A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oh, THAT explains it!

So I have figured it out. I overheard a bunch of freshman girls talking about me in the hallway before school. I was in the workroom working, and they didn't realize that they were talking loudly.

Girl 1: Ms. Cornelius scares me!
Girl 2: Yeah, she's kinda like a guy...

(My head comes up--- "WHA???? Oh NO YOU DIDN'T!" I think....)

Girl 2: Well, you know, because she doesn't act all scared around big groups of loud big guys...

(Oh, NOW I know what she's talking about. There was a loud group of wannabe thugs in the downstairs lobby last week, threatening to duke it out. A kid alerted me and I nonchalantly strolled on over making eye contact with the kids since I had laryngitis and of course there were no administrators around. They all melted away like Lot's wife in a thunderstorm. But still. I am NOT a guy. Just because I don't mince around like Scarlet O'Hara in a corset doesn't mean I'm a guy!)

Girl 1: Yeah, she's a pretty strict principal. She made Rebecca change her miniskirt last week....

(Okay, now I've REALLY been insulted. So later on I ran into another kid who also asked if he could go to my "office" to get a new lanyard for his ID. Sure enough-- he thought I was a principal, too.)

So I very quietly walked up behind them, and when they turned, I smiled sweetly, and really freaked them out. I managed not to laugh till I got around the corner.

The freshmen apparently all think I'm a principal due to cafeteria duty and hall duty-- maybe like a dean of discipline, which we could use, since AP Pleabargain just gave a kid a "stern talking to" instead of consequences after he repeatedly refused to comply with my very gentle request that he stop cursing like Holden Caulfield at the top of his lungs while my class was in session. I certainly don't hang out with the principals-- I'm no toady.

But I don't know which is more insulting: to be a "guy" or be a "principal."

Monday, October 30, 2006

Movie Madness Monday 37: Bad News for the Tigers edition

Here we are finally at another edition of Movie Madness Monday, the movie quote trivia game. Here's how we play: I give you quotes. You provide another quote or two from the same movie. We DO NOT revea the name of the movie until Thursday, to give everyone a chance to play. And maybe reminisce about a movie we enjoyed.


So here we go!

"This is for Allah. And it's goin' waaaay out there, sucka."

"Either you wear 'em or you don't wear 'em and you don't play"
"Yo no me voy a poner esto! Esto duele!"
"What? What are you saying?"
"I've been brushing up on my Spanish of late, and I think he is saying something about, you know, his being Catholic, and it's a sin."

"You're not supposed to have open liquor in the car. It's against the law."
"So is murder, Englebert. Now put that back before you get me in real trouble."

"That is a bunt: B-U-N-T. The catcher is supposed to pick up the bunt and throw it to first base."
"Well, how was I supposed to know? You made such a big deal yelling out to THEM."
"Diversionary tactic, Engleberg. Now get the ball."

"I know I don't got a lot up there, but what I got sure don't feel too good."

Now go!

****Thursday Update: The one, the original, the

BAD NEWS BEARS! Yes, this was the original, with Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal, who I personally wanted to be like when this came out in '76. The boys in the neighborhood and I always played baseball, but I still say I coulda been a contenduh if they would have just let me into Little League. Ah well, born before my time.

Matthau was a genius in this film-- at his grouchy yet squishy on the inside best. God rest his soul.

Thanks for playing!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sneering at the "True Believers"

I walked in on a conversation among some of my colleagues the other day in which they were basically mocking me for working "too" hard. They referred to me as "a True Believer" in a sneering way.

Yep, a very interesting uncomfortable silence then ensued, before I very coolly asked for what I had come in to get and then made a very regal exit, chin up, hopefully more like Katharine Hepburn and less like Gerald Ford going down the steps of Air Force One.

It might have annoyed me less if some of them didn't make a habit of "borrowing" copies of my lessons before I can even pick them up from the copying center. The part of the discussion I got to hear was too embarassing to be recounted in detail, but let it suffice to say that, basically, I should give up on more kids, do less explaining, give less homework, and use worksheets and other publisher-generated materials more. I shouldn't make students write in complete sentences or with correct spelling, either.

Interestingly, the people involved in this discussion were rather young, very conservative politically, and yet seem to view teaching as, basically, "the only full time gig [they] could choose as a career with so much potential for free time." And that's a quote. The sight of "teachers" sneering at people who care about teaching also distresses me. This probably wouldn't have bugged me so much if one of my students hadn't basically asked me why I didn't do some other career because, basically, I'm too "smart" to be a teacher-- why wasn't I a lawyer or something (that basically is more respected in our society)? (Once again, this conversation took several minutes, but this was his basic thrust once I understood what he was asking me. Usually, when kids start a conversation with a compliment to me, I look for my wallet, since they're probably buttering me up for some fundraiser.)

Yes, I do believe that education makes a difference. I do believe that real learning counts more than a grade on a transcript. I do believe that there is always the hope that an incredibly screwed-up kid can eventually straighten themselves out-- I've seen it happen. I've had several former students come back to see me who did not do well in high school, worked minimum wage jobs for a long time until they figured out why they kept getting fired, and finally realized that you only get one trip through this world, that neither time nor youth is infinite, and that they've also wasted too much time. That nothing changes without effort and even some failure. Which is exactly the way that I look at it for myself, by the way.

Of course, I've had other students who never figured that out. But there is always free choice.

So I'll keep being "stupid," since none of my "extra" work results in a penny more in pay-- just as they pointed out.


