Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Internet Trivia & Another Bus Story: The Dog Days of Non-Election Year, Post-World Series October

Internet trivia time: Can you recite the entire script of the longer than Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats" running Albuquerque Journal required-to-view "premium content" ad from memory? Do you know which brand of breakfast cereal stars in the this ad? Can you name at least three Journal sports reporter merely from seeing this ad 5,000,000 times, having never actually ever seen the Journal sports page? Remember, peeking is cheating.

ABQ Ride Story #75423-A: Flying Condiments of the Apocalypse: So I'm playing with my new Garman 60CSx GPS on the #5 bus going down Lomas yesterday, not really paying attention to the very nice, older, heavily bearded gentleman wearing a top-hat with playing cards sticking out of it in front of me, when I see a man madly dash right in front of the 40 mph moving bus.

The bus lurches dangerously to a stop, and the guy who dashed across Lomas opens a styrofoam to-go box and starts rearranging the condiments on his 7-11 bought hot dog alongside the waiting bus. A few seconds of rearranging later, the bus driver gruffly to the point of almost homicidally finally says "get on the bus, sir". The panting, condiment-rearranging man is joined by an extremely pissed-off woman at the impromptu bus stop. She stares nuclear daggers at the man as they both get on the bus.

"That was so stupid" she tells condiment man while apologizing to the bus driver. "Why did you do that?" she indignantly asks.

"I have a short attention-span," the man replies. He goes back to obsessively making sure the ketchup and mustard are evenly distributed on his hot dog. The woman viciously rips off a few strips of brown gas station restroom paper towels and hands one to the man.

The #5 bus continues the trip down hill on Lomas toward downtown.


P.S.: Yes, the important part of that "flash non-fiction" story was the mention of my new GPS.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Baseball Good, The Music News Bad & The Politically Ugly

The Baseball Good

Sure, they're the New Yankees, but the Red Sox win seven in a row to go from 3-1 down to the maliciously mascoted Indians to sweeping the World Series against the overly overt Christian Rockies. Manny can be Manny all he wants in my book, even down to adjusting his cap while he leisurely chases down balls hit over his head. Evil Empire now has a new name...nah, the Yankees have been and always will be the Evil Empire. Even if they go back to signing Danny Tartabull and end up 60-102 next year.

The Music News Bad

Growing up watching Porter Wagoner sing with Dolly Parton between the duo's online testimonials for "Breeze Detergent" ("they're a free towel inside every box of Breeze!"), I was convinced Porter Wagoner was the definitively bad musical personality, worse even than Donny Osmond. Then I grew up and realized how good bad music could be, and that maybe the sublime was was actually IN the ridiculous. R.I.P. Porter. And no, I don't think Donny Osmond's passing is going to be mentioned at Burque Babble.

The Politically Ugly

Is there really any doubt that Marty Chavez is the singular current politician who would do absolutely ANYTHING to get elected? I know there are many unethical politicians. Hell, the phrase "unethical politicians" is about as redundant as you can get. But does anyone doubt that Chavez really has NO boundaries when it comes to how low he would go to get what he wants (i.e., win a U.S. Senate seat?)

Hell, making up who's on his campaign is morally nothing to this guy. He's willing to go much, much lower than that. I can't even see a moral bottom to Marty Chavez, now that I think about it. He's the perfect 21st Century Democrat, positioning himself as "electable" while offering no leadership or ideas, and quicker than any Republican to denigrate any real Democratic opposition as "liberal". Gee, he'd fit right in with the current Democratic leadership in Washington.

What a.....jerk. He's like our own little Evil Empire wannabe right here in the Land of Enchantment. All he needs now is a Yankees cap.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Anxiously Searching for Shore From the MIddle of the Working Ocean

The school year is an easy one when compared with your typical fifty week working year with that two weeks of vacation tacked on and the occasional casual Friday. I understand that.

But even the super-easy school year has its tough stretches, and right now we're in our High Anxiety March to Thanksgiving period. And Thanksgiving is a month away, too far to be spotted by even the most eagle-eyed break-seeking teacher with the most powerful vacation binoculars money and bitterness can buy.

This week our school had "Parent/Teacher Conferences", a chance for parents to stand outside our classroom doors for long stretches waiting while other parents heard us teachers say the same thing over and over and over. You get a whole new realization of the influence cell phones have over our lives when you see parent after parent impatiently waiting outside your classroom door. What do people do when impatiently waiting these days? Cell phone.

I imagine being on the other end of a phone call from an impatiently waiting person isn't typically fun. The look on the face of the impatiently waiting parent was very much in keeping with the fact that we're in the High Anxiety March to Thanksgiving period, and I'm guessing the tone of these cell phone interactions was, uh, terse. I'll repress the desire here to go into a tirade about how cell phones are ruining society, and just apologize to all the impatiently waiting parents at my school last Wednesday. I now know how bank tellers feel on Friday afternoon at the end of the month when the Social Security checks come in.

And speaking of apologies, I got a comment from John Fleck at the Journal noting that his paper did have some coverage of the James Quinn memorial ride, despite my claim that it didn't. Now I could go on and on about how I couldn't find any coverage at the Journal website after significant time spent looking and all, but the fact is the Journal did have a short piece and a photo layout of the event. I apologize for not seeing it and flaking out about its incorrectly presumed non-existence. My mistake. And no, I'm still not going to subscribe to the hard copy of the Journal just because the paper's website is, uh, terse in its user-friendliness and overall scope of coverage.

