Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Top Ten Tuesday – A Word from Your Mother

This is from the front page of the blog “A Word from Your Mother:”

“The world is a dangerous place to live;
not because of the people who are evil,
but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
~ Albert Einstein

Very powerful words to introduce an extremely powerful blog about our planet. Normally I have ten different things, but this time I want to introduce you to A Word from Your Mother and ten different entries that you should read if you are at all concerned about our planet. There is some very troubling stuff on this blog, but I firmly believe that we need to understand as much as possible about the potential fate of our planet and the sentient organisms inhabiting it. Our history has been woefully uninformed on many of these issues. Be prepared to be worried, upset, and more knowledgeable. With knowledge comes action.

First up, Indigenous People: Not Only Plants and Animals Face Extinction. “According to the latest estimates, there are only approximately 370 million indigenous people, spread across 70 countries, left on earth.” There are loads of great links to human rights and the UN Declaration of Indigenous People’s Rights.

Chief Seattle sums it up well:

“Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web,
we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.”

~ Chief Seattle

Next, a video from TED, Ideas Worth Sharing: America’s Native Prisoners of War.

OMG – One More Generation – Saving endangered animals for the next generation, an organization started by children. This is just one of the many interesting and important organizations you can get to on the sidebar of the blog.

Monsanto – a company most of us have never heard of, or if we have, we connect it to rugs. Unless you read Michael Pollen (Omnivore’s Dilemma), Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), and watched Food Inc. Then you’re aware of what’s happening with our food sources, and potentially our farmer’s markets. This entry, Do You Know What You Are Eating and Breathing? takes on Monsanto. This is part 1 of 10. Again, be prepared to be troubled.

Mother Earth Still Has a Few New Things to Show Us is more uplifting.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind is an entry looking at the Gulf oil spill. Take a close look at the issue of plastic in our environment.

Protected Area of the Week from ICUN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) –  world’s oldest and largest global environmental network – a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. Take a look at what’s disappearing from the planet.

And finally, (I know, it’s only 8…) a reminder from Randy Newman…It’s a Jungle Out There.

Algebra and Politics – Who Knew?

Who would have thought algebra would get political? Surely not me, naive person that I still am….I’m at Walgreens earlier today and I commented on a Halloween picture. Seems Walgreens will give a free 4 by 6 photo if the kids come in costume to the store on Friday. I mentioned that I thought that was a great idea. I said my students and I were celebrating Distributive Property Day instead of Halloween.

If you follow this blog, you know that I’m attempting to bring some humor to an otherwise excessive candy day that drives teachers nut – it’s on Sunday this year, so Monday will not be pleasant….Distributive Property Day is when we “share with everyone. Here’s an example of the distributive property: 3(x + 2). When you simplify, you end up with 3x + 6. You “share” the 3 with everything inside the parentheses, hence my “sharing is caring.” I tell the kids Halloween is just a marketing ploy to selll candy, and we’d be better off if we practiced sharing is caring.

Back to Walgreens. I tell the guy my class celebrates Distributive Property Day, and I explain about “sharing is caring.” To which he says (and I am not kidding) “That sounds like something Obama would do – distribute property to all.”

What? Huh? Am I missing something?

Thursday Thoughts – Election Year

I will be glad when November 3rd arrives because I am SOOOOO tired of all the political ads. The negativity and the inaccuracies are ridiculous, on both sides. I lament the decline of rational discourse, the inability of so many Americans to be civil, rational, and truthful. This is on both sides: negativity is an equal-opportunity style of campaigning. In Arizona we are innundated with propositions on our ballot; on the one hand, evidence of democracy and the voice of the people in action. On the other hand, many of these are crafted by very special interests, and these propositions do not have the best interests of the people in mind. Yet they are presented in a slanted manner to try and sway people who have no real grasp of historical impact. Every “solution” brings interesting new problems.

Case in point: the Interstate Highway System, started by Eisenhower as a way of being able to move troops and weapons across this country easily during the Cold War. Resulting new “problems” were decline of small towns and loss of downtown businesses. But without some good grounding in American history, we rarely see these trends from the past.

I believe there is a real lack of understanding of American history. Immigration is a major issue this year, yet so many people do not understand the trends in immigration throughout our history. While we openly admire ourselves for being a “melting pot” of nationalities, the reality is far from this. Native Americans – we tried to exterminate the race. African-Americans – we tried to enslave the race. We tried to send the Chinese back to China. Every immigrant group has had to assimilate and faced issues while doing so. We have never had a “fence” – and the thought of one just smacks – to me – of the Berlin Wall. Do we need to address immigration? Absolutely, but from a reasoned, historical, and economic approach. These are people’s lives, regardless of race or ethnicity. Unless you are 100 percent Native American, we are all immigrants.

