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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hollywood Sweethearts 4

Once upon a time there was a silly night time soap opera named Dallas. The first season introduced me to two of the most gorgeous women alive. Forget Charlie's Angels, this show had the really hot women. Morgan Fairchild (left) as Jenna Wade and Victoria Prinicpal (right) as Pamela Ewing. Poor Patrick Duffy as Bobby who had the enviable task of choosing one over the other. The second season Morgan Fairchild was gone and Priscilla Presley would take on the role of Jenna Wade. To me the show lost a lot of its steam when the really hot blonde left.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Excerpts from School Law:

Teachers have no First Amendment free-speech protection for curricular decisions they make in the classroom, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

A little known fact is that the Bill of Rights only applies to the government's criminal power. Employers are not bound by them. Still when the government is the employer courts used to have a tendency to favor applying them to employees. It seems that is a thing of the past. Free speech is a part of a blanket right teachers are trying to keep known as Academic Freedom. The courts have put the last nail in the coffin on that.

The decision came in the case of an Ohio teacher whose contract was not renewed in 2002 after community controversy over reading selections she assigned to her high school English classes. These included Siddhartha , by Herman Hesse, and a unit on book censorship in which the teacher allowed students to pick books from a list of frequently challenged works, and some students chose Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman.

What is not disputed is that these books were a part of the state adopted curriculum. The fact that parents were upset with what was assigned and the student's choices, why is their beef with the teacher and not the state curriculum committee?

"When a teacher teaches, the school system does not regulate that speech as much as it hires that speech," Sutton wrote, borrowing language from a 7th Circuit decision in a similar case. "Expression is a teacher's stock in trade, the commodity she sells to her employer in exchange for a salary. And if it is the school board that hires that speech, it can surely regulate the content of what is or is not expressed, what is expressed in other words on its behalf."

Ok judge, got the message, teach the curriculum we give you, but if parents complain you're on your own. School boards have the right to throw a teacher under the bus. Nice to make it sound better in legalese.

Is anyone in their right mind wanting to enter this profession anymore? How are we going to educate our children when the politicians, courts, parents and students have all the power and the ones with all the responsibility are treated like trash?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hollywood Sweetheart 3

Natalie Wood
Was there ever a starlet that could mesmerize by simply walking down a hallway?
Splendor in the Grass, West Side Story, This Property is Condemned, Gypsy, Love With a Perfect Stranger.
The list of fantastic movies where she graced the screen and our hearts with her presence is almost endless.
Her beauty was forever etched in my memory in Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. Overall a dreadful movie, boring beginning, stupid quasi avante garde philosophy about being free spirits, and lame ending. There's the one scene where Natalie walks down a hallway in white turtle neck and mini skirt and I melted. Lately it's the movie has been on premium channels and I watched it again. Oh fast forward is a blessing in this movie. That scene is still as hot today as it was over forty years ago.
A life so tragically cut short.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Balloon Pictures

Here are some of the balloons that flew over the house during the balloon fiesta.

Hollywood Sweethearts 2

My heart went pitter patter for Diane Keaton in the movie Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Sexy, beautiful, smart, funny, loved working with deaf kids; too bad she liked picking up one night stands. The movie had a great cast: Richard Gere, Brian Denehy, Tuesday Weld, Richard Kiley, Levar Burton. It's not the type of movie grinnygranny appreciates because of the nudity. After I saw the movie I wanted to marry a woman just like Diane Keaton.
I know she got an oscar that year for Annie Hall, but would anyone be so pathetic that they'd want to watch Woody Allen whine non stop a second time?
I'm glad she's kept on with her career and has lately made some excellent movies; First Wive's Club, Something's Gotta Give, and others. I still find her very sexy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hollywood Sweethearts 1

The first woman I remember captivating me with her beauty was Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's.
I was eight years old and didn't understand the nature Holly's line of work. I picked up the romance between her and George Peppard's character. Years later when it came out on TV I was older and had a fuller understanding of the story, but it didn't make me think any less of Ms Hepburn or Holly Golightly.
I also remember the music. Moon River is such a beautiful song that coming up fifty years later I still catch myself whistling it from time to time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fiesta's Finished

