Saturday, November 29, 2008

Speaking of Simulations....

At-Risk, from Kognito Interactive, is a really neat simulation that was mentioned in the Eduwonkette thread that I posted about below. It's to help professors work with students who have mental or emotional issues, and I think there's a lot of good to be had there for the secondary teachers as well. I had some good thoughts just from doing the demo.

Read more here, if any.

Today's Fun Timewaster

Violet by Jeremy Freese, a brilliantly old-school text adventure that echoes everything you've ever heard about graduate school.

Just wish the goings-on on the quad at Eastern were as interesting as what he describes in the game.

(h/t to Eduwonkette)

Labels: , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Hardest Working Man in Washington Education Award: Jim Kowalkowski

He's the director of the Rural Education Center at Washington State University.
He's one of the Superintendents on the Basic Education Finance Task Force that's currently looking at how to overhaul the whole ed finance system here in Washington.
And in his spare time he's Superintendent of the Davenport School District, which is currently trying to get community support for a project to build an expansion on to their elementary school.

I wish I had that sort of energy.

Update (11/29): He's also become an unstoppable man/machine amalgamation, according to the most recent Davenport Times, which unfortunately isn't online. Jim Kowalkowslki is the Lawnmower Man.

Labels: , , ,

Read more here, if any.

I'm Not Shopping on Black Friday

Goldy reminds me why. Then there's the guy who was trampled to death by Wal-Mart shoppers, also picked up on by Wonkette. And the shoot-out at Toys 'R' Us.

This year I did about half of my Christmas shopping on-line. I like it better that way.

Labels: , , ,

Read more here, if any.

I Take Pleasure in the Misery of the Oklahoma Thunder

13 losses in a row, worst record in the league, lousy offense, lousy defense. Congratulations on your acquisition of the Sonics, Oklahoma City!

Labels: , ,

Read more here, if any.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

College Students Getting Riled Up Over Budget Cuts

The Evergreen Committee for Full Funding at Evergreen State College is off to a good start with their blog, and Tacoma Community College has Stop the Cuts. I wish them both well this coming legislative session, and I love the image of those most effected by the cuts (the students) making their voice heard.

The way things are going every CC, College, and University in the state should be mobilizing RIGHT NOW to get a defense going. Talk to your friends and neighbors, set up email chains for your local legislator, and think about how to present your best story in a positive way that shows the value of your school.

And if you're a teacher who has the ability to join the WEA Political Action Committee, do it.

It's Ragnarok, folks. If you're not worried, you're not paying attention.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Book Title of the Day

A Little Thanksgiving T & A

Headlines That Aren't:

Boys Caught Snickering at Bathroom Graffiti

It appears to be a legitimate headline in a real newspaper. I wish I lived in a town with that little news. My favorite comment:

Did y'all see the story of the paw-paw in Baker who had his grandkid pull his finger?
Happy Thanksgiving!

Read more here, if any.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

You Are Reading the Blog of a Chump

Remember the other day, when I was saying nice things about the presidents of Washington and Washington State Universities for refusing pay raises, or taking a pay cut? Man, what good examples!

Then I got this week's Chronice of Higher Education. Hey, guess which university presidents have the highest base pay in the country?

  1. David P. Rosell, Delaware: $2,377,000
  2. E. Gordon Gee, Ohio State: $775,000
  3. Mark Emmert, University of Washington: $603,120
  4. Elson S. Floyd, Washington State University: $600,000
#3 and #4 in the county. Not bad for government work. The pictures gets even rosier when you consider that Emmert is also #3 in the country for deferred compensation; he's got a cool $250,000 still coming to him, eventually.

So that made me go hmmm. Then I turend the page and met this headline:

For a Raise, Try Looking in the Evergreen State

....which goes on to cite the state of Washington as a great, great place to be a university president. There's a defense of the salaries paid, Emmert's especially, as being the price you have to pay to keep talent. I don't disagree.

But when the state is looking at a $5 billion dollar hole big salaries raise eyebrows, and those are big salaries.

Labels: , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Here He Comes to Save the Day?

Headline from Daily Kos: Obama to Meet with Governors Over State Financial Woes.

Given the current scope of the bailout for AIGFordChryslerChevroletAmericanExpressCitiCorpCaliforniaBuggyWhipMakers, a few billion to Washington State seems comparatively cheap.

