Thursday, November 30, 2006

Building the Perfect Snow Wombat

I can't confirm it quite yet, but looking out my South Valley window this morning I'm estimating that today's two hour delay for APS schools is the single most laughable delay in my 13 or so years of teaching in Burque. Confirmation will have to wait until I make the treacherous drive from my almost snow-free driveway to what I can only guess will be a tangled mess of snow, smashed vehicles and blood running down gutters at the intersection of Lomas and Girard.

I'm not a native, and I have taught only 13 or so years, but the only competition to today's silly day was a morning about eight years ago when I drove from the North Valley to a school up near Lomas and Wyoming at 10:00 A.M. and the only record of any precipitation whatsoever was the occasional strip of scant white in the shady spots.

Of course, mentioning the ridiculosity of today's two hour delay is considered bad form by those throughout the K-12 community. Being the socially inept person that I am, I'm quite certain that I will state my view concerning the delay, a view which will be met with scoffing outrage by student and teacher alike.

"But it got us out of school for two hours, so shut up about it."

That's the company line both for our educational indentured servants and their teaching masters. Saying anything like, "Man, I wish we didn't have a delay" is looked upon as if the offender said "Man, I wish I could eat light bulbs and Reynold's wrap for lunch today".

And personally, I wouldn't mind having the delay if:

  1. We really had a snowstorm and could walk/play around in it this morning. Instead I'm bloggin', because all the snow in the SV today wouldn't make a snowperson any bigger than a snow wombat. A baby snow wombat.
  2. I didn't know that an "abbreviated day" (one of my favorite strange school terms) means: 1) show up two hours late; 2) talk about the snow for two hours; 3) scoff-at and ostracize Scot for bringing up the fact we shouldn't have had a snowday; 4) watch kids pathetically try to make snowballs out of nothing but white-colored dirt during lunch; 5) watch other kids go to the nurse's office after being hit with small rocks that were pathetically incorporated into the pathetic snow-lacking snowballs; 6) talk about the snow some more until the bell.
Some of you may think that someone who would complain about this morning's "snowstorm" is just a bitter, cynical old geezer who has lost all joy in life. Au contraire my little wombat friend. I'm the guy who spent hours on Tuesday night looking at Colorado highway webcam shots of a real snowstorm (you can ask my wife...she laughed at me the entire time). I'm the same guy who watched part of my first Monday Night Football telecast this year a few days back simply because it was snowing in Seattle and I love "snow football".

I love snow football. I love snow. The only problem is that in Burque proper we most frequently don't get snow, just a frustrating dusting or quick-melting blanket that doesn't last more than a few hours. And today I get to talk about this frustrating condition for five hours with students and teachers all jacked up because of a two hour delay, as if the two hours is time spared from some sort of Guantanamo Bay. As if the two hours is two fewer hours of waterboarding or something.

There have been occasions in my Burque teaching past where it has snowed and we haven't had a delay of any kind. On those days I've heard via media and personal contact from some parents freaking out with concern about the dangers of slushy streets and vaguely snow-covered medians. I know APS gets calls from some of these parents and that instituting a delay is easier than dealing with these rabid snowophobes. At the same time, what sort of dedication to education is evidenced by having a two-hour delay on a day like today? What does it say about our collective will to make schools professional places of "continuous learning"? How can we expect the kids to care, if we're just as giddy with a two-hour delay as they are?

Oh shut up, Scot and enjoy the snow. And you better get ready for school, it's already 9:10 and you have to be there by 10:30. Get to work at 10:30, get off work at 3:00. Who could possibly complain about that?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Short View of a "Shortbus"

Last night I joined seven other humans for the 6:15 showing of "Shortbus" at the Guild. The scant crowd enhanced the porno theatre atmospherics of John Cameron Mitchell's film. To me, I guess I'd sum up "Shortbus" as Rent-meets-A Confederacy of Dunces, but that's omitting the wide swath of actual bona-fide sex taking place throughout the first 2/3rds of the film. As for cinema that sticks with you, "Shortbus" is short-lived, but it does serve to emotionally lift and smash the viewer in a way that not only mimics sex, but life.

I could be flippant and say it's the best porno movie I've ever seen at the Guild, but instead I'll be flippant and say "Shortbus" is okay, but nothing to scream orgasmically about. It's also worth mentioning that the cast is fine, but the best acting is done by a fabulous 3-D model of Manhattan that Mitchell uses to glue scenes. Top notch work on the model..maybe the most impressive I've ever seen in a quasi-porno movie at the Guild.

"Shortbus" finishes its Guild run tomorrow, Thursday night the 30th.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Your Living, Breathing, Suffocating NM Constitution

The U.S. Constitution perfectly fits the oxymoronic description of "secular holy text" in this country. It's an incredible document brought to ultimate reverence by social studies teachers and praciticing lawyer alike. Heck, some folks feel it was divinely inspired ala The Ten Commandments.

But there is the Constitution and there's your run-of-the-mill constitutions. New Mexico's, for example. It seems the guiding legal light of Enchantoland does not allow school elections to be combined with other elections, meaning that ABQs streetcar tax extension vote can't be held alongside the upcoming school board election. And being the Constitution, our leaders are resigning themselves to defeat on the idea, instead of just coming out and saying "the Constitution is stupid".