This year we had a spectacular Balloon Fiesta. Ten days of clear calm days. Maybe once in a decade we get a stretch like this. We stopped trying to fight our way to the balloon park years ago, too much hassle. We also stopped taking picures as balloons come over our house pretty much year round.
Last Monday I dropped wifey at work and went to play with the gaggle. I turned off Academy onto San Mateo and the sky was full of balloon looking close enough that if they were apples I could reach out and pick them. Quit a sight. As I drove on Paseo to Paradise Hills a bunch of balloons were in a vacant lot inflating for one of their competitions. When I got to the golf course a couple flew over while we were getting ready to tee off.
Saturday we had our own little fiesta behind the house. The wind pattern we northeast pushing them southwest. Right over our house. Normally we get the balloon companies that sell rides taking off from Rio Rancho that come over and land on the mesa behind us not the ones from the fiesta. We recognized some of the balloons that had been on TV taking off landing behind us. There must have been a dozen of them. I took three rolls of film and am having them developed. I'll have some of them posted in a few days.


Saturday, October 09, 2010

New Deal Reality

Something Krugman said today triggered a thought.
After the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998, it was often said that a key barrier to recovery was the uncertain state of property rights: so much debt had been run up during the boom, and there had been so many defaults in the bust, that it was no longer clear who owned anything. Plus, these countries lacked clear legal procedures, and in general suffered from insufficient rule of law. All this was said, of course, in a tone of superiority: we Americans had solved such problems. Bold face mine.

Teaching U.S. history and economics for many years the general thought about the Great Depression of the 1930's is that Hoover did nothing, FDR tried all kinds of things, but that it didn't end until WWII started. A number of the different textbooks said the same thing that the Republicans fussed that FDR was doing too much and to let "the market" correct itself, and the progressives like Huey P. Long, fussed that he wasn't doing enough. Sound familiar?
So what about the New Deal was effective?
To answer, it wasn't in stimulating the economy. The success of the New Deal was in creating a social safety net in welfare, unemployment insurance, social security and the regulation of business.
Half of FDR accomplished is working. The elderly are not being thrown under the bus yet. Their social security hasn't been raided, but give the reptilian party time and they will. Dubbya gave it his college try and got burned, but that was before the Tea Party started bringing the crazies out.
For sixty years the real success of the New Deal was the regulation of the financial community. Banks were banks, not investment firms. Wall Street couldn't make money both ways on stocks, so there was no reason to start rumors or panics to make money off a falling market.
Then Saint Reagan came to power with the mantra of getting the government off businesses backs. He deregulated the Savings and Loan industry burdening the taxpayers with a trillion dollars in bad loans to absorb when their orgy of bad loans came due. The New Deal kicked in and the mess was quickly handled and cleaned up, but the public didn't learn its lesson that deregulation was bad. Bill Clinton is just as responsible for the mess we are in as Dubbya because he's the one who signed the bill allowing wall street to profit off a falling market. Dubbya and a republican congress effectively killed all the regulations the New Deal put in place to protect the general public from getting ripped off by the banksters.
Another stimulus package will help like the last one helped some, but they are band aides only. To stop the financial bleeding we need a congress willing to stand up to the crooks running wall street and restore the rule of law in the financial sector. There can be no order in our country and society until there is order in our financial institutions. As long as banks can steal people's homes and can't show they have the right to foreclosure there is no justice.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Open Letter 1

First Letter. Second letter is at Captain's Log.

A friend of the court brief in favor of the plaintiff's in the case currently before the Supreme Court concerning demonstrations at funerals by a religious group claiming that their son or daughter died in the two wars we've been fighting for 10 years. The protesting group, a fundamentalist church from Kansas, claim that America's allowing homosexuals to live instead of being stoned to death as proscribed in scripture is the cause of America being at war resulting in these deaths.
A demonstration at such a time when the family is grieving and are at their weakest emotionally is cruel, mean spirited, in bad taste, bad mannered, and in all things considered civil repulsive. The question before the Supreme's is: does this behavior fall under protected free speech?

First and foremost, a little 9th grade civics. Although the Bill of Rights is written in absolute language, they are not absolute. ie knowingly telling a lie about someone is slander and writing that lie is libel and civil laws apply allowing for lawsuits over damages; as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted in a previous ruling that "Yelling 'fire' falsely in a crowded auditorium" can be construed as attempted murder and if someone is trampled to death as a result could be prosecuted as murder.
Another restriction on free speech falls under the term "fighting words," if someone says something that so offends and angers another person that offended person has the right to strike the other person and the assault would be considered justified. Punching someone in the nose for saying something disparaging about you mother, wife, sister, favorite sports team can legally be thought of as a reasonable action under the circumstances. Hey don't mess with my Cowboys!