Labels: , ,

Read more here, if any.

I Am a Nattering Nabob of Negativism

Thanks, Bill Safire!

The November 14th Chronicle Review has an article about the decline and fall of the public intellectual; blogs may not have killed him, the article implies, but they certainly pissed on the grave. You can read more at 3QuarksDaily; it also fits in with a larger discussion that Goldy has been having over at Horse's Ass on the netroots and political action.

Sometimes the choir can be discordant, but every voice should be heard.

Read more here, if any.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


As a big MMA fan I absolutely love this:

WINCHESTER, Mass. — At the high school in this small, pretty and proper-looking town near Boston, a student was being choked by another student — with the school’s permission.

Just another meeting of the Winchester High mixed martial arts club, which may be the only of its kind in the country.
I had an inkling that Brock Lesnar would beat Randy Couture; just didn't think it'd be like that. Next superfight on my mind: Georges St. Pierre v. BJ Penn. That's going to be a dilly.

Labels: , ,

Read more here, if any.

Monday, November 24, 2008



First, let's go to the source material, from the Seattle Times, on how they would balance the state budget:

• $926 million — Cancel the Initiative 728 money, or most of it. Officially this is for class-size reduction in the public schools, but the schools have folded it into everyday operations. Cutting I-728 money was done in 2003, when the budget was in a crisis, and has to be done again. That is the danger of budgeting by initiative.
Then go to the exposition, from Goldy at Horse's Ass:

No, I just wanted to point out that a $926 million cut comes to over $900 per K-12 student over the course of the biennium, or roughly $450 per student per year. For a typical elementary school with about 400 kids, that’s about $180,000 out of the annual budget. How many teachers will need to be cut? Do they increase class size for all the kids, or do they eliminate art or music or gym or reading tutors… assuming they have any of these left to cut?
In my district of about 2,000 kids, $450 less a year would mean a loss of $900,000 next year. That's about 13 teaching positions. We had to lay off teachers and cut the librarians this year after a $300,000 hole; the things we'd have to do with a deficit of almost a million dollars would be heartwrenching.

There is no happy ending possible. If you're thinking about going into teaching, don't.

Labels: , , , ,

Read more here, if any.

College Presidents Take Lead on Salary Issues--No Raises for Them!

This I like, from the Spokesman-Review:

With state colleges and universities facing the potential for historic budget cuts, the president of Washington State University is taking a $100,000 salary cut.

WSU's Board of Regents voted to approve Elson S. Floyd's pay cut Friday, upon his request.

"These are exceedingly tough times for my students, faculty and staff," Floyd said. "We will be asking them to think more creatively and work harder with less as we deal with budgetary restraints.

"It is incumbent upon me to lead by example."
Similarly, the president of the University of Washington has also decided not to take a scheduled pay raise.

The cynics of the world might note that in Floyd's first year on the job he made $600,000, and that the pay cut is really a cancellation of a pay raise, and he'll still go up $25,000. That said, gestures matter an awful lot in times like this, and it's great to see a school leader take the lead like this.

Labels: , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Mitch and Shelly Short Story Concludes

Rich Roesler of the Spokesman-Review has really been hitting it out of the park lately, and this post on the guilty plea that Mitch Short entered into court recently is must-read for anyone who has followed the story.

I like Shelly. I think she can do a good job representing the 7th, where I live, and I look forward to visiting with her about education issues. It would be hard to argue, though, that she isn't going into the office with a cloud over her head, and she's going to have to work awfully hard to overcome that stigma. Can the House Republicans give her leadership positions? Can Rep. Joel Kretz, the new #2 in the caucus, be her rabbi and make sure she gets a fair shake? Will she get challenged in two years, the way that Kretz wasn't this year?

It's a seat to watch.

Labels: , , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Public Employee Pensions and the Economic Crisis

The November 13th edition of Marketplace from National Public Radio had a good segment on the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and how it's struggling with the market tanking; I suspect that it's a trend that many states are going to be struggling with in the coming year. You can listen to the segment here.

Labels: ,

Read more here, if any.

What Would I Like to See Out of the Upcoming Legislative Session?

