Friday, March 27, 2009

Japan To Allow Citizens To Gay-Marry Foreigners In Other Countries

From JMG:


TOKYO (AFP) — Japan has given the green light for its nationals to marry same-sex foreign partners in countries where gay marriage is legal, a justice ministry official said Friday.

Japan does not allow same-sex marriages at home and has so far also refused to issue a key document required for citizens to wed overseas if the applicant's intended spouse was of the same gender.

Under the change, the justice ministry has told local authorities to issue the key certificate -- which states a person is single and of legal age -- for those who want to enter same-sex marriages, the official told AFP.

Gay activists praised the move.

"This is one step forward," said Taiga Ishikawa, who leads a gay support group. "Gay Japanese have suffered a disadvantage... although they should be able to marry in some countries overseas."

Same-sex marriage is allowed in countries including Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, South Africa and some US states.

Baiting Homophobes

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A truly Great Story on the NewsHour this Evening


Teaching as an Old Man

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From the Chronicle of Higher Education [Section: The Chronicle Review], Friday, March 20, 2009, Volume 55, Issue 28, p. B 20. See http://chronicle.com/weekly/v55/i28/28b02001.htm
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OBSERVER
Teaching as an Old Man
By Mike O'Connell
As a student, for some reason I was drawn to the old guys. My two favorite teachers in high school were assiduous amateurs: a retired Army colonel named Thomas Young and a retired Navy man named Gordon Patterson. While the girls fell for the young bachelors who drove sports cars and the boys admired the coaches who had played sports in college, I soaked up the wisdom and teaching prowess of self-possessed gentlemen who were pushing 70. In contrast to the classrooms led by graduates of state teachers' colleges, there were no paper airplanes in Mr. Young's French class and no the-dog-ate-my-homework excuses in Mr. Patterson's math classes. Young wrote the letter that got me into Dartmouth; Patterson's no-nonsense trigonometry course prepared me for the rigors of college calculus.


In college it was the same. There was ancient Professor Cudworth Flint, legally and practically blind, who waxed affectionate about the Romantic poets without the benefit or constrictions of the New Criticism. There was the venerable professor of modern poetry Thomas Vance, whose eloquence and erudition made the latest crop of Ph.D.'s on the campus look like sophomores. Neither of those men spent much time pouring red ink over my papers. A single summary line such as "Dry as dust" or "Show more, tell less" was enough to put me on the right path.

Now that I've reached the age of 65, I often think of those old men, those great teachers. Like my early role models Young and Patterson, I came to my present teaching gig late in life. But as a part-time adjunct lecturer at a rural branch of a state university for the past six years, I sense that I have worn out my welcome with the powers that be, partly because I've shown no inclination to quit. Many tenured teachers in public universities are glad to retire by 65. They are worn out and burned out, and, until recently at least, they realized that their pension check would rival their regular paycheck. To help things along, their offices are sometimes moved to smaller quarters down the hall near the mop closet. Department chairs like the idea of fresh faces and new blood, even if a job candidate's English dissertation is on Polynesian cooking or a finalist's 20-minute teaching tryout consists of a canned PowerPoint presentation followed by a group activity.


The older teacher in today's college environment may find the generation gap between him and his younger colleagues wider than the one between him and his students. He may have trouble initiating shoptalk with the younger generation of careerists whose dossier is scrutinized annually by multiple pretenure review committees. Some of these narrowly trained academics will not hazard an opinion on a controversial campus issue; they withhold judgment on a new book or writer until the official reviews are in. Some seem to have taken to heart the words of a Professor W.A. Pannapacker, who frequently writes for The Chronicle. He reminds them that they are "engaged ... in a lifelong project of reputation management." They must not rock the boat, they must not leave an e-mail trail. "The prudent advice for ambitious young academics," he says, "is to keep your mouth shut, stay away from practical activism, and write only with great precision on acceptable scholarly subtopics." Thus, the prudent academic who assigns students the tracts of Solzhenitsyn, Gandhi, and Tom Paine must make sure he does not resemble in word or deed any of those three.


