Sunday, July 5, 2009

KLYAM!

http://klyam.wordpress.com/ check it out now! Our new baby. Write for us!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beyond Two

Until KLYAM is ready....

My political ramblings will go on beyondtwo.blogspot.com

My music stuff will go on soundcentral.wordpress.com

Thanks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Don't Get Abandonment Issues

Since all the other members of the class of 09 seem to be taking their leave, I guess I will too. Granted, the past year I've been more of a lurker and less of a writer, but that doesn't change the fact that there've been some fun times at this site. Still, it's time for us to leave this more student-oriented site to the students. If you want to hear more pointless ramblings, though, stop by KLYAM for some fun stuff.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm Outta Here!

This is my resignation as a Wakefield Etudiant administrator. It's been a long, strange trip, to say the least and I've enjoyed every second of it. All thanks to Ben and Chris for creating it, to Glen for inviting me (though it was late on his part lol), and to all the WE writers that have contributed along the way. Along with Glen and many others, I am pursuing a new, bigger project that is currently in the works and welcome for all to join. By the way, I have already drafted some future posts! Well, in short, it's time to move on. Peace out and Power to the People!

I Graduated From The WE

I graduated from high school last Saturday. I graduated from this site as well. It's a sad departure, but I feel that after many months of random posting, it's in my best interest to stop this great gig as an Etudiant. Though I've personally churned out many respectable pieces this past school year, I feel like my best work is still ahead. But it needs to be organized. At this moment, there is another project in the working. It's not done yet. A really unfinished product will come very soon. My colleagues and I will post under a new label. This website isn't going anywhere, don't worry. I'm opening it up to the other students whose names are displayed on the right side of this page. Some of these students may well be involved in the new project...I don't know for sure. If you've arrived here from some past entry...great! It will always be in the archive. If you like what you see, don't worry...the best is yet to come. That's what I hope anyway. For now, I no longer consider myself an administrator. I'll still post about the new project so that I don't lose any of you readers. Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

"You're A Bum" -- Okay, I Get It

Explaining My CD Review Grades

Introduction

My CD Reviews, if you are familiar with them, typically aren't that structured. I usually assign random grades (from 0.0 to 10.0) to every song, add all the numbers up, and divide by the total number of songs to get a grade, which I round to the tenths place. But how do I come up with my grades? Why are some songs 7.7 and others 8.2? The difference between an 8.3 and a 8.4?

Basis and Weight

1. Rhythm - 20% - How's the beat? Do tempo and speed changes affect the song for better or for worse?
2. Instrumentation - 25 % - Are the guitar solos amazing? Percussion fine? Bass line all right? Etc.
3. Vocals - 20% - If the vocals are annoying, the grade will be significantly lowered.
4. Awesomeness - 35% - Looking at the song holistically...how does it rank? It might have some poor qualities, but overall is it good?
5. Comparison to rest of album - Weight varies - This is a criterion that I try not to weigh too heavily. Usually this decides whether a song is a 9.4 or a 9.5. Does this song have any qualities that make itself stand out more than the 9.4 track?

9.7 to 10.0 - Rarely given out; a truly special track
9.0 to 9.6 - High quality, all aspects
8.0 to 8.9 - Weak in only a couple of aspects maximum
7.0 to 7.9 - Average in practically all aspects
6.0 to 6.9 - Below average quality, most aspects
5.0 to 5.9 - Awful, most aspects
0.1 to 4.9 - Very awful
0.0 - Void of sound

* Important Note (Grading):
I do most of the calculations in my head to come up with a final grade for a particular song. In certain cases, ones where I find that an album can be exemplified holistically by a certain grade, I will not publish individual song grades. A perfect example is 2009's Merriweather Post Pavillion. While not every song is a 10.0 (if I published grades), an album of this magnitude as a whole represents almost a change in the way a certain of type of music is looked at.

* Important Note (Bias): I have a penchant for lo-fi, noisy rock.

Music Recommendations

Garage/Punk

  1. The Great Love Sound by Raveonettes
  2. Everyday Weapon by The Ponys
  3. Wolf Girl by The Groovie Ghoulies
  4. Three Girl Rhumba by Wire
  5. Mary's Sister by The Pattern

Words From Immortal Technique

It's like Cambodia the killing fields uptown
We live in distress and hang the flag upside down
The sound of conservative politicians on television
People in the hood are blind so they tell us to listen
They vote for us to go to war instantly
But none of their kids serving the infantry
The odds are stacked against us like a casino
Think about it, most of the army is black and latino
And if you can't acknowledge the reality of my words
You just another stupid mother fucker out on the curb
Trying to escape from the ghetto with your ignorant ways
But you can't read history at an illiterate stage
And you can't raise a family on minimum wage
Why the fuck you think most of us are locked in a cage
I give niggaz the truth, cause they pride is indigent
You better off rich and guilty than poor and innocent
But I'm sick of feeling impotent watching the world burn
In the era of apocalypse waiting my turn
I'm a Harlem nigga that's concerned with the future
And if your in my way it'd be an honor to shoot ya
Up root ya with the evil that grows in my people
Making them deceitful, cannibalistic and lethal
But I see through the mentality implanted in us
And I educate my fam about who we should trust

- "Harlem Streets"

Sympathy for Leon Czolgosz

On September 14, 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated by a man by the name of Leon Czolgosz. Czolgosz was found guilty and was soon executed by electrocution. For the record, I do NOT endorse Mr. Czolgosz's "propaganda of the deed," however I sympathize for him. Good old Leon murdered a mass murderer (the war with the Philippines created a genocide of over a million killed alone, amongst other bloody conflicts during McKinley's time in office). He was a victim of a cruel and vicious system and was perhaps guided into making the wrong political decision, but nonetheless he should not have received the death penalty and if it were up to me he'd have served no prison time! Anyway, in the following classic article, fellow Anarchist, Emma Goldman says it best and offers her defense for Leon. NOTE: the article was published in her Anarchist paper, "Free Society," while our anti-hero was behind bars waiting to be fried. Support for him was rare and even taboo amongst other Anarchists. To begin with, the man was lonesome and was basically rejected by other Anarchists, so this further isolated him. Anyway, enjoy!

The Tragedy at Buffalo

"For they starve the little frightened child
Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scorge the weak, and flog the fool,
And gibe the old and gray,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

—Oscar Wilde.

Never before in the history of governments has the sound of a pistol shot so startled, terrorized, and horrified the self-satisfied, indifferent, contented, and indolent public, as has the one fired by Leon Czolgosz when he struck down William McKinley, president of the money kings and trust magnates of this country.

Not that this modern Caesar was the first to die at the hands of a Brutus. Oh, no! Since man has trampled upon the rights of his fellow men, rebellious spirits have been afloat in the atmosphere. Not that William McKinley was a greater man than those who throned upon the fettered form of Liberty. He did not compare either in intellect, ability, personality, or force of character with those who had to pay the penalty of their power. Nor will history be able to record his extraordinary kindness, generosity, and sympathy with those whom ignorance and greed have condemned to a life of misery, hopelessness, and despair.

Why, then, were the mighty and powerful thrown into such consternation by the deed of September 6? Why this howl of a hired press? Why such blood-thirsty and violent utterances from the clergy, whose usual business it is to preach "peace on earth and good will to all"? Why the mad ravings of the mob, the demand for rigid laws to curtail freedom of press and speech?

