Thursday, September 30, 2010
Blasphemy day is almost over and I think a good time was had, but let's end this on a serious note. In 1988 a masterful writer named Salman Rushdie published a great novel called The Satanic Verses. The Supreme leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, declared the book blasphemous against Islam and issued a fatwa calling for the death of Rushdie. The leader of a nation went on international TV and publically called for the assassination of a British citizen. In the following years there were protests and riots against Rushdie, publishers and translators involved with the book were killed. Right here in the United States bookstores were firebombed just for having the book on their shelves. Rushdie spent much of his life in hiding and there are still bounties totaling tens of millions of dollars on his head. To this day the fatwa is still in place. The worst part of all of this was the reaction from western religious and political leaders. They placed the blame on Rushdie. He shouldn't have committed blasphemy. He shouldn't have written something that would offend religious people.
5 years ago this day, a Danish newspaper published cartoons depicting Muhammad as a suicide bomber. Again riots and blood in the streets. Again public calls for assassinations. And again western leaders blamed the artists and publishers. They shouldn't have committed blasphemy. They shouldn't have published something that would offend religious people.
Last year Random House Publishing Company bought the option for a book called The Jewel of Medina. Based on the merits of the book they decided to buy and publish it. After consulting an Islamic scholar who told them it could spark the same type of outrage as seen in the Satanic Verses aftermath, they decided not to publish it. We can not read that book because it might offend Islamic extremists.
In 2009 Ireland passes a law imposing a 25,000 pound fine for blasphemy.
Free speech does not end when it reaches religion and until everyone understands that we must continue to remind them.
Krishnas - men have walked on the moon
Muslims - Jesus, son of Mary, is the incarnate son of God
Christians - Jesus, son of Mary, is not the incarnate son of God
Scientologists - L Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer. Everything he wrote was science fiction
Seventh Day Adventists - the earth is 4.5 billion years old
Witnesses - trinity
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Perhaps it was just the beginning of the year feeling of drudgery. Perhaps it was the dulled nerves from spending so long precariously balancing multiple stressful jobs and school work as I teeter on the brink of an abyss I had just worked so hard to climb out of. Whatever the case, I really wasn't feeling it. I wasn't feeling the whole teaching thing, I wasn't feeling the friendly (sometimes not so friendly) bickering with the right-wing extremist teacher in the room next to mine. And I certainly wasn't feeling wearing a shirt and tie in my sauna of a classroom.
I had decided even though I no longer desired friendly bickering over politics with my radical right colleague, that didn't necessarily mean I would avoid confrontation. I just wouldn't be friendly anymore. I didn't care anymore. I don't know why exactly, but I fired the first shot that day. Just before lunch I sent him this email:
Subject: The cult of Glenn Beck
It was actually a pretty interesting blog post about the marketing techniques Beck uses to sell himself and create a whole culture with him as the leader. With someone else, perhaps a good dialogue would have followed. I knew even as I sent it that wouldn't happen here. I knew he wouldn't even read it. But I sent it. He replied:
Subject: The cult of Al Gore
Of course. Let's blame the lunatic at the Discovery Channel building on Al Gore. I had just read a post by someone trying to blame those actions on Charles Darwin, so I was already primed to blow on this subject. What follows is the complete transcript of our email exchange that day (the body of the messages anyway). The arguments may not be well crafted, or even grammatically correct, we were after all doing this in the few precious minutes we could steal while not giving students our undivided attention. It's true, by the way. What you are thinking. This is what teachers do. Think back to your school days. That week your 9th grade civics teacher had you working on that George Washington poster? He was picking his fantasy football team. That day your 11th grade English teacher asked you all to write a creative response to the poetry read the day before? She was emailing funny cartoons to the science teacher. That time your algebra teacher made you spend the entire class period working on a practice sheet of polynomials? Well, he was probably just being a jerk, but you get the point. People wonder how anyone can spend all day everyday trapped in a small space with hundreds of adolescents. This is how. Small distractions that get us through the day. Small, glorious distractions.
Subject: Re: the cult of Al Gore
hahaha. It's like right wing paranoid fantasy porn. Now, if you had actually read what I sent you, you would have seen that the case wasn't being made that because a single mentally unbalanced person happened to like glenn beck I was calling it a cult. Try to once in a awhile actually read something and think (note, thinking does not mean cramming everything into your pre-formed view of the world handed to you by faux news). The article was making the point that beck is intentionally trying to build up a culture (cult) around him by deliberately using marketing techniques (not necessarily a bad thing, just pointing out that he is doing it). I had faith that even you would be able to read that list of techniques and easily see how beck is using it. Thank you for ridding my being of yet another bit of useless faith. I supposed if I had applied logic and reason to the situation I would have come to the correct conclusion that you are in deed far too brain washed and blinded by ideology to treat any type of criticisms of your false idols with anything more mature than closing your eyes, covering your ears and screaming "No, you are!" like some kind of slightly retarded five year old.
Subject: Re: Re: the cult of al gore
(My Name)----- The Cult of Al Gore
Subject: Re: Re: Re: the cult of al gore
Does Jesus know you are cheating on him with Glenn Beck?
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: The cult of Al Gore
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the cult of al gore
I know facts and reality don't matter to you, but if you ever actually wonder why I tend to disregard anything glenn beck says (I know, you'd rather not think about it. Just continue to tell yourself it's all because I disregard anything I don't want to agree with [not true, but look in the mirror sometime and ask who that does apply to]), it's because if we are playing the odds, it's a safe bet to not believe anything that comes out of Beck's mouth
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The cult of Al Gore
(My Name)----- The Cult of Al Gore
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the cult of al gore
You're like a mentally challenged monkey that just learned how to pleasure itself.