Secondly, the right to assemble peaceably is also restricted. When a women's group wanted to protest the Master's tournament in Augusta, Georgia, it was ruled that the city had the right to require the demonstration be in a location out of sight of the course. From that precedent George W. Bush made sure any and all demonstrations protesting his military, prisoner of war, and economic policies were similarly removed from his view. The basis of the ruling was that the municipalities had the right to protect the citizenry of an unruly behavior or traffic inconvenience that could result from such demonstrations. The basis for this ruling was parade permits which most towns and city's have as ordinances.
Lastly is the "reasonable person test" as the basis for almost all interpretations of law.
Since a reasonable person could assume that someone protesting a non-causal relationship between a loved one's ultimate sacrifice for their country and the religious group wishing to get in the spotlight for claiming it was because of "Gay Rights," the said demonstration would anger and offend the grieving party both for besmirching and demeaning their loss and their sense of civic duty and patriotism concerning that loss; constituting the demonstration as "fighting words," and this could result in an altercation between the parties possibly leading to bloodshed.
The demonstrating party would not be denied their constitutional right of free speech or assembly if the municipality or cemetery, particularly a national cemetery placed a restriction on the demonstration by requiring it be held outside the vision of the grieving party. This would include major thoroughfares giving access and egress.

BTW, this reasoning could also be applied to abortion clinics. With bombings and doctor assassinations this is certainly reasonable. Recently a father threatened to kill a protester if he accosted his daughter one more time. He was arrested for verbal assault. I would love to be a legal assistant for his defense attorney. Maybe we could add some civility on this issue as well if this ruling opens up the possibility of civil action against those trying to cram their morality down everyone else's throats.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Shades of Marcus Crassus

Point 1: Marcus Crassus was the wealthiest man in Rome in his day. One of the ways he amassed his wealth was by training a group of slaves to efficiently put out house fires. He had someone start the fire, as the family ran out of the house and were looking at everything burning, he'd approach the man and offer him a low price on the house. The pater familias or head of the house about to lose everything would accept his offer and then he'd signal his men to put out the fire. With a few small repairs he'd then sell the house and make a rather tidy profit.

Point 2: Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered in New York City in 1969 while around 40 of her neighbors stood at their windows and watched and did nothing, not even phoning the police. Psychologists now have a name for this: it's calle by-stander syndrome. In effect everyone thinks the other guy is going to call or do something and at the same time morbid curiosity and voyeurism take over.

Point 3: A house burned down with the fire department refusing to do their job because the family had not paid their $75.00 fee. The talking heads on the news instead of castigating and being upset over this are actually defending the fire fighters. For video and other links on this clicke

Questions that come to mind:
A. How corrupt have we become that this could happen and it would be defended on national news outlets and those who speak for one of the two major political parties?
B. Could this be the wake up call that those who are choosing to throw their vote away (by not voting) finally get what's happening and vote even if they don't like their choice?
C. Have we as a people and a nation become so cold and callous that the Mafia mindset is now the prevailing philosophy? Mario Puzo's explanation for all the murder and mayhem in The Godfather: "It's just business."

Final thought:
Isn't deregulation fun?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Someone With A Brain

I'm now a retired teacher. Over the years I've posted ad naseum about the stupidity of evaluating a teacher based on test scores and the other imbecilities those in power have done to destroy the public schools. I have two grandchildren in public school and another one that will start in a few years. They deserve better than what our leaders are giving them.
Here's someone else who understands the carnage happening to our children's future.

Diane Ravich: This is only her conclusion, read the entire article. It's sanity at it's finest in an insane political world.

None of the current remedies now embraced by the Obama administration, the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the GOP, Davis Guggenheim, or other so-called reformers will improve education. Making war on teachers and principals is ridiculous, outrageous. None of the people at the foundations or in the policymaking circles work as hard as the average teacher, face as many challenges every day, for as little pay. None of the pundits who blithely denounce teachers would work 20 years with the hope of getting a salary (today) of $52,000.

No nation in the world—certainly not Finland—has improved its education system by belittling and firing teachers and principals.

People who know nothing about education and whose ideas have no basis in research or practice are calling the shots. Left to their own devices, they will destroy public education. They have already demoralized our nation's teachers. Eventually, their bad ideas will fail, because they are wrong.

Diane Ravitch is a historian of education and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (Basic Books, 2010).