Let me be the first to say the NM Constitution is stupid on this matter. Living in America, I think a bolt of lightning is supposed to strike me dead at this point. As no voltage seems to be running through me except for this Ceylonese Breakfast Tea I'm gulping, let me list some reasons why this is dumb:

  1. This is the same constitution that has us vote for googleplex judgeship races when 95% of us have no idea who the heck we're voting for, or against.
  2. School board races usually get a turnout percentage roughly equal to that of an avant-garde jazz concert. Combining these pitiful races with anything is a good idea. Unless the original idea was to have as few people vote as possible. Hmmm...maybe the NM Constitution is brilliant after all...
  3. Isn't it just the least bit funny that ABQ has to hold a costly election to continue a tax to build a streetcar that can't be combined with another costly election to "elect" some bozos to a school board that is widely ridiculed? There's a joke in there somewhere...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Al Gore: Swimming Through Antarctica

It was a dark and stormy night; in fact the night was moist.

Thanks for the comments regarding the writing of "novels" and such. Your humble blogger has decided to once again succumb to the icy, self-centered embrace that is novelwriting. He's also noticed that there is probably nothing as boring as hearing someone talking about their novelwriting. Nothing. So it's never being brought up again. I promise. Forget I ever mentioned it.

Plunging back into reality, people are right to point out that there are things worth enjoying and even laughing about, despite the fact that people keep setting each other on fire and all. Also despite the fact the wife and I finally saw "An Inconvenient Truth" last night and instantly created a series of beyond draconian population control methods (e.g., "all people who don't use turn signals will be executed immediately") in order to meet necessary Carbon Dioxide emissions reductions. With an estimate of 9.1 billion people worldwide by 2050 (or 2040...who's counting?), the turn signal is only a start. A good start in places like Albuquerque, but just a start.

And despite making the viewer immediately think of ultra-draconian and violent population control measures, the Al Gore movie is good for some laughs. Sadly, none of these laughs are the occasional joke gambits by Mr. Gore and the film's creators. Those jokes are sad beyond belief. What is funny is how many times Al Gore, Jr. says "I" and "my friend", as is "I started some Senate hearings on global warming and my good friend Scientist Bob came and told us how screwed we are".

A pretty intense drinking game can be created in which you have to down a shot whenever Al says "I" or "my friend". A very intense game, because this movie is really all about Al, and I don't understand why it has to be that way. It's all about Al and the greatest PowerPoint presentation in history. Gore doesn't say much that anyone who reads the papers doesn't already know, but he does have that killer PowerPoint going on. And a cartoon or two. Somehow I don't think the movie is gonna be nearly as effective in stopping global warming as the "kill non-turn signal people" concept. Not even close.

Another unintentionally funny thing about this movie is that it's rated "PG". Something about "Mild Thematic Elements". Who are these MPAA people? Oh yeah, there's a new documentary about MPAA called "This Film Is Not Yet Rated"...I'm waiting to Netflix that one. If you've seen it, hush, don't give away the plot or anything.

In the end, the unintentional humor in "An Inconvenient Truth" is outweighed by the sadness the film instills in the viewer. And no, I don't mean the intended sadness inculcation that the global warming problem is already here and ever-more-quickly destroying/altering the planet. Most everybody who decides to watch "An Inconvenient Truth" already knows that.

What's sad is that you can totally agree with everything Al Gore says, as I do, and still come away unimpressed with this "movie". It fails both as change agent and as documentary. As change agent, it relies far too much on the story of a person, a rather uncharismatic one, instead of the story of the science and what we little people can do. The film comes off as an "Al Gore 2008" campaign video, quite inexplicably so as that feeling just undermines the point of the film.

As documentary, it is one thing for Jonathan Demme or Stephen Soderbergh to simply film a Spalding Gray monologue. For those of us who are Spalding Gray fans Demme or Soderbergh could have just turned one camera on Gray and let the performance go untouched. But Al Gore and his +2 hit point vorpal PowerPoint aren't Spalding Gray. It's just boring, boring despite material that would be electrifying on PBS Frontline or POV. With "An Inconvenient Truth" I don't want to kill the messenger, I want to love the's just that I want him to go away.

In other words: great graphs, awesome charts, I miss Spalding Gray.

Friday, November 24, 2006

We've Hit a Dry Stretch In the Funny Department

You probably notice there hasn't been a posting in the last few days. Okay, you didn't notice because you stagger over to Babble only on days so tedious that you've already waded through 45 or so blogs and still the work day drags on. Trust me, on this singular point the blogger knows what he's talking about. No posts lately. Two simple reasons:

