13 September 2007

A Change of Scenery...

I have moved my blog once again (hopefully for near the last time). What I have done is combined this blog with my personal blog (Life on the Fry Side) under a single new banner: The Fry Side, which is located at my new personal website, ebfryer.com. All my archives have moved as well, so returning to this address shouldn't be necessary. I have explained my move in a post there as well.

Cheers, Radioland!

29 August 2007

Intellectual Insight...

Another great essay from This I Believe on the workings of the world coming, this time, from the first Poet Laureate of Canada, George Bowering.  Yet another thoughtful person making ties to jazz.  Mr Bowering's essay is "The Holy Life of the Intellect"

I believe that the human intellect is the closest thing we have to the divine. It is the way we can join one another in spirit.

28 August 2007

A Ray of Sunshine...

So I listen to the NPR Podcast It's All Politics with Ken Rudin and Ron Elving. I think they're smart, clever and analytical, and their back and forth is full of beans. Of course, it's geeky, Washington political jibber-jabber. But tying in lots of things historically, this century especially, lends some perspective.

Listening to last week's podcast (8/23/07), they were commenting on the President's war speech talking about what we've done in the past and what we're doing now. Mr Bush made the controversial move of bringing up Vietnam in this speech. They commented on how relations between the United States and Vietnam have changed since the mid-70s, and the quote of the day is when the President visits Vietnam, he uses the slogan

I think we should let Saigons be Saigons.

Oh d'Joy...

21 August 2007

Leaving Different Ones Behind...

This has been the second day in a row reading articles in the Wall Street Journal (yes, I renewed it; I couldn't pass up my cheap subscription price) regarding the United States education reforms.  Particularly, these articles focus on mainstreaming disabled students into standard classrooms.  The original piece of legislation declaring this to be the law was written in 1975.

I think the idea works.  The idea, at least.  All too often, what occurs in practice isn't how it works in reality.  Still, these kids get a great chance to learn with their peers, and their peers get a chance to be exposed to some humility.  Goodness knows so many children these days need that lesson in humility and humanity.  While sometimes those with special needs get put where they oughtn't be (especially when there is a difference between behavioral disorders and learning disabilities), it's a good thing to try.

In 2001, our foresighted federal government passed another mass education reform: the No Child Left Behind Act.  Its principal was to ensure that children do not slip through the cracks during their education.  It is a noble goal, indeed.  However, it does expose some truths about children and schools.

Believe it or not, some kids do better in education than others.  I would even go far enough to say some are smarter than others, but that is quite an over-generalization on how things work.  So when the schools are told to make sure no kid fails, but they're already doing their best to get as many the best education they can, things get fudged.

Grades get fudged, and when the state requires 'checks' (ie, tons of testing) on students' academic progress, little things are done to help out. Extra time is given, reading comprehension exams are read aloud, and even calculators are given out when they are not called for. Every time this happens, the bar gets lowered a little more. And the bar has been lowering at an alarming rate for over a decade. We've succeeded! No child can be left behind now. We won the war on education.

But the truth is that it is different kids who are left behind. Reading a tidbit from Time, it turns out the gifted, the ones who will actually help continue and advance our world, are being left behind. Some argue that they will come out on their own; they don't need any help. That is hardly the case. What the best way to leave a bright child behind? Ignoring their achievements. You'll turn them off to the world so fast that by the time it's even realized, they would be as insubstantial as ghosts.

This very point was brought home to me a while back. I was working in the lab and looked out the window to see a select group of students waiting for a bus to arrive to take them on a trip. I could recognize about half of the kids, and quickly figured out that these were the under-achieving behavioral problem group. They were being awarded with a field trip. Why? I have no idea. Probably just because they showed up. I'm sure it was an incentive to keep their butts in the seats the rest of the year. All this while I'm sure there were twice as many gifted kids being bored out of their gourds in classrooms looking out at them.

These articles pointed out another group of kids being left behind still: those in special education. The mainstreaming combined with lowering of standards (punishment essentially ensues if a kid fails) means that the special needs kids aren't being taught to bring up their actual abilities. They are instead just being pushed through, helped along, and given diplomas that don't mean a thing. What good is a high school diploma when a kid is left at a sixth grade reading level? These kids deserve the little extra help from their qualified special education teachers to bring home the points taught to them in their mainstream classes, rather than being given assistance only to pass through the standardized testing that the system focuses too much on.

I do so wish I had a solution. But I would say that this really was the reason I majored in Political Science, so that I might enter into politics to change these frighteningly low standards and bring back the dignity that used to go along with a high school graduation and the prestige brought about by having a rare university education. The common folk of our country got running water, electrical power while still managing to split the atom on a miniscule percentage of the people having college and university educations.

18 August 2007

I Suddenly want a Pin-Up Calendar...

Here's a good blog, and even more good (albeit sometimes a touch out of touch) commentary following it.  Some is nonsense, of course, particularly the strain on porn, but they come back around when commenting more on violent pop culture (which I do think is an oxymoron).  Still, it was nice to read a bit more of the generally good discourse that the internet is capable of instead of the rubbish spewed as commentary on YouTube or MySpace.

In all, I think in this day and age, tossing a pin-up in my basement or, if the fates allow, a cabin would be to me a nice reminder that beauty can come in forms other than what's seen on television and that popular tastes (thankfully!) change over time.  Or maybe I'm just me and happen to dig the curves of women and am unattracted to, and even unsettled by, stick-thin women.

16 August 2007

A Quick Question...

When did Russ Ortiz get traded back to the Giants, and why did nobody tell me?  I loved that pitcher ever since his debut; he's a workhorse.

Oh yeah, and the Twins are still great, even if they only managed to win a couple games in the past week and a half.  Owning the Mariners is a good way of getting out of a slump.

Baseball is good for the soul.

14 August 2007

Ding Dong, the Devil's Gone...

Karl Rove Quits

Now, I don't condone what he did, but I also don't give him full credit.  The realignment of the Republican party on almost solely religious and cultural grounds began its success with the Richard Nixon election campaign in 1968.  It was how he beat the Solid South out of being Democratic since the Civil War.  Mr Rove, though, was a part of maintaining a Republican majority across the board for over a decade.  Of course that changed in the past few years when people started thinking with their pocketbooks again (I don't think the Democrats won, I think the Republicans lost their other, and far more principal, small-business, small-government, small-taxes base.)

Still, of all that's happened, only one image springs to mind: rats fleeing a sinking ship.  So many of the primary staffers, and even more of the behind-the-scenes I'm sure, are quitting, resigning, or being asked to leave.  If I was in their shoes, now would be a great time to desert a lame duck, hoping that the awful that is guaranteed to happen in the rest of the decade will erase from our collective short-term memory their actions.  Lord knows being prosecuted for one's actions would be a terribly unfair act.

What amazes me, and I have to remember, that back in 2000, had I had the opportunity to vote, I would have voted for President Bush.  After all, the man backing him, and the rest of his associates, were old veterans of classic world diplomacy since Nixon (who I still argue was our last qualified President).
(Found via Andrew Sullivan and attached is a great article by Scott Horton).
This is who I would have elected. It is most definitely not who is currently holding office.

So I bid, well, not farewell, but... um... I don't know.  Not goodbye.  Not farewell.  Not even a cheeky ta.  Ah, I know, a curt bye.  I bid a curt bye to a man who manipulated the poor and the ignorant, who destroyed how many view good Christians, and a man who I will not forget.  I will not let history vindicate this man.  Bye.

13 August 2007

A Red Hope...

Shhh... don't tell my Granddad: