Monday, September 25, 2006

Are We Ready for Some Football??

185 Million dollars and the New Orleans Superdome is back in business. Are we ready for some football? The shrub is. He is going to do the coin toss. Where was he a year ago? I guess there were not as many good photo-opts a year ago as there will be tonight.

The Lower 9th Ward is still in shambles. Most of the schools have not re-opened. Ditto the hospitals, the libraries and many of the businesses. Rents have sky rocketed and folks are living in FEMA trailers. The people of New Orleans are still scattered far and wide – other than the criminal element which seems to be migrating back and is busily engaged in turf wars.

As far as many of the residents of the city of Houston are concerned, that criminal element is not migrating fast enough. Houston has a massive case of compassion fatigue.

But according to the strident voices of the sports announcers New Orleans is back in business.

Do you think the powers that be will be able to find an additional 185 million dollars to rebuild the schools, the Lower 9th Ward and the public housing complexes and the rest of the infra-structure?

Highly unlikely. That wouldn’t provide as good a photo opt for the shrub.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tale of Two Classes

Constitution Day is Friday and once again, I am letting the other teachers off the hook and presenting the mandatory “Constitution” lesson. I did the same last year and my feelings on the subject of “Mandatory Constitution” have not changed one whit.

Among today’s classes were two fifth grade classes. One a regular (not the Gifted and Talented class, but a bright bunch none the less), the other a 5th Grade Bi-Lingual class.

I start the first class with my standard lead about whether they have classroom rules and build up to explain the Constitution is the rules for the United States. Earlier one of the boys had expressed amazement that we had a biography of Hitler in the library and I use that comment as a springboard to discuss Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Read.

We talk about how Hitler may have been evil but he still changed the world for the worse while Martin Luther King changed it for the better. We talk about the fall of Nazi German lead to the creation of Israel and affect on their lives today. We also touch on the KKK, the war in Iraq, 9/11 Day and restrictions on airline travel. 35 minutes later I look up and realize my next class (5th grade bi-lingual) is at the door.

First class gets up to get books, second group sits down. Same lesson, same lead in and again we are sidetracked. Not on the lasting effects of Nazi Germany, not on why the KKK is allowed to assemble, not even on the effects of 9/11. No, we are sidetracked on “what country do we live in?” I get various responses ranging from Houston to Texas to Mexico. A few know that they live in the United States but it is not a universal answer.

Their teacher, whose Spanish, is better than mine helps interpret and by the end we think everyone knows where they live. I think about asking which continent but figure I had better quit while I am ahead and besides, I have yet another class at the door.

The Powers That Be that passed the Mandatory Constitution Law are the same Powers that mandated Bi-Lingual Education. Perhaps they know how to teach the meaning and importance of the Constitution to a group of 11 year olds who are not sure where they reside.

What is sad is that these are not recent immigrants; these children are mostly native-born American citizens. And what’s even sadder is that in about 8 years many will go off and become Cannon Fodder in whatever war we are fighting . I hope they figure out what the Constitution is before they end up dying to “Protect and Defend” it.

I also hope the Powers That Be take a long hard look at Bi-Lingual Education and make some radical changes.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

To Young to Be a Widow

One of my favorites on my blogroll is The Library Lady Rants. We’ve a number of things in common- we are both librarians, liberal Democrats, the mothers of daughters and lovers of kid lit.We actually found each other via the Betsy Tacy list and then meet up again a number of years late on Blogexplosion.

She marked the upcoming 5th anniversary of 9/11 with a post entitled “Dead at 21”.
Some 3000+ young men and women have given their lives for The Shurb’s little overseas adventure. I’ve been ruminating a similar post round in my brain for some time.

The local news always covers “The Death of a Hero”. There have been all too many of such sad segments. Texas has more than its fair share of enlisted men and women. Most are Hispanic or African American – reflecting the racial make up of our “All Volunteer Army”. The Anglo soldiers hail from East Houston and smaller towns surrounding the Houston metroplex – areas that are overwhelming blue collar – the land the urban cowboys call home.

These soldiers are oh so young and most are fathers. Only 19, 20 or 21 they already have a wife and one, two or three children. Many of the wives are living with their extended family and look much too young to be bear this kind of burden. They are 17, 18, 19 years old and should be in school, out shopping with friends or exploring the world. Instead, they are coping with motherhood, single parenthood and now widowhood. A lifetime of living in just 3 or 4 years.

That is not the way it is supposed to be. Nature intended us to spend 30 or 40 years on this life path, not 3 or 4. They look at the camera and talk about being “proud that he died doing what he believed in” yet we never see any follow up stories. We don’t know how they feel 6 months or a year later. Do they still mouth the party line? Or has reality set in? Do they realize that their husbands gave their lives for oil prices and party politics?
Are they angry? They should be.

The politicians sent their husbands off to war and turned them into widows’ way before their time. Yet the children of said politicians are safe in college, marrying, starting families, beginning their careers with no thought of going forth to fight and die in the heat and squalor known as Iraq.

In the eyes of the administration, the war is a good war, so long as the black and brown citizens of America are fighting it. What is going to happen when we run out of black and brown cannon fodder? The Soccer Moms who brought this President to office will turn on him like a lioness defending her cubs if the draft is reinstated to feed the war machine.

And the first one will be the Wife of the Shrub – her blond, blue eyed daughters are just the right age to go forth and fight their Daddy’s little war. He knows they never will, which is why he thinks it is a good little war. The newly made widows would beg to differ.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Ways of the Evil Empire

  1. I know many call Starbucks “The Evil Empire” but when it comes to customer service they have the market cornered – at least the ones I frequent do!

    A new one just opened in my neighborhood and the employees already know their customers. They know names, habits and beverage preferences. It gives a small town feeling to living as an anonymous soul in a sprawling city.

    The assorted fast food joints in the neighborhood seem to have new employees ever other week. Said employees don’t appear to like their jobs very much either – and it shows in their attitude toward the customers. The checkers at the local Kroger are to busy gossiping with the sackers about the manager to ever favor the shoppers with a second look. The gas stations are all self -serve – in fact with the automated pumps you don’t even have to talk to anyone to fill up the car.

    I don’t know how Starbucks manages to inspire their employees to go the extra mile, to appear to enjoy their jobs, their colleagues and their customers. But whatever it is they do, I wish they would package it, like their coffee or fairy dust so it could be scattered around at the other neighborhood establishments.