31 August 2011

Chinese army cats

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They want to run a country?

Tea Party types. They have a bit of an organizational problem with Palin and O'Donnell which seems to get crazier as the day wears on.

I never thought of the Republican Party as comic relief before.

as for running a country, I hear that is an opening in Libya, and perhaps Syria soon.


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Academia: Budget Crisis edition

Here we are in the worst budget crisis of my career and we are all wondering what to do about it. Or rather, we are all wondering what our administration will do about it. This is particularly worrisome since our new chief administrator, the Provost, has not shown up for the job yet. So we soldier on with our old interim provost and end up paying for both salaries for at least a few months.

Which brings up and interesting question. What are we cutting in the way of administration? We already know that staff, the local working folks who usually make less than $30K a year, will be 'riffed.' That comes from 'RIF', for 'reduction in force', a polite way of saying 'layoffs.' I had to explain this to Commandante Cinco, our labor historian (if we had a labor historian). We have suffered a small but real pay cut due to health insurance, we have a firing freeze, and will probably be furloughed for a day or two like last year (elsewhere these days are known as 'pay cuts').

So imagine my surprise when Maire's sister (private snark!) put the following article at my fingertips: "Administrators Ate My Tuition" in the Washington Monthly. If you have any interest in higher education and budgets, not to mention the tuition rates for your nearest and dearest, you should read it. Here is a bit of it:
Every year, hosts of administrators and staffers are added to college and university payrolls, even as schools claim to be battling budget crises that are forcing them to reduce the size of their full-time faculties. As a result, universities are now filled with armies of functionaries—vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, deanlets, and deanlings, all of whom command staffers and assistants—who, more and more, direct the operations of every school. If there is any hope of getting higher education costs in line, and improving its quality—and I think there is, though the hour is late—it begins with taking a pair of shears to the overgrown administrative bureaucracy.

It's a fun article in many ways, depending on your idea of fun. It certainly supports my contention that all elites have disgraced themselves in the last dozen years or so. My personal favorite is this one, which has some salience for my history department:
At one school, an inventive group of administrators created the “Committee on Traditions,” whose mission seemed to be the identification and restoration of forgotten university traditions or, failing that, the creation of new traditions.

Ding dong, for whom the bell tolls.

well, you get what you pay for.



History Lessons

I thought about entitling this "When we die, this is who will replace us."

This is from a friend's facebook page talking about just one day, and one question of one day, in his history class:
Most disturbing question of the day: While discussing ancient migrations from Siberia to Alaska, a student in my U.S. History class asked if this means we now think that the Puritans were NOT the first people to settle in America.
Yes. We now think that.

One of the comments was from another teacher: "I have you ALL beat. A student of mine asked me if I had served in WW2, and she was serious."

Years ago another friend of mine had students in her North Carlina history class who didn't know which came first, World War I or World War II. Another one thought the Civil War (ours, presumably) came after World War I.

ed. majors, learning to mold the minds of our future.

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29 August 2011

News from my home town

Leesburg, Virginia.

A local inventor has created a weird little car that runs on pedals and batteries.

The last big thing to happen there was the War of 1812.


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Clemen's notebook

I want this where I can find it for class. It is an interesting map of the ethno-linguistic state of Europe in 1914. After August of that year things changed rapidly. It's a bit large.

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28 August 2011

The Storm in New York

The storm formerly known as Irene hits New York. Our ace reporter on the scene reports that the city needs an emergency airlift of turkey baby food (preferably Gerbers).

[picture from today's New York Times]

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26 August 2011

REAL class warfare

... and it ain't from the Left.
For supporters of Perry, who grew up poor in rural Texas, the Texas twang adopted by Mr. Bush, a product of elite East Coast schools, rings false. Supporters of Mr. Bush, meanwhile, view Perry as an unsophisticated "hick," according to author R.G. Ratcliffe, who is writing a book on Perry. (It's worth noting that when asked recently what differentiated him from his predecessor in the governor's mansion, Perry pointed out that he went to Texas A&M, while Mr. Bush went to Yale.)

By the way, you should read Perry's magnum opus, Fed Up. It's a hoot coming from someone who wants to run for president.

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25 August 2011

Representing that Unnamed state to our south....

Rep. Steve Southerland. Apparently he is not that happy representing the good folks of ... that place down there. Here's what he has to say in the Tallahassee Democrat, a paper I remember well if not fondly:
"They cut me off from my small business, a business that my grandfather started 60 years ago and that I'm the president of, that I've worked my career to build," he said. He added that "if you took the hours that I work and divided it into my pay," the $174,000 salary would not seem so high.

Yep. They are so underpaid.