  1. The blogger once again considered the writing of a book. The mere bird flutter of a thought about writing a book inevitably causes your humble blogger to switch into Defcon-5 (or is that Defcon-1?...I get confused) level writer's block mode. A hat currently sits outside the Babble offices for well-wishers to throw small donations toward proper therapy for your humble blogger.
  2. Nothing funny has happened in recent days. You know when you wake up on the day after a fine Thanksgiving meal to see a headline about people burning other people alive that we're in a low-funny cycle. You also know this is the case when the only funnyperson news is Michael Richards going drunk European soccer hooligan on some comedy patrons. Yes, we haven't had any funny days now since Ted Haggard told us he bought the Meth, but threw it out the window and Katherine Harris and Rick Santorum got their asses kicked. Since then we've just been personally unwell, the number of people killing and burning other people alive has ratcheted up, 92-year old women are going out Bonnie Parker style, and Michael Richards is severely denting sales of "Seinfeld: Season Eight" DVDs. Not funny days.
Your humble folks at Babble are sincerely hoping the fickle finger of funny starts to swing from it's current El Nino position into a wetter, funnier pattern shortly. Maybe Donald Rumsfeld could quit again, or be caught on YouTube buying some meth from Ted Haggard or something to get the funny juices flowing. C'mon Rummy, you owe us some more funny, big time.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Education Writer's Block: A Defense

I've taught now for coming up on 13 1/2 years, and for around the last 10 I've considered writing some sort of book about education. On occasion this inclination has led to a bit of actual product, but each foray has lasted about 2,500 words before degenerating into an even bigger banal mess than readers see here in the typical Babble post.

I'm not one to practice much in the way of self-analysis, especially in regards to something as solipsistic as writing, but I have identified a few causes that have resulted in ever-weaker attempts to write 'bout education. Attempts even weaker than my writing norm.

It's hard not to notice that even the above is pretty lame-o stuff.

So why can't I give birth to a bouncing baby book about something I care about as much as education? Outside of the bio-systemic causes (my undiagnosed but quite obvious case of Attention Deficit Disorder prime among them) perhaps the biggest reason is my high level of concern for the topic itself. But is that really true?

I tell myself I care about education. I throw myself into it with a haphazard abandon that leads me to think of little else for nine months of the year. Yet, when I read what others write on the subject, I am quickly convinced once again that not only do I not care about education in the right way, but that others concerned about education inhabit an altogether different planet, galaxy, universe.

The inhabitants of this alternate universe exhibit the following characteristics:
  1. They are so &*%$#^* serious it makes your eyes bleed. Each and every one of them is written as if they are God chiseling on tablets. All education fun is dessicatingly sucked out of these works on the pretense that our "children" and "future" are too important for laughs. Such self-importance just cries out for satire and ridicule. Or maybe it's just me.
  2. Writers on education treat teachers/administrators as mad scientists and students as volatile chemicals. Education writing is all about experiments, failed experiments, untried experiments, unfunded mandated experiments. "If we only combined...." is a frequent phrase in education writing, as is hearty laughter at past failed experiments. Somehow the authors never consider that their own experiments might some day be just as laughable.
  3. Armed with supreme knoweldge of what was done wrong in the past, education writers bombastically proscribe what experiments should be put in place now and forever, immediately. Failure to do exactly what the writer proscribes is a crime against children. Opponents to the ideas of the author are freely compared to Hitler, or even worse, Albuquerque Public Schools.
  4. Underlying each of these works is a three-fold assumption: 1. K-12 education used to be better, but now it sucks; 2. The United States used to be smarter than it is now. 3. #1 has something to do with #2. Writing on education places supreme importance on what happens to students between 8:00 and 3:00 180 days of the year, and tends to forget what happens the other 17 hours a day and 185 days of the year. Possible influences in dumbing down Americans like television, video games and parents who watch tons of television are discounted relative to the supposed magic wand welded by educators on occasion from 8:00 to 3:00.
  5. Not to mention the possibility that Americans are no more stupid now than they have been since 1776. Let's face it...there have been a ton of not-too-terribly educated people...since...forever. Back in the Greek day, Plato wasn't exactly impressed with the knowledge base of the average Greek guy. Still, from reading today's education books one would get the impression that today's "citizens" are dumber than ever and getting dumber by the minute.
  6. Largely ignored by critics of the current educational system is the fact that for most of us the educational system of the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s did plenty of asinine things to us, and look how we turned out. For instance, I remember being taught how to write by a teacher constantly wielding one of those rubber ball-bouncing-on-a-string-paddles with the rubber ball and string removed. She went around whacking us for little or no reason quite frequently. Now, I can't write legibly to save my life, but that hasn't stopped me from writing completely illegible comments on my students' creative writing papers. We learn to adapt, to compensate for our own educational deficits, and these writers never seem to acknowledge that.
So, for the reasons above, I've been wanting to write an education book that reflects a very different reality than I see in the education writing of others. A book that gets into the FUN of teaching and learning, a book that compares teaching to playing in a jazz combo in the sense that it is an interactive improvisation, a jointly creative journey constantly bobbing and weaving amid some intellectual melody. Or that it's not such a journey and is really boring.

Upon further meditation, perhaps it's exactly because of the last paragraph that I will probably never finish writing a book on education. That education for me boils down to one sentence comparing teaching/learning to jazz playing, and that writing 250 pages on the subject would just be repeating the same line over and over 150,000 times. And that would be exactly what is wrong with education and education writing, in my way of thinking. We wouldn't expect or want Sonny Rollins to write 250 pages about a particular solo on "Blue 7", not to mention our disinterest of such a retelling by a local player at a ABQ jazz club (if such a club, in fact, existed).

