Muammar Gaddafi: Nutjob extaordinaire

September 25, 2009

Muammar Gaddafi is a nut case. Sure, we have known about this in America for 25+ years, but the sign that he had gone completely around the bend must have been his recent nuzzling up the USA.

It seems that the Colonel’s son was recently detained in Switzerland for two days. Reason, that rat bastage chip-off-the-block was beating two of his servants. Now Switzerland may not be the most tolerant nation on Earth (universal suffrage for women did not arrive until the 1970s or 80s), but they know that even if your name is Hannibal, and your dad owns Libya, you go to jail for assaulting people.

Dear old dad responded by cutting funds to Nestle and arresting two Swiss businessmen. The president of Switzerland, like so many of the “make love, not war” crowd (not that all Europeans are appeasing, but there is historic prescendent, no?), ran off to Tripoli to apologize for arresting the Colonel’s son. The Swiss should, of course, know better than to protect the civil rights of innocent doglike servants to the Libyan royal family.

For the next year, Libya holds the presidency of the UN Security Council (another reason to not back a world government like the UN). Colonel Gaddafi was in New York to give a speech before the 50% of the UN which didn’t have the intelligence to walk out prior to his rambling incoherence. Among the items he proposed for the UN to take up: the partitioning of Switzerland.

I mean, if you are going to pick on a country, picking on Switzerland ranks right up there with going after Denmark. The Colonel proposes returning the Italian speaking areas to Italy, the German speaking areas to Germany, and the French speaking areas to France (I guess the Romansch speaking areas become a Forbidden Zone lined with scarecrows to keep the curious and the apes out). Gaddafi reasons that Switzerland is less a country and more a mafia (which given a history of laundering money for the Nazis and many other criminals and criminal organization, I guess we could give a pass to the senile old coot on his thinking there … on the other hand, I suppose it takes one to know one).

Personally, just to say I saw it in my life time, I think the Swiss need to get angry and call out the military to pay Tripoli a visit. I’m not violent, and don’t approve of wars without good reasons, but the surrealistic headlines: “Swiss Bomb Libya – Swiss flag now flying over Gaddafi’s palace” might just be worth it for the sheer novelty.


Crime on college campuses

September 22, 2009

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-09-18/how-safe-is-your-college/?cid=bs:archive6#gallery=713;page=1;item=

A recent survey of on and off campus violence has been collated into a list of the 25 most dangerous colleges and universities in the nation; some of which I have some indirect connections to, thanks to friends and acquaintances:

#25: The College of St. Rose (Albany, NY)
#24: University of California (Riverside, CA)
#23: Yale University (New Haven, CT)
#22: New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, NJ)
#21: Alabama A & M (Normal, AL)
#20: Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
#19: Buffalo State College (Buffalo, NY)
#18: Brown University (Providence, RI)
#17: Springfield College (Springfield, MA)
#16: California State University (Monterey Bay, CA)
#15: Norfolk State University (Norfolk, VA)
#14: University of Baltimore (Baltimore, MD)
#13: Hampton University (Richmond, VA)
#12: Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL)
#11: Fitchburg State College (Fitchburg, MA)
#10: North Carolina Central University (Durham, NC)
#9: Bowie State University (Prince George’s County, MD)
#8: South Carolina State University (Orangeburg, SC)
#7: Grambling State University (Grambling, LA)
#6: University of Maryland – Eastern Shore (Princess Anne, MD)
#5: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
#4: Tufts University (Medford, MA)
#3: University of Maryland (Baltimore, MD)
#2: St. Xavier University (Chicago, IL)
#1: Emerson College (Boston, MA)

In short: don’t send your kids to college in Massachusetts or Maryland unless they have taken self defense courses.


Reaffirmation

September 13, 2009

As a teacher, I have had parents come to me on more than one occasion and ask “what should I do?” As someone who long ago turned their back on having children, that always puts me in an uncomfortable position.

Sure, I have those days where I wonder if it would be better to have actively tried to convince some woman to marry me and have a child or two … I see plenty of successful parents out there. Sometimes, in moments of self-guile and hubris I even think “people have been parents for thousands of years …I difficult can it really be?”

Then every so often …

I have been sick the last two days, so last night at about 7:30 I headed to Chipotle to get something in their hot red salsa, which I am convinced should require FDA regulation as a medicine for cold sufferers. This stuff pretty much kills any bacteria or virus it comes into contact with.

As I walk in, the line is short … just two people ahead of me. I notice this woman with three kids not in line, but with their eyes skyward looking at the menu. I get up to be next in line, when mom decides that she is ready and that it is OK to move in ahead of me.

First, she orders beef tacos ….. the kids are yapping about what to put on it …. then “I don’t know if I like the beef” … she gets some beef for the kid to sample …. its too spicy …. OK … I need a steak burrito ….. and the tacos with mild beef … The preparer puts aside the tacos, and starts working on the steak burrito …. one kid is yammering about drinks … the other is saying no cheese. The steak burrito comes through, and it has sour cream on it. “I asked for that without sour cream” she says (note: she never uttered anything of the kind). Now they are throwing away the tacos and burrito and starting again. Then she needs a steak burrito bowl and guacamole and chips … after all of that, the line has grown considerably, and they take my order. She is now up to the cash register, but there are no non-spicy beef tacos. For those not aware, Chipotle’s barbacoa is mildly spicy beef … they don’t make any non-spicy …. but this restaurant …. in an attempt to save a customer …. apparently is trying to make some in the back. This goes on and on with the whole selection of the salsa (what kinds are there?) to the addition of lettuce and cheese.

