Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Burque Babble Is Taking A Summer Hiatus

The Goat would just love to eat the pages from an unpublished novel! Yum!

Yep, Burque Babble is taking the Summer off.

I don't sense any temblors, tsunamis or rifts in the surface of the Earth developing over the above headline/statement. I guess blogs, at least this one, aren't capable of fundamental reconfiguration of much of anything, when it comes down to it.

That's not to say blogs aren't good and wonderful and a keen way to spend some time reading/writing. It's just that I'd like to take this Summer trying to write something else.

And yeah that something else is a book. A novel about a charter school and educational system gone haywire. Or maybe about baseball. Or both. Let's keep it flexible.

I'd like to keep things going here at the blog, but I want to throw as much energy into this "book writing" shindig as never know when you might end up on that oft-envisioned "death bed" and have to say to yourself "hey, I forgot to write that terribly unpopular book I'd planned on".

Speaking of planning, I do intend to be back here by August, whining and pontificating about the same crap you've come to expect as faithful readers. School, schools, politics, newspapers, this damn wind, etc. All the same, no offense is taken if you, dear readers, decide to delete your links to this here blog, take me off your RSS list and whatever other Internet burial methods you might employ.

If I don't "see" you again, thanks for having stopped by at least once. Perhaps one or two of you might check in from time to time to see if I've come to my senses early, and finally figured out once and for all that anything with a word count of 1,500 is beyond me.

Or maybe I'll have some fat manuscript under my arm, patches on my frayed suit jacket, unkempt hair and a Magritte pipe held jauntily in my mouth as I eagerly shout "I finished it! I finished it!"

Something like that.

Again, thanks for dropping by, and I hope you might find yourself wandering round this particular Internet Tube again come August. Or so.

Happy Summer trails, everyone.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Wednesday Link: Remembering The Reason For The Political Season

Last night was weird. We all sat around refreshing websites obsessively to find out how much a candidate would lose by. Some of us were rooting to lose only by six points in the same way that European soccer fans root for their team to get fourth place so they can play "in Europe".

And after hours of refreshing (and learning much about counties in PA), we found out nothing had changed and our long national nightmare, 2008 edition, would continue.

Okay, it's not a "nightmare". It's Democracy in Action and that's beautiful, and we still have history-making candidates. And yes I, too, saw that exit poll breakdown where African-Americans voted for Obama at a 92% clip. African-American men were 96%-4%.

Oh well, we'll keep working on that issues over color/gender thing.

Meanwhile, I want to shift the focus from overly long political campaigns to the reason many of us follow things political to begin with: civil disobedience.

Having lived in Seattle/Olympia during the late 80s/early 90s, I still drop-by the Seattle Times just about every day. I find reading it comes about as close to experiencing a parallel anti-'Burque universe as could be thought possible, especially considering the two cities are supposedly in the same country.

Anyway, I read today that a Seattle teacher was suspended for two weeks because he refused to administer Washington's standardized test, the "WASL". I find the story remarkable for several reasons.

One, the fact that teacher Carl Chew thought of the idea of simply refusing to administer the test before I did.

Two, instead of some whack-job rant about unfair oppressors, Chew simply said:
"When you do an act of civil disobedience, you gracefully accept what happens to you."
Three, instead of writing the typical Albuquerque Journal 137-word story about the incident, Times reporter Linda Shaw is allowed word count to get into Chew's philosophy, has quotes from teacher union representatives, includes comments from those on both sides of the issue and gives context for Chew's actions, stating that it is thought that only one other teacher nationwide has implemented the same very cool idea.

And lastly, fourth, the Seattle Public Schools just suspended the teacher for two weeks, didn't overly demonize the guy and had very professional references in the story about "understanding that there are debates over standardized testing...".

Like I said, a parallel anti-'Burque universe. Meanwhile, does anyone want to give me a hand making these "Carl Chew Fan Club" buttons and bumper stickers?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Stories We Just Don't Have Time To Sneeze At

"We're not trying to suppress dissension or criticism," he said. "We're just trying to find out where it's coming from."
-Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn on trying to find out the identity of commenters to blog posts about his company, Albuquerque Journal, 4.22.08

I'd love to opine sophomorically on the above quote, the microscopic thinness of the veil over the threat, and what it all means for blogging, airplane manufacturing and the future of the Free World. But we're far too busy over at our faux farm wrestling colds and harvesting allergies. And feeding the occasional goat between the sneezes.