True confession time: when it comes to political activism, I really don't enjoy getting people elected. I'm glad when the folks that I'm pulling for win their races, but doorbelling, phone banking, and the like just aren't my strength. I'm good with the people who know me and my politics, but with the cold calling? Not so much.

On the other hand, I love the legislative process. Watching a bill come to life, seeing it get shepherded through the House and Senate on its way to the Governor's desk, and watching all the battles along the way? That's my idea of a good time. It's why I like my work with the Members Lobbying Team for the WEA so well; getting to go to Olympia and pitch our local legislators directly is a neat, neat thing that everyone should try at least once.

A few weeks ago JL, frequent commentator here on the blog, emailed and asked what bills I'd like to see come up this session. His challenge was to come up with a small one that a freshman legislator might be able to sneak through, something productive yet cheap, and another bill that could be system changing, expensive as hell, and cause fistfights. It's a fun time for this kind of thinking, what with all the big school news coming out in the past few weeks, so here are some thoughts:

  • Mandating that Dish and DirectTV carry TV Washington: OK, you probably couldn't make it a mandate, but consider--anyone in the state who has cable TV can get TV Washington and see the legislature in action directly, but for those wide swaths of Washington that don't get cable (I live in one of them), you can't get TVW. Sure, it's online, but those same places that don't get cable also don't get reliable internet connections. If Dish can carry my three local PBS stations, MyNetwork TV, and the local Shop at Home channel, why not TV Washington? Northwest Cable News would be nice, too. Maybe the language of the bill could be something along the lines of asking the management of TVW to explore making an agreement with the satellite TV companies, language that wouldn't be enforceable but would still get the point across.

  • Widening the definition of a high needs school to include schools with high military populations: Why? For the National Boards bonus. There's a lot of work going on right now with the Compact on the Military Child, where states are acknowledging that military kids have unique needs and challenges; why not have Washington take the lead on the issue and give the schools that serve those kids a bonus to be able to attract the best teachers? Right now NBPTS certified teachers can make an extra $5,000 a year for having the certificate, and another $5,000 on top of that if they're in a "challenge" school; if you included schools with high military populations in that challenge pool, you'd end up spending more on military kids by default. That's not a bad thing.

  • Excusing public schools from having to pay the gas tax: Rep. McCune introduced a bill to this point in the last session, and it really is a good idea. Consider: right now the state funds school transportation. Part of this money is used to pay for gas, which is taxed, with the tax money going back to the state to pay for things. Why not just clip the circle and save some effort?

  • Get rid of the laws mandating health screenings: I know that there was an effort to get rid of the scoliosis screening, though I'm not sure if it passed or not; this memo from OSPI makes it look like it was still a requirement for this school year. The State Board of Health has information that makes it look like the screening is completely unnecessary, and I agree. If it's not gone, it should be.

    That said, I'd widen this to include hearing and vision screenings as well. They're manpower intensive efforts that don't really catch all that many kids. Some schools in high poverty areas might want to keep it going, but for those that don't necessarily gain much from the screening, why make it a requirement?

  • Establishing a master tracking system for all kids in Washington Schools. Please save the mark of the beast talk for a later date, but consider: we will never really know who the dropouts in this state are until we can follow the schools that they've attended, are attending, and aren't attending. If a student leaves school, but enrolls in an on-line school that they never finish, are they a dropout? If a migrant student goes to 4 different high schools in their four years, and never finishes at their last one but says that they're going to a different one, how do you know?

    There would be some cost to this, sure, but with WSIPC and Skyward becoming the coin of the realm I think it's doable now in a way that it's never been before.
I've some other ideas kicking around as well, but that's a good start.

What would you like to see the legislature accomplish this year?

Read more here, if any.

Ya Think?

Headline from the Friday Seattle Times:

Will Economy Hurt UW, WSU Stadium Plans?

Well, it damned well better. That, and both teams stinking. If teachers lose their jobs while the University of Washington and their billion-dollar endowment get a new football palace, then our priorities are waaaaaaaaaay out of whack.

Labels: , , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

There Won't Be a Happy Ending, but Maybe There Can Be a Happy Moment

Grab the tissues:

The graduation ceremony at Hanford High School on Wednesday almost seemed like any other.

The school’s band played the fight song, the program listed the class of 2009’s motto and flower, and the snapping shutters of disposable cameras recorded it all.

