Sunday, January 15, 2006

The dumbing down of our language

I was just reading this new york times article on why democrats are basically resigning themselves to the fact that Samuel Alito will make it onto the Supreme COurt because they (the Democrats) are outnumbered. The article also quotes some law experts on other smaller but still significant issues on why their is not much public opposition to Alito's viewpoints. It is clear he is conservative and opposes abortion but he is a whiz at evading questions. This from the ny times:

"It may be a mistake to think that their failure demonstrates that they necessarily did something wrong," said Richard H. Fallon, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School. Referring to one of the major Democratic complaints about Judge Alito's testimony, Mr. Fallon said: "As long as most of the public will settle for evasive or uninformative answers, maybe there was nothing that they could have done to get Alito to make a major error."

So it seems that, according to Fallon, the public is willing to eat up answers that are not really answers but just soundbites. It is the dumbing down of our language as we know it and we, the American people, are allowing it to happen by not objecting to the pathetic answers this man has given the Senate Democrats.

Also another brilliant PR move on the part of Republicans -- to have Alito's wife begin crying during the questioning. Apparently, the network cameras moved over to her instead of the more important issue at hand -- the hearing.

"Had she not cried, we would have won that day," said one Senate strategist involved in the hearings, who did not want to be quoted by name discussing the Democrats' problems. "It got front-page attention. It was on every local news show."

Refresh Tears come in handy for times like these. I picture her looking around to make sure no one's watching before splashing some in her eyes, much like Owen Wilson's character in Wedding Crashers. (I think he used Visine but Refresh Tears work just as well for this sort of attention grabbing stunt.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I taught

Today, I taught for the first time in my life.
Kids responded.
They listened, but more importantly, they talked.
We read "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut and explored equality and sameness.
I never thought of myself as a science fiction reader, but it's coming back to me that the first book I really connected with in high school was Ray Bradbury's Fahrenhiet 451. The subject matter blew me away. This couldn't really happen could it? (I still have my book, coverless and all). In "Harrison Bergeron" you think the same thing, and it makes you realize that perhaps it's better that humanity is so varied. But you hope that the television really isn't making people as dumb as Vonnegut made his characters.
Thanks for reading. I feel closer to being a teacher now that I've actually taught and hopefully made a difference in a student's life. One more week of graduate school, and then it's on to student teaching....

Saturday, December 10, 2005

After test

Today I took my final state test to become certified to teach english in new york. A few little mishaps: forgot the test ticket at home and had to drive 25 minutes to get the ticket and come back. Result: Still made it there on time. Word to the wise: State tests never start on time. Then, before the test began I had to relinquish my cell phone and place it in a state issuesd ziplock bag, upon which I wrote my name and home phone number.

They kept my phone downstairs with the many others while I took my test. When I was done 3 hours and 10 minutes later I went to pick up my cell phone from "the cell phone holder" or so he called himself when he called my father an hour earlier to tell him I left my cell phone there! Apparently he had been given the misinformation that I finished my test before I actually did and left my cell phone. So, said cell phone holder turned my phone on and instead of calling the number on the bag (which would be the logical thing to do) called "Dad Cell" to let my father, who didn't know I was taking a test, to tell him I left my cell phone. Of course the man wouldn't tell my dad who he was and only referred to himself as the "cell phone holder" but, my father, not knowing what the heck this was about, naturally demanded more information. Total silliness. If anything, it gave me a chance to call my dad, catch up, and find out what he wanted for Christmas. Result: Silliness, but not a big deal.

Finally, as I was getting into my car after the test and was on the phone with K., I stopped to look at the sky. It was probably the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen. Hundreds of small clouds dotted the sky from one end of the horizon to the other. The colors were so warm and inviting. For a few moments I forgot about the debacle and the cold and just watched. Soon after, I was inspired to write this poem:

"After test" by: BJS

The deep blues and warm melons
fading into the horizon.
A long row of low clouds
first mistaken as such
then seen for their true form -
the mountains standing clear and resolute
against the warm hues
of the evening sky.

This is:
Winter sunset
after test,
when words like
phonology and morphology
become meaningless
in the face
of the majestic beauty
of Mother Nature.

