Thursday, May 26, 2005

Blogging for Educators

What is beyond the bounds of blogging ettiquite if you are a teacher and your students might read your blog? It's something I have considered, and Andrew at the Daily Grind was forced to consider that question recently.
Following the Junior Prom, I posted my thoughts regarding the attire worn by some students. In doing so, I failed to take into consideration the feelings of those students. I was unaware of how many students read what I put on this blog, and therefore unaware that I could potentially do harm to any of my students. As a result, I have removed that post.

I missed the original post, but apparently Andrew said some things about the attire of some students that, let's face it, many of those of us in the profession have thought. I mean, I graduated HS in 1992, not that long ago, and I don't recall girls dressing as they do today. Keep in mind, I'm probably as socially liberal as they come, and yet I think that sometimes these girls go too far. Hell, what's with the male posterior suddenly dropping to about the upper thigh too? The way that guys wear their pants nowadays. And pink? If I ever wore pink to school when I was younger, comment.
Anyway, I think Andrew is too hard on himself when he says
For the controversy I've created, I am truly and humbly apologetic. But more importantly, I am sorry that I have offended and hurt students who are a fine representation of what our school has to offer.

If these children and parents are so easily offended, I wonder how they will survive the college experience.
Still, in the comments to his apology, some of the aggrieved students offer an apology of their own (of a sort, anyway). Wow, I rambled. Just read his post.

'You've put a spell on me...that's against the court order!'

Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy brings us the story of a judge that declared that (divorced) parents are not allowed to bring up their child in the religion they both practice, Wiccan, because it might 'confuse' the child as he attends a Catholic parochial school. The order, in the words of the Indianapolis Star article (as posted by Mr. Volokh):
prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."
What exactly is a 'mainstream' religion? Should the parents become good Evangelical Protestants, wouldn't that new outlook still conflict with what the child learns in the parochial 'Catholic' school? Wouldn't he still be confused? As Mr. Volokh later points out, this order is probably highly illegal and unconstitutional.
From the Volokh Conspiracy post:
If the order is as reported, then it's a blatant violation of the Free Speech Clause (because it's a speech restriction), the Free Exercise Clause (because it singles out religion for special restriction), the Establishment Clause (because it prefers some religions over others, and requires the court to decide what's a "mainstream" religion), and likely the Equal Protection Clause (because the order discriminates based on religion) and the Due Process Clause (because of the order's vagueness) as well.
Well, that should take care of two or three Amendments, right? Geez. Surely this won't stand. I wonder when we will hear Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, and James Dobson screaming about 'activist judges' on this on. We will, won't we?

Tumbling, tumbling, tumbling

Freaking Red Sox. Crap. Shit. F&^k. I shouldn't let it bother me, but it does. Sorry.

Reformed Confederate Theocrats

So I was cruising the web last week, and I found a rather intriguing site:, subheading 'Reformed Confederate Theocrats'. Read it, think on it, question it, and wonder how much of a minority that particular outlook is.

Liberal or Conservative?

Your Political Profile

Overall: 30% Conservative, 70% Liberal

Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

I think I tend to lean a bit more toward Conservative generally, but I suppose this is close enough.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"I went to Iraq, and all I got was this lousy re-deployment"

We often hear about how the Army is struggling to meet enlisted recruitment levels. Well, it seems that another, worse crisis for the Army could be looming: experienced, battle-tested junior and mid-level officers opting out of the service and toward a civilian career. This LA Times article has more. An enlightening excerpt:

"I still don't know if we can make it," said a senior Army officer at the Pentagon. "You tell me what Iraq is going to look like next year."

Meanwhile, the Army is dispatching combat units to Iraq and Afghanistan after soldiers have had just one year at home, a pace that is taking a toll around the country.

Timothy Muchmore, a civilian Army official at the Pentagon and a retired tank officer, said he was worried about an exodus of young officers. He summed up the problem this way:

"You take a junior officer, you send them overseas for a year. They win a lot of medals, and they're a hero. But when you send them back a second time, the odds go up that they won't make it home alive and it becomes even harder on their family. Are they any more of a hero for having served a second time? No.