I think I'll open a nice bottle of merlot and mope blog for a while.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Woman as Meat

How is an unveiled woman like meat?

Australia's Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali explains it all for you here, speaking of rape victims:
In a clear reference to the notorious Sydney gang rapists, Sheik Hilali said in the sermon: "It is she who takes off her clothes, shortens them, flirts, puts on make-up and powder and takes to the streets, God protect us, dallying.

"It's she who shortens, raises and lowers. Then it's a look, then a smile, then a conversation, a greeting, then a conversation, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay Jail," he tells his worshippers with a chuckle.

"Then you get a judge, who has no mercy and he gives you 65 years.

"But when it comes to this disaster, who started it? In his literature, scholar al-Rafihi says: 'If I came across a rape crime - kidnap and violation of honour - I would discipline the man and order that the woman be arrested and jailed for life.' Why would you do this, Rafihi? He says because if she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn't have snatched it."

"If you take a kilo of meat, and you don't put it in the fridge or in the pot or in the kitchen but you leave it on a plate in the backyard, and then you have a fight with the neighbour because his cats eat the meat, you're crazy. Isn't this true?

"If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street, on the pavement, in a garden, in a park or in the backyard, without a cover and the cats eat it, is it the fault of the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.

"If the meat was covered, the cats wouldn't roam around it. If the meat is inside the fridge, they won't get it.

"If the meat was in the fridge and it (the cat) smelled it, it can bang its head as much as it wants, but it's no use.

"If the woman is in her boudoir, in her house and if she's wearing the veil and if she shows modesty, disasters don't happen.

I wonder if the sheik is surprised at the response to his words:
Australia's Muslims yesterday turned on their leader, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, amid calls for him to be sacked as the nation's mufti for blaming women for inciting rape.

Sheik Hilali was universally condemned by mainstream politicians and Muslim leaders nationwide and could even face a revolt from within his tight-knit community over the Ramadan sermon in which he likened immodestly dressed women to meat and suggested rape victims were as much to blame as their attackers.

Muslim women were devastated by the sermon - revealed in The Australian yesterday - while John Howard described the comments as "appalling and reprehensible".

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward demanded that Sheik Hilali be charged with "incitement to rape".

Members of the Lebanese Muslim Association, which owns Sheik Hilali's home mosque in Lakemba, in Sydney's southwest, met late last night to consider his eviction.

Association board members agreed to delay their decision on the mufti's future until after they had listened to a tape of the controversial comments and considered the context in which they were made.

Sheik Hilali had earlier refused to resign but apologised for any offence caused to women.

"I unreservedly apologise to any woman who is offended by my comments. I had only intended to protect women's honour, something lost in The Australian presentation of my talk," he said in a statement.

The Sheik's 25-year-old daughter defends him here, saying he must have been misinterpreted. There are tapes of his sermon.

Oh, and what brought this topic up in the first place? This set of crimes that took place in Sydney in 2000, in which five young women were raped.

Of course, the "blame the victim for provoking the rapist" defense is certainly not limited to some Muslims. And I wonder if any male listeners were offended by being compared to basically crazed, feral cats? I've always been intrigued by the basic reasoning behind this cultural choice, given that it basically expects women to behave according to the assumption that men cannot control themselves around women, and that the mere sight of an inch of female flesh will provoke men to violence and assault. But it's not the fault of the men who engage in this behavior for lacking the ability to act like a human rather than a brute. Right?

Hat tip to The Moderate Voice.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Movie Madness Monday 36: Wild Thing edition

Hey, for this week's Movie Madness Monday, let's celebrate the beauty of fall! For most of us, that means freezing our tuckuses off!

So here's how we play: I give you quotes from a flick. You provide a quote of your own in the comments section without revealing the name of the flick until Thursday, so everyone can play

"Remember, fans, Tuesday is Die Hard Night. Free admission for anyone who was actually alive the last time we won the pennant."

"Jesus, I like him very much, but he no help with curveball."
"You trying to say Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?!"

"Going somewhere, meat?"
"About 90 feet."

"Monty, anything to add?"
"Ummmmmm... no."
"He's not the best colorman in the league for nothing, folks!"

"What I was concerned with was why you didn't come up with that grounder that Rockert hit in the 9th?"
"It was out of my reach. What do you want me to do --DIVE for it?"

"Cerrano's looking for some extra power for tonight. He's looking to sacrifice a live chicken. Man, we can't have people puking in the locker room before the game!"

*****Thursday Update after a million Blogger attempts: In honor of the Fall Classic, I give you


Tom Berenger (mmmm-hmmm!), Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, and a hilarious little turn by Randy Quaid as a heckling fan. Profane in the extreme but hilarious!

What? Didja think I'd do Fever Pitch? Hello! That shows my team losing the Series! That's bad juju. I don't THINK so!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Take this thread and just walk away...

Janet over at The Art of Getting By continues her musical foray, this time into the 90s. So, who are my favorite 90s artists?

1. Radiohead. "When I am king, you will be first against the wall." If that's not the 90s, what is? I am more OK computer than Kid A, but it matters little. (And the video to Pyramid Song is full of beautiful heartbreak.)

2. Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was a shattered, twisted, damaged genius.

3. Indigo Girls. Is there a bad Indigo Girls song from the 90s? Even "Chicken Man" eventually grew on me. Actually, their 80s stuff was wonderful, too. I do wish I could go to a concert of theirs again, but certain members of the crowd could not behave themselves. You know, I don't care what you do in the bedroom, but you blocked my view of Amy and Emily's guitar playing.