In other words, it don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that.... and you don't need to read, or write, a book to figure that out.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Touch Me, I'm Sick: Feeling Grungy In the 505

Possible reasons why everybody in Albuquerque, including me, is currently unwell:

  • Al-Qaeda introduced virus into Burque water supply
  • Immune systems suppressed by wait for Madrid/Wilson race results
  • Local custom of greeting others by licking hand instead of handshake
  • That Diet Coke we shared last Sunday
  • "Vagrants, gang-bangers, hookers and druggies" at the El Vado Motel
  • APS Thanksgiving Meal served today with virulent green beans
  • Small, but incredibly pointy alien spacecraft have flown/landed inside our small intestines
  • Nancy Pelosi, because she's responsible for everything now
  • That necklace around Nancy Pelosi's neck that controls everything including the incredibly pointy alien spacecraft
  • Genetically evolved viruses and bacteria adapting to drug remedies such as antibiotics, antihistamines and Jack Daniels
  • Not saying "Bless You" when people sneeze, thus unleashing an angry God who allows genetic evolution simply as a means to punish us
  • Karl Rove's secret plan to lower voter turnout, just a couple of weeks late
  • Liberals and their morally bankrupt secular gay lifestyle
  • The existence of fiendishly conceived fecund virus breeding grounds otherwise known as middle schools
  • Critically low threshold of pirate population reached due to global warming, as indicated by this graph from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Notes: 1) Yes, the Flying Spaghetti Monster thing is SO 2004, but I've been waiting to throw that cool graph in since, forever; 2) By "pointy spacecraft" we mean spacecraft that make our small intestine feel as if it is trying to pass one of those medieval spikeballs knights swung around. You know, like this:

but with bigger spikes; 3) You might wonder why APS would serve its "Thanksgiving Meal" a full week before Turkey Day. So did we, and they even stiffed us on the dressing and cranberry sauce this year; 4) Here's hoping you are not one of those currently unwell in Burque, but, let's face it, you know it's only a matter of time, especially after we just licked your hand in greeting.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Babble Meta Discussion I: Waiting For Godot/Wilson

It's easy to tell that the bloggin' community is in a collective post-Patsy/Heather hangover, and Burque Babble is fully participant in the malaise, popping ibuprofen and stretching intellectually only as far as to change the remote control from channel to channel.

The geologic pace of vote counting probably isn't helping, but we Burque bloggers need to get off the couch, throw the remote into the newly rekindled fireplace, do some tai-bo and get past the mental sludge created by Election 2006. Let's treat this time as the dawning of a new age. Yeah, like Aquarius, or the Pleistocene. Let's make some New Age Resolutions and commit to following them at least until the next time-wasting distraction dominates our time as much as Madrid/Wilson did.

The following are a few possible New Age Resolutions (NARs) for Burque Babble (I'm still on the couch, remote in hand, merely contemplating these resolutions at this time):
  • Forewith stop any and all political blogging until a time at which Scot can think of the word "politics" without immediately gagging.
  • Turn Burque Babble into the preeminent literary blog in New Mexico, with frequent uses of words/phrases like "meta", "crepuscular dawn" and "post-modern".
  • Make Burque Babble the preeminent ranting about education blog in New Mexico, including words/phrases like "rant", "Mary Lee Martin" and "standardized testing".
  • Lose the words, and just post pictures of my dogs, cats, horses and goats.
  • Strictly post pictures of my goats, but also tell funny stories about them, perhaps including how the funny stories are actually parables illuminating incredibly deep concepts such as redemption and Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean character.
  • Join the ever-growing legion of those who have succumbed to the forces of the dark side by turning Babble into a "Bill Richardson for President" blog.
  • Lose any remaining shred of pretense that anyone should take anything said in Babble seriously, and instead stick with writing unintentionally unfunny things just like I've always been doing.
  • Join the ever-growing legion of those who have succumbed to "Borat" fever by turning Babble into the "Entertainment Tonight" of Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen and deliberately uncomfortable comedians and their craft. Entries could include, "Are People Who Haven't Seen Borat Yet Losers?" and "Michael Moore's 'TV Nation': The Seminal Show That Led to Everything from The Colbert Report to Ali G"
  • Note to self: That "TV Nation" riff is gold, Jerry, gold!
  • Stop doing silly, unfocused posts with bulleted lists of unintentionally unfunny things, slap yourself out of this election hangover and get back to writing on the same incoherent mishmash of topics covered over the 250 or so posts of Burque Babble up to this point.
Ah, I can't's such a long list and my brain is dulled to flatline trying to remember the difference between Provisional Ballots and In-Lieu Ballots. Think I'll head to the medicine cabinet for some more ibuprofen and make today's 1000th fruitless trip to the Journal site to see if any new vote totals have come out.

I'll get to this Resolution business tomorrow. And if not by then, surely by the time the Madrid/Wilson vote count or the Holocene geological epoch is over. Whichever comes first.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The More Important Things: Episode One

Oly and wife Emily

Our golden retriever of five plus years, Oly, had a epileptic seizure this afternoon. He's had a few over the years, and this one seemed to last longer than the others. Then again they always seem to last an eternity. He's fine now, lying back in that love seat he's adopted in a straddling, ultra-relaxed fashion for years now.