So it's been a week of apologies, impatience and High Anxiety. Not a combination one would want to last any longer than necessary, yet this year's new, improved APS five-day Thanksgiving break (it's always been four-days before) is well beyond the curvature of the Earth at this point. Even though of us who strive fairly hard to stay "in the moment" and revel in the daily drudgery that makes life great are feeling a little antsy after a week like this.

I think it's time to go to Orbitz, type in various locales (Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Buenos Aires, Helsinki, Sofia, etc.), and plan that trip when the High Anxiety is but a pleasant, patient memory and the eleven weeks of summer vacation lays spread out before some of us like a endless, tranquil hiking trail in a lush, cool rain forest along a rocky, spectacular ocean coast. (Insert lengthy slack-jawed, day dreamy distant stare here...)

Thanks (and apologies). I needed that. Have a good weekend, everybody.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hush-Hush on the QT with Teresa Cordova, Elsy Fierro and Friends

In an attempt to shield a young man from having his name and school grades made public, a parent appears with the son on television. In an attempt to shield herself from professional scrutiny in her role in changing the young man's grades, a woman (through her attorneys) tries to make a hearing about the grade change public, thus ensuring massive and long-lasting media coverage of the hearing process.

Now I don't know much about marketing and public relations, but I've gotta wonder about the "shielding" success possibilities of the strategies being employed here. I reckon about the only way Teresa Cordova, Elsy Fierro and other players involved in this grade change thing could do a worse job of "shielding" would be to have Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears drive them to the hearing. Maybe Cordova could name Brad Pitt her attorney and the hearing judge could be changed from G.T.S. Khalsa to Angelina Jolie. Jennifer Aniston could be named temporary State Public Education Department Director to round out the "shielding" tableau.

In other words, I haven't seen such bad "shielding" since that episode on Star Trek when the Klingons penetrated the Enterprise's defense system. You remember the one.

Okay, I'll stop now.

The whole thing stinks and reminds me again on why I decided to never pursue a degree in Law, despite the highly appealing concept of "billable hours". Maybe billable hours and wearing really nice suits changes things, but I have a hard time believing I could keep a straight face for more than two seconds if I was in a room with people "shielding" themselves and their loved ones in this highly-advertised manner.

My really nice suit would be ever-so-rumpled from the time I spent on the floor laughing at these people. Then I would remember taxpayers are footing the bill for all these billable hours and my head would explode, fully ruining a really nice suit.

Better to stay out of it, laugh from afar and try not to think about how much money this is costing, and that I can't get a lousy $1,000 for a mounted computer projector in my classroom simply because some kid missed almost a month of school his Senior year and couldn't pass English and then got all whiny about it and got his parents, who happened to be "just as important as everybody else, only a little more important", and they pitched a fit and talked some formerly no-name bureaucrats into changing the whiny kid's grades and then the grades got changed and all Hell broke loose and everybody either appeared on television and/or paid a bunch of lawyers to cry crocodile tears about "privacy" and "open hearings", and next thing you know Lindsay Lohan is driving Teresa Cordova to District Court in the new Lamborghini she got for graduating from Rehab H.S..

Okay, the head is dangerously close to exploding. Time to put the shields up. Make it so, Number One. Please (Insert Deity Here) make it so.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monty Python's Life of Al Gore

Not only would this ticket win in 2008 by a landslide, it would guarantee the WH would be under progressive leadership for 16 years. --"Scubaval", Daily Kos, October 23, 2007

The quote above is from a Daily Kos post entitled "What Redstate wants to keep under wraps: Gore/Obama WILL Win". The post is just one of the many post-Nobel "Draft Gore" screeds around the 'Net. This particular post includes advice like:

This isn't going to happen just because we wish it so. NOW is the time to put our boots on the ground. Online polls and petitions, diaries expressing our undying (or at least smoldering) love for Al Gore, and commenting on each other's brilliance in bringing more news are terrific tools, but there's more to be done.

Then the author goes on to list ideas on how to talk-up how great Al Gore is, get him on the ballot in various states and write articles for the local paper about the experience of having love for Al Gore.

Nothing makes for a good cult like an invisible leader.

I'm generally fond of the politics of Mr. Al Gore. I'd vote for Al Gore before I'd vote for a lot of people, Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson for instance. But I have some problems with the whole "Draft Al Gore" Cult. Namely:

  1. Al Gore doesn't want to run for President, by all accounts save those of the Al Gore Cult.
  2. Membership of the Al Gore Cult seems to be made up of the same exact people who were formally in the "Impeaching Bush Is An Inevitability Cult", which broke up sometime last week.
  3. Al Gore Cult members seem to share an incredible simultaneous combination of myopic positivism and zero political awareness.
  4. I'm not much for cults, invisible leader or otherwise.
  5. It's always bothered me that Al Gore has become the Official Voice of "Global Warming" spokesperson. I don't know how much of that is Al Gore's fault and how much of it is the fault of the Al Gore Cult. Maybe the members of the Nobel Committee are member of the Al Gore Cult, or maybe it's just that movie. You know the one. Anyway, Global Warming is, in my view, one of the biggest obstacles facing us. Yet I wonder if sticking the face of Al Gore as Spokesperson for the issue really helps any more than having Jerry Lewis lead the fight against Muscular Dystrophy.