4. Weezer. Dear Rivers Cuomo: while I greatly admire your ethic regarding meditation, could you please change your mind and crank out a few new songs? Thanks. P.S.- I forgive you for "Beverly Hills." Please don't let that happen again.

5. Mary Chapin Carpenter. 1992: Come On, Come On. 1994: Stones in the Road. 1996: A Place in the World. MCC really hit her stride in the 1990s, and her genius came through in amazing songs like "Why Walk When You Can Fly," "The End of My Pirate Days," John Doe No. 24," "Stones in the Road," and "He Thinks He'll Keep Her," not to mention her hilarious "I Feel Lucky" and "The Bug." Her Cover of Lucinda Williams' "Passionate Kisses" is also a wonderful way to learn to appreciate the gifts of Lucinda Williams, since her actual singing makes me want a good strong drink.

6. Pearl Jam. The original grungers. Stone Temple Pilots wanted to be Pearl Jam. They did not succeed.

7. Sarah McLachlan. I actually started following her career in the 80s, when I heard her sing "Vox." She is amazing, and if you get the chance you need to see her in concert. She also deserves props for being the force behind Lilith Fair.

8. Barenaked Ladies. "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono" by Dar Williams had to be in response to the Ladies' "Be My Yoko Ono."

9. Tracy Chapman. Even if she had only "Fast Car' to her credit, she would more than deserve her place on my list. But she has done much much more.

10. Bonnie Raitt. Her long overdue 1990 Grammy for Album of the Year makes her a 90s artist, although those of us who have admired this guitar goddess since the 70s know she's timeless.

11. Toad the Wet Sprocket. Worst band name since The Strawberry Alarm Clock, but I still loved their music.

12. Travis. Who can't identify with "Why does it always rain on me?" Fran Healy is a just wonderful.

Now, 90s musicians that I absolutely LOATHED:
1. Smashing Pumpkins: Billy Corgan's singing makes me want to call the Humane Society, because he sounds like a sheep being tortured.

2. Michael Bolton. Let the Office Space jokes begin.

3. Celine Dion. Someone get her a sandwich. If she's chewing, maybe we won't have to know aboout her heart going on. And how dare you butcher a Cyndi Lauper (Roy Orbison) song, you scarecrow?

4. Mariah Carey. This Diva needs a straightjacket. It would cover up her cha-cha's, too.

5. Puff Daddy. If only he was a tenth as good as the hype. He is the Paris Hilton of hip-hop.

6. Britney Spears. A pedophile's fantasy. Ewwww.

7. Jane's Addiction. Perry Farrell. That's why.

8. Lenny Kravitz. He married Lisa Bonet; ergo, I cannot take him seriously. Not to mention his stupid ripping off of The Guess Who.

9. Marilyn Manson. I think Chris Rock said it best after observing Manson perform: "RUN to church! Run to church and PRAY!"

Well, what do YOU think?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Look Away! Look Away!

A Farmington, MO teenager and his family are fighting to wear Confederate symbols to school:
A legal skirmish may be brewing over the Confederate battle flag being displayed on a cap and T-shirts that a student wore last month to Farmington High School.

The freshman student was suspended and then withdrew from school.

His family is preparing to challenge the suspension, through legal action if necessary, an attorney for the family said Tuesday.

The student, Bryce Archambo, 14, of Farmington, was suspended from school for a day on Sept. 28 after a physical education teacher told school administrators that he was offended by the Confederate flag and accompanying slogan, "Rebel Pride," on his clothing.

Farmington is a city of 16,000 in St. Francois County, about 65 miles south of St. Louis. Farmington High has about 1,200 students.

Bryce Archambo said Tuesday in a telephone interview that school administrators told him not to wear the cap and T-shirts to school any more because they were offensive and disruptive. Bryce's father, Marc Archambo, called the school and told administrators that his son had the legal right to wear those articles of clothing, the youth said. Marc Archambo removed his son from the school and has been home-schooling him, Bryce Archambo said.

Students elsewhere have been punished for wearing Confederate symbols in school, and the courts often have upheld a school district's right to keep order. A Belleville East High School senior got an eight-day suspension in 2001 after refusing to cover Confederate flag stickers on his car while it was being worked on in the school's automotive shop.

The Archambo family has hired lawyer Robert Herman of St. Louis to challenge the suspension. Herman has experience defending free-speech issues in area courts. He has represented the Ku Klux Klan, among other groups, on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Herman said Missouri law bars school officials from ordering students to remove clothing, emblems or insignia that are "worn in a manner that does not promote disruptive behavior."

Bryce Archambo said he merely wore the cap and T-shirts and did nothing that was disruptive.

Superintendent W.L. Sanders of the Farmington School District replied, "It is our position that principals have the authority to prohibit any emblem or symbol that they deem disruptive to the operation of the schools."

Bryce Archambo said he viewed the flag as a symbol of his family's Southern ancestry and not as something racist or offensive.

I wonder if a wary judiciary will throw the case out instead of taking a stand, given that the Archambos have withdrawn their son from attendance in the district? It's a common tactic --remember the infamous Pledge of Allegiance case?

