Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just a Thought on Chaz Bono DWTS

Yahoo usually has terrible reader comments, but this one on Chaz Bono is really great:

"The "tolerant" people amuse me. I notice that they feel like we should be "tolerant" towards Chaz as regards his choice to change gender, but the call for tolerance ends when Chaz's weight is discussed. In other words, his being transgendered is off limits, but his being fat is fair game!"

Living day-to-day being fat or or short or in a wheel chair, or having acne, as well as being queer or trans or a person of color should make us more determined to stamp out prejudice everywhere. In an ideal world, we might. But the world isn't ideal. We still fear for our safety somewhere down in the lower levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Not blending in is dangerous, and when we don't fit in one way, we sometimes do our best to fit in with others.

Joining with the mob gives us safety for the moment, but makes us hypocrites. However, it takes courage for someone who has been bullied to call out bullies. The fear, and danger, is real.

What to do? We can't be that one brave person all the time in every situation.

When we are not, I hope we can use the experience to better understand those who hold back when we are the targets. They might be struggling and afraid as well, and as hard as this is, we should forgive them, just a little bit, just as they might forgive us in turn.

And in those times where we must be brave, I hope that we are all somewhat equal to the task.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Adventures of Science Dog and Chemistry Cat

It was a rough day in Bowserville. Traffic was really bad, and the pizzas were cold. Tempers were short, and there was a distinct feeling in the air that something very bad might happen if things didn’t get better fast.

Now, Bowserville, you have to understand, was a town that loved its pizza. Mayor Grigs Duquesne, in fact campaigned on a platform saying that, “a vote for her was a vote for extra cheese.” But now, Mayor Duquesne was desperate.

“My God, Man! The traffic is bad and the pizzas are cold!” Mayor Duquesne cried.

“Well, is this one related problem, or two separate ones?” asked her deputy mayor, Cruz Bustamante. Cruz was completely unrelated to Cruz Bustamante, the former Lieutenant Governor of California, but resembled him in some ways. Though not in others.

“My God, Man! How can you be so dispassionate when our town is in trouble?” Mayor Duquesne cried.

Suddenly the phone rang. “HAHAHAHAA! Hey Grigs! This is your nemesis speaking. I am calling to tell you that unless you pay me $2 million by the noon tomorrow, the traffic will be completely snarled. I will bombard your town with road construction vehicles and orange cones. I will have unruly families crossing the streets at yellow and red lights. I will make every beat-up Chevy truck drive lose the mattress that is loosely tied in its bed, and flood the streets with Lexus and Volvo drivers who come to a complete stop before making a right turn on a green light. HAHAHAHAA!”

“My God, Man! What about the pizza?” Mayor Duquesne cried.

The voice on the other end faltered… “W-what do you mean about the pizza?”

“Didn’t you know? The pizza is getting cold. We ordered a pizza and it was cold—and it happened again.”

“O-oh no… um—I’ll see what I can do—“ the voice hung up.

Suddenly, all the traffic lights in the city turned green.

Then there was a huge crash.

The phone rang.

“S-sorry!” said the voice at the other end.

* * * * *
“Hrpmph, why do I even read the paper anymore!” growled Science Dog, over her cup of chai tea.

“What’s wrong, Science Dog?” asked her friend, Chemistry Cat.

“I hate when statistics are misused. I’m reading that in Bowserville the temperature of pizza has gotten progressively colder. They say that if the trend continues, the pizza will reach absolute zero in just six months.”

“That’s pretty cold pizza.”

“The coldest pizza there is,” snorted Science Dog. “But as you know, nothing reaches absolute zero. In fact, I can’t see their pizza falling below the ambient air temperature.”

“Well, thermodynamics is thermodynamics,” agreed Chemistry Cat.
After a night with Rogaine in your Vaseline and your wiener looks like a hippie Herve Villechaize bonged out at a Grateful Dead concert. You shout hey look, there’s a plane, a plane, but he’s just lying there limp and stoned and he’s not getting up to point anywhere and you can just go fuck yourself, but that’s what got you here in the first place.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

And now....

Notice Lutz is the same guy from 2006?

Lutz: After restructuring, GM 'in good hands'
Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
Dearborn — The new culture of excellence at General Motors Co. today is self-sustaining, said Bob Lutz, the former vice chairman of the automaker who continues to serve as a consultant.
GM has restructured since its bankruptcy two years ago and has seen a series of management changes at the top. But Lutz, who spoke at the Ward's Auto Interiors Conference here today, said having outsiders as chief executive and chief financial officer means management has "no history of running the auto industry in the U.S. the wrong way."
"I think the company is in good hands," said Lutz, who has a book on his GM experience coming out next month.
Previous members of the management team "thought they were working on the right things," Lutz said, but unfortunately, they were not.
But he begrudgingly agreed with the decision to kill four of GM's eight brands as part of the government-ordered restructuring.
The Hummer brand had to go: "It was the environmental anti-Christ."