As most things remind me of movies, I picture Al Gore standing naked at a window, overlooking a vast horde of grinning, worshiping supplicants-in-waiting, just like Brian in "Life of Brian". I think I remember Brian in the movie closing the window in aghast horror and embarrassment. Not that that stopped the horde, if I recall correctly.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Some Educational Days Are Worse Than Others

It's been a rough few days in the K-12 community:
The stories are very different, but in both cases chilling. From what I hear, Highland H.S. has been understandably left in a numbed haze by the killing of Vigil. I wonder how the added "throwing golf balls" element will play into the confusion, hurt and grief over the matter in coming days.

I know it's self-centered to think from this angle, but teaching at Highland has got to be very, very difficult in coming weeks, if not longer. It's going to be tough for everybody in that community, and it reminds us that schools, especially high schools, are very much communities.

And speaking of the educator angle, what can you say about the teacher sexual misconduct story? The AP report(s) the last few days are reminiscent of the first organized wave of pedophile priest stories a decade or so ago. There have always been individual outrageous stories about teacher misconduct (recent APS substitute teacher stories, e.g.), but the AP synthesizes all the outrageousness into a package that will probably lead to actions similar to those regarding priests, with the difference being the bureaucracy involved.

One wonders how governments will handle needed changes to teacher screening, policing and enforcement relative to the actions of the Catholic Church in this regard. One also wonders how governments around the country will mishandle, politicize and fragment over this issue in coming months. K-12 education unfortunately combines three elements almost certain to result in mishandling, politicization and fragmentation: kids, sex, and "states' rights". Doubtlessly, this will end ugly.

And yeah, it's a little tough to go to a teaching job you love when all you've got on your mind is some dead kid and sex predators. Thankfully, the kids will arrive, the bell will ring, the lessons will start and the beautiful dynamic of teaching will push these sad thoughts back, at least for a short while.

Meanwhile, at Highland H.S. sad thoughts will be the lesson. Hang in there guys. I know it doesn't help much, but we're thinking of you.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Blogging Postponed On Account of Paper Mountain Climbing

Still working through a mountain of student papers, finally trimmed down to Appalachian size from previous Himalayan heights. Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit. Whining might be a better word.

Anyway, the only thing I really want to talk/write about anyway is Patsy Madrid, and the sentiments of those on DemocracyforNewMexico are far more diverse, bizarre, diverse, interesting and bizarre that anything you'd see here. Maybe I'll get a chance to make some Rahm Emanuel/John Wertheim analogies in the near future, but I've still got a small mountain of wacky student-created analogies to wade through first.

Have a good Friday everybody.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Watching the City Council Animal Circus Through Windows 386 Eyes

Burque Babble is in a limited "safe mode" until its humble blogmeister gets out from consecutive days of 7:30 A.M. meetings and the editing of 45 six-page student research papers. While in "safe mode", resolution is trimmed to 16 colors, sound and video drivers are disabled and your humble blogmeister's eyes are even redder than their normal crimson condition from allergies. Onboard RAM is also shut down, so don't expect anything profound, grammatically correct or remotely coherent during this "safe mode" period. Technicians are working hard to prevent a "blue screen of death" this early morning via a constant flow of French Roast coffee.

In other words, the disclaimer above will be longer than today's post. If I had more time/active brain cells I'd pontificate further on lack of media coverage at the James Quinn memorial ride (and the ride itself), but that's gonna have to wait.

Instead I'll just mention that I did happen across a smidgen of the City Council meeting Monday, enough to hear Lee Diclemente from the animal rescue group Watermelon Mountain Ranch basically call Councilor Sally Mayer a mass animal murderer. And I got to hear the squawkingly discomforting un-dulcet tones of Councilor Mayer as she said things like:
"No one in this city has worked harder than I have for animals."
The Journal has the story here. The exchange reminded me of SO many K-12 education discussion/debates/arguments, with the word "kids" replaced by "animals". These discussions/debates/arguments always go something like this:

Participant #1: I am thinking about the kids (animals), and you are heartlessly destroying them.
Participant #2: No, I am thinking about the kids (animals), and you are selfishly depriving them of a future.
Participant #1: You are as evil as (insert one of the following: Hitler, Idi Amin, John Wayne Gacy, George Steinbrenner) and will go down as the most evil person in the history of kids (animals).
Participant #2: No, you shut up.
Indignant Voice From Gallery: Won't someone think about the kids (animals)!

Then I fell into a "safe mode" slumber as the animal-centered mudslinging continued. I notice from the Journal story that Councilors Ike Benton and Martin Heinrich eventually voted with the minority against freezing CABQ Animal Welfare funds, unlike Councilors Mayer (naturally) and Debbie O'Malley.

I kinda wished I'd stay up long enough to hear from Benton & Heinrich on the issue. Perhaps their analysis went beyond the "you're a killer, no you're a killer" dialogue described above. Both gentleman can usually be counted on to edify things a bit, imho.

I'd also like to get a count on the number of hours the Albuquerque City Council has spent in session discussing animals over the past twelve months. Peace treaties have been finalized in less "discussion" time is my guess. Canals have been built through entire Central American countries in less time. Again, I'm just guessing, and I'm in "safe mode". I could be wrong.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Priest, A Rabbi and A Dead Cyclist Walk Into A Newsroom...