So stories are getting left behind, stories like:
  • Principal Reshuffle 2007: The One-Year Report. An update of how things are going at those schools that were supposed to be helped by having good principals sent to bad schools. Or was it bad principals to bad schools? Or was it one warm body exchanging offices with another warm body? And were the bodies really all that warm?
  • High School Block Schedules: Joke or Really Cruel Joke? An in-depth analysis of the 137 different types of block schedules put in place at local high schools, and moves by some in the district to streamline all of them into the "bestest" one, and make all schools follow it. In other news, some in APS seek to build a 3000-mile, 50-foot tall "Great Wall of Education" using spitwads.
  • The Dreaded State Visit. See the school cower as "somebody from the State" supposedly visits the campus. See teachers frantically put up "standards and benchmarks" all over the classroom in a failed attempt to dupe the "somebody" into thinking anyone really knows or cares about said "standards and benchmarks". Hear the rumor mill in action as teachers try to surreptitiously tell each other where the "somebody" is ("I think I saw somebody in a suit over by the portables....pass it on.")
But alas, I have to go sneeze and feed a goat. And then sneeze. And then I have to slap "benchmarks and standards" all over the poster of Richard Nixon bowling that hangs in my classroom. Teaching requires such dedication.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Let's Be Trite and At Least Think About Following the Money

Sometimes the story is what's not in the story. Take Andrea Schoellkopf's piece in today's Journal, "Funds For 19 Charters Put On Hold". The non-story is that APS has finally decided to actually require charter schools to have spending plans for capital outlay money (i.e. pork) before the District will release the money.

In keeping with a good non-story, there is no conflict here. Lisa Grover of the National Coalition for Charter Schools says:
"They just want to know how the money is being spent."

Allen Marks, principal at South Valley Academy charter says:

"I think they're (APS officials) trying to be even-handed."

Love certainly abounds now between charters and APS. Heck, even Robert Lucero's obligatory quote doesn't include some bombastic ultimatum or dire overreaction. So where's the story? Why was this non-story even in the paper?

Okay, those are rhetorical questions because you readers are way too smart to have not figured it out even before they were asked. Still, just to make sure we're all on the same page and level of cynicism here:

  1. Exactly why didn't the District require such spending plans before?
  2. What amazing sorts of tomfoolery, smoke, mirrors and educational mumbo-jumbo have charter schools spent capital outlay money on in previous years?
A very quick count shows thirty-six Albuquerque area charter schools (.pdf), with four more opening in Fall 2008. As someone who knows a tiny bit about how charters operate (especially those in their start-up infancy) and a tiny bit about the capital outlay process, I'd bet capital outlay dollars to donuts that there are howlingly funny examples out there of how taxpayer money has been spent at charters. Beyond falling on the floor funny. Falling through the floor, through the crawlspace, and well into the core of the Earth funny. Funny.

Boy I sure would like to read a story listing some of the more outlandish expenditures. That'd be a real story, wouldn't it? And you can just tell it's sitting there like a plump toad slightly beneath the surface of this non-story. I say we poke that toad with a stick.

Speaking of which, I'm as hopeful about The New Mexico Independent as anybody.

Have a good weekend, folks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Wednesday Link on Tuesday Night: Laughing Through Tears

A very, very low-fi Power Point graph from
Professor Robert S. McElvaine at Millsaps College

Okay, we've had enough griping and arguing around here to last at least another 500 blogposts. Boring. Your not quite daily source of not quite news or information is threatening to turn from "Burque Babble" into "Slit Your Wrist, Here's How". Where's the fun in that?

What we need is a topic we can all agree on (or at least 98.2% of us). The New York Times tonight links to a "History News Network" survey in which 107 of 109 people who call themselves Historians consider the presidency of George W. Bush to be a failure.

That's 98.2%. The NYT Editorial Board post is then followed by the usual boatload of reader comments, ranging from the sublime to the highly-medicated. Check it out.

And be sure to check out the HNN link. The low-fi PowerPoint graphs (example at the top) are very, very funny.

Professor McElvaine's little survey goes on to say that 61% of "Historian" respondents thought our current President the "worst ever". Damn that James Buchanan.