I remember long ago as a child I went to Six Flags Over Texas --back when it was THE only Six Flags-- and purchased a replica of a Confederate "Stars and Bars" flag. After all, one side of my family was from the South, so I hung it up in my room. Once I realized exactly what it stood for, I got rid of it. Venerating your ancestors is one thing. Venerating your ancestors' mistakes is another. Venerating a potent symbol of the Klan is yet another thing-- sure, the swastika was an innocent ancient Native American symbol once, too.

It sounds as though the argument being made by the family and its representatives is that he is being oppressed for merely publicly claiming his "heritage." After careful examination, I have never found any reputable hypothesis that "Southerner" or "Rebel" is an ethnicity. Would Mr. Archambo's family like to see minority kids in their school wearing shirts with the slogan "White Devils?" The connotation of the Confederate flag is one of intimidation and torture, for depriving one group of people of freedom for the comfort and enrichment of another group. If he and his family don't see that, then perhaps they could use a little education.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Movie Madness Monday 35: Vicki Carr edition

Welcome to Movie Madness Monday, my little attempt at levity and mental dexterity. For those of us who carry around this kind of trivia in our heads, here's a chance to express some of this clutter, leaving more room to think about your latest Sudoku.

Here's how it works: I provide an anticipatory set of quotes from a movie. You provide other quotes from the same movie. I will tell you the name of the movie on Thursday. You can still post quotes after that time, though.

I am in a crabby mood because I actually am blogging while watching my team get hammered by Pond Scum. So I need a laugh. What's better than to laugh about New York?


"Someone-- tell a joke!"

"I mean, she was coughing her brains out, and still she had to keep singing!"

"A man understands one day that his life is built on nothing - and that's a bad, crazy day."

"I just want you to know no matter what you do, you're gonna die, just like everybody else."
"Thank you, Rose."

"I ain't no freakin' monument to justice! I lost my hand! I lost my bride!"

"Old man, you give those dogs another piece of my food and I'm gonna kick you 'til you're dead!"

"Love don't make things nice - it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us!"

****Thursday Update: People will do crazy things when they're

Cher went from frumpy to fabulous in this great romantic comedy. Nick Cage may not get his hand back, but Cher got her man, and escaped dying of boredom with Danny Aiello. This one was great!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Keeping Our Children Safe Should Not Be Just a Political Slogan

In some areas of our country, this is all too common an occurrence:
His name was Alex Anthony.

He was a jokester; a boy known as one of the best dancers in his family; a loyal companion to his grandmother, with whom he shared the same birthday.

Last month, the 13-year-old -- shot in the head by a stray bullet a block from his Indianapolis home -- quietly slipped away after his family made the agonizing decision to have him taken off life support.

"This is something we will never get over," said Hattie Hunter-Anthony, one of Alex's many aunts in his large family.

The horrific school shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin and at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania -- which left six girls and a principal dead, all within a week -- have caused many to wonder just how safe our children are.

Truth is, young Americans die at the hands of other people at an alarming rate, greater than any other Western nation. Every day in 2003, an average of about 15 youths, ages 10 to 24, were victims of intentional and accidental killings, according to the most recent statistics available from the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Few of them died in school shootings.

More often, they were the Alexes of the world -- most likely to be shot, but also the victims of stabbings, beatings and other abuse.

They are young people such as Starkesia Reed, a high school freshman who was struck and killed in March by a bullet from an AK-47 as she stood by a window in her home in Chicago's impoverished Englewood neighborhood. About a week later, in the same neighborhood, 10-year-old Siretha White was killed much the same way as she attended a surprise birthday party at her aunt's home.

"She had dreams and she didn't get to finish doing her dreams," Siretha's mother, Siretha Woods, said at the time.

While experts are pleased that the White House has taken action to explore the serious issue of school shootings, many say they wish similar efforts were being made to address these other killings.

"I think we've come to expect violence in cities, violence among urban youth, violence among minority youth," said Dr. Linda Teplin, a psychiatry professor and director of the psycho-legal studies program at Northwestern University's medical school. "It no longer shocks us. It's the unexpected that shocks us."

In a study published last year in the medical journal Pediatrics, Teplin and her co-authors reported that school shootings resulted in 52 deaths between 1990 and 2000. By comparison, they noted that in New York City alone during the same time period, homicides accounted for the deaths of 840 inner city youths, ages 14 to 17.

Rural areas are not without their share of killings.

Read the whole thing.

I have students who belong to gangs. I have students who have parents in prison. I have students who have seen loved ones killed before their eyes. I have students who sell drugs to make a living. (And before the homeschooling mafia goes nuts, two of these students were former homeschoolers, so back off the demonization of public schooling regarding those statements, please.)

It is often difficult for us to imagine the kinds of lives some of our students lead. Having said that, however, does not mean that we should make excuses for students who bring their violence into our schools. I have seen sympathy for neighborhood situations cause administrators to make deals for students caught behaving violently, and I believe this kind of thinking merely perpetuates the violence. A misplaced sense of mercy for these students merely makes MORE students potential victims of violence. (We won't even mention the effect it has on poor little old me when I wade into a scrum while other blissfully unaware staffmembers giggle in their klatch around the corner.)

Due to the way the media works, tragedies like school shootings get loads of press, while the stories of people getting the job done in quiet dignity gets swept aside. It has really seemed that there was a new shooting every day for the last two weeks in one school or another.

Our children face danger at a far higher rate in their homes than at their schools. This patterns holds true internationally, as well. But one child shot, or beaten, or raped, or neglected is one eternal tragedy too many.

School Size: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Here's an interesting post:
Leaders, students and teachers at Union and Collinsville high schools recently discussed school-size issues, including course offerings, facilities, opportunities and comfort levels.