For more than thirty years a small band of parasites have robbed the American people, and trampled upon the fundamental principles laid down by the forefathers of this country, guaranteeing to every man, woman and child, "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." For thirty years they have been increasing their wealth and power at the expense of the vast mass of workers, thereby enlarging the army of the unemployed, the hungry, homeless, and friendless portion of humanity, tramping the country from east to west and north to south, in a vain search for work. For many years the home has been left to the care of the little ones, while the parents are working their life and strength away for a small pittance. For thirty years the sturdy sons of America were sacrificed on the battlefield of industrial war, and the daughters outraged in corrupt factory surroundings. For long and weary years this process of undermining the nation's health, vigor, and pride, without much protest from the disinherited and oppressed, has been going on. Maddened by success and victory, the money-powers of this "free land of ours" became more and more audacious in their heartless, cruel efforts to compete with rotten and decayed European tyrannies in supremacy of power.

With the minds of the young poisoned with a perverted conception of patriotism, and the fallacious notion that all are equal and that each one has the same opportunity to become a millionaire (provided he can steal the first hundred thousand dollars), it was an easy matter indeed to check the discontent of the people; one is therefore not surprised when one hears Americans say, "We can understand why the poor Russians kill their czar, or the Italians their king, for think of the conditions that prevail there; but he who lives in a republic, where each one has the opportunity to become President of the United States (provided he has a powerful party back of him), why should he attempt such acts? We are the people, and acts of violence in this country are impossible."

And now that the impossible has happened, that even America has given birth to the man who struck down the king of the republic, they have lost their heads, and are shouting vengeance upon those who for years have shown that the conditions here were beginning to be alarming, and unless a halt be called, despotism would set its heavy foot on the hitherto relatively free limbs of the people.

In vain have the mouthpieces of wealth denounced Leon Czolgosz as a foreigner; in vain they are making the world believe that he is the product of European conditions, and influenced by European ideas. This time the "assassin" happens to be the child of Columbia, who lulled him to sleep with

"My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,"

and who held out the hope to him that he, too, could become President of the country. Who can tell how many times this American child has gloried in the celebration of the 4th of July, or on Decoration Day, when he faithfully honored the nation's dead? Who knows but what he, too, was willing to "fight for his country and die for her liberty"; until it dawned upon him that those he belonged to have no country, because they have been robbed of all that they have produced; until he saw that all the liberty and independence of his youthful dreams are but a farce. Perhaps he also learned that it is nonsense to talk of equality between those who have all and those who have nothing, hence he rebelled.

"But his act was mad and cowardly," says the ruling class. "It was foolish and impractical," echo all petty reformers, Socialists, and even some Anarchists.

What absurdity! As if an act of this kind can be measured by its usefulness, expediency, or practicability. We might as well ask ourselves of the usefulness of a cyclone, tornado, a violent thunderstorm, or the ceaseless fall of the Niagara water. All these forces are the natural results of natural causes, which we may not yet have been able to explain, but which are nevertheless a part of nature, just as force is natural and part of man and beast, developed or checked, according to the pressure of conditions and man's understanding. An act of violence is therefore not only the result of conditions, but also of man's psychical and physical nature, and his susceptibility to the world surrounding him.

Does not the summer fight against the winter, does it not resist, mourn, and weep oceans of tears in its eager attempt to shield its children from the icy grip of frost? And does not the winter enshroud Mother Earth with a white, hard cover, lest the warm spring sunshine should melt the heart of the hardened old gentleman? And does he not gather his last forces for a bitter and fierce battle for supremacy, until the burning rays of the sun disperse his ranks?

Resistance against force is a fact all through nature. Man being part of nature, he, too, is swayed by the same force to defend himself against invasion. Force will continue to be a natural factor just so long as economic slavery, social superiority, inequality, exploitation, and war continue to destroy all that is good and noble in man.

That the economic and political conditions of this country have been pregnant with the embryo of greed and despotism, no one who thinks and has closely watched events can deny. It was, therefore, but a question of time for the first signs of labor pains to begin. And they began when McKinley, more than any other President, had betrayed the trust of the people, and became the tool of the moneyed kings. They began when he and his class had stained the memory of the men who produced the Declaration of Independence, by the blood of the massacred Filipinos. They grew more violent at the recollection of Hazelton, Virden, Idaho, and other places, where capital has waged war on labor; until on the 6th of September the child begotten, nourished and reared by violence, was born.

That violence is not the result of conditions only, but also largely depends upon man's inner nature, is best proven by the fact that while thousands loath tyranny, but one will strike down a tyrant. What is it that drives him to commit the act, while others pass quietly by? It is because the one is of such a sensitive nature that he will feel a wrong more keenly and with greater intensity than others.

It is, therefore, not cruelty, or a thirst for blood, or any other criminal tendency, that induces such a man to strike a blow at organized power. On the contrary, it is mostly because of a strong social instinct, because of an abundance of love and an overflow of sympathy with the pain and sorrow around us, a love which seeks refuge in the embrace of mankind, a love so strong that it shrinks before no consequence, a love so broad that it can never be wrapped up in one object, as long as thousands perish, a love so all-absorbing that it can neither calculate, reason, investigate, hut only dare at all costs.

It is generally believed that men prompted to put the dagger or bullet in the cowardly heart of government, were men conceited enough to think that they will thereby liberate the world from the fetters of despotism. As far as I have studied the psychology of an act of violence, I find that nothing could be further away from the thought of such a man than that if the king were dead, the mob will cease to shout "Long live the king!"

The cause for such an act lies deeper far too deep for the shallow multitude to comprehend. It lies in the fact that the world within the individual, and the world around him, are two antagonistic forces, and, therefore, must clash.

Do I say that Czolgosz is made of that material? No. Neither can I say that he was not. Nor am I in a position to say whether or not he is an Anarchist; I did not know the man; no one as far as I am aware seems to have known him, but from his attitude and behavior so far (I hope that no reader of "Free Society" has believed the newspaper lies), I feel that he was a soul in pain, a soul that could find no abode in this cruel world of ours, a soul "impractical," inexpedient, lacking in caution (according to the dictum of the wise); but daring just the same, and I cannot help but bow in reverent silence before the power of such a soul, that has broken the narrow walls of its prison, and has taken a daring leap into the unknown.

Having shown that violence is not the result of personal influence, or one particular ideal, I deem it unnecessary to go into a lengthy theoretical discussion as to whether Anarchism contains the element of force or not. The question has been discussed time and again, and it is proven that Anarchism and violence are as far apart from each other as liberty and tyranny. I care not what the rabble says; but to those who are still capable of understanding I would say that Anarchism, being, a philosophy of life, aims to establish a state of society in which man's inner make-up and the conditions around him, can blend harmoniously, so that he will be able to utilize all the forces to enlarge and beautify the life about him. To those I would also say that I do not advocate violence; government does this, and force begets force. It is a fact which cannot be done away with through the prosecution of a few men and women, or by more stringent laws-this only tends to increase it.

Violence will die a natural death when man will learn to understand that each unit has its place in the universe, and while being closely linked together, it must remain free to grow and expand.

Some people have hastily said that Czolgosz's act was foolish and will check the growth of progress. Those worthy people are wrong in forming hasty conclusions. What results the act of September 6 will have no one can say; one thing, however, is certain: he has wounded government in its most vital spot. As to stopping the wheel of progress, that is absurd. Ideas cannot be retarded by restraint. And as to petty police persecution, what matter?