"The guys returning from Iraq and Afghanistan believe they have done at least the minimum for the security of their country, and they are proud of their service," he said. "But the world is now their oyster."

These are the young men and women that have the most experience dealing with this new style of warfare, and they are being driven out of the force by the pace of the conflict. I wonder how long until the chickenhawks accuse these officers of being unAmerican. Jonah Goldberg, your number is being called! Rush Limbaugh, your name is next! Free Republic, time to put action to words!

Murray Chass=MORON

Murray Chass is a great baseball writer, but you know, the title of his newest (subscription required) NYT article is
Exorcism Is Not Complete Until Red Sox Win the A.L. East

He goes to say, in rather moronic fashion:
If they play the Yankees in the American League Championship Series this October and beat them again (they certainly would not be able to top the way they did it last year), then win the World Series again, so what? Been there, done that.

The one thing the Red Sox have not done in this era of the renewed rivalry is finish ahead of the Yankees in the American League East, winning the division championship, of course. For the Red Sox to finish second while the Yankees place third would be an empty achievement. Being the division champion is what it is all about for the Red Sox this season, whether they admit it or not.

Which is a roundabout way of saying the Red Sox have blown it.

Holy crap. As a diehard of Sox fan for almost 30 years, I have little interest in winning the East. Who freaking cares? We lost the East and won the World Series. 'Been there, done that.' Bullshit. Murray Chass really is reaching.

Reflections on the School Year

So this post is just going to be me rambling a bit about the school year. Feel free to skip over it.

This is the end of my third year teaching, and it has been a mixed bag. I certainly think that I have the whole hang of this teaching thing down, but I realized a few things too. For one, I am way too disorganized. I take too long getting student work back to them as a result. I also seem to make my assignments too big; not all students can answer 15 short answer questions in 50 minutes, if only because they throw everything into the answer, and what should only take a paragraph or two ends up taking 2 pages. I need to work with them at the start of the year on how to respond to short answer specific questions.
I took too much time on certain subjects in World History, like the Roman Empire, Islam, Christianity and Catholicism, and Early Man. Because of this, I did a disservice to vast tracts of European History, and I barely touched Asia, Africa, and the Americas. And I am most dissapointed in myself for only spending 4 days on the Holocaust, a subject that I think is the most important of everything I cover. But dammit, you CANNOT teach the history of the world in one freaking year and go into any depth. I am terrified of the FCAT; what am I going to do when they have to be tested on this stuff. How much detail should I go into? I wonder if I will ever figure it out; to me, if I can't go into depth, if I can't explain the whys and whos and hows, there is little point discussing the whats.
Juggling my own classes at UF and my career has been more difficult than I imagined. I took a total of 13 hours (5 classes) this past year in pursuit of my PhD, and got A's in all of them. But they are only going to get more difficult, especially as I get closer to my dissertation and quals. How am I going to continue juggling these things? I am excited, though, about actually teaching at UF in the fall. I will be preparing my syllabus and packet for that class soon. :)
The change in administration at my school has been difficult, but I think our new principal has been rounding into shape as the year closes. I just pray to God that there are no more freaking murders or hurricanes next year that have the impact that those events did at the school this past year. Oh, and I am stepping down from Union rep. I can't handle the duties of that on top of everything else. Ironically, I was asked to run for Union Vice-President. An honor, but I had to decline. I also turned down a job at PK Yonge. I think that I will be better off at WHS; they have agreed to be flexible with my planning period and to work with me as I pursue my classes. I am also working toward implementing the first AP classes in the county, a project I approach with enthusiasm.
Overall, a rough year I am glad is over, but I do have things to look forward to next year, and I am glad to be coming back. Ooops. I did ramble. Sorry.

Manny in Decline?

David Pinto over at Baseball Musings has a short post up discussing the seeming decline in the skills of one Manny Ramirez. Honestly, I'm not really that worried about Manny. As the commenter Jason points out:

Hello? There's another, much more likely, explanation for the "decline": balls-in-play that usually find holes are currently being turned into outs. Manny is drawing walks and hitting HR's slightly above his career averages. And, on balls-in-play, he's making the sort of contact that JC's PrOPS system predicts would yield a 1.044 OPS. i.e. the problem isn't Manny's hitting ability; the problem is a short-sightedness in interpreting baseball statistics.