I can't recall ever posting a picture of the O-Man on the Babble...and on days like today one wants to make sure everyone in the world knows how wonderful one's good friends are. Thanks for everything, Oly, you're the greatest.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Life Beyond Vote Counts

Yes, they are still counting votes. Yes, the counting of each individual vote evidently involves performing all the feats of Hercules, building all Seven Wonders of the World, and making it through a Friday happy hour at O'Neill's.

But enough of that. Let's escape from the cave that is politics, shield our eyes, and look upon the unfamliar landscape of the real world. What stimuli might exist that would be worthy of our heretofore politiporn-obsessed brains? Music, perhaps?

First and most importantly, the Pixies movie loudQUIETloud is coming to The Guild starting Monday. How many times have you wanted to see a Guild flick and missed its short run because it was short and because you are starting to have some rather major memory deficits? Well, directly imprint this information onto whatever section of the brain handles memory stuff (I forget which one it is):

loudQUIETloud, Guild, Monday the 13th through Thursday the 16th.

As in it's over by next Friday. By the way, upcoming weeks at the Guild look good, between John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus, Death of a President and fewer samurai films. I gotta admit, I've reached samurai saturation at this point.

Those preferring quietquietquiet to LOUDLOUDLOUD can join old fogies like me at the upcoming NMSO "Mozart and the Masters Festival at the National Hispanic Cultural Center November 17-19. Conductor Figueroa and his crew will be breaking the mad beats of not only DJ WAM (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), but also J.S. Bach, Haydn, and (imho) some less tasty Romantic stuff like Schubert. Personally preferring the chamber stuff to full orchestra, I'd go with the November 19th third set because it has a Mozart piano quartet and the Beethoven septet. But then again, I'm an old fogy/fogey/fogie.

Before I head off to my laz-y-boy to watch the Matlock marathon on TV Land, I want to mention one more thing musical. Everyone who reads Burque Babble needs to go to the Calexico show on December 3rd. Of course being the un-hipster old guy that I am rapidly becoming I didn't even know about this show until last night, but I think it would be way cool if Burque Babble readers, all four of them, would show up for this gig at the Launchpad. Maybe I could make like Vanity Fair or some big-time mag and reserve the upstairs couch for Babble readers. Which brings up the question, does the Launchpad even have the couch anymore? I haven't seen a Launchpad show since, jeez, Yo La Tengo I think. Then again, there haven't been too many Mozart shows at the Launchpad lately.

So there is a, largely unexplored, world beyond provisional ballots and premature declarations of electoral victory. Feel free to join me and escape from the voting crypt for some rockin' & Mozartin' good times. We Rick Santorum haters feel like dancing these days, anyway.

P.S.: And yes, we've all seen the concession speech still photos, and yes they are funny beyond funny well into scary funny. Whenever I get down in the dumps in future years I will look at those photos for solace, for inspiration, for the knowledge that however screwed up I may be, I will not be as screwed up as Santorum has almost certainly made his own family. Ciao, Rick, keep it wingnutty.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mea and Mary Culpa

Two mistakes to talk about this morning:

One is mine. Somewhere along the line I got the idea that the new makeup of the Senate was
Democrats 51
Republicans + Joe Lieberman 49

but it's
Democrats + Joe Lieberman 51
Republicans 49

so if Joe Lieberman was to become a full-fledged Republican he would make it 50-50. This gives Joementun alot of possible power, I guess, in the same sort of way that third-party mass transit candidate in Viriginia had an influence in the Senate race there.

I haven't heard any news to indicate Joementum is switching parties, but I was wrong about the influence he could have if he did. Sorry.

Mistake #2 is Mary Herrera. Note I'm not saying Mary Herrera's mistake...I'm saying Mary Herrera IS a mistake.

I'll skip the whole Wilson/Madrid brouhaha, as we are all following that, but did you see the story this morning about the Spanish translation of the ballot? Two quotes from the ABQ Journal story:

"Many of the translations were appalling, at best," said Conny Nichols, referring to the Spanish wording of the local bond issue questions.
"I have never seen a poorer translation done of such crucial information," said Nichols, a member of New Mexico's Translators and Interpreters Association.

and my favorite

Although she's bilingual, Herrera said she did not read over the Spanish questions because she does not read or write Spanish.

Herrera is also a good County Clerk except for the lousy, potentially law-breaking elections she runs, and the pitifully poor ballots she constructs. She'll make an excellent Secretary of State. No news from Herrera on whether she's sorry about anything yet. Maybe she's finding out how to translate "I'm sorry" into Spanish.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

BB's 2006 National Hockey League Update, Sort of

What about those Buffalo Sabres?!? And the performance of their Right Winger Maxim Afinogenov? It’s been an exciting first month of the thirteen month NHL season what with goal scorers like Marion Hossa & Ilya Kovalchuk lighting it up for the Atlanta Thrashers…

Okay, I can’t do it. I can’t leave things Election 2006 quite yet. Not on a day in which the Tower Card in the Bush Administration tarot deck is shuffled out like last week’s garbage, meant to take the stink away from a good ‘ol fashioned ass-whupping. Rumsfeld’s figurative head on a pike is good times, people, good times.