As I write this, my thoughts wander to the death-cell at Auburn, to the young man with the girlish face, about to be put to death by the coarse, brutal hands of the law, walking up and down the narrow cell, with cold, cruel eyes following him,

"Who watch him when he tries to weep
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey."

And my heart goes out to him in deep sympathy, and to all the victims of a system of inequality, and the many who will die the forerunners of a better, nobler, grander life.

Emma Goldman "- http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Tragedy_at_Buffalo

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bill Killed Bill

'"Kung Fu" actor Carradine found hanged in Thai hotel

BANGKOK/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor David Carradine, star of the 1970s U.S. television show "Kung Fu," was found naked and hanging dead from a rope in the closet of his luxury Bangkok hotel room Thursday, Thai police said. No signs were found of other people in the room and the body of the 72-year-old actor was sent to a hospital for an autopsy, police said. Results are expected on Friday." - Washington Post
Damn, our thoughts are with the Carradine family (and friends). He is best known for playing Caine in the TV series, "Kung Fu," as well as Bill in the Kill Bill series of Quentin Tarantino directed movies. His skillful acting will be missed.

Educational Reform in America



It is unquestionable and undeniable that a country with a leading educational system will wind up leading economically in the future. In today’s competitive market, every nation is competing for their chance on the leader board of wealth. Although the United States has been seeded number one in the economic field for the past few years, many countries in Europe and Asia are challenging that spot for the number one position, especially China. Many articles from news sources read, “Can China Compete?” and “Can the New Chinese Economy Compete with the US?” but not anymore. Now the articles read, “Can the US Compete with China’s New Economy” and “Can the US Keep Up?”

Of course economic stability has everything to do with how well the country will run and function, but if the educational systems lack the ability to support such a superpower of an economy like the United States, can it really compete with other nations in Asia and Europe? Those countries for the majority, all have superior educational systems when compared to the educational systems that are in the United States. So, can the infamous country with the world’s leading colleges also lead in the educational standards of the foreign competitors?

Majority of the candidates who run for presidency promise for educational reform, this promise, however, is not a promise that can be kept. Many presidents that came before President Obama has preached about educational reform in America and how many of the schools in the U.S. lack the ability to compete with schools in foreign nations. Much like the past presidents, President Obama has promised us an educational reform that would make the American schooling systems be able to compete competitively with the other nations. However, do not get your hopes up just yet. The economic problem and national security always come before any educational reform.

President Obama’s slogan is “Hope” and many people in America are still hoping for a miracle to occur. Unemployment is a disaster that strikes countless American families nowadays. Major companies such as Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual are either bankrupt or merging with other large companies to prevent an entire collapse in the job market. Other major companies such as AIG, General Motors, and JPMorgan were provided bailout money by the government in order to stay afloat in the markets. The government told the American people that these companies were “too big to fail” and that the bailout was necessary in order to keep the United States economy healthy. Despite the bailout, the companies that were bailed out are still in turmoil and the majority of those companies did not recover well enough to hire more employees.

The availability of jobs is getting fewer every month. The more qualified a person is, the safer he or she is from losing his or her job. On the National Center for Education Statistics website (nces.ed.gov) it states “Workers who have a record of high academic achievements are unemployed less and earn more than workers with lower [academic achievements].” This is an obvious trend, but how does education directly affect how the economy will be? An example of a country with a high educational standard is South Korea. From the time South Korea was a country to the present day, Korea has made education an importance in every child’s youth. There are no laws that require students to attend high school or college in Korea, but if a student decides not to attend college or even high school, the chances of that student acquiring a job is very slim. Almost all of the unskilled jobs are taken by immigrants. For a Korean to earn enough to support his or her family, he or she must attend and graduate college. In Korea, the unskilled jobs are considered shameful, such as factory work. My grandfather used to own a factory where he would hire Pakistani immigrants instead of Koreans due to their cheaper pay. When my father and mother were planning to build a new house, they used Chinese laborers due to their cheap cost of labor. The United States is somewhat like Korea, where the majority of the unskilled labor has been taken my immigrants. This, however, does not give an excuse to accuse the immigrants of stealing a country’s jobs.

I have given a survey to my teachers and students of Wakefield High School in Massachusetts and asked them about the educational systems in the United States and what President Obama can do to fix it.
The first survey question asked “how important do you think higher education is now for students of this age?”

Majority of the student body and teachers answered that higher education has never been more important than it is now. Considering the fact that Americans without higher education are losing jobs left and right, it has become more important than ever to receive some degree of higher education. President Obama has stated on his webpage (barakobama.com) that “preparing our children to compete in the global economy is one of the most urgent challenges we face. We need to stop paying lip service to public education and start holding communities, administrators, teachers, parents and students accountable…” Even President Obama believes it’s a necessity to stop paying lip service to public education and start to compete competitively with the global economic powers.

Brian, a student in Wakefield High School, stated, “…even though having a degree doesn't necessarily mean that a person is intelligent, [a degree] is still needed” explaining how even students recognize the importance of a college degree. Even if it does not signify that one is intelligent, it has now become almost a necessity to earn a degree in order to live in what is considered the middle class.
I questioned another student, David, asking, “How important is higher education for students like us?” He replied quickly, “I don’t see why this is even a question… As is obviously known, students who have a college education are more successful at life and contribute to society and to the economy.” David is telling the truth. Although college does not guarantee a successful life, it does, however, increase the chance of being successful at life.



The second question I asked brought up the issue that President Obama addressed on his website. The issue stated, “After graduating high school, all Americans should be prepared to attend at least one year of job training or higher education to better equip our workforce for the 21st century economy.”

When I asked the question “Do you think one year of job training/higher education is enough for a person to compete in the job market?” to the students and teachers of Wakefield High School, I received mixed opinions. Over 60% of the survey takers replied that one year of job training or higher education is not sufficient enough for a person in modern day America to compete nationally; given that the persons who have taken one year of the said educations do not compete globally. However, the issue of competing globally is not an idea that can be disregarded lightly. The remaining 40% of the survey takers replied that not all people are suited for college education. Such people include: people who cannot afford to attend college, people who do not want to work professionally, and people who just simply do not want to attend college or any level of education. Both answers are correct. However, the increasingly competitive global market has led to the idea that “no college degree = no work.” Many people just cannot live life working minimum wage in a factory job. The price of necessities for life has risen and the price of education has risen as well. Especially with the economy at a slump, the persons without a degree are suffering even more so than the people with degrees who have lost their jobs.

Inequality has been a major issue in education since the American educational system was built. I asked, “No Child Left Behind Act is providing almost $54.4 billion in 2001 in federal funding to schools in need of money. Do you think programs like these have done enough to prevent some schools from being “inferior” to others?”