Manny WILL hit. I am more concerned about who we are going to get to close, and whether David Wells should be run out of town on a rail or simply tarred, feathered, and dropped off in New York.

Revenge of the Sith: Some Thoughts

So, being the Star Wars junkie that I am, I have seen Revenge of the Sith twice now, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Certainly it had flaws, but I thought the pluses far outweighed the minuses. Some thoughts (Spoilers!):

  • 'Hold me like you held me on Naboo.'--ugh. Definitely can't write romance, can you George?
  • The title, Revenge of the Sith, fits well with Episode VI, Return of the Jedi. Recall that the original title of VI was supposed to be Revenge of the Jedi.
  • Friend of mine pointed out, though, that Return of the Sith might have been a better title. What exactly are the Sith getting revenge for?
  • I thought the bits with the droids were just humorous enough. The battledroid reaction to getting shocked by R2 was great.
  • Palapatine was played with just the right degree of sliminess. A classic politician.
  • Anakin wasn't that annoying to me.
  • Certainly could now see that there WAS a reason Luke thought his father could be turned back to the light. Made the end of Episode VI alot better in my mind.
  • Mace Windu was an ass.
  • Yoda kicks ass.
  • 'Master Skywalker, there are too many of them. What are we going to do?', followed by the woosh of a lightsaber. I wonder if the film would have received an 'R' if Lucas chose to show what happened next. I actually almost cried at that scene.
  • Order 66--I had to explain to a friend how all of the Clones could suddenly turn on the Jedi they spent so much time with. I think that it was simply programmed into the clones in gestation that when they received Order 66, they are to destroy the Jedi.
  • Speaking of the clones, they look a lot cooler than the Stormtroopers. I guess Palapatine cut the armor budget?
  • Yoda and Palapatine-great battle. I appreciated seeing that Palpatine was more than just an old man who could shoot lightning. Definitely a Dark Lord of the Sith.
  • Palapatine talking about Darth Plagus the Wise. He never says it in the film, but note how fondly he discusses Plagus' student murdering him in his sleep. Palapatine/Sidious' old master? I need to read the book.
  • Darth Vader and Obi-Wan---best lightsaber duel ever.
  • Man to machine---creepy.
  • I liked the tie-ins to later Episodes that Lucas tried to include: picking up the lightsaber at Mustafar, Owen and Beru posing on Tatooine, a familar Alderaan ship, Obi-Wan learning how to come back from the Force, Grand Moff Tarkin's cameo, the Death Star, and many others.

Overall, I give the film a B+. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is still the best, but Episode III is my new number 2. Then, I think Episodes IV, II, VI, and I.

The Filibuster Fix?

So apparently moderate Dems and Republicans achieved a compromise of sorts on the whole judicial filibuster issue. Some Dems, liberals and other progressives are a bit upset, and I suppose they have a point. A showdown with the wingnuts would be nice, but I fear that it would also be bloody. My personal view is that the filibuster should be saved for the Supreme Court; let's not shoot our wad now, folks. And honestly, can anything that makes Ayatollah Dobson and his pet Bauer furious be all that bad? I don't think so! I wish to echo some of the comments of Jane at Firedoglake:

4. It is pissing off the Freepers, Dobson and Assmissile, who see this as Frist's failure to go in for the kill. Dobson and his ilk have been angry that Bush didn't move on the Defense of Marriage Act, and feel they were poorly used in the last election. They want to be repaid for their efforts, and this was supposed to be it. They would be happy with nothing less than each and every one of these reactionary judges being jammed down the throats of the Democrats who dared oppose them. It didn't happen. They are screaming in outrage, and quite frankly, they ought to be -- their boy Frist obviously had the votes. How come he couldn't deliver? Why did they have to compromise anything? Fault Harry Reid for not being able to sway one more Republican if you will, but Frist couldn't control his own moderates. It looks bad for the kitty killer, no matter how you look at it.

And Attaturk, guest posting over at Eschaton, points us to the freeper reactions excerpted at Daily Kos. As Attaturk notes, their reaction is as Lord Vader's: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!. Is there anything sweeter than a cracked wingnut?
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