Sunday, October 30, 2005

So TV, the Media, and the Arts are Controled by.....

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..... a minority sector of the culture found predominantly in the humanities, i.e. the media, the arts, and education--the 'communicators' with the most power to influence a culture as a whole through language and images.

I don't think so.

Last time I looked, the content of most movies is determined by whatever those who have the money to have them produced.....think will make them even more money. The actors and the rest go along, it's a living. Most people who create art do not make a living at it, and most art is never seen. Again, that which is seen is that which put out for sale, and generally if it doesn't sell, it goes away, or at least people don't waste their time trying to sell it.

Van Gogh was not a millionaire. People do make make porn and call it art, but that's not why they make it. They make porn because they know they can sell it to willing buyers. The fact that there are willing buyers is simple testimony to the fact that this culture really doesn't have a very good way of dealing with that aspect of being a human being.

Culture is plainly a work in progress, with different ones succeeding in different areas. The cultural traditions of this country have always had a real problem with sexuality, and violence too. Everybody takes everything too darned seriously at the wrong times. This leads to tragedy, from domestic violence to road rage and worse.

As for teachers influencing a culture, they are more and more under the gun to quit, the risks of getting screwed around retirement time are increasing, as the rich in this country and the MEDIA they own and the ADS THEY PAY FOR through the COMPANIES THEY CONTROl sway elections, in a time of ever increasing greed, pandering just barely to whoever they think will help them, including various religious groups.

Anyone can look at the state standards and teach from either a left slant or a right slant. Those on the right wing tend to be either too stupid to become teachers (shy intellectual horse power or inclination) or too smart (it's a bad investment). If teaching were as lucrative at the right wing would like to present it, more right wingers would go into it.

Instead, the rich rich have learned to avoid traffic jams by going up to Tahoe on Thursday or Friday morning, and not coming back until Monday, except maybe for the breadwinner.

Soon they will have exactly what they want. Automated schools staffed by teachers scarecly older than their charges, who learn via computer based training and watch nationally syndicated teachers with ton of cash behind each performance. The cost of schools will drop, and real schooling (the new private school system) takes advantage of the new materials and presentations for the cheapo public video nurseries. The real schools are only for the rich rich, $35,000/year and up. The rich rich want vouchers, so that whatever they pay in taxes, they can get back for these super expensive private schools.

This all assumes that the rich rich do not soon find themselves in control of a country more impoverished and stupid than many third world nations, in danger of internal collapse, revolution, or an outright, straighforward, buyout by China, with all our Walmart/others dollars doing the destruction. Was it Lenin or Marx that said capitalists will sell you the rope you use to hang them ?

The Chinese woman on Mars in 2008 will be paid for with Walmart/HP/IBM dollars.

Americans will own a ton of breakable schlock for consolation prizes.

Farstars SkiTheStars ski the far stars

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jonathan Kozol's still got the Knack

This is from an article in Harper's about American schools being as unequal as ever.

Three years later, in third grade, these children are introduced to what are known as "high-stakes tests," which in many urban systems now determine whether students can or cannot be promoted. Children who have been in programs like those offered by the "Baby Ivies" since the age of two have, by now, received the benefits of six or seven years of education, nearly twice as many as the children who have been denied these opportunities; yet all are required to take, and will be measured by, the same examinations. Which of these children will receive the highest scores? The ones who spent the years from two to four in lovely little Montessori programs and in other pastel-painted settings in which tender and attentive and well-trained instructors read to them from beautiful storybooks and introduced them very gently for the first time to the world of numbers and the shapes of letters, and the sizes and varieties of solid objects, and perhaps taught them to sort things into groups or to arrange them in a sequence, or to do those many other interesting things that early childhood specialists refer to as prenumeracy skills? Or the ones who spent those years at home in front of a TV or sitting by the window of a slum apartment gazing down into the street? There is something deeply hypocritical about a society that holds an eight-year-old inner-city child "accountable" for her performance on a high-stakes standardized exam but does not hold the high officials of our government accountable for robbing her of what they gave their own kids six or seven years earlier.