But it is November. And the ceremony was far from typical. A squirt of hand sanitizer was mandatory at the door. Boxes of tissues were scattered throughout the auditorium. And there was but one honored graduate.

Liz Evett was met by nearly 650 cheering peers, relatives and teachers as she was wheeled into the auditorium wearing a purple cap and gown.

“When we came in the auditorium and we saw all the people — whoa,” said Evett, who was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago and relapsed in April. “I am so thankful.”

The West Richland 18-year-old stopped responding to chemotherapy in June and was given weeks to months to live. She immediately began checking things off her “bucket list” of things she wants to do before she dies.

She has fed giraffes at San Diego Zoo’s Wild Kingdom, watched favorite movies again and met Mary Alice Yeskey of Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes.

But as Evett’s health faltered in recent weeks, it looked as if she wouldn’t make it to one of her goals — graduation.

“When we identified her as terminal, we didn’t think she would make it to her 18th birthday (in August), let alone the end of the school year,” said Evett’s stepfather Lyle Ivey. “She has days.”
You can read the rest of the article here.

She may not have much time, but at least she was able to have her ceremony. Kudos to all who worked to organize the event.

(and am I the only one getting a little sick of the idea of a "bucket list"? Maybe it's a little too jocular a term for an article about someone who's going to die before their 20th birthday? Just sayin'.........)

Labels: , ,

Read more here, if any.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Have Nothing to Say About This

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hey, Look, It's Patty Murray!

I'm in the camp that wanted to see Joe Lieberman thrown off of the Homeland Security Committee. I pretty much knew he wouldn't be, because Harry Reid is a sissy milquetoast homunculus, but the thought that Lieberman could say the things he did and get off free as a bird is pathetic.

Apparently the Senior Senator from Washington didn't agree, though, because in watching this video off of Daily Kos who's right there taking in the Harry and Joe Show? Hey, it's Patty! ZOMG!

She's good on veteran's issues, but boy I'd rather she hadn't played nice on this one.

Labels: , , ,

Read more here, if any.

You Can Tell It's Apple Cup Week....

....because there's a big uptick in searches coming in from Google for "Wazzu Sucks" and "University of Washington Sucks."

Check out David Duffey's Bottom 10 column for more smack on the upcoming pillow fight between the Huskies and Cougars. The caption for the game: "They Can't Get Along, So They're Gonna Get It Wrong!"

Hooray football!

Labels: , , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Let's Talk Travel Audit!

Last week the State Auditor's Office released a report on school district travel practices. You can read more about it here from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, or here from the Spokesman-Review.

In the cover letter to the report Brian Sonntag goes on record as saying the auditors discovered $1.1 million dollars in five-year savings; on the next page, they share that the audit cost $777,564 to run, which lowers the savings to about $320,000. Not insignificant--that's enough to pay the salary and benefits for four teachers, after all--but also not much in the big scheme of things. If total travel across the state in the last three years adds up to $75 million (3/10 of 1% of the education budget), then the identified savings are only 1/75th of that amount. Again, all savings are good, but context matters as well; if the "waste" is such a small fraction of the whole, are we looking at the wrong spending problems?

Additionally, some of the conclusions that the auditors came up with are rather hard to support. Take applying the "Federal Lodging Limit" to the lodging that districts pay for when they attend conferences, for example. Apparently the Feds have a price and a multiplier that can be applied to any city to determine how much money you should pay to stay there, but the hotels that host these conferences (I'm looking at YOU, Sea-Tac Hilton!) often are some of the most expensive. If you don't stay at the host location you have to rent a car, which adds costs. In some cases the report faults districts for spending $19 a night more than the per diem rate, which seems kind of silly.

When you put it all together this particular criticism of the districts amounts to nearly $500,000, or half of the identified savings, and I'm not sure the charge really sticks. If people are staying in the penthouse, that's a problem. If they're doubling up in a room that's an extra $19 a night? Not so much.