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110517/AUTO01/105170443/Lutz--After-restructuring--GM--in-good-hands-#ixzz1NVnspedl

Ah Memories....

Remember this?

GM exec: We need more new Hummers

September 28 2006: 5:39 PM EDT
Paris (Reuters) -- General Motors Corp.'s Hummer brand needs to double its product lineup by adding two or three more models, the executive charged with GM's product planning told reporters on Wednesday.

"Hummer needs some more products. It needs two or three more products to give it sufficient market coverage," General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told reporters at the opening of a Hummer dealership in Paris.

Lutz said making a Hummer-branded pickup truck, which would have ample passenger seating, remained an "option."

Earlier this year GM (Charts) faced pressure from activist investor Kirk Kerkorian to consider spinning off Hummer, which began as a high-mobility vehicle produced for the U.S. military.

But GM executives have argued that the brand is central to the automaker's strategy as it moves to cut costs, shore up market share and return to profitability in the U.S. market.

Sales of Hummer were up almost 50 percent in the first eight months of this year. By contrast, GM's overall sales were down 12 percent.

Hummer currently has three models: the H2, H2 SUT and H3. GM announced earlier this year it is stopping production of the original H1 Hummer, which was larger than the full-size H2.

The H2 SUT has short pickup-style truck bed.

The H3, which is built on GM's midsize pickup truck platform, accounts for about three-quarters of the brand's current sales. It is similar in size to a Nissan Pathfinder or Toyota 4Runner and is powered by a 5-cylinder engine.

GM executives have said previously that a smaller vehicle, similar in size to a Jeep Wrangler, is also being considered for the brand.

Hummer, which GM bought in 1999, has acquired both fervent fans like California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and outspoken critics, who see the brand's heavy SUVs as a symbol of American consumer excess and dependence on foreign oil.

Find this article at:

Friday, April 8, 2011

As Japan Rises Again

I have been listening to people asking if Japan will come back from these recent disasters. Short answer: Yes. The industrial complex is largely untouched; areas of industry are largely spared, and Japan does most of its business overseas now, anyway.

The more pressing question is HOW Japan comes back. Somehow, somewhere, someone or some party will find the secret sauce to marshall the Japanese people, tap into their pride and identities as Japanese and use this unity to rebuild. If this message stresses building coalitions with other nations and taking pride as a model member of the international community, wonderful. We should foster this, all of us, with messages and gestures of genuine support.

If, however, the unifying message contains isolationist elements, or how Japan has lost its prestige, and has become somehow weaker, then Japan might become more nationalistic and militaristic. If messages from neighboring nations are threatening or bullying, this type of message will become more and more appealing. Most of us can't remember such a Japan, but no one should underestimate how such a development would destabilize the region. 

As Japan rebuilds, we should think about what we would place in its new foundation. Do we place fear and betrayal and calls to arms? Or do we place reassurance, and community and, above all, trust?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Travel Stuff!

Always remember that nowhere is somewhere to somebody.

Grand Junction, CO is really a grand junction. Vail, CO is really stinking effing rich and a good place to go if you are an over 50 matriarch who wants to wear her fur undisturbed. The outskirts of the country seem to follow this coast-to-coast pattern: devastated, dilapidated, quirky, isolated, quirky, dilapidated, devastated. The big, sleepy dude at LC's BBQ sitting there like he's doing nothing but glancing at the paper and talking to folks is sitting there because he's the owner. 

When traveling the country, wear your tight pants first because in a few days you won't be able to fit them.

In some small towns, anywhere from Ohio to Colorado, the Main Street completely fills with GMC trucks. In the Asian market lots, though, it's still Honda Honda Toyota Toyota. On less-traveled roads, you can go all day and not see a McDonalds. Provel cheese in St Louis is great for people with long hair. Wyatt Earp makes a great statue, as do various sorts of cow, bull, deer, bear, bighorn sheep, and union soldier. Snow off the Rockies is beautiful. MP3 players and downloaded songs on roadtrips are nice, but turning them off is nice too.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Messy Travel Blog!

Hi All,
I am having a tough time writing blogs in neat chunks. That's what my other writing is for. I sort of ramble here, and here, I am in a motel room in Green River, Utah, 6 days into a cross-country trip from Baltimore to Los Angeles.