We've definitely hit a blogging lull now that the City Election is over, Domenici announced his retirement, 70-eleven politicians finished announcing new offices they were seeking and the mendaciously entitled "Balloon Fiesta" has finally ended. This lull makes stories like today's Journal article, "Halloween Costumes Spark Protest", an important reminder that important things are still importantly happening in our vitally important community. Important things like the selling of pregnant nun costumes. Or as a Ms. Valerie Lubitz explains:
Lubitz said she didn't like the way the "Catholic identity" was being portrayed.

"Why isn't there a rabbi, or a Muslim or a Protestant minister portrayed like that?" she said. "Nobody has any faith anymore.

"But if I had been busy doing the things I should've been doing the past several years— praying more and being a good witness— it wouldn't have come to this. There wouldn't be costumes like that."

Lubitz planned to go back to the Montgomery store over the weekend to demand again that the costumes be removed. And she intended to picket at the intersection of San Mateo and Montgomery.

For his part, Scott said he would happily sell a rabbi costume with an inflatable crotch if one were available.

The Scott in question is not me, but another offensive person named Scott whose store is being picketed by Ms. Lubitz until he starts selling inflatable crotch rabbi costumes, or something like that.

Yes, there was other news over the weekend, and some of it made the Albuquerque Journal, but I'm looking for a report about the James Quinn memorial ride this past Saturday and seeing, uh, nothing. As I mentioned last Friday, our seemingly soon-to-be-one newspaper town newspaper did a promo for the event, but I only saw one reporter at the ceremony this past Saturday among the 200 plus cyclists who rode up the canyon to the crash site. And I guess that reporter wasn't from the Journal.

No TV crews. Just a bunch of bicycle riders and a sizable Bernco Sheriff contingent escorting us up and down. Guess all the TV folks were at the mendaciously entitled Balloon Fiesta. I'm not one to usually complain about the lack of press coverage, but the ride kinda seemed like a big deal. I guess if the Tribune doesn't post anything about it this afternoon I'll feel compelled to offer up a few ill-chosen words about it tonight.

In happier news, I'd like to close by adding to the 70-eleven politicians by announcing I am beating Geraldine Amato to the punch, and running for Bernalillo County Sheriff, especially if I get to drive those totally souped up Sheriff Office cars that were escorting us up and down the canyon Saturday. Those babies were going 10-75m.p.h. in about two seconds, and basically sounded like they had jet airplane engines in them. Gotta be fun to drive like that, but it wasn't quite as much fun to be the cyclists inhaling the exhaust of those super-revved engines.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Other Voices, Other Sounds (Puget)

Enough droning on this week. I tend to not link other stuff terribly often, assuming that the fine readers out there have probably already checked out many, many things before heading over to the wasteland known as Burque Babble. But here's a few tidbits of possible interest:

  • Tomorrow is the memorial ride for James Quinn. I'm making my black armband later today. The Journal has the press release and a few quotes.
  • If you don't know who Michelle Lujan Grisham is (and the membership of the "I Don't Know Who Michelle Lujan Grisham Is Club" must be fairly large) DemocracyforNewMexico has a good write-up. It includes names like John Wertheim (insert shuddering sound here).
  • As you doubtlessly know, Duke City Fix has a "Flying Star" post with (at blog posting time) 72 comments. 72. And now it has me mentioning the post and the comments. "Flying Star" is the ultimate viral Internet reference in Albuquerque. All we need now is a YouTube mentioning the place.
  • This is a link to Doug Turner's "About" page at his PR firm "dwturner". I'm a teacher (not a dress-up job), but I wonder how many business people in ABQ wear ties as large and loud as Mr. Turner dons in his photo. I know this look is popular now in more trendy areas, but I thought our local law enforcement officials had been successful in preventing its spread here. I could be wrong.
  • Of course Turner and his partner are trying to buy the Albuquerque Tribune. I noticed a few folks have gotten the idea that because I write a little something for the Trib every other week or so I might have some knowledge about the paper, and its future. I apologize to those I've openly laughed at in response to their questions along these lines. I know almost as little as is humanly possible about the Trib. The logo is blue and I think it still costs 50 cents....okay that sums up my knowledge. Anyway, I do find the possible sale interesting, and I also ran across this outfit up in Seattle trying to save its second newspaper (also part of a "JOA") called "Committee For A Two-Newspaper Town".
  • Man, those are some industrious folks up in Seattle. And now the NYTimes tells us Seattle is expanding its recycling program to include table scraps. I used to live there, but almost 15 years in ABQ has me reading stories about Seattle's recycling program and wondering if the Emerald City is in the same country as Albuquerque. Or the same planet.
Meanwhile, I got some breakfast table scraps to throw in the trash, a job to get to, and an armband to make. Have a good weekend, everybody. Maybe I'll see you on the memorial ride Saturday.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Proposal To Raise Standardized Test Scores

Here's what we do: Pay some students $500 to "pass" their standardized tests.

I'm not joking this time. I haven't been joking about this particular point for years now. Today I spent some time going over standardized test scores (the ones that end up in the newspaper) for individual students at my school. I paid particular attention to students who scored within a few points of passing or "proficient". I also looked at students who scored just above the cut-off for proficiency.

The number of those right around the magical proficiency line was substantial. Enough that if every one of those just below the line crept a tad bit higher our school might have "made AYP" (Adequate Yearly Progress) in every area, instead of not having our "Students with Disabilities" make it.