Consider, too, the other big share of the recommendation: off-site retreats and meetings. Here the auditors identified $540,000 in five-year savings, but again there are problems:
  • The biggest share of those costs were incurred by the Clover Park School District. The auditors identified about $109,000 in questionable spending on retreats; $87,000 of that was from Clover Park alone.
  • Similarly, it's that $109,000 figure that the auditors multiplied to get the $540,000 in savings, but if Clover Park is such a large share of the pie that throws the reality of the total savings way off kilter.
  • A lot of the money we're talking about here isn't state money, it's Federal. All taxpayer money matters, sure, but I'd expect our state auditor to spend more time on state money.
The picture gets even muddier when you read the litany of complaints responses from the audited school districts, where they raise several objections to the conclusions. As an example, the auditors said that school districts should use the state travel contract more; Spokane SD pointed out that Alaska/Horizon Air, the main carrier between Spokane and Seattle, doesn't honor the state rate for that trip. This is the state's fault for not negotiating it into their contract, and it's not something the district can correct unilaterally.

The total effect of the report is rather underwhelming. The initial press release hits you like a ton of bricks, especially the stories of waste they cite, but the foundation that their conclusions are based on doesn't really stand up to close scrutiny.

Labels: , , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Priorities of Government, the Priorities of Schools

Here in Washington State, "Priorities of Government" is a process by which the state identifies those spending decisions that need to be made, ranks them, and then only funds those most important programs that it can pay for. Introduced by Gary Locke in the early part of this decade, it was a big campaign issue when Governor Christine Gregoire and Senator Dino Rossi squared off this year for the Governor's office.

This year the state is facing a $2.3 billion $3 billion $3.5 billion budget hole which has to be balanced, and a large part of that is going to have to come out of the education budget, since it's the largest part of the state budget. You can do this a couple of different ways: by suspending planned spending increases (think COLA) or by cutting existing programs. I think this year we're pretty likely to see both.

You can find more blog chatter about the Priorities of Government here and here, and a list of what the Budgeting Office thinks matters and doesn't for schools at the first link above. It's interesting reading, particularly if you start at the end and see what they think absolutely should not be funded. Consider:

  • Leadership Internship Grants, $1.41 million dollars (91/92): There are 92 potential "purchases" on the education list, with 92 being the least important. This program here was #91, besting only the Reading Corps. I'd say this is a righteous cut; while it's nice for the people who want to become principals, there certainly isn't a shortage of people looking for school leadership positions, so why fund a program that doesn't have a real need attached to it?

    (I'm going to have more to say about this one at a later date. There will be cursing. This will also be a test of the political power of the AWSP.)

  • School Nursing Corp Restoration, $4.52 million (89/92): Again, who would argue with school nurses? Dr. Bergeson had a specific proposal for lowering the student:nurse ratio, and this proposal would go towards that ideal, but given the economic times....away it goes.

  • National Boards Oversight, $524,000 (87/92): This would provide "statewide coordination and oversight efforts" for those pursuing their National Board Certification, which seems completely unnecessary given that there are plenty of Universities that have programs in place to help people who want to go after the certificate. Why add more bureaucracy?

  • Professional Certificate Bonuses, $55.77 million (86/92): This would give a $3,500 bonus to any teacher who has gone through the process to earn their ProCert. The idea is Bergeson's baby--I first heard about it at a WERA conference back in 2006, with her name attached to it--but when the state forces people to get their ProCert it really doesn't have to back up the process with more money if it doesn't want to. I'd like to gently success they scrap ProCert period and try to add some efficiency to the system.
Governor Gregoire releases her budget next month; like last year, that will be a really good indicator about where things could go.

Labels: , , , ,

Read more here, if any.

For Your Monday Pleasure

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I think that we've all been in this situation before.


Read more here, if any.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's the Fact They Added the Word "Hard" That Ruined the Catchphrase

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Conference Week

I'm curious to know, from those of you out there who teach in an elementary school: how does your school schedule for conference days?

A few years ago our elementary specialists voiced a concern about the month of November. When Veteran's Day was on a Friday, and conferences were the Thursday and Friday after that, and the week that followed that one was Thanksgiving, specialist teachers could go very nearly a month without seeing their Friday classes. If your library time was scheduled on Friday that was an inconvenience; if your only music class was on Friday, and your choral concert was supposed to happen in December, that was a big, big problem.

The change we made, then was to move conferences to the week of Thanksgiving. We conference on Monday and Tuesday, then have a teacher workshop day on Wednesday, and have Thursday and Friday off for the holiday. It's worked so well that the Middle School has also adopted that schedule and the High School teachers would also like to see it get done for their building.