A figurative representation of how some of us possibly see Donald Rumsfeld

But back to the ass-whupping. It’s “final” in a way that doesn’t quite seem final, but it looks like Webb has semi-kinda-officially won Virginia and the Democrats have taken the Senate. That’s good news, but not nearly as good as: 1. the Republicans have lost control of the Senate; 2. Joe Lieberman can go ahead and complete his two-year Benedict Arnold program and become that rare bird, the Blue State Jewish Republican, and it won’t matter. Not that Joe ever really has mattered, not really.

Oh, there’s plenty of rough road ahead, plenty of tarot cards still left to wreck our fortunes, tons of Lame Duck blocking maneuvers to endure on the road to getting us out of the six year hole we’ve had dug for us.

But boy does it feel good to use the term “Lame Duck”….Quack tarot Hierophant card, quack!

Okay, it's not anywhere close to perfect,
but this card at least mutters G.W. Bush to me

Or maybe this card is closer...

More locally, everything turned out about the way we in the ultra-powerful bloggin’ community envisioned. Admittedly, that’s a jokey inside reference to a discussion on last night’s KNME Election Coverage about the influence of blogs on elections. It’s only remotely funny if you saw the “blog segment” last night, and if you did I apologize and feel like I owe you a quarter or something for the time you wasted.

Thanks, however, to Kevin at KNME for a well-done segment on our class debates over at Jefferson MS, as well as to moderator Gene Grant and the other panelists who refrained from laughing out loud and rolling their eyes at the preposterous things I said. You guys are good people.

But I digress.

More close to home, the Babble is overly proud of the fact that he correctly picked all the obvious winners, missing only the Auditor race, not realizing that the State of New Mexico is progressive enough at this point to accept a bald State Auditor. It’s not quite the same as the first female U.S. Speaker of the House, but it’s something worth noting.

Then there is the 600 lb. ballot box gorilla that is Madrid/Wilson. What more can be said about this race? Heck, what more could have been said about it a month ago? As loyal Babble readers know, your humble prognosticator picked Wilson from the get-go and it looks like both he and Wilson are gonna luck out into a win. With Wilson being slightly luckier than me, in that I didn’t want Wilson to win.

Oh well, maybe it’s better to win a few “entertainment purposes only” wagers than to be represented by a person in Congress you agree with more than 1% of the time. Or maybe it’s not. Yeah, it’s probably not. But at least the House itself turned bluer than a azure sky in deepest summer, and it won’t seem to matter quite as much that our local representative votes with her Lame Duck President 100% of the time.

Meanwhile, say hello to our fairly-soon-to-be-new Senator from New Mexico, Heather Wilson.

As for Patsy Madrid, we ‘Mericans are tough on losers, and while I don’t know her (I shook her hand once), I feel sorry for the woman on a number of levels. At the same time, in a district that has always been close to 50-50, the fact that Madrid couldn’t take out Wilson in a year like this is pretty damning. I mean, if you couldn’t do it in 2006, when the Hell could you have done it?

And while it looks like I wasn't wrong on Wilson v. Madrid, I was evidently very wrong about one thing: Debates sometimes do matter. But perhaps they only matter when the debater does as lousy a job as was unfortunately turned in by Patsy Madrid. I'm not a big schmoozer and can't say that I talk to tons of people about this stuff, but in my dinky world just about the entire universe has taken time to tell me how bad they thought Patsy was in that debate. Unusually bad. Shades of Vice-Admiral James Stockdale, Ross Perot's running mate in 1992, bad. Just not good at all. As in the word "cringe" is often employed in the retelling. That bad.

Again, oh well. Nevertheless, the NM-1 race is like the single fly buzzing around the six pieces of lemon chess pie I’m metaphorically savoring right now. And Jim Webb beating, semi-kinda-officially, George Allen in Virginia is the extra flaky crust that makes the lemon tang just that much more special. I know, I know, when a guy on the farther Left starts salivating profusely about a moderate-to-right politician who served proudly in the Reagan administration, times are weird indeed.

But six years of W will do that to ya. It’s been a long six years. So long I don't want to even think about it tonight. Hand me another piece of lemon chess pie, would ya Mr. President, and quack, baby, quack!


  1. Rick Santorum getting absolutely pummeled in Pennsylvania
  2. Mark Foley still almost winning Florida's 16th District
  3. Donald Rumsfeld
  4. Patsy pausing for an unnaturally long time before speaking at her 11:30 PM speech at the Election Night Party
  5. (tie) J.D. Hayworth getting beat in AZ-5; Conrad Burns getting eeked by in Montana
  6. Because five isn't enough....Mary Herrera going straight from oversight of a somewhat botched election as Bernco County Clerk to NM Secretary of State

Okay, enough already, on with the NHL season!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election 2006: A Few Supremely Uneducated Guesses

Updated 6:42 AM 11/8/06: What time did I get to bed? How many hours of sleep did I get? Answers: 2:00 and 4. There was a day back in the day where that would be no big deal. That day passed some years ago. I stayed up past the point where Torrance County and a shrinking lead in Bernco at the end put Heather on top, and long enough to look at Montana Senate votes trickle in with beyond Bernco slowness.

But boy was it wife called me an election nerd last night. Guilty. Still, even as the recounts begin I'm considering a six-month hiatus on anything political. Anything. Expect to see Burque babble entries strictly about goats, foreign films and baseball until at least Spring Break. Unless that Burns guy or Allen guy win through some recount brouhaha...