There is also major religious intolerance in this country, we who expound our freedom of religion. The Compact of Religious Toleration of 1649 in Maryland (Maryland Toleration Act) is an eye-opener; we use this as the earliest example of the country’s belief in freedom of religion….

Passed in accordance with instructions from Lord Baltimore, this document protected Maryland from the charge of intolerance toward Protestants. When the Protestants were in charge of the colony for a time after 1654, Catholics were not protected in their faith, but this document was reinstated with the restoration of Lord Baltimore as proprietor. The Maryland Toleration Act constitutes the broadest definition of religious freedom during the seventeenth century and was an important step toward true freedom of religion. It sounds strange to our ears that such a harshly worded document should be called a toleration act, but the breadth of toleration defended also required that the sensibilities of religious people not be offended regardless of denomination. Aside from prohibitions on the calling of names, the meat of the act is found near the end of the text—no one will be punished or disadvantaged because of his religious beliefs. In any case, the harsh blasphemy provisions were never enforced. (

But when you read the actual act, it is “Christian” – nothing about Jewish persecution. ( Strictly Catholics and Protestants. I remember reading this for the first time and realizing that our ideal of religious toleration in this country was not realized.

It is the profession of the ideal…we – everyone in the world – needs to make progress in this direction – toward the ideal. But it seems like those of us who actually refer to the wording in the US Constitution are tagged with the “L” word – when did liberal thinking, respect for all, a desire to help those who need help, and a wish that all could reach for the stars without barriers become something to be ashamed of? When did it become a disease, an affliction?

And when did it become acceptable to slam the office of the Presidency and the President? We may disagree…I certainly did many times over the past 8 years, and that is my right, but never to the level of hate we see today. I truly fear for the direction this country is headed. I will continue to educate my students when I can about the historical connotations of some of the things they see and ask about. I will be respectful of others’ opinions while I try to get a student to think about what they are saying and what facts they have to back up their statement, regardless of whether or not I agree with it.

Rational discourse and civility – much needed, desperately lacking…..

And now, back to our regularly scheduled art programming……

Getting Started Again –

I am trying very hard to keep the depression at bay. Went to the movies today, saw the Golden Compass and really enjoyed it. The indictment on the church and its involvement in society is quite timely. And as I continue to watch the political scene, I get more and more concerned about the role of religion in our society.

Speaking of politics, Dean game me Tom Brokaw’s new book for Christmas, Boom. It is excellent, all about the sixties. Very interesting to see what is going on with names from the 60s and what they are doing today. The Vietnam War stuff is fascinating. I was 20, and I remember thinking that the year couldn’t get any worse, and then it did. in December of 1967 during our disciplinary term at Hartwick College, I studied game theory, and my paper was on the coming 1968 election. I had done a complete analysis of the political scene as of December 1967, and I had a complex matrix developed with the possibilities for the next election. I wish I could find the paper now. Under Bobby Kennedy, I had him taking the election, assuming nothing happened to him personally. Little did I know….at that time I had the current administration losing out to Kennedy, but who knew about King and Kennedy and riots, and everything else.

I am on the Obama bandwagon- I love the excitement, the spirit of change – so many things that I saw with Bobby and with the first Clinton. I have a signed letter of congratulations from Bobby Kennedy when I received my Regents’ scholarship when I graduated from high school in New York.

One day closer to summer vacation……

I try not to be political…..

…in this blog, as I like to keep that separate. But lately politics is impinging on my art. Primarily the issues with my school district, and the fact that exhaustion seems to be the constant factor each day.

Yesterday I had the blue flu, and the irony is that I really was ill. In 30 years of teaching, this is the third time my district has come close to chaos in bargaining. The first was 1972 in Hawaii with a teacher strike. Ugly. I remember going to my depatment head ofter a nasty day on the picket line and telling her I was sorry for the crap said to her as she crossed. People have their own decisions to make. The second was in Vermont in about 93 when we were getting close to striking, and the teachers knew I would have to cross, because part of me was an administrator. They were fine with that.

The third is now. Over 40 percent of the teachers were out yesterday in our district, sending a really strong message. The offer still sucks, but I think we have their attention now. This is the most united I have seen the district teachers in a long time. And the best part is the district has so shot itself in the foot by all their financial mismanagement over the last two years in particular. For once maybe we won’t take the brunt of criticism – but I still am not reading the comments in the paper!

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