Perhaps in order to deflect these recognitions, or to soften them somewhat, many people, even while they do nor doubt the benefit of making very large investments in the education of their own children, somehow—paradoxical as it may seem—appear to be attracted to the argument that money may not really matter that much at all. No matter with what regularity such doubts about the worth of spending money on a child's education are advanced, it is obvious that those who have the money, and who spend it lavishly to benefit their own kids, do not do it for no reason. Yet shockingly large numbers of well-educated and sophisticated people whom I talk with nowadays dismiss such challenges with a surprising ease. "Is the answer really to throw money into these dysfunctional and failing schools?" I'm often asked. "Don't we have some better ways to make them `work'?" The question is posed in a variety of forms. "Yes, of course, it's not a perfectly fair system as it stands. But money alone is surely not the sole response. The values of the parents and the kids themselves must have a role in this as well you know, housing, health conditions, social factors." "Other factors"—a term of overall reprieve one often hears—"have got to be considered, too." These latter points are obviously true but always seem to have the odd effect of substituting things we know we cannot change in the short run for obvious solutions like cutting class size and constructing new school buildings or providing universal preschool that we actually could put in place right now if we were so inclined.

Frequently these arguments are posed as questions that do not invite an answer because the answer seems to be decided in advance. "Can you really buy your way to better education for these children?" "Do we know enough to be quite sure that we will see an actual return on the investment that we make?" "Is it even clear that this is the right starting point to get to where we'd like to go? It doesn't always seem to work, as I am sure that you already know," or similar questions that somehow assume I will agree with those who ask them.

Some people who ask these questions, although they live in wealthy districts where the schools are funded at high levels, don't even send their children to these public schools but choose instead to send them to expensive private day schools. At some of the well-known private prep schools in the New York City area, tuition and associated costs are typically more than $20,000 a year. During their children's teenage years, they sometimes send them off to very fine New England schools like Andover or Exeter or Groton, where tuition, boarding, and additional expenses rise to more than $30,000. Often a family has two teenage children in these schools at the same time, so they may be spending more than $60,000 on their children's education every year. Yet here I am one night, a guest within their home, and dinner has been served and we are having coffee now; and this entirely likable, and generally sensible, and beautifully refined and thoughtful person looks me in the eyes and asks me whether you can really buy your way to better education for the children of the poor.

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Spyware from the Washington Post

Declaration of Independence from Newspaper Spyware

Lately the papers I read on-line have been getting more and more obnoxious with ads and spyware. I am seriously thinking of setting up a, newspapers and others who are prone to this disease, computer. As soon as I am done reading the news on that machine, an older laptop for low energy consumption, I just put LavaSoft's Adware to work ( } and let it sweep that machine while I go about my real email elsewhere on my main machine. That way when the goonsquads come back the next day, they learn nothing. In fact it would be great to put nonsensical cookie like objects on it for their software whores to pore through in puzzlement. The guilty parties include our local "The Union" and the "Sacramento Bee." So far these two merely clutter up the lines with tons of margin ads and banners, but are not trying to shove Avenue A onto my machine.

I sent the following this morning to the Washington Post:

"At one time, I used to get the ability to comfortably read the articles. Then you started trying to shove Avenue A down my computer's throat, and my ad blockers kept it out. Then it took several tries to get to the article. Now it does not work at all.

If you had a reasonable fee for AD FREE, SPYWARE FREE on-line news, like say $2 to $5 per month. I would pay it. As it is, I will either be forced to adopt a computer that does nothing but download obnoxious crap and then dispose of it daily, by using an email that is strickly for sites that insist on sending obnoxious crap, or I will drop my subscription altogether.

You want to put stuff in the margins, OK. But let's keep it to 1st party cookies only, no spyware, market trakers. Neither GOD nor the GOVERNMENT FORCE you to make your business decisions. YOU MAKE YOUR DECISIONS and you are annoying the heck out of an otherwise good reader. I will be making MY DECISION based on your response, and the speed at which it arrives.