Meanwhile...I've got a chance to have been right on every pick except Balderas, even the overall House/Senate ones. There's one I wish I hadn't been quite so right about, but let's see how that plays out today...

Happy Election Day Everybody

After a good night's sleep and an abbreviated perusal of NM weather details and such, here's a bunch of complete seat-of-the-pants guesses. Interesting numbers from JoeMonahan this morning concerning lower turnout than mid-term 2002. His figures combined with my own suspicions about human laziness in general and voter enthusiasm for Election 2006 in particular lead me to suppress Democratic numbers by a couple of percentage points across the board. Outside ABQ there wasn't much to get excited about here, and in the ABQ area if Patsy couldn't get you to the polls you just might not be going at all.

And low turnout might well be the political death of Patsy. Of course there are a ton of other factors at work, including how voters respond to this year's ultra-retro paper ballot. More straight-party voting? If so, does that matter? Many, many possibilities to consider as we meander through an Election work day. As a schoolteacher, I get the added bonus of having my workplace be a voting site. To me, midterm elections mean awful parking and the library is closed.

Keep in mind: 1. The following numbers are for entertainment purposes only; 2. anybody using these numbers to place actual wagers has a rather pronounced gambling problem and needs to call the Gambler's Anonymous Hotline at (505) 260-7272; 3. Meanwhile, I'll take Balderas plus the six and a two-play Lyons/Lewis teaser...anybody?

The Only Race That Matters in the Whole World:
Wilson 51.5
Madrid 48.5

Update 10:43 PM: Oh, did I say Wilson 51.5%? I meant to say.....nah, I'm sticking with the Wilson pick until Heather's cold, politically distant fingers are removed from the seat....

Bingaman 64
McCulloch 36

Richardson 62
Guy who isn't Richardson 38

Secretary of State:
Herrera 52
Perea 48

State Auditor (this guess goes beyond guess to simply finding two numbers that add to 100):
Garcia 54
Balderas 46

State Treasurer:
Lewis 56
Padilla 44

Attorney General:
King 59
Bibb 41

Land Commissioner:
Lyons 54
Baca 46

Updated 3:29 PM: Oh..I forgot to include a few things.

ABQ Quality of Life:
Yes: 41
No: 59 (makes me a little sad, but there's probably a better way to structure/campaign for something like this, at least I hope there is)

U.S. House:
Republicans: 205
Democrats: 230 (I'm much more optimistic nationally than I am in NM-1)

U.S. Senate:
Republicans: 49
Democrats: 51 (okay, maybe I'm flooding with an optimism bordering on blind hope...but I say McCaskill in MO & Webb in VA both win, putting the Senate in a Lieberman-free zone past 50-50).

"See" some of you via the one-way mirror that is television tonight...try not to laugh too hard.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Burque Babble's Rockin' Election Eve: 2006

About two years ago tonight I was plopped down before C-SPAN watching John and Teresa Heinz-Kerry introduce Bruce Springsteen at a huge election-eve rally in Cleveland. The Boss praised the Kerry's for a bit, then sang "Thunder Road" in the chilly wind of an early November in northern Ohio. Even in the single-camera world of C-SPAN it was clear that the audience was ebullient and confident. Only a few hours remained until the Democrats would take back Ohio, the Electoral College and the country.

I sat there watching and it was hard not to get choked up.

For the roughly half of us who saw the George W. Bush years 2001-2004 as one continuous collective surreal nightmare, Election Eve '04 was like a combination of Christmas Eve and the night before the Prom rolled up together. We knew the next day was gonna be great, just knew it, but a frail, small voice within us wondered "what if it's not as great as we think it will be?"

Then The Boss sang about "Mary" and her dancing "across the porch as the radio plays" and that inner voice was easily subdued. Even for some of us more cynical types.

After months and months and months and years of waiting, maybe Kerry really could win. Okay, we weren't that excited about Kerry...he seemed about as much like us as the cartoon aliens on "The Simpsons", he was richer than most South American countries, his sense of humor was somewhere between Margaret Dumont and Anderson Cooper. But he wasn't Bush, and he was what we had, and Bruce was singing to him and his wife and 100,000 or so chilly people in a state we had to win. Just had to.

Many of us woke up not only happy because of a day off, but because we had somehow become convinced it was gonna be the first glorious day of the rest of our soon-to-be-George W. Bush-less life. It was especially great to be in New Mexico, because we happened to be living in a state where votes mattered. It was gonna be close, but we were gonna prevail. A bit of work, a dash of worry, and then a loud, and somewhat boozy chorus of "Born in the U.S.A." when it was clear we had taken the country back. It was gonna be great, small voice be damned.

It was gonna be great, and then it wasn't.

Which brings us to Burque Babble's Rockin' Election Eve: 2006. LIke any good soap opera, the plot really hasn't moved that much forward in the last two years. We're here again, the night before something potentially fantastic, almost probably so, really. At least one house of Congress should go to the Democrats, and while that's not the same as giving W the personal boot, it's as close as we're gonna get until that happy day in late January 2009 when he slithers out of D.C. for good. We've got a shot not only to smash the congressional rubber stamp, but to make a electorally verified statement to the world that we aren't quite as crazy as we appeared back in '04.

