Anglo-Saxon Spoken Here

Arrghh!!! That’s Anglo-Saxon for ‘I’d better get off this laptop and be at work on time if I want to stay employed.’

I love being surrounded by history. My church, First Unitarian, has a bell forged by Paul Revere and Sons.

We all remember the famous poem about Paul Revere’s midnight ride. He bravely raced to warn the Redcoats that anti-colonialist insurgents were massing in the towns planning to overturn the legitimate Anglo-Saxon reign of, God bless him, King George.

Sadly, the loyalists failed, and instead of just being chill, like Canada, we had an American Revolution. This is a deep national embarrassment, and we never finish apologizing for it when one of our candidates goes to solicit the English vote.

What? They can’t vote here? Even the Anglo-Saxons? Well, they can send some of those British pounds to the campaign. That counts more than votes anyway. And lots of their people have dual citizenship, like that really big person, Newscorp.

There’s lots of history nerds in Britain, and The Guardian gets all technical about the successive invasions that hit their isles through history.

Speaking of invasions, I’m not sure I can really get into the Anglo Saxon thing– my ancestors having emmigrated to escape starvation during the Irish Famine. But I’m not holding a grudge. Don’t push it, though. And the Saxons? Weren’t a lot of them Germans? The US has strong connections to Germany, so maybe that country is next on the campaign trail.

What confuses me is why brilliant thinkers like Dinesh D’Souza and Newt Gingrich and that guy on the Romney campaign talk like anti-colonialism is a bad thing. And like we never had issues with the British.

Next summer should we have a pageant where the Redcoats rescue the Gaspee from burning and throw the insurgents in Guantanamo? It’s not like history hasn’t been re-written before.

America, Whose Country Are You? 26 Billionaires Who Are Buying the 2012 Election

Here’s an eye-opener from Vermont’s Bernie Sanders: a report on the 26 men who have spent $61 Billion dollars in this year’s election.

Here is a list of the billionaires:

1. Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Casino, is worth nearly $25 billion, making him the 14th wealthiest person in the world and the 7th richest person in America.

While median family income plummeted by nearly 40% from 2007-2010, Mr. Adelson has experienced a nearly eightfold increase in his wealth over the past three years (from $3.4 billion to $24.9 billion).

Forbes recently reported that Adelson is willing to spend a “limitless” amount of money or more than $100 million to help defeat President Obama in November.

While $100 million sounds like a lot, it equals the same percentage of Adelson’s wealth that $300 to $400 does for the typical middle class family (with a net worth of about $77,000).

Sheldon Adelson owns more wealth than the bottom 40.2% of American households or 47.2 million American families.

2. The Kochs (David, Charles, and William) are worth a combined $103 billion, according to Forbes. They have pledged to spend about $400 million during the 2012 election season.

The Kochs own more wealth than the bottom 41.7 percent of American households or more than 49 million Americans.

3. Jim Walton is worth $23.7 billion. He has donated $300,000 to super PACs in 2012.
4. Harold Simmons is worth $9 billion. He has donated $15.2 million to super PACs this year.
5. Peter Thiel is worth $1.5 billion. He has donated $6.7 million to Super PACs this year.
6. Jerrold Perenchio is worth $2.3 billion. He has donated $2.6 million to super PACs this year.
7. Kenneth Griffin is worth $3 billion and he has given $2.08 million to super PACs in 2012.
8. James Simons is worth $10.7 billion and he has given $1.5 million to super Pacs this year.
9. Julian Robertson is worth $2.5 billion and he has given $1.25 million to super PACs this year.
10. Robert Rowling is worth $4.8 billion and he has given $1.1 million to super PACs.
11. John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who made his fortune betting that the sub-prime mortgage market would collapse, is worth $12.5 billion. He has donated $1 million to super PACs.
12. Richard and J.W. Marriott are worth a combined $3.1 billion and they have donated $2 million to super PACs this year.
13. James Davis is worth $1.9 billion and he has given $1 million to super PACs this year.
14. Harold Hamm is worth $11 billion and he has given $985,000 to super PACs this year.
15. Kenny Trout is worth more than $1.2 billion and he has given $900,000 to super PACs this year.
16. Louis Bacon is worth $1.4 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
17. Bruce Kovner is worth $4.5 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
18. Warren Stephens is worth $2.7 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
19. David Tepper is worth $5.1 billion and he has given $375,000 to super PACs this year.
20. Samuel Zell is worth $4.9 billion and he has given $270,000 to super PACs this year.
21. Leslie Wexner is worth $4.3 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
22. Charles Schwab is worth $3.5 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
23. Kelcy Warren is worth $2.3 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.

Full report here.

Big news for schools in NY as judge rules 24 NYC schools cannot be closed, since it violates the contract.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The city and the teachers’ union went to court to battle over the city’s plan to “turnaround” 24 schools by firing thousands of teachers.

The judge listened to the arguments, retired to her chambers, and returned seven minutes later to say that she was sustaining the arbitrator’s decision. The city may not lay off the teachers. It violates their contract.

This battle involves more than 3,000 teachers and 30,000 students. No one is sure how the schools will be staffed when schools opens in a few weeks. No one knows which teachers have found other jobs and which will return.

