that Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard were gay, but what's important is: In San Francisco, it doesn't matter so much. When the cultural Sturmbannfuhrers try to marshal everyone into straight lines, it has consequences for the economic future of this country.

Meanwhile, the Current Occupant goes on impersonating a president. Somewhere in the quiet leafy recesses of the Bush family, somebody is thinking, "Wrong son. Should've tried the smart one." This one's eyes don't quite focus. Five years in office and he doesn't have a grip on it yet. You stand him up next to Tony Blair at a press conference and the comparison is not kind to Our Guy. Historians are starting to place him at or near the bottom of the list. And one of the basic assumptions of American culture is falling apart: the competence of Republicans.

You might not have always liked Republicans, but you could count on them to manage the bank. They might be lousy tippers, act snooty, talk through their noses, wear spats and splash mud on you as they race their Pierce-Arrows through the village, but you knew they could do the math. To see them produce a ninny and then follow him loyally into the swamp for five years is disconcerting, like seeing the Rolling Stones take up lite jazz. So here we are at an uneasy point in our history, mired in a costly war and getting nowhere, a supine Congress granting absolute power to a president who seems to get smaller and dimmer, and the best the Republicans can offer is San Franciscophobia? This is beyond pitiful. This is violently stupid.

It is painful to look at your father and realize the old man should not be allowed to manage his own money anymore. This is the discovery the country has made about the party in power. They are inept. The checkbook needs to be taken away. They will rant, they will screech, they will wave their canes at you and call you all sorts of names, but you have to do what you have to do.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bush Says (Again):
Constitution = Toilet Paper

"As debate began Monday, analysts were hard put to see any other motive than political for putting the issue forward now."

It's clear to everyone with half a brain (including Christian Scientists) that this is a lame GOP strategy to motivate what's left of their conservative base to go out and vote for a Republican congressperson. What about the actual humans who are yet again marginalized by this idiotic spectacle? Hooray for partisan politics!