And that got me thinking about the $500.

"No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) is extremely political, contentious and I think I remember calling it "stupid" on at least five occasions here at Babble. Probably closer to ten times. But for purposes here today I'm disregarding all the NCLB mess, from the President whose Administration hatched it, all the way to the newspapers who, I feel, superficially cover test results. We're just gonna forgot all that this time around.

Instead, I want to think about the kids. Kids have no real buy-in for these standardized tests. Speaking honestly, in past years many kids and their parents haven't even been told their test scores. It is as if schools/teachers were ashamed of the testing, and just preferred the whole thing go away. I know some still feel that way, hoping a new President will wash away these assessment sins and end what they see as a pernicious chapter in American education.

Despite this ostrich/sand approach to the actual individuals numbers, everybody BUT the kids is incredibly bought in because of the notoriety the tests have. Schools districts, principals, teachers, parents, newspapers, etc. care a great deal. Just today I watched our principal explain to folks on the school Parent Teacher Organization board just why my school "didn't make AYP". It was painful to watch.

Meanwhile, kids just take the damn tests. Most of them hate the testing, a few like it because it gets them out of regular classes for weeks on end, includes orange juice breaks, half-days and all other sorts of lame-ass attempts to "maximize scores". Almost every kid I see tries to some extent, but the grinding multiplicity of testing subjects and drudgery takes a toll on even the biggest test-lovers.

Then the scores come back months later, 5th graders have moved on to middle school, 8th graders to high school, a few people see the test scores, everybody reads the newspaper about who did and didn't make AYP, and we just try not to think about it until March of the next school year.

So let's change it. Let's pay some students $500 to pass the test.

Yes, I know there are arguments against paying students to pass this test. Kicking aside the more, for lack of a better term, "anti-American" arguments, such as "the kids should want to pass without us paying the money", let's first understand that the number of teachers and school administrators who would continue to work if they stopped getting paid is right at zero. Okay, it's exactly zero. So let's just kick anti-remunerative arguments aside and move on.

Many would argue that paying students would invalidate the tests, especially if some schools paid and others didn't. This argument overlooks the fact that students are fighting to become "proficient" on these tests, not competing with each other.

Yes, I know it's more complicated than that, but just taking "proficient" at face value, what the hell is wrong with paying kids to help them become "proficient"? "Proficient" is good. Getting students to proficient, regardless of one's thoughts about NCLB, is good.

So let's take those students who last year scored just below "proficiency" and offer them $500 a kid to pass in all subject areas. To be safer, let's make the same offer to those who scored just above the magic number. Of course: no cheating, no kickbacks to teachers, no principal "consulting" fees. No bully "lunch money-style" extortion allowed.

I dare anybody to tell me scores wouldn't go up.

Other impacts: these students would PAY more attention in class, Homework Club would be standing-room only everyday, testing days would go from near-coma drudgery to sports playoff intensity. Referees and instant-replay might have to be introduced to deal with questionable calls.

These are good problems to have. The only real downsides would be funding, and what to do with the kids not being offered $500. I won't get too particular on the overall funding question, but can tell you that every school invests many thousands of dollars in trying to pass these tests. Many thousands. A bit of personnel reassignment here and there, and we'd have plenty of money available for such a plan.

As for the kids not being offered money, that's trickier. We might have to extend the program to every kid in school. That's a bummer because I was really into the idea of 500 DOLLARS as a figure impressive enough to make just about any student learn how to spot Sri Lanka on a map. We wouldn't have enough money to go around at $500 per kid.

Okay, Plan B: Offer every kid in school $200 to pass the standardized tests.

Heck, let's have a fundraiser, and make it $250. Anybody wanna subscribe to some magazines?

P.S.: I eagerly await somebody to go to the trouble of compiling all the wacky, crazy and semi-legal things schools/districts around the country are doing in order to make AYP scores. Trust me, many of these antics are far more elaborate, expensive and morally reprehensible than simply giving kids money. There's a book out there that desperately needs to be written and read. Maybe it will be available by the time of the new Administration, and we can read about the sordid recent past as NCLB is finally swept into the dustbin of educational history.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What I Want For Election '08

Epilogue as Prologue: Obviously Bernco Sheriff Darren White read today's Burque Babble post and decided to fill the giant sucking vacuum of NM-1 candidates by announcing he would run for that office as a Republican. Evidently he thought the Libertarian Party nomination was either too easy to get or unlikely to result in a win. As someone who has personally toyed at times with thoughts of Libertarianism, I kinda wish Sheriff White would just let his "Don't Tread On Me" freak flag fly, advocate abolition of the legislative and judicial branches of government and buy AK-47s and land mines for every land-owning NM-1 voter. Truth in advertising, I say.

Epilogue II: Somebody pointed out in the comments that Gubernatorial succession goes Gov., Lt. Gov., Secretary of State, and that such a succession pattern could lead to "Governor Mary Herrera". Thanks reader, that is both the funniest and scariest thing I've read all year. And no, I'm not joking. Okay, on with the post already....

Giddy with the ephemeral power of having all four Major League Baseball Divisional Series finish to my liking (a first in my memory), I feel like a Las Vegas gambler in the middle of an incredible run of good cards. Of course that means I'm headed for the inevitable crash and a sullen trip to the buffet, but before that happens I want to flex my ersatz command over future events and outline exactly, what I, Master of Destiny, want to happen regarding the slew of New Mexico politicians untethered from existing office-seeking moorings in the wake of the Domenici retirement.