On the other hand, he worked pretty hard to get elected. Read the whole article, it's worth it.

where do they find these guys?

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20 August 2011

Without comment

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19 August 2011

Without comment!


They're different from you and me....

They run for Congress.

to make the economy safe for millionaires

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18 August 2011

Getting a little nervous are we?

It ought to be pretty simple to defeat Obama since the economy is going down the tubes again. But there seems to be some worry among the Right's stipendiary pundits:
Consternation on the right about the lack of a viable candidate next year is gaining traction. Jonah invokes the Buckley rule (one should support "the most rightward viable candidate") and warns the GOP to err on the side of electability:

There follows a quote from Jonah on Andrew Sullivan.

As Budweiser once told me about politics, "you can't beat something with nothing." So let's see what they have after the primaries. Remember last time?

By the way, Buckley is famous for driving the John Birch Society and others of the ilk out of the conservative movement. Basically, if I remember correctly, because he thought they were so crazy and repellent they would permanently damage the movement.

They're back.

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The hombre-ette speaks

A quote from Michelle Bachman from Andrew Sullivan's quote of the day:
"We need one strong hombre or hombre-ette, and I'm the hombre-ette to go and stand for you in Washington DC!" - Michele Bachmann, campaigning in South Carolina. As Brian Montopoli points out, "The Spanish word for woman is mujer."


And not that it matters, but -ette is the feminine ending only in French.

and you know who the French are: the guys who lost to Mexico on Cinco de Mayo. Something about an Austrian emperor.

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Conservatives in that unnamed state down there

You know the one, the one with Lex Lothar as governor. I noticed a curious thing when I was down there among the family and my one friend there.

The friend, Budweiser, and I had our usual meeting at the club al fresco under the swaying palms of the shopping center. As we were drinking our Czech beer it occurred to me: Budweiser and I have know each other for over forty years and he has always loved to talk politics. He became a stalwart supporter of Bush and all the wars. In fact, virtually anything Bush did. He began to loathe the liberals and Democrats in general.

But this time, not a word about politics. Said he doesn't follow it anymore and has no interest in it.

OTOH, my brother-in-law, of the same political persuasion and also usually having an opinion, wasn't particularly interested in discussing politics either.

And my brother the war vet, who I always assumed was either a moderate Repub or completely apolitical suddenly started talking - a lot - about how crazy the Republicans are! Haven't seen him this animated about the news since the "Paul is Dead" rumor on WKBW. Worse, even my other brother the Confederate Nut, usually pining for the good ol' days of George Wallace even began to make some sense.

What's going on? Is it just me? Or them? and if so, why? Embarrassment to admit they were Palin fans? What?

UPDATE: apparently I was wrong about my brother the Confederate.

the comment about the Czech beer was thrown in simply as a sop to any beer snobs who might be following this blog lest they think I only drink working class beer like PBR.

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It's not about race

Tim Coburn, Repub Senator from OK, on President Obama (Tulsa World via TPM):
Responding to a man in Langley who asked if Obama "wants to destroy America," Coburn said the president is "very bright" and loves his country but has a political philosophy that is "goofy and wrong."

Obama's "intent is not to destroy, his intent is to create dependency because it worked so well for him," he said.

"As an African-American male," Coburn said, Obama received "tremendous advantage from a lot of these programs."

Yes, I was just telling a friend of mine the other day how lucky he was to be black.

I didn't really understand his response.

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Personal stuff

Well, Carmen and I are back. And you didn't even notice we were gone.

That visit to the unnamed state to our south was filled with the usual fun n games, capped by temps in the 90, a deluge of epic proportions (while we were on the road) and my mother's 92nd birthday. Why yes, she's fine. Still makes more sense than most of the family who are much younger (though not as much as it used to seem - when I was born I was 1/30 her age, now I am 2/3 her age).

So - onward to another delightful year at a university that is going broke because the good folks of North Carolina figure that paying for their children's education is optional. At least by using taxes. They will pay for it one way or another whether or not their own kids go to college or simply start working at McDonald's or Wal-Mart.

just as soon as the Republicans can get rid of the minimum wage that is clearly dragging down the economy.

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15 August 2011

Foxx News

We report. You chortle.

I know, I know. I am being petty and ungracious. Still.

thanks to the former Republican consultant now Israeli wanna be.

A rich man speaks

Warren Buffet, who certainly is a rich man.
Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

His conclusion:

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

Or you can support the no new taxes no matter what ever Republicans.

but what does Buffet know about anything?

