The Paris - Chinese Border
31 January 2007
  Second Amendment, Revisited
By Julia Wertz
20 January 2007
  Worst Day of the Year
Here we go. Modern psychologists deem the third Monday of January to be 'the worst day of the year' .

Here is my plan to stave off the inevitable depression:
-Buy a coffee and pastry at Palio in the morning
-Finish my list of things to do at work.
-Buy somebody lunch at the office
-Wander the aisles at Everyday Music
-Work out
12 January 2007
  Troop Surge in Iraq
President Bush has decided to send 21,500 more troops. My heart sank at this news, because you know this will only fuel the fire of the rebel militia. He is sending soldiers to their death. Casualties of a greater purpose, some would opine. Maybe. Who wants to be in the president's shoes right now? Many think they have the answer, but who reeeally wants to be president? Yeah, me neither. I don't expect perfection from him, or anyone for that matter, but what I do expect is an ounce of humility and a willingness to admit defeat. Lay down your pride for a minute and listen to the bi-partisan commission calling out the peril set before the US forces. They are not out to discredit you W, only to state facts about the situation as it stands... that the mission is at a disastrous breaking point and can only get worse. It's amazing how easily Bush mobilized based on intelligence when it meant drawing our sword and marching to Iraq. There is no question that good things are happening... infrastructure improvements, schools and hospitals being built (rebuilt), elections are being held, a certain portion of the population is free where they were oppressed under former dictators (rather than oppressed by fear of militia kidnapping). But there's something about the Americanization that just sickens me.
09 January 2007
  Rain On The Roof
The last couple of days I have revisited the early albums of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Really fantastic stuff from this collective of 9 Canadians. They have been on extended hiatus since 2002's Yanqui U.X.O., though not officially disbanded. The best memory I have with Godspeed was a sunset drive from Kennewick to Portland, in the middle of nowhere, drowning out the engine strain with epic 15 minute crescendos. This should be required roadtrip listening.
06 January 2007
  Education, Separation
Someone has visited me from out of the past, out of my high school days when I was a wee lad + awkward loner. This old friend and I visited over a slice and a pint for about two hours, catching up on each other's lives, and pitting L.A. vs. Portland in a battle royale. Surf and sun and surface vs. mist and green and weird. She's probably one of the 6 to 10 people I would give a rats ass about at my 10 year reunion coming up. Just one more reason now not to even bother going!

She is a teacher of middle school students in a low income , primarily hispanic neighborhood of Southern California. The vast majority of the kids are learning English as a second language. The rate of high school graduates in the district is terribly low. Read her blog of the experiences here.

We landed on the subject of magnet programs. The magnet is basically an alternative program in the same building under an independent administration with separate rules, procedures, and operations. They are better funded, better staffed and have better facilities. And for a kid to make this step, all they are required to do is fill out an application. That's it. Take 10 minutes and write down some personal info. There is nothing to pay and no specific academic achievement requirements.

Accelerated classes are a permanent fixture in the educational landscape, and I suppose this magnet idea is just a logical, if not somewhat drastic extension of that. We talked about the rift between the magnet kids and the kids in her standard classroom, how there are smart kids in her class that belong in an accelerated environment, but have no self-esteem to make a simple step up. The conclusion we eventually came to is that has become a necessary structure in the inner city context, to take the smallest bit of aptitude and motivation and allow it to blossom. The test for the school staff then, is to encourage and draw as many kids as they can to take education seriously.
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