Talk of high school reform is heating up; notable groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are calling for change in high school size and structure.

But local supporters of both sizes of schools said the bottom line is atmosphere.

'A' for academics
With about 1,900 students in grades 11 and 12, Union High School's No. 1 benefit is course offerings, Principal Dave Stauffer said. Students at the school can take any of 15 math, 13 science, 15 fine arts and 19 business courses, to name a few, he said.

"It's great how many different opportunities there are for kids. If you're great at social studies, you can take it as much as you want," he said.

Collinsville High
School Principal Cory Slagle said course availability was one of his greatest concerns, but he added that his students are not hurting. "I would like to offer all the courses that the big schools offer, like foreign language and electives," Slagle said. "We offer Spanish, and some other schools offer Spanish, French, German and probably more. You might only have the choice of Spanish here, but you'll know your teacher."

Class size was a common concern at both schools. Stauffer said Union averages about 27 students per core class; Slagle said Collinsville averaged 22 to 23.

Read the whole thing for a very thoughtful take on the issue.

Especially with the recent attention which has been created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, school size has become a very hot topic. I can tell you from personal experience that Union High School is just HUMONGOUS. The part of Tulsa it is in experienced some incredible growth starting the in mid-1980s.

I think that a small school can be the loneliest place in the world, but done right, a large school can be personal and welcoming. Small schools' biggest downfall is the paucity of courses they can offer. Large schools' biggest downfall is their often factory-like quality.

Is there a magically delicious high school size? Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I'd hate to be the janitor....

Oh, Good Grief. Really. Get a "load" (SORRY!) of this one:

CHARLESTON, S.C. - A fifth-grade teacher allowed five students — a boy and four girls — to use a trash can as a toilet during a school lockdown drill when no one was supposed to leave the classroom.

The Charleston County teacher, Philip Frandino, was reprimanded last year for putting cardboard around a student's desk and keeping him isolated from his classmates for two hours for talking, The (Charleston) Post and Courier reported Friday.

On Tuesday, Frandino gave the Charlestowne Academy students permission to use the trash can. When a girl used the bathroom, other girls held up jackets to shield the view while other students stood on the opposite wall with their backs turned, school district spokesman Jerry Adams said. Boys also did the same for the boy.

"It's not acceptable," associate superintendent Patricia Yandle told the newspaper.

During the drill, which lasted less than an hour, Frandino called the school's main office and said students needed to use the restroom. It's unclear what the he was told to do, but Yandle said he was not told to have students use the trash can.

"We always learn something" during lockdown drills, school district spokesman Jerry Adams said Friday. "And clearly communications between the classrooms and the main office to get directions on things was one of the issues here."

Adams said as much privacy was given as possible. He also said students were given sanitary wipes.

The teacher was on administrative leave with pay. Frandino did not comment on the situation to The Associated Press.

Adams said officials were still looking into the incident.

"In a drill like this, teachers and principals have discretion and they have to make decisions," Adams said. "I'm not going to second-guess that today."

The school sent a letter to fifth-grade parents explaining that in an effort to follow lockdown procedures and ensure students' comfort, the teacher allowed the trash can to be used as a toilet. The lockdown was practice for an intruder entering the building.

Last year, Caren Weldon walked into Frandino's fourth-grade classroom and found her son surrounded by a cardboard box.

She planned to re-enroll her child this year, but didn't when she found out Frandino would be her son's fifth-grade teacher, she told the newspaper.

"Thank you, Lord, my child is not in that class," she said. "It just shows he makes poor decisions when it comes to the children."

Yandle said if the school had been on an actual lockdown and students needed to use the restroom, she would have encouraged them to think about something other than the bathroom.

What. An. Idiot.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Amish as a witness

Read this, which my friend Educat sent along to me.

These people live what I only aspire toward, imperfect and mired in anger and the refusal to forgive as I am.

This will humble you. Could we in the "English" world do the same?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I am I am I am Superman, and I know what's happening

Well, Janet has served up another hot topic over at her place, and this one was really tough. She asked for my top ten of the best '80s bands. Now, I'm older than Janet, so I would put my knowledge of the 80s up against hers any time, but here are my VERY DIFFICULT picks.

1. Split Enz/ Crowded House. Neil Finn, Neil Finn. Neil Finn. I would spend Six Months in a Leaky Boat with his songs, hopefully staying One Step Ahead of sinking. He's a Hard Act to Follow, but I Got You, Neil. Don't Dream It's Over, pal.

2. Eurythmics-- Who's That Girl? Annie Lennox sings like a Doubleplusgood Angel. Hers was THE voice of synthpop-- Would I Lie to You? Sweet Dreams ARE Made of This lady's golden voice, but I wouldn't have copied her haircut.

3. Police-- Gordon, Andy and Stuart sent out a Message in a Bottle that had me Walking on the Moon. In the 80s, Every Breath You (would) Take usually was filled with a melody from this band, bemoaning that we were Spirits in a (very) Material World.

4. Talking Heads-- My sister had a party at our parents' home in the 80s which nearly involved Burning Down the House, and this kind of incident wasn't just Once in a Lifetime. And She Was barely punished for it.

5. REM-- Don't Go Back to Rockville, kids, because back in the day that this group hit the college radio charts I couldn't put in a cassette without being afraid something would Fall On Me in my little convertible. It would've been The End of The World As We Know It, because this blog wouldn't be here.