As a Babble commenter pointed out a few days back in response to one of my recent maudlin, overwrought gripe-fest: "it would be funny if it wasn't so sad, sad it if wasn't so funny". I get the feeling we'll be saying that about George W. Bush for a long, long time. Even in History Books.

P.S.: I'll admit it crossed my mind that "History News Network" might be some satire-meets-research magazine, like the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) for Historians, or The Onion for stuffy academics. It's still crossing my mind, but it looks like a legit site, legit enough for the NYT (insert media jokes here). By the way, as a long-time lover of AIR, it's great to see the site is completely free now. Check that out, too.

P.P.S.: Okay, I really want you to check out AIR. Here is still my favorite "study" of all time (and not only maudlin, overwrought blogposters think so). And here's a page of AIR classics. Now that's funny stuff, in your humble, formerly overwrought, now laughing half-controllably blogger's opinion. I suggest both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama stop with the Karl Rove crap, and just read this History News Network survey and old AIR articles out loud at all public appearances from now until the Democratic Convention. I strongly suggest this.

A Most Un-Civil War: Liberals and Clinton/Obama

The Clinton/Obama race has claimed at least one victim. Me. One wonders if it hasn't already claimed us all as victims, everybody except those in the immediate McCain family, but I'm referring to the fact that it certainly seems as though a long-time friendship of mine has ended because of this whole Clinton/Obama thing.

Oh sure, there's way more to it than that. There always is. Still, a rather sizable difference in opinion regarding Hillary Clinton (Friend: Hillary good candidate, better than Obama; Me: Hillary worse than not good candidate, Obama much better) started as a debate, then went to argument and finally to thermonuclear verbal warfare. Oh well.

I'm never comfortable getting truly personal in this here blog thing. Griping about my job is one thing, heck everybody does that, but talking about real "feelings" tend to creep me out. Consider me slightly creeped out now.

Nevertheless, I mention the little brouhaha here because I wonder how many incidents of falling-out are occurring around this greatly confused country of ours as the Clinton/Obama battle wearily wages forth.

How many good liberal friends are figuratively strangling each other over this drain-circling shitstorm? And how much of this strangling is based on a frustratingly simple "she a woman, he's a black guy" line of rhetoric?

It seems much longer, but it was only a very few months back we liberals were ecstatic that our choice to topple eight years of surrealistic nightmare would come down to deciding between a person of color and a woman. We would deservedly, given our recent political Hell, get the chance to mark 2008 as the year we helped elect the first ______ President.

Now, exhibiting the best in pre MLK/Billy Jean King sexism/racism, we've reduced ourselves to conversations/arguments better suited to a John Birch rally than a friendly dinner table. Or poker table in some cases.

This little blog thing has always used as its informal "motto" the H.L. Mencken sentiment that one can "never go broke underestimating the taste of the American public".

Instead of racial advancement and sexual equality, liberal political taste right now runs toward the letting of blood and group-immolation.

We're like one of those morally sick "reality shows" on television, conniving and backstabbing each other to supposedly "win", when it's perfectly clear than a continuation of this behavior will leave us "The Biggest Loser".

Friday, April 11, 2008

It's Important To Have a Job That Allows One Time to Think

A lot can go through your mind in four minutes, even if it's four minutes spent staring at a computer screen. Yesterday, I had a chance in the middle of one of my seminar classes to do a lot of thinking. A student had emailed a Power Point presentation to herself and we were pulling it up to show the thing to a class of around 40 kids.

Being the way sophisticated blog reader you are, you know a 1.25 mb or so file ought to take about three seconds or so to finish. Well, this took right at four minutes, as the class became crazier and crazier, some students trying to fill in the time with jokes while others just got nuttier and nuttier in that middle school sort of way.