Partly because I am too old to take a vow of timidity, the best two hours of my day are the ones I spend in the classroom. Here I can say, if I feel like it, that James Joyce never did much after Dubliners; that Jack London will be read and savored long after his high-brow detractors are in their graves; that we need not wait 20 years to proclaim "Brokeback Mountain" one of our great American short stories.


Teaching without tenure, with my job security subject to enrollment fluctuations and budget constraints, as well as to the whim of the department and university leadership, I sometimes find that my name is "inadvertently" or due to "clerical error" left off the schedule for the following semester, and I have to scramble for a course or two to teach. Sometimes I drive 45 miles west through the coulees to find an assignment at an even more remote community college outpost, or 40 miles north through potato fields to teach inmates at a medium-security federal prison.


Why don't I take the hint and fold up my tent? For one thing, I can tell that some of my colleagues recognize and appreciate my contributions. For another, my students are not clamoring for my ouster. In contrast with some of their liberally educated elders, my 18-year-old English 101 freshmen are functionally age-blind. They do not know how old I am, or if they do, they don't seem to care. Some seem to be possessed of the quaint notion that a college professor is supposed to be old, and that a lifetime of reading and writing and real-world job experience (in my case, that includes journalism and dairy farming) could well translate into quality teaching. If I drop my keys in the parking lot, they do not call for an Alzheimer's alert. They do not snicker when I take off my glasses to read fine print. They give me their attention and respect, and I try to return the favor. They get used to my unconventional practice of starting class at the stroke of the hour, and my philosophy that the class is a community with shared responsibilities and commitment.


Remembering the shaky beginnings of my own college days, I let them know I am in their corner, one that often is not crowded with supporters. If their car won't start after an evening class with the temperature below zero, they know who to come to for a jump or a ride home. A month into the course, they gather that my life has not been a bowl of cherries, and they are more than willing to write honestly about their own screwups and misfortunes.

Despite their lackluster ACT scores and checkered academic transcripts, my 21st-century English students don't need to be assigned pop-culture essays about binge drinking or drug wars to fight off their alleged attention deficits. Old war horses like John O'Hara and Irwin Shaw will do just fine, and will probably be better influences on their writing than the formulaic essays in the latest college primer. "Ever know a teacher or principal to compare with the bastard in 'Do You Like It Here?'" I ask these callow kids fresh out of class-conscious, small-town high schools. The hands go up, and the discussion runs over to the next class. "I never had a girlfriend," begins one boy's review of "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses." If candor can carry the day, that writer is off to a good start.


I'm all for clearing out the dead wood. But good teachers do not all wear out at the same age, and some get better with age. I heard Robert Frost command a college lecture hall when he was well into his 80s. The aisles were packed, and the overflow strained to hear his words from a crackling loudspeaker in the basement.
------------------------------
Mike O'Connell has taught at several two-year colleges in the upper Midwest. He can be reached at smoo@chorus.net
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In education, the new administration is as ruinous as the old

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From The Arena - POLITICO'S daily debate with policymakers and opinion shapers. See http://www.politico.com/arena/perm/Diane_Ravitch_ED3CC65A-1240-42E1-9716-8DB5FD3426D8.html

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In education, the new administration is as ruinous as the old

By Diane Ravitch, Historian of education, NYU, Hoover and BrookingsEducation was not a big issue in the campaign, but it is a big issue for our society. Our future depends on having a strong and effective public education system, as well as excellent institutions of higher education and a variety of successful private institutions of education.

When President Obama ran for office, he promised sweeping change, and educators understood him to mean that he would reverse the Bush administration's ruinous No Child Left Behind legislation. I say "ruinous," because NCLB has been a costly failure. On national tests, given by the U.S. Department of Education, student achievement is either flat (as in 8th grade reading) or has improved less than in the days prior to NCLB (as in every other grade and subject tested). I say "ruinous" because NCLB is punitive, has caused nearly 40% of the nation's schools to be labeled "failing," and has set the nation on a course in which nearly all of our schools will be declared "failures" within the next five years.NCLB's remedy for "failing" schools is harshly punitive. When a school is struggling, there is no help on the way, just punishment: Fire the staff; close the school; turn the school over to private entrepreneurs, etc.