Then the coupons come out.

I am really trying to be sympathetic vs. annoyed …. really I am … even though this has been dragging out for almost ten minutes. The people behind me are laughing quietly at this woman who is holding everyone up (at this point, the line now has 24 people, and nearly reaches the door; I counted on the way out). Finally she thinks she’s got everything while the kids go fill up their cups and make a mess of things over there.

It was one of those life affirming moments in my life … I never suggest that others should follow my lead …. quite the contrary. However, every so often in the grand scheme of the universe, you get that moment of insight and think “there, but for the grace of God, could have been me.”

Not sure if the hot sauce did anything, but I was feeling less congested last night and much better this morning. Coincidence????? (probably)


Introducing: Liam Patrick

September 8, 2009

Saturday was my niece’s second birthday party. She now understands that when she wants something that someone else has, she says “SHARE!”. When someone else wants her to share, she says “NO!!!” She still wants nothing to do with me, which is always tough as the godfather. Her uncles and aunt gave her a pink Barbie convertible which she is starting to drive around.

Last night, I stopped by after dinner with mom and dad, and my sister-in-law noted she was having false labor contractions, but nothing to worry about … the C-section was scheduled for another week.

By midnight “false labor” became “full blown labor”, and by 2:30 am, I was an uncle again. 7 lbs, 14 oz and 21 inches long.

Most importantly, mother and son are doing well.

Of far less importance: it has weighed heavily a bit with all of the problems we have been through that if this last baby in the whole family for a long time to come was not a boy, then my generation would mark the end of the family. Liam’s arrival gives some hope that the name will last at least one more generation.

addendum: I did get up to see my brother and sister-in-law, and baby Liam this evening after my department meeting. My mom was visiting (dad is strictly forbidden from any contact with my brother’s family), and I got to hold my nephew for a while. Surprisingly, he has a strong reddish look to his hair (no one in either of our families has red hair). After we turned down the lights, he opened his eyes to look around. Big sister was there. I don’t think she quite understands all of this yet, but she can say her little brother’s name.


Cool nickname (9/7/09): The Diomede Dateliners

September 6, 2009

Town: Little Diomede Island, Alaska

Don’t Believe it?: http://diomede.bssd.org/blog/

There is no cool logo this time. When I first saw this name on the list, my initial inclination was “wow, a school’s teams named for an NBC news magazine” … but that’s because at that moment I forgot the significance of Diomede Alaska.

Diomede is the edge … in some ways the absolute edge of the United States.

Little Diomede Island is located in the Bering Strait, about half-way between Alaska’s Seward Peninsula, and Russia’s Chukchi Peninsula. As a matter of fact, Little Diomede’s sister island, Big Diomede Island, is owned by Russia. The two islands are suspected to be some of the last remnants of the land bridge that eons ago connected Asia and North America, allowing early humans to cross into the Americas.

Little Diomede is home to about 170. If you go to the website and scroll down, you can actually control a camera on the outside of the school, and yes, unlike the state’s former governor, you actually can see Russia pretty clearly from there (Big Diomede is only about 2.5 miles away).

The school’s nickname is in reference to the fact that somewhere in that 2.5 miles of no-man’s land between Russia and the U.S. is the International Date Line … thus looking west from the school is also looking a day forward in time.

Holding out on a small rock in a cold unforgiving climate with an original name is certainly a worthy addition to the list.


Captive audience …?

September 3, 2009

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20090903/pl_ynews/ynews_pl888_1

President Obama is preparing to deliver a speech directed at American school students. The general gist of the speech is to encourage hard work and a good education … at least that is what is being publicized.

Some are concerned that students, especially younger ones, may be forced by teachers to listen to the president, and that the president may also be talking about public policy (or at least his vision of it). To encourage the paranoia, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, sent out some suggested study material to accompany the speech.

On the one hand …
America has a long proud tradition of separating the rights of localities (including schools) from federal control. Certainly, there have been grey areas for decades, though the biggest intrusion recently by the federal government was (ironically) by the George W. Bush administration (No Child Left Behind). This may have opened the door for the federal government to more greatly intrude on local matters.

Young children can be impressionable. If the president delves into public policy, and if teachers are not careful to properly frame the difference between “you have to listen to an authority figure like the president” and “this is one aspect of a complex discussion”, that possibly, could be problematic.

On the other hand …
American school children, especially older ones, tend to be more intelligent than most people ever give them credit for. Agree or disagree with the president, I don’t suspect that we will see masses of American school children signing up for the Democratic Party afterwards.

Opportunities to engage students in intelligent discussions of public policy, meaning a debate on the merits of the president’s ideas, and the potential problems with it, could payoff greatly.

What would be better?

Let the president not only address American students, but actually discuss policy. However, include a high ranking senator or Congressman who opposes the president politically. Perhaps in the presence of students, the politicians may act less like politicians and more like responsible adults, tune down the BS, and turn up what is accepted as fact, and what is extrapolated from the facts.

Of course, asking any politician to have a fact based discussion of that nature is often asking too much.