And the Power Point student and I just stared at that screen, amid the chaos, the little red Firefox download bar barely moving, if at all. And I thought. And thought some more. Here's some of what I had the chance to think:

  • I gotta get another job
  • The speed of the internet is a powerful symbol of everything that is screwed up with APS
  • Maybe I should get a job at a private school, where the internet is screaming fast, the school cafeteria serves two-star Michelin level meals and golden wheat and honey wave and flow throughout the land
  • Maybe I should get a job where kids don't burn down a tree on campus (this happened this week)
  • I feel so embarrassed
  • These kids deserve so much better than an internet that takes four minutes to pull up a 1.25 mb Power Point
  • This better be some kind of killer Power Point, like the greatest Power Point in the awful coffee-stained business meeting of Power Point. Like a Rosetta Stone meets Magna Carta level of Power Point importance.
  • If middle school kid energy could be bottled we could be off fossil fuels in a week
  • Maybe I should get a job in another country (I have this thought about every other day)
  • What country should I get a job in, this time...Norway, why not Norway?
  • Oh, the cost-of-living is really high in Norway
  • But should the "cost-of-living" include the cost of having to sit here for four minutes in an increasing storm of middle school energy? Isn't that cost higher than any "money"?
  • When considering just why APS is so screwed up, you always see stories about our graduation rate, and never stories about teachers/classes waiting four minutes for an Power Point to load while crazy students attempt to tell really unfunny jokes over a PA system.
  • Speaking of graduation rate, isn't it interesting that screwed up APS (and all public schools, really) is trying to do two incompatible things simultaneously: make the curriculum more challenging and raise graduation rates?
  • If that co-teacher looks back at me one more time with that "when will the Power Point come up?" look on their face, it's all over
  • Let's put together a list of U.S. cities that I could possibly talk my wife into moving to, and think about teaching jobs in those cities. Portland, no too cloudy and rainy. Bozeman, no too cold. Boise,.....(ad infinitum)
  • How many APS teachers at this point are ignoring how screwed up the District is because they are basically prisoners to their retirement pensions?
  • Am I already one of those teachers?
  • I'm about three seconds away from picking this computer monitor up and hyper-symbolically throwing it through a window
  • Tonight is "Pride Night" at my school. Maybe the school should show a video of me waiting four minutes for this Power Point to load in a class of 40 students to all the "Pride Night" attendees, while everyone chants our long-forgotten school song over and over and over
  • I know there's a recession coming on, and that I have no qualifications to do a "real" job, but maybe employment outside education would be a good idea
  • Or, of course, there's always writing that novel
  • Maybe I could write most of a novel before this Power Point finishes loading
  • Oh, let's just face it, the whole "novel writing" thing is an attempt to have something I can never have as a means to avoid thinking about making the most of my reality
  • Hey, maybe I should write a novel about a guy whose "novel writing" thing is an attempt to have something he can never have as a means to avoid thinking about making the most of his reality
  • Or maybe a murder mystery
  • Or a guy who has to wait four minutes for a Power Point to load and stumbles upon Nirvana or some other deeply meaningful redemption
  • Is it Summer yet? How many more teaching days are left this school year? How many hours is that? How many minutes? Times sixty...that's....
  • I really have to applaud his Power Point student. She hasn't started crying or screaming at me about what an incompetent place I work at and how unbelievably lame this all is. I'll bet she's thinking that. Let me look at her and see if that sentiment is written all over her face. Yep, it is.
  • Maybe Bosque Prep has an opening next school year....

Now it's Friday, and all that comes with it. Have a good weekend everybody...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Let Me Tell You Sometime About Growing Up In That Blob of Red

Illinois State Representative Monique Davis and her anti-atheist rant of a few days back has elicited reaction around the "Net, and it got me to thinking about a map I saw a while back on one of my favorite websites, the newly Babble-linked "Strangemaps". Above is a small version of a map entitled, "Leading Church Bodies, 2000". Perhaps it's the nature of maps, inherently cool things that they are, but there is just so much that can be thought/said about this one.

My favorite tidbit is that in the very rare "Other" category there is evidently at least one county in "Other" called: "#9 None". And because of the font size of this/these very small #9s I can't find it/them. And I've tried in MS Paint and Irfanview (I admit my palette of graphics program is near-monochromatic). Can you spot a "None" county? Maybe Illinois State Representative Monique Davis needs to know about this "None" county and take appropriate ranting action.