Almost all of the faculty and students that I have surveyed concluded that there will always be inferior schools in America. One of the teachers commented, “…The demographics of Lexington are not the demographics of Harlem, for instance. That’s an uncomfortable reality we don’t always want to acknowledge. But we’re naïve if we don’t recognize the inherent inequities in our society or believe that they don’t somehow impact education.” Lexington is a town that is above average in their income. Even if we compare Lexington High School to Wakefield High School there is a noticeable difference. Many programs in Lexington, such as the core curriculums, athletics, and music, are better funded than in Wakefield. Inferiority is explained by Victoria, a student and a friend of mine, who now lives in Mount Prospect, Illinois. She mentions that, “In my high school, every teacher is provided with a Macbook (A laptop from the company Apple). Every classroom has their own computer projector.” She also mentioned that “they charge for everything here. This is the only public school I've been in that had a registration fee for attending.” Mount Prospect’s students pay to be superior while Lexington’s students have well providing funders. Two schools are equally superior, but one achieves its superiority through a different method than the next. I believe that the only way inferior schools will get equally superior is if that school somehow finds a way to charge students or take larger taxes from the residents in the town. One has to keep in mind that those inferior schools are usually in towns and cities with lower income rates, which means charging anything more than what they are charging now is not an option. Christopher, a student who also attends Wakefield High School, pointed out that, “Well… that’s just life” as I asked him about how he feels about the inferior schools in America.

Although Wakefield is a town of above average income rates, our school still struggles to find money for basic necessities, such as paper. Many teachers from last year have been cut due to shortage in the budget. Also, the school day has been changed in order to properly fit the current financial budget. I noticed that sometimes certain departments lack copy paper. I remember last year, our math department ran out of dry-erase Expo markers and some of the teachers from the math department had to buy their own. Another sad fact is that some bathrooms and classrooms are missing huge chunks of their ceiling. Some classrooms as well as the hallways leak when it rains and snows. I find it amusing to see the students avoiding the trashcans in the middle of the hallways that are put up to collect the dripping water. When I watch the students dodging the trashcans and buckets, it somewhat looks like watching a game of Frogger.

Moving away from the topic of inferior schooling, we get to the topic of “did the government do enough to change the educational system.” I asked multiple students and teachers the question, “Do you think President Obama’s administration has done enough over the few hundred days to revise the educational systems in America to become more feasible with the current economic troubles?” I also provided them with the statement from President Obama’s webpage stating, “We will recruit an army of new teachers and develop innovative ways to reward teachers who are doing a great job, and we will reform No Child Left Behind so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.” All survey takers responded, “A few hundred days are too short of a time period for any president to make a large enough impact on the nation.” This is true that it is too early to figure out what President Obama will do, but we are all hoping for a change and revamping of the educational system in America.

The controversial issue of high school students dropping out has become one of the leading topics of the current educational discussions. I asked this contentious matter to my fellow students and teachers of Wakefield High School. I stated and asked, “It says on the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education that ‘Statewide, 79.9 percent of the 74,380 students who entered high school as ninth graders in 2002 or transferred into the class graduated within four years. Of the remaining students, 6.4 percent are still in school, 1 percent completed high school without earning their competency determination, .8 percent earned a GED (General Educational Development), 11.7 percent dropped out and .2 percent were expelled.’ Do you think the high school drop rate is high?”



99% of the people I surveyed agreed that the dropout rate is extremely high. A teacher commented that “Any dropout rate is unacceptable.” The remaining 1% of the surveyed answered that “the dropout rate should be higher to encourage unskilled labor.” The last 1% commented that the unskilled labors would help the economy by funneling money from the bottom up. This idea, although clever, is still somewhat flawed. Another teacher commented, “The dropout rate is high but in other countries, they weed out students who are not so interested in school with tests at the end of junior high school. These countries usually direct these students into skilled trades. In Germany, companies actually work with high school students and train them to be skilled in particular jobs.” Maybe America can learn a few things from Germany. I believe that the ideas that are based around what the German companies think and use are logical. However, it does not guarantee that all those students who dropout will work in the said factories. The same teacher also commented, “To prevent dropout rates, there needs to be more after school programs to help [kids] with homework and to keep [them] busy and out of trouble.”

The follow up question to the dropout problem was “why do you think the students are dropping out at such high rates and what do you think the government can do to reduce the drop rate? What do you think the school systems can do to reduce the rates?”

Answering the question, “Why do you think the students are dropping out at such high rates?” A teacher provided me with an answer, “As long as there is poverty and there are ‘broken’ families, children will continue to drop out of school.” Adding to this answer, I think there are kids who just are not mature enough for education and feel as if learning is not needed in order to live in the current world.

The second part of the question asked, “What do you think the government can do to reduce the drop rate?” Some students and teachers answered that “the way of fixing this issue was to first fix the homes of the kids that are dropping out. Since the work ethic is reflected upon how the kids have been raised, the government should target homes of those dropouts in order to fix this reoccurring issue.” A student answered, “The thought of going somewhere to ‘learn’ for a quarter of the day seems stupid and unneeded for many students. Schools can do a better job to prevent this by offering ‘cooler’ programs and courses. This would provide more choices for the students and provoke more interest helping them stay in school.” The schools must spend money to provide the said “cool” programs. I believe what the student meant to say was that some students are not focused academically. This is cleared up by a teacher, who stated that “…students that are not academically gifted have been turned off to the idea of high school. These students are forced to sit in academic classes as opposed to learning job skills that students in the past have had the opportunity to.” These students may be more content if they were to attend a vocational school rather than an academically focused high school.
The next question that I asked was, “It says on President Obama’s website “We will continue to make higher education more affordable by expanding Pell Grants and initiating new tax credits to make sure any young person who works hard and desires a college education can access it” When the message reads ‘any young person who works hard and desires a college education can access the grants’, do you think initiating this new tax credit to help pay for college would motivate some high school students into further expanding their careers in the high education field?”

99% of the survey takers agreed that loans, grants, and scholarships may help to increase the number of students that attend college. However, they also agreed that students who are not already motivated enough for academic studies will wind up not attending college at all.

Do I think the overall educational system in America needs fixing? Of course I do. Do I think the past few presidents have done enough to reform the educational system? I have seen them try desperately to create legislation to help the system, but I did not see the action to an extent that the reforms dramatically impacted the system. I continuously notice that the competing countries rise in economic and educational power as the United States waits at the top without improving either attributes. I strongly believe that the government of the country as well as the people of the country must step up in order to reformat and transform both the fiscal and the learning systems of America so that the United States could once again be the forerunner of the economic and educational marathon. As I usually end my articles, all that we can do for now is to raise our voices to the cause and speak out for the changes that we desire. It is, however, up to President Obama and his administration to decide if it is time for America to step up and become the leader in education once again.

Thank you to everyone that participated in my survey. Even if you were not quoted in the article, your information did not go to waste.
I will further update this educational topic as the Obama Administration goes on.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

CD Review: What Is?! (KK+TS)

Band: King Khan and the Shrines
Release: 2007 then 2009

Comments: It's impossible for King Khan and the Shrines to not be awesome. The horns. The guitar. The organ. The drums. The voice. The King. Listening to this album is a visitation to last month's show. The studio versions don't quite match up to the high energy live performances, but certainly they fall only slightly behind. Like, for instance, the cheerleader is still very much a part of the music, even though you can't see her. The first 7 tracks are better than the last 7. That I will say.

Top 5 Tracks:
"Land of the Freak"
"How Can I Keep You Outta Harms Way"
"Welfare Bread"
"I Wanna Be A Girl"
"No Regrets"

Final Grade: 9.8 out of 10

Jacques Dutronc/Black Lips MTV Canada

Listen below...

http://www.dizzler.com/music/Jacques_Dutronc/Hippie_Hippie_Hourrah

------------------

A Fraudulent Man

Ex-Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi is facing up to 20 years in prison for allegedly taking kickbacks in yet another State House corruption scandal that has cast a pall over Beacon Hill and sent the onetime iron-fisted leader’s former colleagues scrambling for cover.