This one came right after the dismissal bell:
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The cult of Al Gore
the cult of Al Gore
This was on day 3. 177 school days to go. If we can extrapolate from our limited data, that means about 10,620 more ounces of coffee and more than likely enough political email exchanges to get both of us fired. I'm not going to lie, writing this out right now, I'm kind of looking forward to the midterm elections. Maybe I am a bit of a masochist. Maybe I do enjoy wallowing in my own misery. Or maybe, no matter how mad my right-wing friend sometimes makes me, it's a nice distraction from everything else. Despite the great things about teaching, and all the times students make me laugh, there are some things I need to be distracted from.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Although the test was modified, it measured our students achievement against grade level standards. Because our students are cognitively at ages six months to two years, the assessment was not at their level. It had nothing to do with the goals and objectives designed for them.Some people without experience with this population of students may wonder why we wouldn't want to assess whether or not students -- even students with cognitive impairments -- are performing at the expected grade level. Why shouldn't students take the test if it is modified?
While I don't have any personal experience multi disability students (I've never even worked at a school with a multi disability class). My mother is a multi disability teacher, so I have more insight than I would otherwise. Most of my mom's students will never function above a kindergarten cognitive level, with many well below that. In addition to the cognitive impairments, she has students with no motor control, students who survive by feeding tubes and respirators, students unable to communicate at a level to even express hunger or pain.
She has told me about the pride and joy she felt when, after years of working with a student, that student was finally able to indicate (nonverbally) when he needed food or wanted out of his chair. She told me a story about a grateful mother saying she had cried when her middle school daughter came home from school able to read a kindergarten level book (again, this took years of dedicated work). All of this was done while attending to the feeding tubes and respirators of other students. From what little I know, from these few anecdotes, I have decided teachers who choose to work with multiple disability students are a rare and beautiful breed of teacher. And unfortunately all too often these teachers do their work in schools with administrators that want nothing more than these students to be kept out of sight and out of mind.
So when the teachers in this article say the grade-level assessment had nothing to do with the goals and objectives for their students, this should be considered an understatement. As they state:
Our goal might be to teach them to hold a spoon or recognize their name in print, and the test covered fractions. In fact, one student would start crying every time we got to the part on fractions.Administering these tests for these students is at best worthless and at worst emotionally damaging. After the parents were informed of the situation many were rightly angry.
They said it was ridiculous. One said, “If I had known you were doing this, I would have told you to stop.” Another said, “I’m sick of tests that tell what my child can’t do. I want to see what he can do.”In the interest of best serving their students, the teachers did research on their own and found that parents had the right to refuse state assessments. With that knowledge, and having the parents already express their opinions, the teachers did not give the tests during the next assessment. Unfortunately, they also did not get anything in writing from the parents. The school suspended the teachers without even contacting the parents.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010
A bill that would give a woman seeking an abortion the option to first view her ultrasound passed the Utah House on Friday.
Before HB200 cleared the chamber in a 53-15 vote, Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, unsuccessfully attempted to amend the bill to delete language he believed to be flat-out false, referring to viewing the heartbeat of a fetus at three weeks.
"It is not medically accurate," Litvack said. "It's not possible. It does not exist."
Litvack read from a physician's e-mail that said you could expect to see embryonic cardiac activity at about six weeks from the woman's last period.
Rep. Carl Wimmer, the bill's sponsor, disputed Litvack's claim.
"There are arguments on both sides of the issue," Wimmer, R-Herriman, said.
There are arguments on both sides of the issue? No. There aren't. When it comes to facts, there are not two equally valid sides. One side is right, one is wrong. It's like saying, "well, you say the world isn't the center of the universe, but there are arguments on both sides of the issue."
Our politics are so divided we can no longer agree on facts.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
This current town of mine has a Borders and a Barnes and Noble across the street from each other. I like the atmosphere of the Barnes and Noble better than Borders. The Barnes and Noble is also a little bigger and a little better selection in most categories. The one category this Borders destroys Barnes and Noble in, and why I subsequently end up going to Borders more often, is science. The Borders here has (or had) a much better selection of science books.
Recently I walked into this particular Borders and I saw a disturbing sight. I walked back to the science section, only to find I was not standing in the science section. I was confused, a little afraid, a creeping sense of dread began to overcome me. Luckily my senses soon returned and I don't think I stood there too long, mouth agape, in the grip of a fear induced paralysis. I saw I was standing in the midst of Fiction/Literature, so I did the sensible thing and meandered on over to the section that used to be Fiction/Literature. Naturally I was assuming this would now be Science, but I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Science wasn't there. Now I started to freak out. I began doing frantic laps around the store as if looking for a lost child. Thankfully I must have looked so unapproachable that none of the employees tried to make contact with me.
I finally found the Science section, but I'm afraid my discovery did little to easy my rattled nerves. Science went from its old place of glory, occupying an entire corner. Walking into the Science nook and you were surrounded on three sides of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves bursting with science. It was my little science cave. Now the Science section was just a little chest-high single bookshelf by the restrooms.
I wish I could say this discovery was the low point of my trip to the bookstore, unfortunately I just couldn't leave it alone. Fiction/Literature was where Science was, so what was where Fiction/Literature was? In my frantic search for Science I hadn't even taken notice, so I decided to return to that section. I would spend the whole rest of the day reconstructing this rearrangement of knowledge if I had to.
I didn't have to. It was actually pretty straight forward. Other than Fiction/Literature and Science, there were only two other changes. Fiction/Literature's old spot was now Religion, which was now expanded from its old home right next door. And Religion's old spot? The subject so very important that it (along with Religion) required Science to become the basement child, downsized and shoved into the corner. What could possibly be so important?
New Age Nonsense.
So this is now the Borders in my town.
At least my liquor store never lets me down.