6. Stray Cats-- I Won't Stand In Your Way if you agree that Rockabilly was one of the greatest 80s things, along with ska. Even if you weren't Sexy and 17, you have to know that Brian Setzer's Stray Cat Strut was hot. Rev It Up and Go!

7. Devo-- If you had an Uncontrollable Urge to let go of the Whip, It is all because of DEVO. Sometimes college felt like I was Workin' In a Coal Mine, but I just wasn't quite Through Being Cool yet.

8. The Smiths-- Ah, Morissey, This Charming Man who was like an early pioneer of emo and apparently vegetarianism, since everyone knows Meat Is Murder. Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now that the Smiths are no longer together. When my brother would beg, "Please Please Please, Let Me Get What I Want," I would usually reply, "William, It Was Really Nothing."

9. Pat Benatar-- If you haven't listened to this Invincible Heartbreaker in a while, You Better Run over to a store and treat yourself. It's never a Little Too Late to listen to her golden voice.

10. Elvis Costello-- Darling, You Know I Wouldn't Lie and tell you that Declan's talent is anything but Beyond Belief. My friends Alison and Veronica would agree that not having a couple of his CDs is a not so Brilliant Mistake.

Note to Michael Jackson and Hall and Oates: Thanks for almost ruining the decade, musically speaking.

Carnival of Education 88: Fun without the creepy carnies

Go over to treat yourself to the best and most informative information about education over at The Carnival of Education #88, hosted at The Education Wonks. As always, EdWonk does a fantastic job putting it all together for all the rest of us!

And you won't have to pay ten bucks to "win" a three dollar stuffed rainbow colored bear, either.

Monday, October 09, 2006

(Perps+Guns) + (Teachers+Guns)=Lots of things with holes in them, hopefully not people

And the recent spate of school gun incidents just keeps on a-comin':
A 13-year-old student wearing a black trenchcoat and carrying an assault rifle walked into a school today and opened fire.

The boy, who was not identified, pointed the gun at two other students as he entered Memorial Middle School in Joplin, Missouri, and was confronted by an administrator, who tried to talk him into putting down the Mac-90 assault rifle, said Joplin police spokesman Lt. Geoff Jones.

The administrator, Assistant Superintendent Steve Doerr, told the student: “You don’t have to do this, there is another way,” Superintendent Jim Simpson said.

But the boy refused to put the gun down and fired one shot into the ceiling before Doerr managed to call police.

The boy kept trying to fire, but the rifle jammed, police said. The student then left the building, followed by another administrator. Police arrived shortly after and arrested the boy as he crouched behind a nearby building.

No one was injured.

Apparently, this kid had instructions for making bombs and a diagram of the school in his backpack, so they completely evacuated the school and searched it from top to bottom, just to make sure.

Interestingly, the governor of Missouri, aka "The Boy King," was in Joplin at the time. So he allegedly stated that he thought perhaps teachers should have the ability to be armed on school campuses.

Y'know, I AM armed. Got two of 'em, in fact. Plus "Mad Martial arts skillz."

Way back on August 18, 2005, I wrote about whether teachers should be armed. Let me just repost part of my argument:
One should use a gun when one wants to use the greatest amount of force to resolve a situation, not the least amount. Having teachers carry weapons would be a mistake, for a number of reasons.

1. Most people with access to weapons, being reasonable, law-abiding citizens, hesitate to pull the trigger, but they don’t hesitate to pull the gun out, hoping that the perpetrator will be dissuaded by the mere sight of a weapon. Instead, what happens all too often is that the weapon then gets taken away from them after a violent game of “chicken.” So now the perp has TWO weapons. And if he’s really determined, there’s already a dead or wounded “hero” on the ground– because the perp is NOT a reasonable, law-abiding citizen with deep, unacknowledged doubts about his own ability to use violence. We cannot assume that most teachers really have the will to kill, if necessary. That’s why we’re teachers, not cops.

2. Oh, but killing isn’t necessary, you say. Just shoot to disable or wound. But most people don’t have the training to do this, and they know it. Even the police have a less-than-perfect record at this, which is why both cops and civilians hesitate to pull the trigger in the first place, as mentioned previously– reasonable people know and recoil from the permanent consequences of sending that projectile irrevocably down that barrel.

As my gun-loving Uncle taught me when he taught me how to use a gun, “Honey, if you pull out your weapon against some threat, you need to know you’re going to use it, and use it until it’s empty.”

And even if teachers were willing to do so, we don’t have hours a week to spend training ourselves to become this skilled– we’re already drowning in a plethora of tasks just to try to educate our students.

Putting more weapons on campus is not the way to solve the problem of weapons on campus. It would be nice to think that the knowledge that teachers might be armed might prevent some of these crimes, but I don't think it would work that neatly. And this type of solution wouldn't have saved the young Amish girls, either.

I do know for a fact that having the Chief Good Ole Boy down the hallway packin' heat would make me feel FAR LESS safe, though.

Movie Madness Monday 34: Accents Overheard at the Fair

Let us now celebrate the safe return of the Clan Cornelius from the Old Home State, and not hang our heads low from the outcome of that little football game in Dallas, but now condescend to play Movie Madness Monday-- the movie quote trivia game.

So here's the sitcheeashun: I give you some quotes, you respond with some of your own from the same fine piece of cinema, but you don't name the film until Thursday, so that ever'one gits ta play. Okie-dokie?

Here ya go, then:

"Vernon here's got a job. Vernon's got prospects."