Other teachers who I attend class with, though, have the more traditional 5 days of early release. We did that at one point, and I didn't think I'd like changing to two full days of conferences, but I think it's better on the kids now. It's also saved my district some money because they don't have to drive as many kids on those conference days.

How does your district approach parent/teacher conferences, and what would you change if you could?

Labels: , ,

Read more here, if any.

At My Local Station, Gas is $1.95 a Gallon

At this rate we'll be under a dollar by Christmas! ;-)

Speaking of Christmas, got my last Christmas gift in the mail today. Shopping for friends and family is done. Now comes the wrapping, which I'm actually pretty good at. This year my goal is to get Christmas cards done during the Thanksgiving weekend, which would also be a neat, neat thing to have done.

I'm ready for the holidays.

Labels: , ,

Read more here, if any.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Steak FTW!

Well, That's Just Sad

Hate From the Mouths of Babes, from Adam Wilson's blog at The Olympian.

The day after the election one of my reading students came up to me and said, "Mr. Grant--the black guy won!"

"I know, honey."

"My dad and I are going shopping for guns this weekend!"



"Because he wants to take me deer hunting!"

Never was I so happy to have one of my kids do a total non-sequiter.

Labels: ,

Read more here, if any.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Eloquent Debate About the Role of State Government.... not what you'll find in the comments thread of this article at The Olympian.

Labels: , ,

Read more here, if any.

Randy Dorn on the WASL: KILL IT WITH FIRE!

The News Tribune sez it is so, and thus it will be so. I particularly like this comment from "jcathall", who may have been Randy's campaign manager because I don't know who was:

Can you give me one example of how Randy can add origniality and creativity to the process?

Personally I don't think Randy is competant to do the job. I only hope that he is incompetant enough not to hurt anything effectivly before my children graduate highschool.
People accuse Obama of having a Cult of Personality around him, but the Google shows us a lot about what people think Randy is going to do. From a search for "Randy Dorn will": cetera, et cetera.

The take-home, then, is that Randy has a hell of an agenda facing him, but there's also a ton of pressure coming from the Legislature via the Basic Ed Finance Taskforce, as well as the various special interest groups like my own WEA.

Good luck and God speed, Superintendent Dorn. You're going to need it.

Labels: , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Late Election Returns from Your Childhood

Ramona, in happier times

The Quimby Household: 3-1 McCain. “You’re Goddamn right I voted for Obama,” spat a visibly agitated Ramona Quimby, age 28, absentmindedly waving around a lit cigarette with her tattoo-covered arm. “That 'Jesus, Beezus' stuff was funny when I was in kindergarten, but this Goofus/Gallant bull*hit that she’s been trying to pass off on Mother and Father for the last decade is bull*hit, that’s what it is—bull*hit.”

“Screw them. I don’t need them. Is Bitch-us still saying that I ran over Ribsy when I was learning to drive? Screw her. I hate that woman.”

Ramona’s older sister, Beatrice Huggins, took a more conciliatory view. “Look, Ramona and I are two different people, for the present,” laughed Mrs. Huggins at a private joke that only she seemed to understand, “but I voted for McCain because he’s right on health care, and that matters a lot to me.”

“It should matter to her, too, when you think about how much money Mother and Father spent when they sent her to that rehab clinic.”

The 100 Acre Wood: 5-3 Obama.

“Oh, bother.”

That was the phrase repeated over and over again as Winnie the Pooh watched the election returns. Pooh was one of McCain’s most ardent supporters from early on in the Republican primaries.

“When I get a rumbly in my tumbley, and the only way to stop it is with some delicious honey, I shouldn’t have to share my honey with other people who are too lazy to go out and get their own,” explained the anthropomorphic bear. “People like Darby—an affirmative action hire if I’ve ever seen one—shouldn’t take from people who have worked hard to get where they are. Bother.”

“The bear said that? Really? God, what a dick,” responded Darby, the new human star of My Friends Tigger and Pooh on the Disney Channel. “I had nothing to do with them ditching Christopher Robin in the new show. Today’s generation can handle a new kid in the 100 Acre Wood, and he needs to grow the hell up and get it. Affirmative action hire? We could have Kung Fu Panda in here in a heartbeat to replace him in the bear role, and don’t think I haven’t suggested that.”

