Friday, September 14, 2012

To Chicago Teachers
First, let’s be clear. This raise was meant to accomplish two things: compensate teachers for the proposed 90 minute increase in their work day (an 8% increase) and to increase teacher pay to keep up with the cost of living in Chicago (something the remaining 8% most certainly would not actually do). That doesn’t even keep up with the rate of inflation over the next four years.
First, let’s be clear – The rest of us, you know, the schmucks that work in the private industry haven’t seen a raise in 3-4 years (at least a whole lot of us). Oh, and that’s not all. Our training budgets have either been completely cut, or reduced to almost nothing. That employer-paid MBA or a Master’s degree – by and large, a thing of the past. Longer hours without compensation, drastically reduced bonuses (that were supposed be a part of the overall compensation), Christmas presents, etc. Yet, you don’t see us bitching and moaning. Hm… Well, no, we do, bitch and moan (at least we don’t do it while causing unbearable traffic jams), but we go on doing our work, and if we really don’t like it – we look for other jobs. You see, we don’t have a chance to organize into mafia-like organizations that can practice legal extortion (at the price of children, I’d like to add) and make “offers” our employers can’t refuse. I’m so sick and tired of hearing about the unfairness of the teachers’ contracts… Jesus H. Christ!.. You’re not teenagers, wake up and take a look around! – Does it look like the rest of us have “fair” contracts?.. Better yet – does it look like all of us have ANY contracts?!. – That’s right, the answer is a resounding “No!”

The classroom size… 50 students?!. – Whatever idiot would ever come up with that? – No doubt the one whose children go to a private school with 12 students per teacher. Great cause for you to put on the banners. I have only one question – why was it not enough of an issue for you strike over till the salary “mistreatment” showed up? - Makes me wonder whether you’re not just using a real issue to score points.

No student left behind, iSAT, and other idiotic “measurements” of performance… - Why is it that you never banded together against that so unanimously and determinately? My guess is, because it doesn’t really affect your interests; your students’ – yes, but not yours. And looking at the general trend here, I can’t help but conclude that you don’t really give two hoots about your students.

Compensation tied to performance – a complicated issue, no doubt. Well… How do YOU propose we evaluate your performance? And whatever the answer is, why is it that you haven’t pushed for it with equal vigor earlier? And while we’re asking questions, why is it impossible to fire a tenured teacher?.. Why is it that I’ve never heard of a teacher (at least not in my daughters’ supposedly really good public school) putting in her own time to help out the students? Or, God forbid, organize and run a math or science club on her own time?

If I had my way, I’d fire ALL of you, and replace you with unemployed professionals and young teachers. I’m willing to bet money the student performance would increase.

UPDATE: I love reading angry teachers’ responses where they compare themselves to “other professionals”, and for some reason, they invariably pick dentists… “Well!.. (in a keyboard-generated huff) You’ve been going to a dentist all all your life, and no doubt have seen how he works dozens of times… Why don’t you presume that you can do his job better?!. Why don’t you go on and give a few suggestions to him?!.” (Now with unconcealed air of offended superiority.) Well, you know how you tell students that there are no bad questions? – Yes, there are. And this is one of them.

But I’ll humor you, and answer it. That’s because we, the parents, teach our children something on a daily basis. We teach them to read, to write (yeah, can you imagine?), to do math, to ride bicycles, to draw, to program computers, etc. etc. And when they don’t succeed, we try different approaches, and we keep at it, and in the end, while perhaps not all, but a hell of a lot of us, succeed much more at it than you. And dentistry?.. Well, those of us who are not dentists, NEVER tried it, so keep our mouths shut and rely on the good doctors. Care to pick another professional for comparison?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I am Dilbert

Requirements meeting with the business outtake:
Techie: One of the problems is that it will take too much space…
Business Mgr looking at the projector screen: Well, can't you save it in a smaller font?..

I wonder if this dialog is straight out of Dilbert.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two reactions

By ARON HELLER, Associated Press Writer

Hezbollah handed over two black coffins Wednesday with the bodies of two Israeli soldiers and Israel prepared to set free a notorious attacker… Samir Kantar and four other Lebanese prisoners. ...In addition to the five prisoners, Israel also has agreed to release the bodies of 199 Lebanese and Palestinian fighters killed over the years.

In the dead of night on April 22, 1979, Kantar and three other gunmen made their way in a rubber dinghy from Lebanon to the sleepy Israeli coastal town of Nahariya, 5 miles south of the Lebanese border. There, in a hail of gunfire and exploding grenades, they killed a policeman who stumbled upon them, then burst into the apartment of Danny Haran, herding him and his 4-year-old daughter outside at gunpoint to the beach below, where they were killed.

An Israeli court found that Kantar shot Danny Haran in front of his child, then smashed her head with his rifle butt.

Haran's wife, Smadar, who had fled into a crawl space in the family apartment with her 2-year-old daughter, accidentally smothered the child with her hand while trying to stifle her cries.

A giant red carpet was rolled out along a road next to the seashore on the Lebanese side of the border, next to dozens of yellow Hezbollah flags whipping in the breeze.
Hezbollah supporters set up a makeshift stage in the coastal town of Naqoura, where a brass band awaited the returning prisoners. On the platform stood a large photograph of a weeping Israeli woman. A nearby sign read, "Israel is shedding tears of pain."