P.S.: The very same fantastic wife who created the travel photoset linked a few days ago (see below) spent several hours last night creating a homemade rendition of that Northern Vietnamese breakfast staple Pho (sorry, accenting missing) last night. Breakfast this morning is truly wonderful thing (isn't any breakfast that allows you to use Sriracha a wonderful thing?). Hmmm...I didn't see any U.S. counties with "Buddhist" as the leading church. Maybe Pho for breakfast could spread that particular gospel.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wacky Charter School Stories: A (weak) Call For Your Submissions

In my life as a public schoolteacher, I've worked at both "regular" public schools and a charter school. Both are places of craziness, but I've always used the analogy that working at a charter school is like all the wackiness of "regular" school combined with an atmosphere in which you'd swear all the staff members are on methamphetamine.

Of course I don't mean this literally, it's just that the energy level, passion and professional self-righteousness in the typical charter is crackling with intensity. The drug here, really, is the conviction that "regular" public schools are so screwed up. That and a true passion for the kids leads people to do some crazy, crazy things. Because they are, in essence, business start-ups, your average charter school employee is exactly like those relatives who start selling Amway (i.e. hard to put up with).

I bring up this topic after reading in the "only paper you will ever need" this morning about upheavals going on at Ralph J. Bunche Academy Charter School here in town. For reasons not exactly clear, the principal was recently put on leave, a new principal was just hired and the school was shut down for two school days last month. As Andrea Schoellkopf puts it this morning:
APS spokesman Rigo Chavez on Monday confirmed that Ralph Bunche students missed two days of school in March when a parent allegedly threatened the staff there.
If Burque Babble was read by more than seven people I'd love to open up the comments (anonymous even) to former/current charter school employees to share their stories. My guess is that a typical array of charter school war stories would shock, humor, infuriate and educate many folks who generally see charters as a good idea, but don't really know much about the day-to-day life at your typical charter school. Heck , let's open it up for you special seven and just see what happens.

I say that as a supporter of charters. I don't teach at one anymore, and most likely never will again, but charters can be powerful progressive instruments of an education far superior to that in your average "regular" public school. At the same time, charters have warts, pimples and all sorts of metaphorical skin conditions that don't get covered/analyzed much in the press and aren't terribly well-known by those who aren't involved in these schools.

Right now the public, Presidential candidates included, are pretty much reduced to saying "charters schools are a good idea". The end. It would be good to get beyond that to some real analysis of what's going on in these places, quantified via statistical analysis (ok, kinda boring) or through some juicy tidbits of high-level anecdotes.

I've got a few tasty bits of edu-gossip on the subject, but am, of course, far too high-quality a person to stoop to unsubstantiated shocking tales of charter school life. That's where you come in, oh seven readers,...anybody?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

And This Is a Picture of Vietnam From the Side of the House

A few folks who drop by here from time to time have asked me "How was Vietnam?". In lieu of didactic prose on the subject, my wife has put together a Picasa album of our recent trip.

Yes, I know this is cheesy and in some ways worse that inviting everyone to my house for a slide presentation and servings of Velveeta on Ritz Crackers. Still, at least, unlike a slideshow "party" you can leave this one whenever you want without fear of committing some sort of social gaffe. I won't mind.

If you want, you can pretend while watching the slide show that I am droning on in a bad lecturer voice things like "Vietnam is a country undergoing incredible social and economic changes that are plunging it headlong into a future of cultural uncertainty". You know, stuff like that.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Burque Babble: Post #500

Both the goat and your humble blogger have gained a few pounds over the years

Occasionally your humble blogger considers doing something far more respectable and writing a novel. Or maybe some sort of historic account of the Wheatland Hop Riot or some such early 20th Century event. At other times, he gives thought to doing the truly respectable thing, shutting down the publishing mega-empire known as Burque Babble altogether. To date, neither form of respectability has been put into practice, and the disreputable virtual fishwrap you, dear reader, infrequently click upon has reached the virtual milestone of its 500th post.

As one who tends to count things with a certain mania, your humble blogger has calculated from time to time (okay, maybe more like from time to time to time to time) the number of total words he has inexpertly scrawled electronically via this blog. Given an inherent inability to edit my attempts at prose, my posts tend to be too long, with the average word count somewhere around 500 most probably.

I also read that the average novel has around 125,000. Quick calculation of 500 posts at 500 words each leaves us with a total of 250,000. Two average novels. As I am a sucker for the David Foster Wallace Infinite Jest, Richard Ford Frank Bascombe trilogy type tome, I'm probably still a little short of a "real" novel in my mind. Regardless, 250,000 is a lot of just about anything.