So it was reasonable to expect that the Obama administration would throw out this harsh regime and replace it with a program intended to improve, help, support, and strengthen our schools.

But along comes Arne Duncan, our new Secretary of Education, and everything he has said to date might have just as well been said by Bush's Secretary Margaret Spellings. Duncan paid his visit to New York City and toured a charter school, not a regular public school. He declared that the nation's schools need more testing, as though we don't have enough information already to act on our problems. He declared his support for charter schools, where only 2% of the nation's children are enrolled.

The one educator close to Obama who actually has experience in the schools--his chief policy advisor Linda Darling-Hammond--was demonized by the new breed of non-educators and their media flacks, and she has returned to Stanford University. There was no room apparently in this administration for someone who had been deeply involved in school reform for many years, not as an entrepreneur or a think-tank expert, but as an educator.

It looks like Obama's education policy will be a third term for President George W. Bush. This is not change I can believe in.

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Robert Naiman | Ban Cluster Bombs? Yes, We Can!

Robert Naiman | Ban Cluster Bombs? Yes, We Can!


http://www.truthout.org/032609J

Robert Naiman, Truthout: "President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are getting big praise around the world for their new Charm Offensive. As far as I'm concerned, the praise is justified. I heard our secretary of state interviewed on BBC a few weeks ago about our diplomatic outreach to Iran on Afghanistan. And BBC was all, what makes you think Iran is going to help you on Afghanistan? And Hillary was all, you know, actually Iran helped us tremendously in Afghanistan after 2001. Our ambassador in Afghanistan and the Iranian ambassador were meeting practically every day. I just about fell off my chair. You'd have thought Hillary was applying for a job at the National Iranian American Council."


ultra negative repub wingnut cristinazi nay sayer blockers...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Socialism: lets use the terms correctly

Courtesy of: Choosing Democracy

Saturday, March 21, 2009
Socialism: lets use the terms correctly
Socialism Without a Soul

Posted on Mar 10, 2009

By Robert Scheer

Newt Gingrich is right: “It is European socialism transplanted to Washington.” How else to describe an economy in which the government controls the entire financial center and is now supplying life support for the auto industry? That’s on top of the existing socialist economy run by the military-industrial complex, which, thanks to George W. Bush, now absorbs upward of 60 percent of the non-entitlement federal budget.

Although we still have a way to go to catch up with the good parts of the European system, including universal health care, high-quality public education and decent working conditions, we do have a system that is now as socialist in budget size as Europe’s. That part I get when I listen to the right-wingers on Fox News bemoaning the reversal of the Reagan Revolution. But what I don’t understand is how in the world they can blame this startling turn of events on Barack Obama.

The vast majority of money allocated so far on President Obama’s watch is an extension of Bush’s banking bailout, which has committed trillions to failed Wall Street conglomerates. I certainly don’t want to defend the bailout and personally think the banks and stockbrokers deserve to go belly up, but what does that mess have to do with Obama, who was in college when the Reagan Revolution launched the deregulation that allowed Wall Street to run wild?

Didn’t Obama inherit the current financial meltdown less than two months ago from the Republicans, who for eight years under Bush assured us that the markets were not in any need of tighter regulation? Wasn’t it GOP congressional members led by folks like Gingrich who pushed though the deregulation legislation that enabled the growth of “too big to fail” financial institutions that now have to be saved by the taxpayers?

Nor has Obama demanded anything more in the way of accountability from those Wall Street swindlers than had the Bush administration. Under both presidents a total of $170 billion was given to insurance giant AIG, and, as The Wall Street Journal reported, at least $50 billion of that money was passed on to top foreign and domestic banks without any public accounting. Indeed, the second in command at the Fed told a Senate committee last week that he wouldn’t reveal the names of the banks that grabbed our money.

Nor has there been any serious demand put on the banks to use the hundreds of billions in federal funds they received to increase liquidity. Indeed, the banks are raising interest rates and cutting limits on credit cards at a time when the government is hoping consumers will use those cards to pump some life into the retail market. As bank industry analyst Meredith Whitney wrote in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed article, consumer credit card lines “were reduced by nearly $500 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008 alone.” She estimates that credit card limits for consumers will be halved over the next year, mostly on consumers who have not done anything wrong. This will take “credit away from people who have the ability to pay their bills,” she notes.