"Oh, George... not the livestock!"

"I'll tell you what I am - I'm the damn paterfamilias!"

"A woman is the most fiendish instrument of torture ever devised to bedevil the days of man."

"I had to be up at that there crossroads last midnight, to sell my soul to the devil."
"Well, ain't it a small world, spiritually speaking. Pete and Delmar just been baptized and saved. I guess I'm the only one that remains unaffiliated."

"We got you surrounded! Just come on out and grabbin' air! And don't try nothing fancy! Your sitcheeashun is purty nigh hopeless!"

"I'm gonna kill you, Judas Iscariot Hogwallop!"

****Thursday Update: Ulysses had nothing on this update, which was


There is only one word to say about the Coen brothers:


Thanks for playing!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My new diet...

Someone entirely evil tells me that Texas beat Oklahoma on Saturday. I wouldn't know. I was avoiding fried food at the Fair.

OooooooooooohK!-LAHOMA, where the wind comes sweepin' off the PAIN!

Hey, how y'all doing? I and the Beloved Offspring have taken advantage of my three-day weekend to visit the Tulsa State Fair and try to entertain the Gramma. It's been beautiful, warm, and sunny. A few quick observations, though:

1. Why is it that there are 63 construction zones on 1-44, and NONE of them actually involve construction, or even torn-up blacktop? It's like the highway Archfiends just randomly drop cones like Albert Pujols swats clutch hits to shut down half the highway. And there you are, stuck at a standstill in the middle of a pasture filled with llamas (at least it's interesting scenery) when you should be zooming along at 75 mph-- but no, I'm left gazing longingly at that Siren-like closed lane. It's maddening.

2. You have spread the BO out one to an entire row, and they still bicker for hundreds of miles.

3. When you arrive at your hotel, your youngest decides to wait until the lights are out and Mom has just closed her eyes with her eyedrops in them to get up and go the bathroom. On his way back, in the dark, he trips on a suitcase that someone left out and slits his eyelid open-- about an inch long gash, and nice and deep.

4. You get to employ your mad first-aid skillz for the hundredth time in your life to determine that this injury is going to require intervention. You consider Dermabond, but since it's near the eye, you hesitate. So, you put a butterfly clip on it, get the BO dressed, tears streaming from your eyes because you are not supposed to be getting up and walking around after putting in the eyedrops, and take the entire parade to the closest emergency room. You pick the new hospital in town, because you figure they won't be that busy, since no one really ever remembers it's there... Tulsans being creatures of habit, they are either St. Francis people or St. John's people or Hillcrest people.

5. Even though there are only about five people in the emergency room, it will still take you four hours to see a doctor. During this time, BO will whine about how they're tired, and there's nowhere to sleep, and for once you will welcome this whining, because they're drowning out the woman curled up in the wheelchair who is obviously quite gifted in the ancient art of profanity. What she lacks in artistic merit, she more than makes up for in quantity and perseverence. You hope your oldest is not taking notes.

6. When you finally are ushered into a room, you are then abandoned again. Finally, you go to the door and stare meaningfully at the fifteen medical personnel who are giggling and languidly shuffling papers. These are people for whom there is no urgency-- put them in different clothes, and their activity level is very similar to that of the subjects of one of those lovely, hazy, Impressionist watercolors-- you know, where they're picnicking, or punting, or they're waterlillies. By 4 am, however, languid artistic types are not what I am looking for-- I'm more looking for someone who actually can employ some medical skills upon my child with the bloody oozing eye. Maybe I'm too picky.

7. Finally, THE LOOK that all good teachers have works its magic on the back of the cranium of one of our picnickers at the front desk, and he stops joking about having beer in his waterbottle long enough to move so that my gaze can no longer burn its way into his skull.

8. The doctor comes in, goes out, comes in, goes out, and then decides that the kiddo won't need stitches. Instead, we'll use Dermabond. Now look, while I am grateful, if the nurse that triaged him had said this to me 3 hours and thirty five minutes ago, I could have done it myself without the paperwork, ER fees, and the entertainment provided by Invective Woman.

9. We get back to the hotel and to sleep at 5. Hours later, we awake and go to the Fair. Much Fun Ensues. We see animals, and ride rides, and marvel at the butter sculpture, and the Sugar Art is beyond belief. So is the fried food. Deep Fried Candy Bars. Deep Fried Chocolate Covered Cheesecake. Fried Green Tomatoes. Fried Corndogs. Fried Pickles. Fried Turkey Legs. We go home Saturday night exhausted, but having gotten our money's worth out of the Fair.

10. Sunday, as I put Eldest Child into the shower so they can go with Gramma to her Minimall for Jesus (whilst I visit a different church without the snake-handling), the FIRE Alarm goes off.

Yes. I kid you not. I and a hundred people go out into the beautifully crisp Tulsa morning armed only with our wits and shivering children pulled out of the shower.

I would go get a drink. But it's Sunday in Oklahoma. It ain't allowed, except for Communion.

Think of me during my hours long drive back to the Cornelius manse today.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mark Foley: Merely a Misunderstood Victim?

If you want to start off with a resigned (pun) chuckle, go here and see how long it has taken to try to make Mark Foley disappear in true Orwellian fashion. This link was originally the webpage for the Congressman from Florida from the House of Representatives. Hey, don't worry! Business as usual!