Having tried to write a novel once or twice or seven times before, I realize that fiction writing is quite different from the projectile vomiting that is blogposting. Given edits and revisions and more edits/revision, my claimed 250,000 blog words probably equals 10,000 or less in "novel word years".

Then there's the whole "quality" thing. No matter. Today, the day of its 500th post, the mega-staff at Burque Babble chooses to disregard questions of what might have been and what it all means. Instead, it will simply note that this is the 500th little electronic blip thrown into a vast ocean of electronic blips over the last three years.

The staff will also make the claim that it is looking forward to reaching future milestones...a 1,000th post, a 10,000th. It will even go so far as to assert it will try to stop calculating in its manic brain the number of total words reaching a, say, post 9,326 would mean in "novel word years".

Lastly, a big thanks to all who have happened across this humble electronic blip over the years, especially those who have taken time to comment, email or come up to me saying "ain't you that Burque Babble guy?" Regardless of your opinions relative to the crippling weakness of my prose and/or ideas, your readership and involvement in this very, very little enterprise continues to be most appreciated.

P.S.: For those who want to see just how many pounds your humble blogger has gained, KNME has made, once again, the mistake of having me on their little "In Focus/The Line" show at 7:00 or so tonight, Friday (with re-airings at obscenely early times no sane person would watch television at during the weekend). Remember, as they say, that television always adds 10 lbs. to a person. A less well-known fact is that being on TV makes one's crazy stupid-looking hair look even crazier and stupid-looking. Trust me.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Norris Meets His Waterloo & Brooks Gets More Super Everyday

I don't know if this was mentioned anywhere here in ABQ, but APS superintendent candidate Dr. Gary Norris just got hired up in Waterloo, Iowa. Norris won't be making as much as new APS boss Winston Brooks (Waterloo is paying him $195,000 a year), but he might be getting the better end of the deal overall. Waterloo is a smaller district than APS at 10,500 kids, and has only four middle schools and two high schools.

Here is a nifty snapshot report on one of those schools, Bunger Middle School. This snapshot and the whole vibe of the Waterloo Schools website is one reason to think maybe they have their act together a bit more up there. Of course looks can be deceiving, but the godawful APS website certainly gives the correct impression of just how screwed up things are here.

New APS super Brooks has directed the hiring of two new associate superintendents (at $115,000 per a year) to help with resurrecting things here, especially in middle schools. The creation of such positions as a "associate superintendent for middle schools" is always widely criticized, especially in a district already as top-heavy as APS. I'll withhold judgment on these hires, but sure would like to know exactly what our many "associate superintendents" do. Maybe it would help if the new "associate superintendent for middle schools" could put together some nifty school snapshots like those in Waterloo, unlike the poorly designed school "report cards" the APS website has now.

Of course one might hope a person getting $115,000 a year could do more than create a decent .pdf . Maybe they could teach a class or two. Or maybe they could help fix the heating/cooling system at my school, Jefferson Middle. Yesterday the 7th grade hall averaged about 92 degrees. Let's put some HVAC experience in the new associate superintendent job description alongside proficiency in Adobe Acrobat. Just an idea.

P.S.: He's in Waterloo now, but over the last few weeks I've gotten some interesting about Dr. Gary Norris. I know being a superintendent is one of those human lightning rod jobs, but the vitriol and condemnation of the guy in these comments/email are fairly intense. One thinks some folks up in Iowa are getting a similar ear and email inbox full of such commentary these days.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Wednesday Links: Marty's New Feudalism

I'm still catching up on things after my trip. For instance, I just learned (gasp!) that Bill Richardson (wow!) just up and backed Obama (yowza!), even after he watched the Super Bowl with Senator Clinton's husband! Oh, the humanity!

They watched the Super Bowl together and then that traitorous, football watching, Doritos eating weirdly bearded guy dumps on his male bonding sofa-mate and his there no loyalty amongst politicians? What can we count on in this world if we cannot count on mafia members politicians to stay loyal to one another?

(insert picture here of Big Bill and Bigger Bill watching football that Scot cannot find because he is lazy and seems to be down this early morning)

But that's old news, even if James Carville might just turn the (shocking!) disloyalty into a career-extending job playing the Claude Rains role in a remake of Casablanca. Carville is truly shocked that disloyalty is going on in the Democratic Party. Methinks he not only protests too much, but would look pretty interesting in a Vichy French officer's hat and silly mustache.