It is very easy to simply re-subscribe with another email addy, and do it with every company that I am only slightly involved with. It is very easy to blog about this concept AND TO SPREAD IT ACROSS THE COUNTRY, so that EVERYONE is doing it and your aDVERTISING DOLLARS for this source go to hell in a handbasket. Please see for another copy of this.

If you don't like my CAPITALIZATIONS, then maybe you should think about how I think about YOUR SPYWARE.

Douglas Keachie

To the Washington Post and other Newspapers following their lead down the SPYWARE path. Sent October 25th, 2005

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Monday, October 10, 2005

The Most Patriotic Flag in the U.S.A. is......

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...the one yet to be built.

Picture if you will, the canvas as the roof of ANYSCHOOL USA. Or any building, really.

Picture bars and stars made from solar panels, or at least the framing around them painted red white and blue, and you have the most patriotic flag this country can wave.

{ } { } { } { } { } { } { } { } [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[
{ } { } { } { } { } { } { } (((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((
{ } { } { } { } { } { } { } { } [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[
{ } { } { } { } { } { } { } (((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

and etc. My original flag was much better. How do you force the retention of spaces on Blogger ?

Another patriotic mission. Bring back the S.S. United States, holder of the TransAtlantic Blue Ribbon, I think to this very day!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Gas Crisis: Solved!

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Soon it will be hard to even get gas, so it behooves us all to put on our thinking caps, and realize that the world's about to get a lot cozier.

To wit: everybody loves the time alone while driving, and that, probably more than anything else, drives the one person/one car mentality. Unfortunately, it is a luxury (yes I know it's a necessity) that will probably die, except for those in hyper-efficient vehicles. It does give you time to think and listen to music and call friends.

The scarcity and cost of gasoline will soon demand the development of an on-line, real-time cross between EBay and the sex offenders registry.

As cel phones are now pretty ubiquitous, and the computer technology can handle it, it's time for, TAh DAh, "HomeLand AutoBay People-to-People Yes," or "HAPPY" for short. Each driver and would-be hitchhiker needs to be entered into the database. The data could include a security rating for each, personal characteristics like "loner," "gregarious," "golf fanatic," "non-smoker," "right wing," etc. Insurance companies could get in on the act and offer special policies in the event anything untoward happens.

A potential hitchhiker would dial into the database and indicate where he wants to go. Most phones already know where he is. Drivers could see or hear a running commentary about the hikers they are approaching who want to go to approximately the same destination as the driver, or at least to a point along the driver's route. The hiker could offer an amount to get to a given location, which would be paid when the GPS's on both the car and the hitchhiker's phone reached the destination, from PayPal or equivalent. Or, the government might offer a tax break to both individuals participating, based on milage.

It is unlikely that anything untoward would happen, as long as both follow the prime directive: "Shut Up!"

Each person could still be coocooned in their own little world, if need be, via all of our electronic gadgetry. However, I think that it might lead to a new bubble in the melting pot we call culture.

This was posted for the first time ever at It is sponsered by "The Rolling GradeBook," an outstanding Excel template designed to make teachers' lives easier. See it at

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Marketing and Stupidity

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I got a blackbery pie at the supermarket today.

At least that is what they called it.

Apparently these blackberries had some sort of accident on the way to the pie. There used to be an expression that dealt with the notion of getting what you've paid for, but I haven't heard it much lately; it goes like this, "The oats are much cheaper if they've been through the horse once already."

My observation for the day is that in an effort to make a given product cheaper, they keep reducing the qualtiy to a point where the item is no longer even recognizable for what it is supposed to be. Why is it that you have to buy premium this or premium that in order to get just plain old what you'd expect to get. Artificial should be in the biggest type used anywhere on a package that contain artificial anything other than a preservative. Juice drink should contain at least 50% juice, not 3%.

Marketing and Stupidity, my wife came up with the junctaposition of these two words this morning. I really do think they go together. When I buy parachute cord, I don't want to read anything less than 600 lbs test on the label.