EXPERIENCES OF TWO ISRAELI PARAMEDICS: ...who are only 19 years old. The story, while brief, shows what Israelis are going through every day of their lives.
REMEMBRANCE OF THE VICTIMS OF THE MEGIDDO BUS BOMBING: A short memoriam here of the 17 victims who died on the "Bus of Death" in Megiddo yesterday.
ALL ABOUT FLIRTING: You think you know everything about flirting? Not until you've checked this site out.
WORLD CUP FEVER: A belated congratulations to the U.S. team, which defeated Portugal, 3-2, in one of the bigger upsets so far in the tournament. I'm far from a soccer expert; I'll leave it to you to email the resident in-house soccer scholars, Glenn and Mark to analyze the match. I did get up at 6:45 am, however, to watch the game.
Several commentators have opined recently about the popularity (or lack thereof) of soccer in the United States, and a writer to Andrew Sullivan's site came up with a very observant point. He writes:
It's true - most American's don't like soccer. The reason? Possession. We Americans like our things....we like our possessions. And in soccer possession is fluid. It drives us crazy. Look at your basic American sports. In baseball, football, and basketball possession is so important that 'turnovers' (i.e. loss of possession) are considered nothing short of disastrous. They are counted by statisticians, and those deemed responsible are taken to the woodshed after the game. This reaches its most extreme in
baseball. It is perhaps the only team sport where possession is fixed: a turnover in baseball is IMPOSSIBLE. Is it any wonder it's known as the 'American pastime'? Possession is fluid in hockey (not, mind you, an American sport), but since it's fast and they beat the crap out of each other, speed and violence provide adequate compensation.
Very interesting, and very true. Also from Sullivan's website is this transcript of a Simpson's episode on soccer:
TV Announcer: The Continental Soccer Association is coming to Springfield! It's all here--fast-kicking, low scoring, and ties? You bet!
Bart: Hey, Homer, how come you've never taken us to see a soccer game?
Homer: I...don't know.
TV Announcer: You'll see all your favorite soccer stars. Like Ariaga! Ariaga II! Bariaga! Aruglia! And Pizzoza!
Homer: Oh, I never heard of those people.
TV Announcer: And they'll all be signing autographs!
TV Announcer: This match will determine once and for all which nation is the greatest on earth: Mexico or Portugal!
Pervasive sex segregation persists in high school vocational programs around the country -- including in Maryland and Virginia -- 30 years after Congress passed a law barring such discrimination in education, according to a study released today.
The center's survey on vocational programs marks the 30th anniversary of the federal law -- Title IX of the Education Amendments -- that bars sex discrimination in schools and other educational programs receiving federal funds. That includes almost all public elementary and secondary schools and most colleges and universities.
The survey found that girls still are clustered in classes that lead to traditionally female jobs in cosmetology, child care and other low-paying fields, while boys dominate classes that lead to traditionally male -- and higher-paying -- careers in technology and the trades. Young women enrolled in such programs earn a median hourly wage of $8.49 as a hairdresser, for example, compared with $30.06 an hour in the traditionally male career of plumbing and pipe fitting.
The pattern was consistent in all states surveyed, including California and New York. In Maryland, for example, data showed that female students make up 99 percent of the student body in cosmetology courses, 84 percent in child care courses, 93 percent in courses that prepare students to work as assistants in the health-care field, and 89 percent in courses that prepare students for other health-care occupations.
Male students make up 84 percent of those in drafting courses, 84 percent in computer installation and repair courses, 95 percent in carpentry courses and 95 percent in automotive classes.
Um, maybe I'm missing something here, but most girls don't *want* to take shop. Should it be the schools' requirement to force females into classes they're not interested in taking? Should we force boys to take cosmetology just for the sake of evening up the numbers. These are *electives*, folks. If women were discouraged from taking Advanced Placement classes, that's a story. In fact, I wrote an editorial in The A-Blast decrying the lack of minority representation in honors classes -- because this curriculum is mandatory and key to getting the ticket to a good college. But, complaining that not enough women are enrolling inauto tech and shop? Puhhleeze. Last time I checked, women weren't rushing to be auto mechanics.