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14 August 2011

Why income disparity might matter (to you and me)

Tom Friedman seems to be the foreign affairs columnist that everyone likes to take pot shots at. Easy target I suppose. But today he has an interesting column on why there are so many angry demonstrations and political movements in the world, from the Tea Party, to Egypt, to Israel to the burning streets of London. Here is his conclusion and any comments would be appreciated. It might turn out to be something I will ask my students to read next week. Here's his conclusion:
So let’s review: We are increasingly taking easy credit, routine work and government jobs and entitlements away from the middle class — at a time when it takes more skill to get and hold a decent job, at a time when citizens have more access to media to organize, protest and challenge authority and at a time when this same merger of globalization and I.T. is creating huge wages for people with global skills (or for those who learn to game the system and get access to money, monopolies or government contracts by being close to those in power) — thus widening income gaps and fueling resentments even more.

Pay attention to that widening income gap. The one many American politicians, mostly corrupt millionaires, tells us is not important.

Apres moi...

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13 August 2011

3,000 year old Irish woman found

Body found in bog - or at least the legs. Body may be 3000 years old and is probably a human sacrifice.

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12 August 2011

One more thing about that state to our south

The one run by an unindicted conspirator to Medicare fraud. Now this.

In kids age 10-14, the number three killer is suidice. The number four is homicide.If you look at kids 15-19, the number two killer is homicide. The number three is suicide. It’s not obesity, it’s not heart disease, it’s not diabetes. Kids are killed by accidents, by homicide, and by suicide. That’s why pediatricians ask about guns. But not in Florida:

The Great Sunshine State where it is now illegal for a physician to ask about gun ownership.

Florida Republicans, guarding the delicate privacy of gun owners.

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11 August 2011

A Tea Party example of fiscal responsibility

Sometimes the news is so droll I figure that Colbert and Stewart are stealing candy from babies. Here is a true story (the opposite of 'not intended as a true statement') from TPM:
Tea Party aligned Georgia Rep. Tom Graves (R), who castigates Washington for fiscal irresponsibility, reached an out of court settlement Wednesday after he was sued for defaulting on a $2.2 million loan -- which his attorney argued is the bank's fault for lending him the money in the first place.
The bank, which has since failed and had its assets taken over, sued Graves and Rogers for defaulting. The two Republicans then countersued, "accusing [the bank] of improperly declaring the loan in default after reneging on a promise to refinance it at more favorable terms," according to Jeremy Redmon and Aaron Gould Sheinin of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution .

Yep. It's about nothing real, nothing coherent, nothing honest.

Except maybe the anger.

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10 August 2011

Aha! It's not just me.

From the Washington Monthly:

* Of the 15 most dangerous American cities for driving, three are in Florida — including the top two. No one who’s spent time in Florida will find this surprising. (thanks to L.M.)

At least a few years ago Florida also was rated as the most dangerous state for bikers, especially on rural roads. Which are usually flat and straight, btw.

it's the "no one who's spent time in Florida" phrase that is telling.

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The High Cost of University

Our budget has been slashed by the state legislature by over 15%. This is on top of severe but not crippling cuts for about three years running. Now we are laying off staff (i..e. working folks, remember them?) and talking about making faculty who don't produce enough research teach another section. Last year the administration cut a day's pay out of our paychecks.

Still no word yet about pay cuts or lay offs among the administration positions, oddly. So this little news clip has some salience. Quoting an article by David Hogberg in Investor’s Business Daily:
Analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that from 1989-2009 the number of administrative personnel at four- and two-year institutions grew 84%, from about 543,000 to over 1 million. By contrast, the number of faculty increased 75%, from 824,000 to 1.4 million, while student enrollment grew 51%, from 13.5 million to 20.4 million.
The disparity was worse at public universities and colleges, where personnel in administration rose 71%, faculty 58% and student enrollment 40%. Private schools also saw administration and faculty growing faster than student enrollment, although faculties slightly outpaced administration increases.

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Why it's about nothing

I know that there are a lot of reasons why people want to be known as Tea Partiers but I still believe that in reality it is about nothing. Their complaints did not exist, at least on media radar, until after Obama was elected. Their complaints and solutions now are either inconsistent or contradictory.

And once their candidates are in office, they wander off to do business with the rich folk just as they have always done like, say, Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia according to Dana Milbank:
In a broader sense, Scott’s bill gets at what has long troubled me about the Tea Party movement: It is fueled by populist anger, but it has been hijacked by plutocrats. Well-intentioned Tea Party foot soldiers demand that power be returned to the people, but then their clout is used to support tax cuts for millionaires. They rally for tougher immigration laws, but then their guy in Washington helps corporations to fire U.S. workers and hire foreign nationals.

The company he defends by wanting to abolish Legal Services is guilty of favoring immigrants over native born, the very nub of anti-immigration complaints.