Is it possible that Israeli solders killed unarmed parents before their children's eyes, and then smashed the children's skulls with their rifle butts?.. Well, for the sake of impartiality and considering the hypothetical nature of the question, I wanted to say – yes. But this is the advantage of the written word – one has time to consider and correct his folly. – So, No! But how do I know? Have I met all Israelis? – No (hell, I've never even been there). What I do, know is that Jews don't celebrate death; not even death of their enemies. During the Passover Seder even the deaths of Egyptians, who enslaved Jews for centuries, are mourned; it is said that the happiness of freedom is not complete because lives were sacrificed for it. Or in the words of Golda Meir: "We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown and when strawberries bloom in Israel."

Could it be possible that under some unfathomable circumstances an Israeli committed such an atrocity? – Perhaps. Under no circumstances, however, would he be considered a hero, or would such brutality be applauded. What kind of mind, what kind of soul gloats over a mother's tears for her son and lionizes a cold-blooded child murderer? – Perhaps someone who has been hurt and made to suffer beyond human comprehension. Someone who has lost the emotional and moral point of reference; someone who has been driven to insanity. Perhaps. But not an entire people! Not as a matter of policy! The fact that the inhumanity of this act even has to be pointed out defeats any reason for doing so.

In my limited experience of participating in the dialogues with two firmly opposed parties, I have always found it essential to discover some common ground; something that both parties can agree on, and hopefully build upon. What can you agree on with the people who say, "Death is good! Life (yours, and mine if that's what it takes) should be no more?" What is more basic than affirmation of life? There's a fundamental discrepancy between the views of existence by Israelis and their neighbors. At this point, I can't help but say that those who celebrate death should be invited to their own party.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spitzer - Devil Incarnate

I don't know much about Eliot Spitzer. I recall seeing him in the news in relation to some high profile cases, and him promising to clean up the Wall Street. In the recent days, he's become a household name due to his scandalous exposure as "Client number 9" of a high-end "gentlemen's club", and the subsequent resignation of his governorship. These events were accompanied by an unusually high degree of schadenfreude and hand-wringing over Spitzer's immorality, lack of character, disregard for the law, etc., etc.

Clearly, he broke the law; a governor and a former prosecutor – more is expected out of him, and he's certainly supposed to know better. Should he have resigned? – Personally, I don't think so, but it's debatable. What pissed me off in this whole thing (I should probably rename this blog something like "occasional ramblings of an angry man") is the fervor with which the right has attacked not only him personally, but also took this opportunity to trash his entire public career. Eliot Spitzer went after corrupt businessmen, and investigated (be it rather vigorously) the stalwarts of American business. He didn't preach morality, nor was he known for advocating family values. Reading Sowell's op-ed in the National Review, I was informed not only that what Spitzer did is completely "in character for someone with the hubris that comes with the ability to misuse his power" (which I would argue is everyone with any power), but that it was not unlike Vick's involvement with illegal dog fighting or Leona Helmsley's tax evasion. How the fuck is it anywhere remotely similar?! Again, hiring a hooker – dog fighting – tax evasion. Prostitution IS a victimless crime, regardless of what the pundits say about its impact on the fabric of society or the family. It is, was, and will always be present in all societies. Outlawing it as stupid and ineffective as outlawing alcohol or trying to prevent masturbation by adolescent boys. Dog fighting? – in the very least it's cruel, and there are obvious victims. Tax evasion? – stealing from the people of the U.S.

With all due respect to Mr. Sowell, cruelty and dishonesty is nowhere near common horniness on the scale of morality (at least not on mine). You wanna say that he broke the law and should resign – fair enough. But don't make him into a vengeful monster whose entire career was driven by a god complex. If weren't able to show how he "ruined innocent lives" before he hired a hooker, please spare the charade now, it insults my intelligence.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Having children alters the brain"

Damn it! They never tell you this shit BEFORE!..
…when young mouse pups are separated from their mothers, they start making high-pitched noises at around 65 kilohertz…

Behavioural studies have found that mother mice show twice as much interest in these distress calls than in a simple 20 kHz tone when these sounds are played through different speakers.

Male mice that had fathered multiple litters also displayed a similar interest in the youngster's distress calls.
Really? Are you sure they don't broadcast football on the same frequency?
In contrast, virgin females paid equal attention to both types of sounds, while bachelor males paid no attention to either noise.
I could've told you that.
The brain recordings revealed that nerve activity peaked fastest in the maternal mice… Furthermore, the auditory cells fired off more coordinated nerve signals in mother mice than in virgins.
I gotta let my wife know about this upside.

by Roxanne Khamsi

Friday, May 18, 2007

The International Tracing Service (WWII) archive

This is one of a few reasons why I remain unapologetically pro-Israeli.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Let cancer put the fear of God in them!


US conservatives block cancer vaccine for girls

Plans to vaccinate young girls against the sexually-transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer have been blocked in several US states by conservative groups, who say that doing so would encourage promiscuity.

Advocates of the vaccine point out that the jabs work against human papillomavirus (HPV) - which causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer - and are safe.

The latest data from a large clinical trial of Merck's cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil, found it offered 100% protection against cervical, vulval and vaginal diseases, caused by HPV (types 6, 11, 16 and 18) and 98% protection against advanced pre-cancers caused by HPV types 16 and 18 (New England Journal of Medicine: vol 356, p1915).

After around three years of the four-year trial, almost all girls who received the vaccine before being exposed to HPV 16 or 18 appear to be protected...One word - wow! They'd rather see their daughters die than allow for a possibility of suggestion about premarital sex. Just how screwed up must one be?
One word - wow! They'd rather see their daughters die than allow for a possibility of suggestion about premarital sex. Just how screwed up must one be?