THE WASHINGTON POST BYLINE STRIKE: Over the past two days, Washington Post writers have withheld their bylines from their stories in order to gain bargaining leverage with the Post management. But withholding bylines only hurts the writers, not the paper. How will award-winning articles, which many journalists are very anxious to win, be identified? Frankly, it's not all that hard to figure out who writes which story. The profile piece on the Palestinian "martyr" is definitely Lee Hockstader, the whiny column in the back, always bashing the Bush administration is Mary McGrory. The sports column that always uses the phrase "sorry, no account?" That's Michael Wilbon. You get the point. Anyhow, this may turn out to be one of the most pointless labor "protests" I've seen in a while.
The Guild believes The Post's pay offer -- a lump sum of $1,100 in the first year and raises of 1 to 3.7 percent in the next years -- is too low. The Guild has asked for raises each year averaging 3 percent. Further, The Post generally wants employees to use vacation in the year it is accrued; the Guild wants staffers to continue to be able to carry it over from year to year.
Seems like pretty ridiculous demands to me. The federal government, for one, which has very generous leave policies, doesn't allow its workers to carry over leave from year-to-year. Neither do most private businesses. And, the Post is offering the workers a raise -- just not as much as the union is asking. Greedy union workers/writers, if you ask me.
Wednesday, June 05, 2002
WORD OUT OF ISRAEL: ...is that the IDF have surrounded Yasser Arafat's compound and it appears they are prepared to either exile or kill him. I'm hoping it's the latter, after today's horrific massacre of 17 Israelis on a bus, including a couple hugging in their final moments, being burnt by the smoldering flames.
THE COCKIEST LITTLE SHIT: I've been called names before many times, but "cockiest little shit" is a new one. Apparently, fantasy baseball breeds rivalries -- and my performance in the Sandlot baseball league, has caused a raving lunatic -- let's call him David P. -- to post the following:
so here is the deal, I don't care who wins this league, as long as its not Kruashaar. He is the cockiest little shit on the face of the earth. He thinks he is the God of baseball, ha hardly. What were are going to do is we will all finish ahead of Kruashaar, and then since he didn't win, he can go cry like a fucking baby that he is to his mommy and daddy. Then what'll you do kraushaar, no more baseball, oh no I am worthless!....
As Terrence Mann (played by James Earl Jones) famously said in the baseball classic Field of Dreams: "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come."
Those comments are why I love baseball, both playing and watching it. It does remind us of all that once was good. It's our national pastime. So, when some enraged jerk like the aforementioned comes and gets ticked off over a FANTASY BASEBALL competition, it really does border on the bizarre.
Oh, yeah, and spell my name right next time. Thanks.
PERSON OF THE DAY, PART DEUX: Could there be anyone more insufferable than the aforementioned Jason Reimer? Sadly, the answer is yes. Her name is Lindsay B. (last name censored since she's not a public figure like Reimer), and like Reimer before her, she has a narcissistic, insufferable personality. She has a propensity to backstab friends and, also like Reimer, her IM profiles contain comments about herself, herself and (you guessed it) herself.
Here's a sampling:
"Lindsay B**** is by far the most beautiful woman alive. I think that the world is a better place simply because she's here." -%n"
In other words, her away message tries to give her some much-needed self-esteem, which she clearly has very little of.
"Summer 2002: The Summer of Lindsay "Where Are My Clothes" B**** and Emily "Hot Stuff" Solomon... watch out:-D"
Whenever I hear the phrase "where are my clothes" and "Lindsay B****" in the same sentence, I close my eyes, keep them shut and say "Please, tell me this isn't happening." I pity Mrs. Hot Stuff.
"Hey, aren't you that girl I saw tromping around wearing nothing but a towel? -some random guy"
She left the most important part of the quote out: "ARRRRRGHHHHH!!!! GET AWAY FROM ME!!"
Two coke and rums: 11 dollars
Cover at a Russian party: 10 dollars.
After party diner: 7 dollars.
