Friday, January 02, 2009

Stand By Me...and Me...and Me

You've probably heard that there are few cultural universals...behaviors, beliefs, character traits that are perceived in the same way by all the various peoples on the planet. Smiles are universally perceived as a show of happiness, for instance, but spiders and snakes are not seen as evil or "icky" by everybody.

Here's a sign that music is one of those transcendent practices. The video shows people from all over the world playing one song...and while all play differently with various intonations, affectations, and so on everybody is in the same key. The song chosen was "Stand By Me" (which barely beat out Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" and "Paradise By the Dashboard Lights" by Meatloaf).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Creativity=lots of drek

Ira Glass (from NPR's This American Life) is a pretty cool dude. Here, he talks about the act of creativity: One point he makes is that you have to create a lot of crap on the road to the good stuff.

His opinions jive with lots of other successful artists. In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott tells us we have to write shitty drafts. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell reports that it takes 10,000 hours of doing something--anything--before you can achieve mastery.

In conclusion, I have the best chance of becoming a master guitarist on Rockband. But all of you should keep slugging it out.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Your tax dollars NOT at work

The governor of California has declared a fiscal emergency that requires a 10% trimming in all areas--including education, social services--everything. At the same time, our government failed to close a loophole that allows the rich to buy yachts and not pay sales tax.

Lots of argument about the topics with mostly the predictable split between Democrats and Republicans. One comment which sums up the debate, for me: "How closing off an avenue so that the rich can avoid paying taxes that the rest of us pay is a tax increase is beyond me—and even arch conservative Republican Senator Tom McClintock admitted when he spoke that it was not a tax increase."

Tobe fair, I don't think this is our Governor's handiwork at all. I believe the Governator wants to take care of the problem and actually called a special session to do so. This is our Senate at work; hopefully, with money such a dire issue some of these (ridiculous) benefit-the-rich "typos" in our law will be revealed--and fixed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hannity and Colmes (don't ) talk about racism

You remember when Michael Richards (a.k.a. Kramer) had his comedy-club meltdown? I just caught this "dicussion" on YouTube:

Patrice ONeal is a pretty smart (and funny) guy. He tries to have a real conversation with Hannity and Colmes which is totally stymied.

One of my favorite bits:

ONeil: "And another thing about race is that race has become a thing between you two guys."

Hannity or Colmes (hell, all these white guys look the same to me): "What do you mean you two guys?"

ONeal: "Meaning the perceived racist and the perceived not. But you're just two white guys to me."

Holmes/Cannity: "Can't help that, ha ha ha."

ONeal: "You should let black people run racism. When Mel Gibson said what he said, when the Godfather said what he said..."

H/C: "Let me ask you this...this is really, really, really...he-s-he's sick. I mean, that's a nutty and insane rant, c'mon."

ONeal: "All a you are sick! You're white! You're all racial. If white people don't admit that they are racial we can't have these conversations because you're always going 'Who me?' You never had that word in your head, ever, Sean?"

Hannity: "No. Do have that word in your head? Do you use that word on stage?"

ONeal: "I use it when I wake up."

Watching this conversation, you can't help but wonder if this is representative of our entire nation's disconnect and inability to discuss not just racism but just our flaws in general. A reporter asks President W what his administration's biggest mistake was--and he couldn't answer...because he can't answer (doesn't have the insight to do so) or he doesn't want to go there. A white dude is asked if he's racist...either he can't answer or he doesn't want to take that close of a look.

Thing is, if I can admit that I'm "racial" (which of course I am) then doesn't that allow me the room to strive to correct that flaw?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Educating the Fool out of Kids

Ironically, the link to this lecture came to me via a student. For years, I've been aware that the public educational system that I'm a part of is a large machine pumping out consumers--our high schools look like factories and we create citizens in assembly-line fashion (shove some Math in, next station is English and so on).

This lecturer describes it in as strip-mining our students...stripping them of creativity and the very faculties needed to solve the problems of our generation and, more importantly, those of the next generation.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Cool link that tells you whether you use the left or right side of your brain more often.,22049,22535838-5012895,00.html

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ayn Rand's Continuing Influence on our Language

This summer my AP students had to read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Recently, one of my Ap students wrote in his journal:

"This weekend I was completely Dominiqued. In case I haven't told you what this means, it is from the Fountainhead. Dominique gets raped but she likes it and kinda wants it. When you get completely crushed but its kind of fun you are Dominiqued. As a side note, when you get completely and utterly screwed it is called Emillioed, and when you are performing the action of Dominiquing someone, you are Roarking them."