Bill Richardson: Unlike others who want Richardson to give up his Quixotic run at the Presidential windmill and run instead for U.S. Senate, I have tired a bit too much of "Big Bill" to want that. In fact, seeing him on C-SPAN yesterday reminded me of exactly how tired I am of "Big Bill" (man can that guy yell in a most unpleasing manner). Hence, I want Bill to stay as far away from New Mexico as possible as he stabs at that windmill all the way to the Democratic Convention, receives 10-15 delegates out of a total of 45,000, and eventually serves as Secretary of Something in the upcoming Hilbamawards Administration. As for the actual Democratic nominee, I don't want to think about that until at least March.

Diane Denish: I want our current Lt. Governor to see the hideous Marty Chavez blood scrawl writing on the Senatorial wall, give up the Governor '10 idea and run against Chavez for Senate. Last night I was thinking I wanted Tom Udall to change his mind, but awoke feeling Denish is the best chance to embarrass Chavez in the primary, and be the absolute anti-Patsy Madrid in the general v. Heather Wilson. This brings up three other names: Madrid, Wilson, Chavez.

Patsy Madrid: You've got to be kidding. I want her as far away from a ballot in '08 as humanly possible. I don't want her to even be a polling official. I want a rule that anyone uttering her name has their right to vote taken away.

Heather Wilson: I want Wilson to beat out Steve Pearce in the Republican Primary for Senate because Texas already has two senators, and doesn't need a third. Plus, unlike Madrid, I want Heather on the ballot in November. It just wouldn't seem like November without seeing that name and voting in knee-jerk reaction for her opponent.

Marty Chavez: Because of the knee-jerk reaction noted above. Having a choice between Chavez and Wilson isn't a knee-jerk, it's a stomach churn. It's a painful conundrum. It's probably a vote for Wilson. Really. There, I said it. I'd vote for Heather Wilson over Marty Chavez. I'm not kidding. Hey Diane Denish! Did you see that? Some bozo, pipsqueak blogger said he'd take Wilson over Chavez for Senate! You just gotta change your mind, now! Besides, the pipsqueak just picked all four winners in the baseball playoffs!

Martin Heinrich: I want Heinrich to realize he has ABSOLUTELY NO ONE TO RUN AGAINST HIM for U.S. NM-1 and be a good sport. He should call up Patsy Madrid, Richard Romero, John Kelly and Phil Maloof and host a "Heather Wilson Graveyard Reunion Tour" primary and television special, with Maloof featured in a "Behind the Music" update talking about Las Vegas showgirls and mountains of illicit substances. Patsy Madrid should drop off the show because of the recently imposed rule that saying her name is cause to have one's voting rights taken away. Then, after winning the "Reunion Tour" primary, Heinrich can take on NM Sen. Joe Carraro, who the Republicans pick after John Dendahl reminds them he is still living in Colorado. I'm not sure Carraro lives in NM-1, but Rio Rancho is close enough and besides, Carraro would be a gold mine of ridiculous statements. He might even make people forget all about Patsy Madrid's performance in a televised debate...nah, that's asking too much.

So, to sum up, your humble, yet all-powerful blogging Master of Destiny, wants the following for '08:

President: Hilbamawards
Secretary of Something: Bill Richardson
U.S. Senate: Diane Denish v. Heather Wilson (Denish wins)
NM-1: Heinrich v. Carraro (Heinrich wins)

Quick notes on the farther future: Marty Chavez, loser in the Senatorial primary, becomes increasingly unstable as his City Council effectively blocks any of his proposals. He runs for Governor in '10 and loses out to Don Wiviott, who we forgot to mention earlier but drops out of the '08 Senate race when Denish changes her mind. Wiviott beats Gary Johnson in the Governor's race, after Johnson is found to still be the only statewide Republican any New Mexican can remember the name of.

Oh, and just to connect some more dots, Gary King is appointed to fill out Secretary of Something Bill Richardson's term as Governor, but leaves in late '09 to serve as U.S. Attorney after Hilbamawards fires all the U.S. Attorneys hired by Alberto Gonzalez. For a short time, given that every single politician in the state is off doing something else, your humble blogging Master of Destiny serves as Governor. My only action while in office will be to make driving while on a cell phone a capital offense.

Man, predicting the future in a post-Domenici political environment is tougher than picking baseball playoff winners. Far tougher. Meanwhile, let's all wave and get Diane Denish's attention. Hey Diane, over here! Marty Chavez said you had an "easy job" or something, and now he's running for Senate! Get him, Diane, get him!

Monday, October 08, 2007

&%$#@#$% Day, Albuquerque: The Holiday That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The Albuquerque Public Schools calendar calls it "Fall Break". A one-day "Fall Break". Nothing about &%$#@#$%.

In looking through the ABQ Journal this morning I find absolutely no mention of &%$#@#$% Day. I only read the thing online, and I'm still looking, but not even a tidbit about whether the mail gets delivered today or not (it doesn't, right?).

The only online local TV mention (and aren't the local TV station websites, uh, awful?) I could find is a report on protests at the Denver &%$#@#$% Day parade.