Watching drunk Russians jump up and down while listening to crazy Russian techno: priceless.
Wherever you go, always bring Eugene along with you -- for the most alcohol and the most fun. Eugene Lebanidze, don't leave home without him.
HOLY COWS: I've got to admit I was really touched by this story in today's NY Times. The Masai tribe of Kenya, who live as far away from urban life as humanly possible, recently found out about 9-11 through their oral tradition. As Mark Lacey writes:
Some in this nomadic community of cattle raisers had missed the story entirely. "I never knew about Sept. 9," said William Oltetia, chief of the young warriors known here as morans, who was still confused as to the date. "I just never heard about it."
Most Masai had learned of the attacks from the radio soon after they occurred. But the horrible television images passed by many Masai, who got electricity in their village only shortly before the attacks. In the oral tradition they rely on, Mr. Naiyomah sat them down and told them stories that stunned them.
Through his tales, Sept. 11 became real. The Masai felt sadness. They felt relief that Mr. Naiyomah was unscathed. They wanted to do something.
Today, in a solemn ceremony in a grassy clearing, they did, blessing 14 cows being given to the people of the United States. Elders chanted in Maa as they walked around the cows, animals held sacred by the Masai (often spelled Maasai). After the blessing, the cows were handed over to William Brancick, the deputy chief of mission of the United States Embassy in Nairobi.
Most Masai are still not up to speed on the intricacies of the Qaeda terrorist network. But they understand what it means for around 3,000 people to die at once. In Enoosaen, a disaster that grave would wipe out all of them.
"That guy — surely we would have to kill him," Mr. Oltetia, the village's chief warrior, said of Osama bin Laden. "We as the Masai have ways to kill, just using a spear and bows and arrows."
When pressed about his tactics, Mr. Oltetia said: "He's a strong man so we couldn't do it directly. We would surround him in the bush."
So while thousands of people across the Arab world rejoiced the days following 9-11, the Masai tribe mourned upon hearing the news, and donated to us their most prized possession. G-d bless 'em.
STANDARDIZED TESTING AND POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: Latest news comes from the Regents tests in New York, which every high school student must pass in order to graduate. The problem is, as this NY Times article shows, the English test's passages are sanitized to the point of lunacy. Excerpts quoted from the eminent Jewish novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer are purged of any reference to Judaism. In Carol Saline's "Mothers and Daughters" a daughter no longer says she "went out to a bar" with her mother; on the Regents, they simply "went out." References to alchol and sex are taken out from all passages.
In a feat of literary sleuth work, Ms. Heifetz, the mother of a high school senior and a weaver from Brooklyn, inspected 10 high school English exams from the past three years and discovered that the vast majority of the passages — drawn from the works of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Anton Chekhov and William Maxwell, among others — had been sanitized of virtually any reference to race, religion, ethnicity, sex, nudity, alcohol, even the mildest profanity and just about anything that might offend someone for some reason. Students had to write essays and answer questions based on these doctored versions — versions that were clearly marked as the work of the widely known authors.
In an excerpt from the work of Mr. Singer, for instance, all mention of Judaism is eliminated, even though it is so much the essence of his writing. His reference to "Most Jewish women" becomes "Most women" on the Regents, and "even the Polish schools were closed" becomes "even the schools were closed." Out entirely goes the line "Jews are Jews and Gentiles are Gentiles." In a passage from Annie Dillard's memoir, "An American Childhood," racial references are edited out of a description of her childhood trips to a library in the black section of town where she is almost the only white visitor, even though the point of the passage is to emphasize race and the insights she learned about blacks.
The State Education Department, which prepares the exams, acknowledged modifying excerpts to satisfy elaborate "sensitivity review guidelines" that have been in use for decades, but are periodically revised. It said it did not want any student to feel ill at ease while taking the test.
Yet, we're supposed to consider these high-stakes standardized tests valid, when we're asking students to write analytical essays about these important works -- diluted of their content? Amazing.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: My friend and roommate Phil made an excellent blog, "On the Right Side" and I urge all of you who like (or hate) this weblog to check it out.