The schools, having been labeled as “failures,” have suffered enormous blows to their reputation in the community. If past experience is any guide, parents will be reluctant to enroll their children in a school that has been targeted for closure and that is now on life support for another year.

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Diane Ravitch reflects on dystopian visions with their eerie likenesses to corporate education reform, and dishes up the truth about kids’ toys today…

Diane Ravitch's blog

In response to a post about Bill Gates’ prediction about the future of American education, a reader writes:

“Corporate society takes care of everything. And all it asks of anyone, all it’s ever asked of anyone ever, is not to interfere with management decisions.” – Rollerball (1975)

I didn’t see “Rollerball” when the film was released in 1975. It is a dystopian film about the distant future in 2018. It is not so distant anymore.

Dystopian films and novels are warnings, not predictions.

I just finished re-reading Brave New World, which I must have read fifty years ago. There is so much about the novel I didn’t remember. It bears re-reading. I was struck by the planned rank-ordering of people. No need to test them to put them in their status as Alpha or Beta or Gamma or Epsilon. The rankings were selected at the time the babies…

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Do school counselors make a difference? You bet they do.

Diane Ravitch's blog

A reader responds to this post about the middle school in the Bronx:

In Vallejo, we did away with our counselors in 2005. Since then we have seen our graduate rate rapidly decline, increase in violence on our secondary campuses, and other issues as well. The teachers’ union have been advocating for a return of our counselors ever since because we have seen the profound negative impact it has had on our kids. It has yet to happen.


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Army Navy Store on Thayer Street

My father-in-law told me a story about self-defense with a gun.

The family lived far out in the country, and in Alabama in the 1930’s there was no justice for Black people in the courts of law. One day when the adults were away, a gang of racists drove out to the house planning some act of terrorism. The sight of a rifle barrel poking through the window persuaded them to move on. My father-in-law laughed at the fact that the rifle was held by a twelve year old boy.

A rifle in a farmhouse, though it saved a family that day, could not protect the Black community of Selma from many other crimes and violations. It took the intervention of the Federal Government to bring equal protection under law to those citizens.

For some people a gun is a means of self-defense. But where is the self-defense in an assault weapon? How many rounds of ammunition does it take to stop a housebreaker?

Why are our politicians so afraid of an extreme fringe that confuses self-defense with the ‘right’ to build a private arsenal and buy weapons of mass destruction? Who does it serve when one gun is not enough, when accountability is seen as an intrusion on individual rights. When each senseless, horrific murder of innocent people is a murder of our right to peaceably assemble– without high security, without fearing our neighbors.

Words Fail.

Before we get bombarded with news stories about the shooter, feeding into the myth that will inspire the next criminal to grab a gun and the headlines– here’s from Associated Press…

Twelve people who died in the Colorado movie shooting have been identified by the Arapahoe County coroner.

—Jessica Ghawi, 24, of Denver; aspiring sports journalist

—Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6, whose mother was critically injured

—Matt McQuinn, 27, of Denver; technical support provider

—Alex Sullivan, 27, of Aurora; worked at Red Robin restaurant

— Micayla Medek, 23, of Westminster, Colo., student at Aurora Community College

—John Larimer, 27, of Buckley Air Force Base, Navy cryptologist

—Jesse Childress, 29, of Thornton, Colo., Air Force cyber-systems operator

—Gordon W. Cowden, 51, of Aurora, small business owner and father of two teens

—Jonathan T. Blunk, 26, of Aurora, worked at a hardware store, served five years in the U.S. Navy.

—Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32, of Aurora customer relations representative at a mobile medical imaging company

—Alexander C. Teves, 24, of Phoenix, earned master’s degree in counseling psychology in June from University of Denver

—Alexander J. Boik, 18, incoming freshman student at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design who planned to become an art teacher

The Stupid Human Factor

My GPS is a miracle of 21st Century technology. Linking to satellites in geosynchronous orbit, the GPS uses timing down to a milisecond.

When I turn it on it displays a message– Do not program the GPS while driving the car. Duh.

It’s not that we’re that stupid, it’s that when there’s a temptation to get it done fast, human nature leads us to figure we can get away with it. And we do. Until we don’t.

The same goes for corruption. Ever since I was a kid punching a power press in a factory, and the boss came around in a panic turning the safety shields back into the proper position– instead of pushed to the side so we could work faster– I am unsurprised by expedience. OSHA didn’t have teeth even then, but the prospect of a fine made more of an impression than protecting workers from losing fingers. Of course, after the inspection, he turned the shields back to where they were out of the way.

Raw Story posts this item from today’s Ashahi Shimbun…

A subcontractor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant told workers to lie about possible high radiation exposure in an apparent effort to keep its contract, reports said Saturday.

An executive at construction firm Build-Up in December told about 10 of its workers to cover their dosimeters, used to measure cumulative radiation exposure, with lead casings when working in areas with high radiation, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and other media said.

The action was apparently designed to under-report their exposure to allow the company to continue working at the site of the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, media reports said.

If we build more of these nuclear plants, we are creating a permanent hazard for future generations. Will human nature evolve fast enough to carry this burden?