After test:
I am too moved
and too warmed
to feel any chill.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


P-Town Bay Posted by Picasa
This is where we got engaged.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pollitt on Dowd

i found this great column by katha politt on the state of affairs of women, according to maureen dowd, times columnist who just published a book called "are men necessary?" pollitt's column has a funny beginning ("Maureen Dowd doesn't read my column"), which draws you right in. I realized that dowd is not a feminist, far from it actually. From Pollitt's column:
It's annoying to read pronouncements about feminism based mostly on chats with her friends in the media about men, clothes, TV shows and Botox. Why not call up some people who actually do feminist work?

Dowd, for example, thinks feminism may be a "cruel hoax" because it keeps women single--men are scared of spunky, successful women.
I really don't understand how people can't see the value in feminism. It just doesn't
make any sense. You ask, what is feminism anyway? There are so many definitions... but one of mine is that women should be sexually, socially, economically and intellectually equal to men. For instance, I've worked at a company where men younger and with less experience were consistently paid more than me. Where is the fairness or equality in that? Why should they make more money just because they are a different sex than me?

I am upset that a woman as famous and smart as maureen dowd would not embrace a principle that only has the best interests of women in mind. What are women like her so afraid of after all?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Back again, where the heck was I?

Don't you love how I don't blog for two months and then suddenly there are three posts? I guess that's what happens when you start writing a paper about blogs. I've got other things to do, but this is the most interesting of them all right now. Also, I realized that if I am going to argue for using blogs as a teaching tool for writing, I should probably start posting again. Practice what I preach, if ya know what I mean.

So where have I been all this time? Studying for a test upon which my entire graduate career was riding, doing homework, reading, preparing to be a student teacher, and planning my wedding. These are all wonderful things, but they leave no time for pleasure reading, let alone blogging.

I will attempt to make short posts every few days. Most of those posts will probably be news related. I'm still as big a news junkie as I ever was. I literally have to pry myself from the times and the nation when I know I should be writing my paper. My previous posts are evidence that it didn't really work. I mean, how does one "pry" oneself anyway? Although I don't read the news in the morning like I used to, it was actually causing too much stress in my life, I do scan/read the news (mostly during my procrastination phase) when writing papers.

OK. Must. finish. paper.

Decoding the Rhetoric

I love how the New York Times keeps pounding away at Bush and his lies. It gives my goosebumps. This is the number one emailed story. I read it when it was number five and i didn't even email it to anyone. A little while later I checked it again and there it was, at the top. I don't even think Republican voters buy Bush's rhetoric anymore. It's sad, that it took this long for them to figure that out. But oh well, better late than never. I love how JOhn Kerry keeps plugging away at Bush and the Republicans. Just a hunch, but I think he'll run again in '08.

The Boss and Blogs

The New York Times has this cool article about Bruce Springsteen's new DVD. After you read the article you can view clips from the DVD and watch an awesome 30-year-old performance of Bruce singing "She's the One" plus an interview with Bruce's manager/producer.

By the by, I'm in the middle of writing a research paper about blogging and how it can be used in schools! I am a big proponent of this. When I become a teacher I plan to use blogging as a tool to teach writing. The biggest barrier I will face is going to be access to computers and high speed internet. In my research I have found that a New Jersey teacher used blogging to teach The Secret Life of Bees, one of my favorite contemporary novels. The kids even had the opportunity to talk to the author online.

Richardson recently posted on his own blog about how high school blogs are more restricted. That is probably the biggest debate. Should teenagers writing in school be exposed to the big bad world and be completely responsible for their own writing? Or should educators create ways to protect them and the school?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Crude Oil

From The Nation:" Spurred by the Bush Administration's energy plan, which calls for massive investment in deep-water fields, the big oil firms have poured billions of dollars into new offshore drilling facilities in the Gulf. Before Katrina, these facilities were expected to supply more than 12 percent of America's Lower 48 petroleum output by the end of 2005, and a much larger share in the years thereafter."

---And then mother nature swooped down with 150 mph+ winds and said, "oh no you don't."