“Jerk. Our days of supersleuthing together are over.”

In addition to Darby, other Obama supporters included Kanga and little Roo, Owl, and an orange tiger who offered that he voted Obama because, “Change is what Tiggers do best!” before bouncing off on his tail. Piglet voted for McCain as a show of support for his good friend Pooh, while Rabbit also threw his vote to the Republican candidate “for agricultural reasons.”

Eeyore, a gray donkey, voted for independent candidate Ralph Nader in order to, “strike a blow against the corporate hegemony, and because we’re a lot alike, me and Ralph.”

Junie B. Jones: Unknown. After Junie B. was abandoned in a Nebraska hospital and made a ward of the state, she promptly ran away and has yet to be found.

Captain Underpants: One of the more fun stories from this campaign, Captain Underpants (real name: Myron Tenenbaum) made a handsome living impersonating John McCain on Saturday Night Live in recent months, but was a vocal Obama supporter when the cameras were off.

“Oh, I’m totally in the tank for Barack,” said the Captain, star of several popular children’s books and a live-action feature film coming out later this year with Christian Bale playing the superhero. “If McCain had won I could have probably made some great money as a body double in the next couple of years, but Tina and I talked about it and decided that the money wouldn’t be enough if we eventually ended up with a President Palin.”

“President Palin. Oy, what an empty head.”

The Berenstain Bears: No votes. The sad, untold story of the campaign. The Bear Family was one of the most visible to support the McCain campaign, with Father Bear even working as a Precinct Committee Officer in Bear Country to organize the caucuses for McCain back in February. Tragedy struck in May when, while working in the family’s garden, Mother Bear was shot and killed by Sarah Palin, who then skinned and field dressed the family matriarch in front of brother and sister. After the funeral Father Bear crawled in a bottle and never came out; Brother and Sister were eventually removed from the home by Child Protective Services and moved into foster care.

Amelia Badelia: Now living in Florida nursing home suffering from the advanced stages of dementia, Ms. Badelia had her ballot marked “Obama” when an unscrupulous caregiver intercepted it from her mail.

Hank the Cowdog: Once thought to be a lock for McCain, because of their common southwestern heritage, Hank actually wrote in Tom Tancredo’s name on his ballot.

“Listen, Tancredo was the only candidate willing to talk about the problem with illegals crossing the border, and I extend that in my own mind to the coyotes that I have to chase off every day,” said the ranch security guard. “Did you read Lou Dobbs’ last book? If we don’t do something about this, we are all *ucked.”


Labels: , , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

And Then There's Those Who Didn't Make It

This article about a long-serving White House butler reads nice enough until the end, when it punches you in the gut in a sad, sad way.

Well worth the time.


Read more here, if any.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Assign Books, and Students Will Read

Great commentary by Nancy Bunge of Michigan State University in the October 17th edition of the Chronicle Review. Rather similar to my paean of the other day regarding the true purpose of the University, Dr. Bunge talks about how she assigns her students tough work and helps them work through it.

Sadly, it's hidden behind the Chronicle's "Pay us!" wall, but if you have a password or can find your way through, it's well worth the read.

Labels: ,

Read more here, if any.

Monday, November 03, 2008

"Educational Brutalism"

That's the term coined in this interesting post at the Chronicle Review's blog site, Brainstorm. Written by Stan Katz of Princeton, it's a thoughtful look at how University has evolved from a liberal arts focused, "man of letters" ideal into, increasingly, job preparation and job preparation alone.

When I was going to Eastern Washington U. there was a proposal floated to mandate an additional 4 credit class that would be a sort of synthesis of thought symposium; something related to your discipline, but bringing in other disciplines as well. I loved the capstone class I took--in fact, I expanded out and made the program my minor emphasis--but a lot of folks went nuts at what they perceived as "one more thing" that they had to get done before they could get out and get a job.

What, to your mind, should the function of the University be? Does that function vary based on the school, or is there a purpose that it can be argued every school should aspire to?

Labels: , , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Book Title of the Day

The Art of the Public Grovel: Sexual Sin and Public Confession in America

Award yourself 10 I Thought a Think points if you can guess which public figure is on the cover.


Read more here, if any.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Obama Meets "The Ring"