"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, January 29, 2010

The parent responsible can be found between "morocco" and "morose"

Via the General (who got it from Joe. My. God.) we learn of a new contender for the Barbara Kay pearl-clutching crown.

Menifee school officials remove dictionary over term 'oral sex'

Monday, January 25, 2010
By JULISSA McKINNON The Press-Enterprise
Read an update to this story
After a parent complained about an elementary school student stumbling across "oral sex" in a classroom dictionary, Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster's 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week.
School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the "sexually graphic" entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.
"It's just not age appropriate," said Cadmus, adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the district.
"It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature," Cadmus said. She explained that other dictionary entries defining human anatomy would probably not be cause for alarm.

"Graphic nature?" Wowsers! - let's have a look at what Merriam-Webster's has to say for itself.

oral sex n (1973): oral stimulation of the genitals: CUNNILINGUS, FELLATIO These are a few of my faaaa-vorite things! (Ed: Stop that! no singing, no sniggering!)

Whew! is it hot in here or what? Anyone thinks of that as "sexually graphic" probably thinks of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue as hard core pornography. (Ed: Keep using those key search words, think of the traffic!)

The first thing kids do when handed a dictionary for the first time is to look up every so-called dirty word they can find. Admittedly, the full-on Merriam-Webster's Collegiate might not be the optimal choice for first graders, but these are fourth and fifth graders we are talking about. I have one of those and he stays up and watches television past 8 p.m. In North America that would mean he's seen television commercials for boner pills, tampons and watched sitcoms. I betcha he's even heard some of the seven words you used to not be allowed to say on television. Actually, I know he has - he's seen me watch the news a few times. It's one of the reasons I wasn't allowed to watch any of the U.S. presidential campaign debates at home since the first Bush-Kerry debate in 2004. Mind you, he hasn't really heard the best stuff yet since we haven't had occasion to do any carpentry work together yet. But I digress slightly.

If the powers that be in Stupidville Menifee Union School District out in California are so easily bullied by a single irate parent, where will this end? I'm guessing this is the kind of district where the kids are not allowed anything but plastic sporks in the lunch room and little boys who make the thumb-up-index-finger-extended-from-fist gesture while saying "bang, bang" are sent to the school shrink and kindergarten kids must pass through a metal detector and close body search before entering school grounds. What do they do if a kid farts, suspend them for "obscene behavior"?

Their school libraries must be a treat. I'm guessing no occult-promoting Harry Potter or even ghost stories, no stories that depict violence (like every detective story ever written, most history books and the Bible), nothing vulgar (good bye Capt. Underpants and Judy Blume) nothing that might suggest evolution is more correct than creationism (farewell Origin of Species and all biology texts) or that suggests -- I suspect it's probably a broom closet with a copy of the local White Pages and a couple of old Dick and Jane books.

Once you start taking out the dictionaries for not being age-appropriate, how do the kids advance their vocabularies beyond their current reading level? Where does the censorship end?
After all, almost any word can be dirty if you say it right.

More bullshit from Rideau Hall

While it may just be the latest shiny object to be dangled in front of the public to keep them distracted from Stephen Harper's prorogation shenanigans and the response from both the electorate and the opposition until the big Burning Stick Festival in Vancouver next month, I still think this is unfair, hypocritical and just plain mean-spirited.

Cancer runner Steve Fonyo stripped of Order of Canada
The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — He finished Terry Fox's run across Canada and raised millions for cancer research, but in the two decades since then his life has been marked by run-ins with the law.
Now Rideau Hall has revoked Steve Fonyo Jr.'s membership in the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honours.
Fonyo, an amputee like Fox, was awarded the order in 1985 after raising more than $13 million. It was recognition of his 14-month, 8,000-kilometre trek on an artificial leg along the Trans-Canada Highway, completing the epic journey Fox had planned from St. John's, NL, to Victoria.
Owing to a slew of criminal convictions, however, the 44-year-old was stripped of the award on Dec. 10. A notice of the revocation appeared in the Canada Gazette on Jan. 23.
Fonyo, then of Vernon, B.C., was named The Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year in 1985, but his stretch of inspirational stories eventually took a negative turn.
The one-time hero, who lost his leg to bone cancer at age 12, battled cocaine addiction and depression.

The story goes on to describe Fonyo's various convictions for petty drug offenses, assault, check-kiting and drunken driving. CTV ran a response from Fonyo a day later - he spoke to them by telephone from jail.

Admittedly Fonyo has not lead an exemplary life since he was awarded the Order at age 18, but he was not given the award for the life he was going to lead or for his ongoing contributions to Canada - he was given the award for finishing what Terry Fox started, running across the country on an artificial leg to raise awareness of and money for cancer research.

Compare his case to this one:

Mountie who admitted sexually assaulting teen will receive bravery

The Governor General's office says an Alberta Mountie who has admitted sexually assaulting a teenage girl will still receive a national award for bravery.

By Calgary Herald
September 4, 2008

CALGARY - The Governor General’s office says an Alberta Mountie who has admitted sexually assaulting a teenage girl will still receive a national award for bravery.
Guy Armand Raes of Airdrie was recently named a recipient of the Governor
General’s Star of Courage award.
On Wednesday, a week after the announcement, Raes was in front of a provincial court judge pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a teen he befriended through an RCMP investigation. He will be sentenced next week.
Raes, 50, helped rescue a young couple and guided other residents to safety during a massive row house fire in Airdrie, a residential community just north of Calgary, in August 2005. The court case has no bearing on Raes’s award, according to the Governor General’s office.
“He is being recognized for an act of bravery that happened in 2005,” said Marie-Paule Thorn, spokeswoman for the Governor General’s office.