Meanwhile, Foley's representatives are testing the public response to his claim to have been molested himself as a teen. What is the point of this claim? Someone who has molested a child, if we take Foley's claims at face value, has created a possible future child molester. Are we also to suppose that this ameliorates the responsibility for Foley's actions?

So what if the crime we are discussing isn't "rape?" Is molestation and solicitation of minors so harmless that it deserves no punishment? Even Foley-- pathetic worm that he is-- is now seeking sympathy by claiming the mantle of victimhood himself, in that great American tradition going all the way back to the Twinkie Defense. It seems his lawyer is saying, "Hey! He's a victim of molestation! That makes his own molestation of youths beyond his control!"

Foley has now retreated to the final impenetrable frontier for those wishing to hide out from anyone wishing to question them. As Brad and Angelina found-- even remotest Africa is not far enough. But a rehab center? Now, that's safer than the dark side of the moon. This also puts Foley in line for double-victimhood: he was molested, and, through no fault of his own, I am sure, he's an alcoholic. I imagine the fact that he was closeted regarding his orientation will be the missing piece of this responsibility-evading trifecta.

The current outcry regarding Congressman and predator Mark Foley has more to do with politics than justice and morality-- and I believe that this is --at its face and at its root-- wrong. And for those who claim that the timing of the revelation of Foley's misdeeds is all political, I would like to respond: And your attempt to cover up this story WASN'T politically timed and motivated? Tchah.

Justice for Victims-- a new paradigm whose time has come?

Okay, after struggling with Blogger for a week now, it seems that perhaps I will be able to get a post up in slightly less time than it would take to enscribe the Rosetta Stone using a piece of vermicelli. So let's give this a go.

It is time for us to realize that we do not value children in this society. It's a lovely little political catchphrase designed to earn the votes of soccer moms and soccer dads who can't slow down their minivans or SUVs long enough to truly evaluate these claims dripping from the lips of our elected officials.

Cases in point: this and THIS and THIS.

First, let's attack the use of the term "sexual assault" for rape. I believe this is a euphemism designed to lessen the impact of the crime upon the minds of the public. Do we call murder an "assault?" To me, molestation is assault. Rape is rape.

Next, let's start off with this, in which a judge gave a 60 day sentence to a creature who repeatedly raped a seven year old girl over a four year period. After a huge public outcry, the judge was later "forced" to increase the sentence to three to ten years.

Then there's this: a Nebraska judge sentenced this monster to probation because she thought he was "too short for jail" and was afraid he would be unable to defend himself in prison. This sentence, too, was appealed in an effort to increase it. How nice that the judge's concern for the criminal's rights took such precedence over protecting the victim-- not to mention society at large.

At church, we often include in the Prayers of the People a prayer for those in jail. I have, for years, asked that we also include at that time a prayer for the victims of the people in jail. I have met resistance on this front, to say the least.

I have been toying with an idea which has been niggling around in my mind for a while: what if justice for victims of sexual crime was actually a consideration in our society? We all know that victims have no legal standing in court. What if sentences were actually designed to protect society and the victims of crime? Someone who has raped a child has damaged them for life, in a vast majority of cases.

In the 1990s, the latest legal trend was to attempt to involuntarily commit sexual predators in an effort to protect society after they had served their sentences. This type of desperate (and Constitutionally questionable) gambit would not be necessary if the punishment fit the crime in the first place. If child rapists would receive sentences longer than what Martha Stewart received for lying about a stock trade, we would not have to entertain such extreme measures. Why does anyone consider it justice when a child rapist or even a child molester is given three years-- or even NO years-- behind bars?

Do we consider this type of sentence justice because of the economic nature of justice in ancient law? Is harming a child less worthy of punishment because a child is less productive economically, kind of like the sliding scale for compensation for victims after the Twin Towers attacks?

If we truly take seriously the protection of our children from being used for the gratification of others-- whether that be the need for sex or the need for power or the need to hurt someone or for money or whatever-- then we have to start by reimagining what the true consequences for such deeds should be. Our lack of commitment to protecting society's smallest members is obviously apparent.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Movie Madness Monday 33: Torah Edition

It's time for Movie Madness Monday. Match wits with the wittiest trivia geek in the world when it comes to movies! Step right up!

Here's what we do: I give you some quotes from a movie. You respond in the comments section with a quote or two of your own. We do not reveal the name of the movie, though until Thursday, because everyone should get a chance to play. 'Kay?

And now, in honor of the High Holy Days, a little story about the power of religion. Try this one....

"You can't do this to me!-- I'm an AMERICAN!"

"You want to talk to God? Let's go see him together-- I've got nothing better to do."

"They're digging in the wrong place!"

"You're not the man I knew ten years ago."
"It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage."

"Your persistence surprises even me. You're going to give mercenaries a bad name."

"Next time, it will take more than children to save you!"

"Forget any ideas about lost cities, exotic travel and digging up the world…we do not follow maps to buried treasure and x never EVER marks the spot!"

"Good God!"
"Yes, that's what the Hebrews thought. "

****Thursday Update: Grab your bullwhip and dodge those poison arrows! It's


Introducing the one and only Indiana Jones! (MMM-MMMM- GOOD!) Steven Speilberg and George Lucas teamed up to recreate the genre of swash-buckling adventure in this one, and it was a great idea! You know they're talking about number five, which has been tentatively entitled "Indiana Jones and the Ravages of Time" since Harrisson Ford is now, like, 78. Bus he's a gorgeous 78. In fact, let's see a close-up, Mr. DeMille:
Ah, yes.

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