DiMasi was hit with fraud and conspiracy charges yesterday in a scathing indictment that painted him as the “coach” of a team of conspirators who cut lucrative deals in backrooms and on golf courses from Boston to Florida, lining his own pocket to the tune of $60,000, federal agents alleged.

Prosecutors said DiMasi used his legislative might to steer $20 million in taxpayer-funded software contracts to Cognos in 2007. In exchange, the Canadian firm funneled payments to an unnamed lawyer in DiMasi’s law office, who in turn cut the then-speaker checks ranging from $4,000 to $25,000, authorities alleged. - Boston Herald

Judge Mark L. Wolf would have given DiMasi a smack down.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Newspaper Articles



I'm currently writing some newspaper articles every week. I will try to upload them to the Etudiant; if I remember to. I'll upload my next one tomorrow since the actual newspaper is not getting published until tomorrow morning.

Ketchup Is Awesome



White people love organic tomato ketchup.

The ABCs of World History

Must know people, places, and events in the history of the world.

Abraham
- A 2000 B.C Mesopotamian who made a covenant with God saying that if Abraham's followers Hebrews) accepted Him, Abraham's people would have a promised land.
Algeria - A former French colony that gained independence in 1962 following nearly a decade long War of Independence.
Anti-Comintern Pact - Declared opposition to international communism.

Balfour, Arthur - An early 20th century British Prime Minister, he is most famous for the "Balfour Declaration" which promised a homeland for Jews.
Bay of Pigs - Is an island off the southern coast of Cuba and was site of the failed "Bay of Pigs Invasion" by President JFK, a plan to overthrow Fidel Castro.
Blitzkrieg - A term coined in 1939 describing Germany's use of lightning quick and offensive tactics in its invasion of Polish borders.

Castro, Fidel
- The president of Cuba who started the July 26th movement, a revolt that would eventually overthrow the then president general Batista in 1959.
Canaan - Refers to present-day Israel and was the "promised land" that God assured the Hebrews back in 2000 B.C.
Cold War - Lasted from 1949 through 1991 and was the struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States. It did not refer to direct hostility, rather other forms such as economic warfare and an arms race for nuclear weapons.

deGaule, Charles - The president of France from 1959 to 1969. Founded the Fifth French Republic in 1958.
Dien Bien Phu, Battle of - A war fought in 1954 between France and the Vietnamese's Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam. The French were victorious.
D-Day - Refers to the June 6, 1944 invasion by the allied forces into Normandy, France against the Nazi Germans who occupied France.

Eliot, George
- Was the pen name of the Victorian era English novelist Mary Ann Evans , whose novels were mostly set in provincial England.
English Channel - Located between England and Northern France, this has served as a natutral defense location for England especially against Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars and against Adolph Hitler in WWII.
Estates General - Was an assembly of the different classes in France around and before 1789. It consisted of: Roman Catholic Clergy (1st), Nobility (2nd), and Bourgeoisie, Peasants, and all others (3rd).

Ferdinand, Franz - Was the archduke of Austria around the early 20th century and was most notably assassinated in 1914 (one of the reasons for the start of WWI).
Finland, Gulf of - Extends from Finland all the way to Russia and at the time of WWII was an important mining site for countries such as Finland, Germany, and Russia.
Fourteen Points - Were annoucned by U.S President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 and were literally fourteen points concerning the rebuilding of Europe.

Garibaldi, Guiseppe - Was an Italian patriot in the 19th century. He successfully captured Sicily in a fight against the Borubon French.
Gaza Strip - A small strip of land that is located next to the Mediterranean Sea and Israel. Controlled by Egypt until the 1967 six day war when it was captured by Israel.
Great Leap Forward - Was carried out from 1958-1962 in Communist China and was an economic and social plan to transform China into an industrialized society from being mostly farmland.

Hirohito - The emperor of Japan from 1926 to 1989. He is notable for his alliance with Germany and Italy during World War II and for his cruelty.
Hiroshima - A city in Japan that was atomically ombed by the U.S in 1945 and as a result led to the surrendering of the Japanese government.
Holocaust - The systematic persecution and genocide of Jews in Europe and North Africa during WWII by Nazi Germany.

Ignatius of Loyola - A former Spanish warrior who in 1534 foudned the Society of Jesus "Jesuits" and whose main goal was defending the Church against Protestants and spreading Catholicism.
Iwo Jima, Battle of
- Was fought between U.S and Japan in 1945; as a result of a U.S victory, they gained the volcanic Japanese island and all the airfields there.
Industrial Revolution - A major technological, socio-economic, and cultural revolution that began in the late 18th and 19th centuries in Britain and spread to volcanic parts of the world.

Johnson, Lyndon B. - President of the U.S from 1963 to 1969; known for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which faciliated increased involvement in the Vietnam War.
Jerusalem - Nicknamed the "Holy Land," as it's a top pilgrimmage site fofr Christians, Muslims, and Jews. The capital of Israel, captured by Israeli forces following the 6 day war.
June 28th, 1914 - In Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinted by Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Young Bosnia terrorist group.

Kenyatta, Jomo - President of Kenya from 1964 to 1978. He was the leader of the Mau Mau, a terrorist organization.
Kenya - Country in Eastern Africa which gained its independence through Jomo Kenyatta's violent revolts in 1963.
Kristallnacht - A massive nationwide program against Jews in Germany and Austria in 1938.

Lennon, Valdimir - A Communist revolutionary of Russia; the leader of the Bolsheviks and Premier of the Soveit Union from 1914-1917.
London (Battle of Britain) - An attempt by the German air force to gain superiority of Britain during the early stages of WWII. After Germany attempted a raid on london in September of 1940, The Battle of Britain concluded.
League of Nations - An international organization founded after the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Woodrow Wilson's 14th point.

Mussolini, Benito - Leader of Italy between 1922 and 1943, who set up a fascist nation through diplomacy and propaganda.
Manchuria - Northeast region in China and Asia. It was invaded by Russia as part of its declaration of war in 1945 on Japan.
Monroe Doctrine - Expressed in 1823 and stated that no European power or country shoudl colonize or interfere with the affairs of the Americas.

Nkrumah, Kwame - An anti-colonial African leader, founder of Ghana, and one of the most influential Pan-Africanists of the 20th century.
Normandy - Located in the northwest region of France, it is famous for being the site of the 1944 allied D-Day invasion.
Nationalism - A form of identity under which countries believe they are the "only legit basis for the state" as well as the belief in strengthening national unity and rejecting foreign influences. Nationalism gained a lot of popularity in the 20th century in countries such as India, China, and Japan.

Orlando, Vittorio - Was Italy's prime minister from 1917-1919. He served as Italy's representative at the Paris Peace Conference.
Osaka - One of Japan's main harbors/ports during WWII for warships and other military weapons. It was demilitarized following the war.
Opium Wars - Consisted of two wars fought bertween Britain and China concerning opium trade. China had banned it, but Britain saw it as a great economic tool.

Picasso, Pablo
- An early 20th century Spanish painter and sculptor who used the technique of cubism in his work.
Pearl Harbor - An embayment in Hawaii and the site of a Japanese surprise attack on the U.S prompting the U.S to enter World War II.
Pan-Africanism - The belief in the uniqueness of African heritage. No matter where the black man is from, he is African. Some of the most famous proponents of this movement were Marcus Garvey and W.E.B DuBois. This was popularized in the year 1900.