But, again, enough ancient news, because, in more recent shocking news that I also missed, Feudal Prince Marty Chavez has received the self-generated Royal Decree that he can "run" for Mayor in the same way that Julius Caesar ran for Emperor, but with fewer purple robes and more pastel sweaters and ties.

In case you didn't already see it, here's the Feudal Prince Self-Purported-Emperor-For-Life story told:
  • Simply and with sprawl developer comment at fbihop
  • More pointedly (and with excellent use of the word "alcalde") at the sharply pointed EyeOnAlbuquerque
  • Surely told with wit, insight and importance at JoeMonahan (although, being true to my no-Monahan diet, I didn't even read the thing, but did notice the number of ads is nearing 100. You go, political whore Joe!)
  • Love the crown at SWOP
  • And, amid the April Fools' colors of Duke City Fix, "the boy" starts a conversation that still hasn't fulfilled Godwin's Law...yet.
Perhaps a corollary to Godwin can be constructed. Let's call it "Marty's Law" and say that "As an Albuquerque-based internet discussion on Marty Chavez grows longer, the probability of a reference to feudalism and/or other outdated undemocratic political structures and their overly self-important functionaries approaches one. Maybe it even starts at one and goes to two, three and beyond."

Or to misquote Stephen Stills: "If you can't be with the office you love, honey, own the office you're with, own the office you with, own the office you're with, own the office you're with".
Do do do do do do do do, do do do do do do do do
Do do do do do do do do, do do do, do do do

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mentally Digesting Our "Third World" Travel Infrastructure

My wife talks about "airplane tummy", but the far more devastating medical condition of "airplane brain" is a much bigger problem this fine Albuquerque morning. It's morning, right? And Tuesday, isn't it? I'll keep referring to this day/time of day information Sharpied on my palm as a reminder today.

I won't bore you with traveling details, and delays, etc. Actually I was prepared to bore you with those details, but find that typing and verb agreement are two things strongly affected by "airplane brain". So I'll just shorten the whole eloquent prose thing to the following:

Seoul's airport is great, and LAX is just flat-out embarrassing.

I am embarrassed to be a member of a polity in which LAX is allowed to exist. Hanoi's airport is far, far better than LAX, as are most truck-stop bathrooms along I-40.

I know each of us have thought about all the things "America" could be spending money on instead of "our" invasion of Iraq, but maybe somewhere between true health care reform and bridge infrastructure we could sneak a billion or so into a new airport or two. I know I would personally chip in a hundred or so dollars in explosives to use on the "Tom Bradley International Terminal" at LAX.

Oops...I used the term "explosive" when referring to an airport. I'm sure to be on some list now. And yes, "Homeland Security" is a big reason why LAX sucks. Meanwhile, Seoul's airport, located just a few miles from a North Korea which provocatively shot some missiles into the sea nearby recently, is as smooth with "homeland security" as LAX is bumpy. No screaming, condescending TSA agents. No understaffed Customs situation. And, get this, a supply of slippers to wear while you go shoeless through screening. Slippers.

But the story has a happy ending, and I'm sure you can guess what it is. Our little Albuquerque airport (stupid "Sunport" name aside) is a little ray of Incheon International sunshine right here in the dilapidated USA.

Insanely large US flags hang down from the ceiling in the "Customs Border and Protection" bowels of LAX, 25'x40' symbols that bellow: "Yeah we know this airport, US Customs and "Homeland Security" all suck but it's gotta be worth it, right, because we're the U.S.A. and we don't actually have to do anything well or right or competently because we're the U.S. Freaking A. man!"

Well, instead of those flags, LAX should just put huge photos of the Albuquerque airport around its bowels with captions in an ridiculously large font saying:


Then, just as the Hanoi airport has a large clear container to collect donations for orphans and disabled kids, LAX will have a "HELP IMPLODE LAX" donation center to take in all stray money from around the world toward the purpose of demolition.

Hmmm...I'm seeing to be waking up this fine Albuquerque morning, and "airplane brain" has morphed into "airplane ranting brain". It's morning, right?