I wonder if I should tell Budweiser about this? For a conservative he is a damn good Legal Services lawyer.


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08 August 2011

Personal note

We arrived in that unnamed port city to the south, aka the sweltering hell hole. Hard to believe we made the troops come down to this place to hang around Palma Ceia until we were ready to send them off to invade Cuba.

Anyway, everything is fine. Went to Inkwood book store and spent a lot of money buying books neither of us have time to read. Then off to Mother's.

Depending on how I feel, this either means I will be posting a lot this week, or not at all. Too soon to tell.

But it is hotter than blue blazes down here. Tomorrow, Long Boat Key.

on the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.


New words

I like vocabulary, mainly because I actually have one. So I am always on the lookout for new words and expressions.

Here's one now: Mood mail.

It means sending e-mail when you are angry. It's a no-no. And dangerous.

also self-indulgent which Clemens is never guilty of.


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05 August 2011

A Democrat speaks!

A Democratic mayor in New Mexico explaining how some important ($1million) contracts got signed.
"The day I signed ... I had way too much to drink. It was after 5 p.m. and I signed it (the contracts) and I didn't know what I was signing," Resendiz wrote as a response to questions from lawyers for the firm. "My sister had to pick me up."

The company's people claim the contracts were signed at City Hall and no one was drunk.

probably Republicans. They did the work and now want their money.

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Yet another Republican speaks

And says something I agree with. Peter Wehner comes out with a strong commendation in Commentary Magazine for what Gov. Christie said the other day in his usual inimitable style.
It’s one thing, and a laudable thing, not to participate in this ugliness [Herman Cain style Islamophobia]. But it’s another thing, and a far more admirable thing, to stand against it. My former boss, President Bush, did this in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. And now, thankfully, Governor Chris Christie has as well.

I don't know what has come over me. I totally approve of words from two Republicans in as many days!

I think I'll go back to listening to Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly to get my mojo back.

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04 August 2011

Another Republican speaks

About pre-school programs.
Of course, the government wants their hands on your children as fast as they can. That is why I opposed all these early starts and pre-early starts, and early-early starts. They want your children from the womb so they can indoctrinate your children as to what they want them to be. I am against that."

Yes, you too can vote for this man to be president of the USA ... at least in a primary somewhere.

from here, via Andrew Sullivan.

and for you mothers out there desperately trying to find a pre-school program for your kid, shame on you.


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A Republican speaks

In this case, calling out the foam at the mouth Islamo-phobists.

"Ignorant. They're ignorant."

"I'm tired of dealing with crazies!"

Please watch. A Republican governor pushes back against the crazy.

oddly - it will make him more popular than ever.


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03 August 2011

Florida Republican speaks

No, not the bald unindicted conspirator in the governor's mansion. Not even Mark Rubio. But, this one who has had enough:

Saying the Republican Party has left her and is now owned by ideologues, former GOP state Sen. Nancy Argenziano says she will run for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat...

... In a prepared statement Monday, Argenziano likened herself to a Ronald Reagan Republican.

“The current iteration of the party abandoned real Republican principles long ago to cater to ideologues and corporations — the Koch entities, most notably — whose interests lie in the profiteering of America and the sacking of the middle class,” Argenziano, 56, wrote in a letter announcing her candidacy.

“Current Republican leaders have neither patience with nor allowance for honest elected officials, and they demand that members of the various legislatures — who, after all, have sworn to uphold the Constitution — instead just follow the hijacked party line and shut up.”

Obviously an unhinged malcontent.

but if it becomes a trend.

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It's not about race

Glenn Beck, late of TV fame, is upset by the fact that Marvel comics has killed off Peter Parker and replaced him with a new Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a half black half Hispanic teenager. Apparently Beck feels that whatever made America great is being trashed. He blames all this on the obvious culprit:
On his radio show today, after repeatedly telling listeners that “I don’t care” about the new Spider-Man and that it is just a “stupid comic book”, Beck got his real opinion out. He explained why the new bi-racial Spider-Man can be attributed to Michelle Obama.
“I think a lot of this stuff is being done intentionally. What was it that Mrs. Obama said before the campaign? Because its strange how so much of this seems to all be happening,” he said. Beck then played an audio file of Michelle Obama saying that “we’re gonna have to change our traditions.”

Makes you want to go out and "take back America" doesn't it?
From the Frum Forum, btw.

I mean, messing with Spider-Man!?

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Interesting Pie Chart

Love pie charts. Don't know what they really mean but they sure are pretty. Here's one. It's from a commenter over on Frum Forum. No source given, but it sure is pretty.

now if I could only understand what it means.


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Without comment

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