Yes, &%$#@#$% Day is about as low on the holiday ladder as you can get. Yes, our not-so-good buddy &%$#@#$% might have been a "a slave trader who touched off centuries of genocide and oppression against native peoples" (as noted in the Denver protest story). And yes, having a federal holiday for a slave trading, native people oppressor who didn't really "discover" "America" any more than I "discovered" the Little America Truck Stop in Wyoming a few years ago is a really dumb idea.

And I'm very open to suggestions on who to honor with this day instead of %$#@#$%. How about "Chief Sealth Day"? Or just calling it "Native Peoples' Day"? I'll let all the more pointedly political sort that out.

I'm good just as long as nobody messes with the idea of GETTING RID of this holiday altogether. The more politically pointed can call it "Fred Thompson Day" as far as I'm concerned, just don't be taking my Albuquerque Public Schools holiday away. Nobody touches my day off, and nobody gets hurt or gets "a bucket filled with fake blood and dismembered baby dolls onto the street".

That Denver protest story is a really fun read. Makes you wish we could have a protest like that in ABQ for %$#@#$% Day, instead of simply a complete news moratorium.

Or a diversionary Balloon Fiesta. Because that's what we've done to %$#@#$% Day here, transformed it into "Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Presented by Wells Fargo (trademark/copyright) Day". I don't know my Balloon Fiesta history, an area of research I am very, very unlikely to ever engage in, and wonder if maybe that wasn't the idea all along.

If so, if launching a bunch of balloons to take Burqueans minds off of %$#@#$% was/is a coordinated effort, I have to take my imaginary hat off to whoever came up with the idea.

P.S.: In a macabre corollary, maybe the occasional Balloon Fiesta power outage, death and drama just helps to distract us from %$#@#$% even more. That's going a bit too far, if you ask me, but I've never really understood Pamplona's "Running of the Bulls", either.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Test Scores, Domenici, Balloons and Cubs: A Thorough Non-Report

In what is sure to be a successful attempt to drive down Burque Babble readership, I want to switch gears from Domenici retires and Marty is evil and all that, and instead make my annual rant about the newly released disaggregated public school standardized test data.

But that data hasn't been publicly released yet. At least I can't find it on the NM Public Education Department site. Ranting unfortunately delayed. Your disappointment must be crushing.

Speaking of crushed, the staff at my school was treated yesterday morning to a "debrief" about the test numbers for our place. I'll hold off on specifics (and some of them are pretty funny) until I have some links for y'all to look at, but can report that the mood of teacher's listening to the presentation was a mix of "mob storming Frankenstein's castle" and "refugees boarding helicopters to escape their homeland". Bitter resignation amid stridently expressed polemics. The meeting just could not end fast enough.

While we sit around waiting for statewide specifics we could chew the fat about Domenici, Wilson, Marty, some guy named Wiviott (the spelling of whose name I am still quite unsure of), no-Udall and all that, but you can find that just about anywhere in Blogland these days, and done much more authoritatively/insightfully (heck, I can't even get a Don Harris recall vote right...although I did nail the big-ass "NO" on raising City Councilor's pay).

Instead I'll just meekly close for now with a link to this year's version of the "I Don't Heart The Balloon Fiesta" post (the 3rd Annual), this time via the Albuquerque Tribune. I have already been asked by a few fellow Trib-reading teachers at work "how can you not like the Balloon Fiesta?" in a strident, outraged voice normally reserved for test score "debrief" sessions or students missing their homework. Teachers...a whiny lot, ain't they?

Sort of reminds me of Chicago Cubs fans....enjoy the Balloons (if that's your idea of fun) and the weekend, everybody.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Domenici Retires, An Unwelcome Thought Arises

Was anybody else awakened in the dead of night by the nightmarish thought of having to choose between Martin Chavez and Heather Wilson for U.S. Senate in '08?

Creepy. Unlike about 99% of what I say here, I'm not lying when I say the above scenario ruined about an hour of sleep last night. I've always defaulted to an "Anybody But Heather" position in the past, but is Marty Chavez a "body"? Or something not quite...human?

Horror movie and "Blade Runner" images reeled through my 2:15 A.M. brain. I was only consoled after significant tossing and turning by the remembrance that Chavez couldn't even manage a City Council reshuffle with 10% turnout in his own city. Full sleep arrived around the time I remembered reading about how many NM legislators despise Chavez for his machinations during sessions. No way Marty can win a state-wide Democratic primary. No way! No way I tell you!!! Back, Demon of Hell, back!!!

Still, it was an unnecessarily fitful slumber.

Sorry to hear the medical news about "ol Pete. In addition to wishing the Senator well (as well as can be hoped given the diagnosis), I also hope Election '08 doesn't play out as one of those liberal "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it" scenarios. Many lefty types have dreamed of the day when 'ol Pete would step down, but the Hitchcockian terror of Marty v. Heather could add new political meaning to the term "pyrrhic victory". And lead to a lot of sleepless, and/or nightmare-filled nights.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Emperor Marty's New Clothes, Same As The Old Clothes

Mayor Marty Chavez must not like suit jackets, because he sure as heck doesn't have any Coattails.

P.S.: As noted below in comments, the original version of the "joke" was "MC must only wear vests,..."

I'm torn between the two versions. Maybe I should put up a poll to decide, or better yet, ask readers to come up with their own Marty jibe. Extra points if submissions can somehow insert a congratulatory reference to Don Harris.