But we're also two years older, and just two years removed from the stomach punch that was '04. So we are filled to overflowing with worry. We obsess on the magic of Karl Rove, the dark mysteries of Republican GOTV, the villainous shenanigans of "Robocalls" and electronic voting. We also think way back, to 2000 and the mother of all villainous shenanigans, where the Republican GOTV for nine robed justices far surpassed the Democrats.

For a few months after Election Eve '04 I avoided anything having to do with politics. Like many others, I investigating relocating to other parts of the world, read with amusement web sites created to provide U.S. citizens with photographic proof to the rest of the world that not every American was crazy, and rehabilitated my perforated stomach through a steady diet of politics-free news.

I don't remember exactly what drug me back into caring, what combination of event and personal healing brought me back to following things political again. But here I am tonight, stomach scarred and acidic, trying to stay brave and face another Election Eve of hope and apprehension.

A few things are different. First, I'm avoiding C-SPAN like a karaoke bar. Not risking that again. Second, I'm trying real hard to avoid any contact with any blog this evening, regardless of how politiporn sexy the many "Robocall" voter suppression blogthreads are. Just a quiet night here with the least that's the idea.

Third, and most obvious/important: we won't get fooled again. Or should I say, I won't. Like the guy who's prom night date leads only to a soul crushing break-up, I'm not emotionally investing myself in the Madrid/Wilson race. I'm not gonna go into a multi-month fugue state if the Democrats don't take a house of Congress. I'm gonna just keep remembering those really corny lines from really corny songs like, "The Sun will come out tomorrow" from "Annie" and "There's got to be a morning after" from the original "Poseidon Adventure".

Yes, I realize that humming these horrible songs to one's self is probably worse than just about any possible pain caused by a election defeat, but you didn't see the condition of my punched stomach on Election Night '04. Even songs from "Annie" don't compare with the ugliness that night produced.

So, Happy Rockin' Election Eve: 2006 everybody! May we all enjoy tomorrow as the great expression of democracy it so certainly is, and have a blast following all the wacky results about 24 hours from now. Regardless. Really.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Madrid/Wilson Final Polling: You Can Open Your Eyes Now

It's still within the margin of error, but Patsy holds onto her lead in the Journal poll released this morning. Given all the verklemptitiousness since the KOB debate, how many Madrid supporters must have carefully shielded their eyes as they grabbed the Journal this morning, only slowly, so very slowly making a space between the fingers that enabled them to see the shocking news?

Maybe debates really don't matter that much, after all.

Debates might not matter, but GOTV does. Between margin of error and getting the voting meat in the booth seats, Madrid/Wilson should be good for a long night of fingernail-shortening. Over/under on declaration of a about 1:00 A.M? With paper ballots and Benco being Bernco...that might be too early.

And while we're making fundamentally unfounded guesses, here are a few more:

It's pretty clear Lyons is holding on to the Land Office, making it an almost complete sweep of boring races at the state level. Vickie Perea v. Mary Herrera for Secretary of State looks like the only close race, with Mary's hair shield currently retarding Perea infiltration in the polls.

Getting back to Lyons/Baca, it seems to me that Baca's strong pro-environmental views aren't having much effect. The weakness of the environment as an issue this cycle illustrates how voters don't connect the quality of the environment to the quality of their own lives. This disconnect makes me want to violently shake every voter, slapping them like the sleepwalkers that they are. Oh well, who needs glaciers?

By the way, speaking of environmentalists...anybody on a percentage guess on David Bacon in PRC District 4? Can he get 20%?

In the end, Election Night is shaping up to be all about what it's all been about every since Patsy Madrid said she'd run against Heather Wilson. 55 hours or so until the polls close, the only thing more exciting than NM-1 is the fact that the damn thing is almost over. The recorded calls, the faux polls, the tacky mailers, the Clintons/Lauras/Pelosis....almost done for another go-round.

I feel like Lance Armstrong running the New York Marathon today, and I haven't really done anything this election cycle. Finish sight...must make finish line...calves tightening past point of...must make line....arghhhhhhhhhh...

Good luck making it to the finish line everyone.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Beneath A Blizzard of Cardstock

You know I've been on the fence in the Madrid/Wilson race...but this 2,417th (insert candidate name here) mailer I just got has really got me thinking. The previous 2,416 mailers had no effect, none whatsoever. But the 2,417th one is swaying me. It's really got me thinking....

Speaking of mailers, this last weekend pre-Election should be good for some of the most unfounded, unfair and unfathomably illogical pieces of cardstock sleaze ever. I fully expect plenty of guys French-kissing guys, U.S. flag draped coffins dripping blood and graphically intense photos of aborted fetuses piled upon befouled flags and Bibles. Thank whatever deity or probability-wheel you choose to worship, it's almost November 7. Only a few more days of this cardstock crap left.

P.S.: Special dishonorable mention to Republican State Treasurer candidate Demesia Padilla for her mailer comparing her ethics to those of James B. Lewis. The ethical points made were ridiculous, trivial and a waste of trees, ink and time ("Bill Richardson gave Lewis money for his campaign!"). But she sure as shootin' got a picture of Lewis on the mailer, just letting everybody know that she's running against a "Black Man". A nice, big as her own picture of Lewis. Nice and big, prominently displayed up there on the top left corner. Subtle, Demesia, subtle.