Thoughts so far--the country is smaller than I expected. The people have been super-friendly. There is a huuuge Hair Ball in Garden City, KS, where they used to grow sugar beets. Somewhere in a Kwik Stop in Indiana, a young woman right now is saying "Welcome to Kwik Stop" in a most friendly way to everyone who comes in. Wichita, KS just blows by you if you're not looking for it. If you come at the right time and are reeeally nice, you can get let into the Negro Baseball League Museum on Monday when it's closed, and get the whole museum to yourself. There is some amazing beef in Kansas, which translates to amazing pho in Dodge City.

The huge giant cross in Effingham IL is built with U.S. union labor, which makes me even happier than hearing how bikers hold services there an some swear to give up drinking or smoking right then and there.

Pepperoni sticks ain't what they used to be; stick with the beef sticks. And if you are nice (again--it's really paying off to be nice) you can use a restroom that is not open to the public, ride to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis when all the tickets are sold out, and eat at a Burger King in Grand Junction, CO when the lobby is supposed to be closed. It seems that every region has its own potato chip, but really not worth the calories; spend time on stuff like green chili in Denver and most excellent BBQ in Kansas City.

And yes, you can find Vietnamese everywhere.

Signing out for now,

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sentinel Programs

In describing the natural world, environmentalists  use the term sentinel species to describe a species whose condition indicates the overall health of a particular environment. Amphibians, for example are important indicators of water quality, because what affects amphibians presently, such as pH or levels of pollutants, may affect other animal species in the future.

I think that this term can also apply to our educational model. Just as an ecosystem is more than a causal chain, but an interconnected weavework of life, an education is not linear, but an interconnected weave of different disciplines, attitudes, and learnings.  

Note that I say is, not should be. One of the great misconceptions and arrogances, in both the environment and education, is the belief that our models determine the complexity or simplicity of our surroundings. That is, if we choose to ignore, or even to undermine complexity, that the complexity disappears. In environmentalism, our environment becomes something we can use or save. If we don't save the whale, the only effect is a lack of whales. In education, we naively think that we can get our students to focus on the next standardized test. If we cut an art program, then students will simply not have art. 

However, time and history has proven that once you kill the dogs, the rats will come. Once the fish are killed, the opportunistic species such as algae and jellyfish take hold. And our students, in absence of an educational system that teaches them sensibly, will be taken and devoured by the opportunistics, as well. 

Because of this, I propose the term Sentinel Programs to describe those programs, such as Art, Music, Athletics, whose condition indicates the overall health of a school system. A school system that has been forced to terminate these programs is a system that is in crisis, and should be regarded as such. 

Thinking of Sentinel Programs in this way highlights the value of these so-called expendable programs not as isolated species, but as programs that nurture and foster the entire academic environment in nuanced, yet vital ways, and whose very presence serves to preserve the integrity of the system and keep away the weeds.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sorry. It IS a human act.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot this past weekend. So was a federal judge, John Roll, and well as a nine-year-old girl. Roll and the girl, along with 4 others, are dead. Giffords, the target, is critically injured. Twelve others are also recovering.

People have wanted to politicize this, de-politicize this, to say it indicates what is wrong with the US, to say our thoughts should be with the families... Fair enough. All that is open to debate. However, one take on this whole situation that truly bothers me is when people like Rep. John Boenher call this an "inhuman" act.  They are so, so wrong.

This was a particularly human act. This was premeditated murder--not for food, nor for protection, but for an idea, an abstraction, no matter how twisted it was. Only humans do this.  Self-awareness, sanity, and ethics come with a price. That price is being humanly culpable for our actions. Our actions, for good or bad, reflect our thoughts, choices, and relationship to society.

When someone commits a horrible act, we do not have the luxury of deciding "this act was no longer human." This is a cheap and shallow response, for it ignores our responsibility as fellow humans to check ourselves, our actions, and our relationships with others. Calling such a crime inhuman gives us the false security that "normal people don't do things like this," when time and time again it's been shown that when they lose their trust and their hope and their moral compass, normal people can be swayed to commit abominable acts.

As humans, we are all potential murderers, potential criminals. Acts like this shooting should not foster thinking that "we" need to keep out crazies like "them." Instead, it should sober us and temper our words and actions toward each other. Perhaps we should all be a little bit more compassionate today, a little nicer to ourselves and to each other. All of us can, and do, fall and fail. The lucky ones have someone there to catch them, forgive them, help them heal, and teach them a better way.