P.P.S.: Joanie Griffin joke cocktail: Combine the terms "Joanie Griffin Campaign: 2007", "old Las Vegas Casino" and "implosion". Shake vigorously. Pour through obscenity strainer and serve below.

Monday, October 01, 2007

City Council Election, 2007: Rockin' Eve Prognostications

Given the overwhelming verbosity of Burque Babble in recent days, I feel the need to solemnly promise this prognostication post will be short. Under 2,000 words: I promise. So let's get to it.

City Council Election, 2007 was initially marketed to the 8 or 9 percent of registered ABQ voters who would actually show to the polls up as "Referendum on Marty". Then two things happened: 1. The Marty Slate of Katherine Martinez, Paulette de'Pascal, Joanie Griffin and Anybody but Don Harris didn't prove quite as formidable as the Mayor and his tentacular feudal minions would have hoped; 2. The humor of the campaign gaffes overtook the meaning behind the "Marty Slate" idea, and many Albuquerque citizens started to wonder about running for City Council themselves, owing to the fact that: A. Plenty of people with fake advanced academic degrees, shoplifting misdemeanors and the combined personality of Joanie Griffin were already running, and B: The off-chance that City Councilor pay might go up to $29K/yr., making the job almost worth the aggravation, agony and anger caused by being forced to listen occasionally to Geraldine Amato and Mayor Marty.

As of tomorrow evening City Council Election, 2007 unfortunately ends, unless there's a run-off in District 6. And with that lousy bit of foreshadowing, let's get right to the ill-informed, Almeda University-educated, seat-of-the-pants guesses:

District 2: Katherine Martinez v. Debbie O'Malley: This race isn't as much a referendum on how many like Marty as it is a survey on how many folks O'Malley has pissed off enough to show up at the polls. Like any person with strong leadership skills, O'Malley has created enemies, but not enough in District 2 to keep her from winning. Who's Katherine Martinez, again? Exactly.

District 4: Brad Winter v. Paulette de'Pascal (Almeda University, Class of last Tuesday): Working at APS "Central Office" Brad Winter has obviously experienced enough horror in his professional life to deserve the good karma of having Paulette de'Pascal as an opponent for this race. That tells you how bad things are at APS "Central Office". Perhaps the "life experience" of losing this race will entitle de'Pascal to a Ph.D. degree from Almeda University as a "Doctor in Advanced Political Humiliation".

District 6: Garduno v. Griffin v. Kaufman v. Wilson: The Featured Attraction. The Main Event. Kaufman and Wilson really seem like nice guys, but some wonder if being nice means being last here. Or at least 3rd. I'm written way too much about Griffin, and not nearly enough about Garduno, who also seems like a very nice man, but who made a mistake 19 years ago. The question is whether that shoplifting charge really matters, given that Griffin makes the mistake of running a campaign ethically based on the moral philosophy of Richard Daley-meets-Karl Rove everyday. In some Districts around town I really believe strong-arm stuff like push-polls would help as much as it hurts. But in District 6 it pisses enough rabid liberals off to go to the polls and put Garduno out front.

The question is, will Garduno get 40% and avoid a run-off? I don't think so. For one thing, even with decent turn out (for a City Council Election) Kevin Wilson and Blair Kaufman could just receive votes from close family members and get almost 12% of the vote. I'm completely prepared to be wrong here (trust me, I'm used to it), but I'm throwing out:

Garduno: 38%
Griffin: 32%
Wilson: 18%
Kaufman: 9%
Ghost of Martin Heinrich: 3%

Probably as much on the wishful hope that City Council Election, 2007 goes into overtime. My Plan B, cover my butt, follow-up guess is that if anyone gets >40% it's Garduno. Sorry, still don't know how to make a tilde on this stupid Blogger word processor (somebody help me here!).

District 8: Somebody named Trudy v. Nobody: Welcome to City Council someone named Trudy. Nice job on the "Democracy In Action" angle, District 8 people.

District 9 Recall: Don Harris v. Anybody But Don Harris: I taught enough novels as a Literature teacher to know that a man can't run away from himself. That goes for Willie Stark, Holden Caulfield and Don Harris, if Mr. Harris was a fictional character and not a saxophone-playing eccentric pseudo-politician seemingly plagued by organizational problems (not unlike many saxophone players I've known over the years) and dogged by some old guys who either want speed bumps in Four Hills or don't want speed bumps (I don't remember).

If turnout in District 9 was on a par with that in Scandanavian countries and Soviet elections during the Stalin period, I think Harris would survive. Given that turnout will be roughly the same as at a middle school debate tournament, I think Harris is in trouble.

Bottom Line: Mayor Marty's Best Player turns out to be "Anybody But Don Harris". The anti-Mayor coalition loses an eccentric participant, the Mayor's picks some drone for District 9, a run-off occurs between Garduno and Griffin. The "Circle of Political Life" continues, cue the theme music....

Down Ballot Grab-Bag:

Proposition 4, Councilor Pay Raise: FAILS. You don't think I'm going against hundreds of years of recorded political history here, do ya? Ballot attempts to give legislators pay raises has a worse overall record than this year's Notre Dame football team.

Everything Else On the Ballot: I'm Tired. And I promised fewer than 2,000 words. And the Rockies "play in" game is 6-6 going to the top of the Ninth. I'm out of here.

Have a rockin' City Council Election, 2007 everybody. We out here in the Bernalillo County ag-burbs will be watching.