Qing, Jiang - Fourth wife of Mao Zedong. She emerged as a serious political figure in China after being appointed Deputy Director of the Cultural Revolution.
Qum - A city in Iran that has one of the holiest shrines of Islam: The Fatimah shrine dedicated to the Muslim saint. Occupied by Arabs in the 600s A.D.
Quadruple Alliance - Refers to the Central Powers of WWI, consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria.

Rasputin, Grigori - A Russian mystic who influenced Russia's Romanov Dynasty. He played a rather large role in Tsarina Alexandra's life and partly healed her son Alexei's hemophilia.
Rhineland - Refers to the area of land in Western Germany that was taken over by Germany following World War II. I
Russian Revolution - Series of political events in Russia after the elimination of the autocracy system and the Provision Government resulting in the establishment of the Soviet Party by the Bolsheviks.

Stalin, Josef - Leader of the Communist Soviet Union from 1924 until 1953. Ruled by forms of mass terror, deportations, and collective farming.
Sudetenland - An area in Western Czechoslovakia controlled by Sudeten Germans until 1945 when they were expelled from this area.
Social Darwinism - A concept similar to Darwin's theory of evolution that said that the people with the most favorable traits are more likely to survive in a society. This can be applied to competition between different groups. Common in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Tolstoy, Leo - A 19th century Russian novelist and philosopher, most famous for his book War and Peace.
Tiananmen Square - A large plaza in Beijing that was the center of mass Cultural Revolution rallies i nthe 1940s and later protests in the late 1980s.
Truman Doctrine - Announced in the late 1940s by U.S President Harry Truman stating that the U.S gov't would support Greece and Turkey from falling into Communist control.

Urban II - Roman Catholic Pope from 1088 to 1099. He was the leader of the first Crusade against the Turks.
United Staes (WWII) - Forced to enter WWII after the Japanese surprise attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
U-2 Spy Planes - Surveillance aircrafts that were shot down on two occasions: once in Soviet territoryy and second in Cuba during the missile crisis.

Verdi, Giuseppe - A 19th century Italian composer who produced mainly operas.
Versailles - Suburb of Paris, France that was put in the limelight due to the signing of treaties such as the Treaty of Versailles.
Viet Cong - An insurgent organization fighting the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1957 to 1975.

Wilson, Woodrow - U.S President from 1913 to 1921, he didn't want the U.S to get invovled in World War I, but after Germany continued its submarine warfare, he took America into the "war to end all wars."
Waterloo, Battle of - Napoleon's last battle and the last Napoleonic Wars battle in 1815 against the English, Dutch, and Prussians. Ended French domination in Europe.
Warsaw Pact - An organization made up of mostly eastern European states established in 1955 to counter NATO. Memers included East Germany and the Soviet Union.

Yamamoto, Isoroku - Commander of the Japanese navy; came up with the plan to surprise attack the U.S at Pearl Harbor.
Yalta - Site of the Yalta Conference, a war time meeting between Churchill, FDR, and Stalin.
Yom Kippur War - Fought in 1973 between Egypt, Syria, and Israel. A shocker to Israel on this most holy day for Jews.

Zimmerman, Arthur - Germany's secretary of Foreign Affairs from 1916-1917. Most famous for his telegram sent to Mexico proposing Mexico to help against the U.S.
Zaire - Central African country that gained its independence in 1960, after Belgium couldn't maintian contorl and pulled out of the country.
Zionism - A political movement that supports a homeland for Jewish people in the Land of Israel where the Jewish nation is said to have originated 3,000 years ago and had self-governing steas and kingdoms until the 2nd century. Became increasingly popular in the 17 and 1800s.

King Khan @ Paradise Rock Club Finale



Chris and I got the privilege of standing next to the person taking the video. You'll see Chris' head a lot and sometimes me. Like at 4:40. I bang my hands against King's helmet.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Got Hit In Head By Paper Fail

CD Review: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix


(Source: bp.blogspot.com)

Band:
Phoenix
Release: 2009

* Songs below not in order as they appear on album.

1. "Love Like A Sunset" - Grade: 9.8
2. "Armistice" - Grade: 9.7
3. "Rome" - Grade: 9.5
4. "1901" - Grade: 9.7
5. "Fences" - Grade: 9.6
6. "Countdown (Sick for the Big Sun) - Grade: 9.7
7. "Girlfriend" - Grade: 9.6
8. "Lisztomania" - Grade: 9.8
9. "Lasso" - Grade: 9.6

Final Grade: 9.7

Vitamin String Quarter: "Eraser"

CD Review: Preliminaires (Iggy Pop)


(Source: Coming Records)

Band:
Iggy Pop
Release: 2009

1. "Les Feuilles Mortes" - Grade: 8.3

2. "I Want to Go to the Beach" - Grade: 8.9 - "Well, an asshole is what you are, but that's all right"

3. "King of the Dogs" - Grade: 8.8 - "I can smell things that you can not smell...I'm the king of the dogs"

4. "Je Sais Que Tu Sais" - Grade: 8.6 - "Comme ci, comme ca"

5. "Spanish Coast" - Grade: 9.0 - "Die like a fly with no lover to sigh"

6. "Nice to Be Dead" - Grade: 9.4 - "Life's river flows and when it's dry... it's dry!"

7. "How Insensitive" - Grade: 8.1 - "What was I to do? What can you do?"

8. "Party Time" - Grade: 8.8 - "I got the slime!"

9. "He's Dead/She's Alive" - Grade: 8.0 - "She's gonna get him...by the eyes"

10. "A Machine For Love" - Grade: 9.6 - "I helped him to settle on my lap for a few seconds; he looked at me with a curious mixture of exhaustion and apology. Then calmed. He closed his eyes. Two minutes later he gave out his last breath. I buried him inside the residence at the western extremity of the land surrounded by the protected fence, next to his predecessors. During the night, a rapid transport from the central city dropped off an identical dog. They knew the codes and how to work the barrier. I didn't have to get up to greet them. The small white ginger mongrel came toward me, wagging its tail. I just turned to him. He jumped on the bed and stretched out beside me. Love is simple to define, but it seldom happens in the series of beings. Through these dogs, we pay homage to love. And to its possibility. What is a dog, but a machine for loving? You introduce him to a human being, giving him the mission to love. And however ugly, perverse, deformed, or stupid this human being might be, the dog loves him. The dog loves him."

11. "She's a Business" - Grade: 8.3

12. "Les Feuilles Mortes (Marc's Theme) - Grade: 8.2

Final Grade: 8.7

January 1 to June 1 CD Rankings

Album Band Grade
Merriweather Post Pavillion Animal Collective 10
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix Phoenix 9.7
200 Million Thousand Black Lips 9.6
Face Control Handsome Furs 9.5
The Eternal Sonic Youth 9.4
Living Thing Peter Bjorn and John 9.4
Dragonslayer Sunset Rubdown 9.2
Grace/Wastelands Peter Doherty 9.2
It's Blitz Yeah Yeah Yeahs 9
Wavvves Wavves 8.9
Sun Gangs The Veils 8.8
Eating Us Black Moth Super Rainbow 8.7
Preliminaires Iggy Pop 8.7
Enemy Mine Swan Lake 8.5
Veckatimest Grizzly Bear 8.3
Cluster Dreams Lone 8
Get Guilty A.C Newman 7.9
Hazards of Love The Decemberists 7.9
Art Brut vs. Satan Art Brut 7.1
Beware Bonnie Prince Billy 7

A Socialist Against Labor? Barack Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama couldn't let General Motors fail, but he won't concede he's taking over the company.