Now, to be honest, I think that Mr. Raes should keep his Star of Courage award. As the GG's spokewoman says, the award is about a specific deed that he performed in 2005 and no matter what he did afterwards, that deed stands alone. The same could be said to be true for Steve Fonyo - as an 18 year old he set out to run across the country and raise money for cancer research, finishing the job Terry Fox could not. He spent 14 months of his life accomplishing this astonishing feat, raised nearly $14 million dollars for cancer research and inspired the nation. Has he lived an exemplary life since then? No. So what? His troubled life since then does not in any way diminish his accomplishment and it is for that accomplishment the Order of Canada was awarded.

So, what about this guy?

Or this guy:

Whoops, both of them are in jail over illegal deeds they committed in the area for which they were given the Order of Canada, and one of them renounced his citizenship to accept foreign honors just a decade after he was named to the order- why haven't they been stripped of their awards the way fellow fraudster Alan Eagleson was?

There are only two other people who have been stripped of the award:

Aboriginal leader David Ahenakew lost his membership in 2005 after being convicted of promoting hatred against Jews. He was later acquitted of the charge after an appeal.

*Lawyer and race-relations advocate T. Sher Singh lost his membership in 2008 after the Law Society of Upper Canada found him guilty of professional misconduct and revoked his license to practice law.

Chief Ahenakew's conduct was appalling and he was revealed to be an anti-Semite even though he was convicted of the charges against him initially, he was aquitted on appeal. T. Sher Singh was never even indicted for any crimes as far as I know, simply disbarred for professional misconduct, a far cry from being jailed for committing fraud in the course of the very thing for which one is being honored.

The GG's office is technically within its rights to strip Fonyo of his award, but if they do so, Black and Drabinsky had better be immediately stripped of theirs too, along with a number of other people who may have brought dishonor to the Order, or is accepting envelopes full of cash in hotel rooms and selling your influence an acceptable practice to the GG?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Very early Friday Uke blogging- a commission by an old friend

This is the splendiferous Rayne, the daughter (!!!!) of an old drinking buddy from the Sault. The sound quality is a bit rough, but the mountains of raw talent more than make up for it.
And yes, there are those who know me as Bernice -- it's a long story, but don't get your hopes up, it has nothing to do with surgery or cross dressing.

Sound quality issues aside, I have one other problem with this video and that is Rayne herself. She claims to be the daughter of an old friend of mine know as "Fish" and this whole thing sounds "fishy" ( you see what I did there?). Without meaning any disrespect for Rayne and not wanting to sound creepy and dirtyoldmanish - She is gorgeous as well as talented. My point being, she's way too pretty to be Fish's daughter. Also, Fish and I used to make fools of ourselves trying to meet girls like who looked like her, so clearly she is too old to be Fish's daughter, because if she is his daughter that would make him old. And if he's old, that would make me old. And that is just not going to happen.
Whomever's daughter she is, we hope Rayne makes her dad buy her a new microphone so she can make more uke videos.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I got your class war right here

Give a man a fish and he'll eat it, teach a man to fish....and he may starve to death waiting to get a bite.

There has been a lot of asinine talk lately about the evils of creating dependence among the poor by...well, y'know, making sure that they don't starve to death. My previous favorite were entitlement-crazed assholes like these on the right who felt that sending money to Haiti would just encourage people there to remain poor. It's funny that no one thought of how the Haitians were encouraging the French to be poor while they were paying reparations for freeing themselves from slavery between 1804 and 1947.
But my new favorite in the "I hope one day your car breaks down in the slums you helped create" sweepstakes is South Carolina Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial hopeful Andre Bauer who thinks the poor are a bunch of ungrateful layabouts breeding like the vermin he thinks they are because of school lunch programs.

GREENVILLE - Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has compared giving people government assistanc to "feeding stray animals."

Bauer, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, made his remark during a town hall meeting in Fountain Inn that included state lawmakers and about 115 residents.

"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better," Bauer said.

In South Carolina, 58 percent of students participate in the free and reduced-price lunch program.

Yes, Mr. Bauer, by all means deny aid to the children of irresponsible poor parents, that will teach them a lesson! And if little Johnny and Janey can't attend school because they are out dumpster diving to get enough to eat or can't concentrate at school because they didn't have breakfast and can't afford lunch, well then I guess they will learn not to be poor -- certainly it won't reinforce the cyclical nature of poverty and make more poor people. That would be unthinkable in a state as prosperous and egalitarian as yours

  • According to statistics collected by the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, (cribbed from the comments but tracked down to the linked source above)

    South Carolina ranks 45th in overall child wellbeing today.
    26% of children under the age of 6 years old lives in poverty.
    1 in 10 children live in extreme poverty.
    In 2006, 38% of babies were born to mothers who lacked adequate prenatal care.
    Infant mortality: 47th

    High school grad: 48th

    Obesity: 45th

    Infectious diseases: 42nd

    Violent crime: 50th (highest)

    Lack of health insurance: 37th

    Premature deaths: 46th

    Mental health: 41st

    Per capita income: 45th

    Underemployment: 46th

And what is this little tidbit of info?

hmmm, maybe the U.S. federal government should stop feeding South Carolina?