So what we have here is socialism without even the pretense of a soul. Certainly that has been the case with the abject refusal of the banks that received government bailouts to be more aggressive in preventing home foreclosures. And the Obama administration has made it clear that it has no intention of taking over the operation of any of the mega-companies that are in trouble, even when, as in the case of AIG, the government already owns 80 percent of the shares. The reason? Because that would be viewed as nationalization.

So what exactly would Obama’s critics do differently? Nothing on the bailout side. Instead, they have settled for carping criticism of the stimulus package, playing games by nitpicking lesser-cost programs while ignoring the big items that most governors, be they Republican or Democrat, eagerly want. The great fear of the GOP seems to be that some of the stimulus program might actually prove helpful to struggling Americans, but the Republicans can’t just come out of the closet and say so.

What they have picked up on instead is that Obama’s tax cuts provide some redistribution of income to favor the rapidly disappearing middle class at the expense of the super-wealthy, who have profited wildly from Bush tax cuts. Which brings us back to Gingrich’s complaint that Obama is importing European socialism. If that means a system of governance in which a robust middle class is rewarded for work with a strong social safety net supported by higher taxes on the most affluent, well, let’s get it on.

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion. Editor, Robert Scheer. Publisher, Zuade Kaufman.

Bill Moyers on Socialism: http://www-tc.pbs.org/moyers/rss/media/249essay.m4v

Its Ada Lovelace Day!

Our dear Sonja in the Netherlands asked me to share this:

Ada Lovelace Day
http://findingada.com/

and her blog

March 24th: women + technology Day
http://sonjavank.blogspot.com/2009/03/march-24th-women-technology.html

Monday, March 23, 2009

Boycott List

From MGW:

This is a list of businesses in the Sacramento area that allegedly endorsed or donated funding to the “Yes on 8” campaign. These businesses actively fought for the permanent removal of our community’s marriage rights that had been fully recognized in 2008 by the state of California. Do not let your money support their hate.

Cinemark Theaters

Century Stadium 14 (Sacramento)

Century Downtown Plaza 7 (Sacramento)

Century 16 Greenback Ln. (Sacramento)

Century Laguna 16 (Elk Grove)

Century Folsom 14 (Folsom)

Century Roseville 14 (Roseville)

Leatherby’s Family Ice Creamery (Sacramento)

Rich Bott-Bott Radio Network (Fresno/Modesto/Merced 99.9FM)

Buildex Inc. (Granite Bay)

Culp Diversified Properties (Red Bluff)

Esthetique Dental Center (Auburn)

GFBB Benefits and Insurance (Roseville)

I Wannabe Costumes (W. Sacramento)

Kerr Real Estate Advisors (Fair Oaks)

Law Office of H. Craig Miller (Roseville)

Law Offices of Kimber B. Goddard (Sacramento)

Shepard & Associates Insurance (Citrus Heights)

Sibling Systems (Roseville)

Superior Notary, LLC (Rocklin)

If any of the businesses listed above are listed incorrectly or unfairly, or did not donate funds to the “Yes on 8” Campaign, please contact MGW Newsmagazine immediately so this information can be corrected. It is our intention to provide accurate information for those choosing to financially boycott businesses who supported “Yes on 8”. We do not advocate violence or vandalism of any kind, nor condone any malicious action or behavior toward any business or individual regardless of their political position on Prop. 8. This is america; they are free to vote their conscience and we are free to not support their businesses.


I dig my kindle2, its going with me to Africa

Book End: How the Kindle will change the world.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"I WANDERED LONELY AS A CLOUD"


All Things Considered this evening shared this poem by Wordsworth..


"I WANDERED LONELY AS A CLOUD"

          I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay: 10
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood, 20
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

1804.


courtesy of Bartleby who says:

"Written at Town-end, Grasmere. The Daffodils grew and still grow on the margin of Ullswater and probably may be seen to this day as beautiful in the month of March, nodding their golden heads beside the dancing and foaming waves"

Andy Singer

In one week, I'll be off line, for a few days... I rather liked this 'toon.
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