With a 60 percent equity stake in the carmaker and $50 billion in taxpayer money riding on GM's success, the federal government isn't exactly a hands-off investor.

As GM enters into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Obama's economic team is stressing that its goals are to maximize the return to taxpayers and to exit from its involvement as quickly as possible. But as one administration official put it Sunday night, there is an inevitable tension between those two objectives.
---------
WASHINGTON, D.C. (daily kenoshan) - General Motors, the 100 year old industrial superpower and maker of Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and other automobiles, announced they will file for bankruptcy protection, the outcome of which will cut 21,000 jobs and reduce to 2600 the number of automobile dealerships. President Obama applauded the reorganization move and estimated the time frame for the court action to be completed at 60-90 days. Once the bankruptcy is finalized, the government will own 60% of the failed GM Corporationand will pump billions into the leaner, reorganized company. This will be the governments biggest foray into private industry in history.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Updated Recommended Reading

Incendiary Material:

1)The Catcher in the Rye By: J.D. Salinger

2)Our Band Could Be Your Life BY: Michael Azzerad

3)A People's History of the United States By: Howard Zinn

4)Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas By: Hunter S. Thompson

5)Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution By: Kevin Booth With Michale Bertin

6)Heavier Than Heaven By: Charles R. Cross

7)Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media By: Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

8)From Yale To Jail By: David Delinger

9)1984 By: George Orwell

10)Fight Club By: Chuck Palahniuk

11)Of Mice and Men By: John Steinbeck

12)The Perks of Being a Wallflower By: Stephen Chbosky

13)Failed States By: Noam Chomsky

14)Crashing the Party By: Ralph Nader

15)Dark Alliance By: Gary Webb

16)Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It By: Judge James P. Gray

17)To Kill A Mockingbird By: Harper Lee

18)Lord of the Flies By: William Golding

19)The Motorcycle Diaries By: Che Guevara

20)Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs By: Chuck Klostermen

21)A Clockwork Orange By: Anthony Burgess

22)Macbeth By: William Shakespeare

23)Steal This Book By: Abbie Hoffman

24)Anarchism and other Essays By: Emma Goldman

25)I Am the Messenger By: Markus Zusak

26)Girl, Interrupted By: Susana Kaysen

27)The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family

28)Black Panthers Speak

29)The Outsiders By: S.E. Hinton

30)The Shining By: Stephen King

31)A Raisin in the Sun By: Lorraine Hansberry

32)The Chocolate War By: Robert Cormier

33)Charlie and the Chocolate Factory By: Roald Dahl

34)Inherit the Wind By: Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee

35)Steven Spielberg By: Susan Goldman Rubin

36)On the Road By: Jack Kerouac

37)Naked Lunch By: William S. Burroughs

38)Get in the Van By: Henry Rollins

39)American Hardcore: A Tribal History By: Stephen Blush

40)Here, There and Everywhere: The 100 Best Beatles Songs By: Stephen Spignesi and Michael Lewis

41)Andy Warhol: Prince of Pop By: Jan Greenburg and Sandra Jordan

42)Fast Times At Ridgemont High By: Cameron Crowe

43)The Simpsons and Philosophy

44)Holes By: Louis Sachar

45)My Father's Scar By: Michael Cart

46)Monster By: Walter Dean Myers

47)Black Boy By: Richard Wright

48)The Great Gatsby By: F. Scott Fitzgerald

49)A Separate Peace By: John Knowles

50)Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead By: Tom Stoppard

51)The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told to Alex Healey

52)Kingdom of Fear By: Hunter S. Thompson

53)Flashbacks By: Timothy Leary

54)Lies My Teacher Told Me By: James W. Loewen

55)Live From Death Row By: Mumia Abu-Jamal

56) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest By: Ken Kesey

57) Guerrilla Warfare By: Che Guevara

58) The Autobiography of Abbie Hoffman

59) Fugitive Days By: Bill Ayers

60) My Disillusionment in Russia By: Emma Goldman

More incendiary material to come....

Concert Review: Local Bands @ UU

Bands: Jeff Mitchell, Envy of August, Foxglove, Calling Aviv, With The Punches, The Big Sanchez
Venue: Unitarian Universalist Church Basement in Wakefield, MA

Comments: Everyone that participated in the show is a great performer and musician. That said, the pop-punk genre just isn't my thing. It's sometimes catchy (credit to Foxglove), but there seemed to be very little variation between songs. Calling Aviv was really good, playing some old and new. Bill's use of the electronic switch as an instrument was cool. I thought The Big Sanchez's performance of "Maria" was the best of the night.

Germane Chomsky Article

http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20090521.htm
Obama and his ultra, fascist, right wing, American President policies. But, as Steven Colbert put it, "but, he makes the kids like it." This is Noam's key line here: "Small wonder that the President advises us to look forward, not backward -- a convenient doctrine for those who hold the clubs. Those who are beaten by them tend to see the world differently, much to our annoyance."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

That's All Folks!

Though,I do have much more material to share, I think I've done plenty of dust blowing for now. Peace!

-----------------------

Editors Note: So Chris decided to post every assignment he's worked on in school this year. It might take a while for his posts, many of high quality, to disappear into the great horizon. Just sayin'. Also, people who are interested in stealing his work, do it! That's real anarchy, something Chris advocates after reading Abbie Hoffman. Only kidding, of course. Don't do it. It's plagarism.

The Gnome

The Gnome

There once was a tiny gnome
who lived in a humongous home;
But his wife, named Alice,
Had too much malice, because she
left him for another gnome in Rome

Brief On The Road Review

Hailed as “the novel that defined a generation,” Jack Kerouac’s On the Road grabs the reader by the lapels and takes him or her for a rapid ride through the ups and downs of the nascent “Beat” America of the late 1940s and early 1950s. This tale is based on Kerouac’s own wild experiences with fellow Beat icon, Neal Cassidy.
The story begins in 1947. The narrator is Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac), a young, intellectual writer; fascinated with America, jazz, women, and drugs, but disgruntled by social norms and middle class conformity. Sal tells us about his friend, Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassidy), who was just released from jail, having been incarcerated for grand theft auto. He describes this as,” the part of my life you could call my life on the road.” To Sal, Dean represents rebellion, nonconformity, freedom, and essentially heroism. As the pair hitchhike across America, they meet a variety of outlandish characters.
As the story progresses Sal slowly begins to see Dean in a new light; he sees him as a failure. Unfortunately, life on the road loses its initial charm. Jack Kerouac’s timeless classic masterfully captures the beginnings of the American underground. His stream of consciousness style of writing invites the reader into the mind of a young, optimistic rebel in the midst of social change.

Tom Morello

Tom Morello

Tom Morello a.k.a. the Nightwatchman leads a double life. One half, a Grammy award winning guitar virtuoso and the second half, a tireless, committed, political activist. Tom was born on May 30, 1964 in Harlem, New York, to Mary Morello and Ngethe Njoroge, a Kenyan Guerilla soldier and eventual first Kenyan ambassador to the United Nations. Morello then moved to Libertyville, Illinois. At an early age, the guitar hero received his first tastes of racism and oppression.
Libertyville was a virtually all white, conservative community. Much of the townspeople were prejudice and hated Tom for simply being a different color. Morello would later describe some of this prejudice he experienced in his famous folk ballad, “One Man Revolution.”- “Found a noose in my garage, now about that, so tonight I’m in the bushes with a baseball bat.” The white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan members his town placed the nooses in his garage to scare him away. Tom felt small and inferior at first, and then he discovered music.
Initially Tom listened to heavy metal greats such as Black Sabbath and KISS, but by high school he found his solace in politically charged Punk Rock, with the likes of The Clash and The Sex Pistols. Music was an escape for Morello. He claims it made him see past the constraints and boundaries of his small town and see a world that needed change. In 1982, Morello graduated from Libertyville High School and began attending Harvard University. During his college years, he began practicing guitar seriously. This means eight hours a day, no matter how much work he had to complete. By 1986, he graduated with a BA (with honors) in Political Science. In 1988, Morello landed a slot as lead guitarist in the glam metal band, Lock Up. Unfortunately, they found very little success. His next band, however, would permanently alter the role of Politics in music.
Rage Against the Machine was formed in 1991 and took the world by storm. In the past, artists have incorporated social and political issues in their craft, but none like RATM. Every single song by the band preached some sort of radical, revolutionary message. The band saw themselves as renegades in a corrupt world fighting injustice wherever they saw it. In 2000, they broke up and it’s safe to say they were a success: selling millions of albums world wide and more importantly educating their audience about social issues and how they can actively prevent them.
Morello then moved on to form Audioslave, which after six years also became a huge, commercial success, selling millions of albums along the way. However, fans and Morello himself, felt he needed to play political music again, having been in what Tom calls “A right wing purgatory.” He had been playing as The Nightwatchman on the side, but now he is taking it more seriously: Albums and touring. The music is far different from his previous work (heavy metal), being folk and folk rock.
Throughout his adult life he has been a committed activist, specifically in the areas of peace, human rights, social and economic justice, and various other issues. Personally I admire Tom more for his dedicated activism and this is why I chose him. Specifically, I admire his non-profit organization, Axis of Justice (which he formed with Serj Tankian of System of a Down). The organization was formed in 1999, when Tom noticed an overwhelmingly large amount of fans sporting Nazi Swastikas and other hate symbols. The organization has made it clear that they are Anti- Racist and Anti-Fascist. Through the organization, concerts are performed in small communities where all the proceeds go to charities and activist groups. On top of that, Tom and his buddies go into the impoverished communities, where they’re playing and they help them out during their stay.
I can relate to Tom Morello, because he also sees the need for change in the world and like me, he believes in peace, freedom, and equality.

Ted Bundy

Typically, when we think of serial killers our brains conjure an image of a sadistic miscreant with distinct physical features a la John Wayne Gacy in his clown get-up; and as uneasy as that sounds, what is even more terrifying is a savage killer concealed beneath the appearance of the All American, average Joe. For such a case study, one needs to not look any further than Ted Bundy, one of America’s most horrific mass murderers.
Ted Bundy rose to infamous celebrity in the mid to late 1970s after Bundy had allegedly murdered over 30 women. As a result, Bundy is considered America’s most notorious serial killer and in fact, the term “serial killer” was first used to describe Bundy. It has been said that he was constantly charming women (even while in prison; he received hundreds of lover letters and wedding proposals just months before his execution). Of course, everyone asks the same question: “how can someone so seemingly pleasant commit such unspeakable crimes?” Well, the answer to said question is not easy and requires careful analysis of our case study. Let’s begin with his childhood.
Theodore Robert Cowell was born on November 24, 1946 in Burlington, Vermont to Eleanor Louise Cowell. The boy’s father was unknown and so Eleanor was an unwed mother, which was practically a crime in a 1940s, devout Christian America. So, to make sure she was not ostracized, she became the boy’s “older sister” and his grandparents became his “parents.” Ann Rule, Bundy biographer and one time companion, claims that “he sensed that he was living a lie.” Despite this speculation, Ted was a “good” boy: he did as he was told and loved and respected his authoritarian parents (or grandparents). On the other hand, it is now clear that there were several warning signs that he was not the most stable child. In one instance, a three year old Bundy took all the household knives and placed them around his sleeping teenage aunt, with the blades pointing in her direction.
Though Bundy is often said to have had a “normal” life, this is not true. The home he was raised in was not as peaceful as it looked on the surface. His grandmother suffered from clinical depression and his grandfather was a bizarre and extremely violent man. Sam Cowell excessively read pornography (as we will see this medium will play a significant role in the killer’s future life) and even worse threw his daughters down the stairs for sleeping to late. As strange as it sounds, for some reason the young Bundy was deeply attached to his “father” and when he was forced to move to Tacoma, Washington (3,000 miles away from Vermont) he was severely devastated. Fortunately, he adjusted to his new life and soon made friends. It should be noted that beneath Tacoma’s beauty lied a nasty underbelly: the downtown streets were filled with honky-bars, peep shows, and pornography shops. Not too long after the move, his mother married Johnny Culpepper Bundy, officially changing his last name. Ted rejected his new father and he looked down on him for not having a higher position in life, like his uncle Jack, a college professor, someone he admired. This internal conflict in the Bundy family never was resolved and as a result the two never had a chance to really know one another. When disciplining his child, Johnnie used a belt as a form of corporal punishment. This may have been a typical form of obedience for the time period or this could be seen as a cold, abusive, ultra-authoritarian tactic leaving Bundy’s relationship with his father even more torn and jaded. It is possible, that this could have contributed to the boy’s disdain for rules/laws and his lack of impulse control.
From a young age, Ted seemed special and his mother believed that he displayed the most potential out of all her children. He was active in school and usually maintained a B average. Unfortunately, besides being an above average student, his school life in Junior High was miserable. According to former classmates, Ted was shy, introverted, and often stuttered, causing the boy to bear the brunt of some of his classmates’ worst bullying, particularly during physical education class. Supposedly, Ted showered privately, instead of the open showers, where the other boys were. The tormenters took pleasure in pouring icy cold water down the back of an unsuspected Ted. Mortified, he would chase the boys away. As several other cases have proven, bullying has been a contributing factor to many serial killers and related criminals. In comparison to others of his kind, like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (the Columbine perpetrators), Ted’s experience with bullying was minimal, and yet at the same time at close inspection some factors can be deduced. All of Ted’s killings were sexually motivated and followed brutal rapes; it is possible that in his youth he was frustrated with his physical appearance (small, skinny, slender, etc.) and therefore did not want to shower where he normally would have. As an adult he expressed this rage through his atrocious behavior to gain power and it seems by doing this he could accept his self-identity. Since, he was fascinated by women his entire life, one would think Ted would chase after girls left and right in high school, but this was not the case.
Luckily for Ted Bundy, high school proved to be better than junior high school. According to former friends and acquaintances, Bundy was popular, eye-catching, extremely well-mannered, stylish, and yet he never dated. Despite this clean cut image, at a young age he engaged in various petty crimes. By the age of fifteen, he was a skilled shoplifter, and he was a suspect in a couple of auto theft and burglary cases, though never being arrested for said crimes. Of course, over the years these minute details were expunged from the Bundy profile, thus contributing to the theme of the clean cut, charming male. However, these tidbits tell us something even more important. They further demonstrate Bundy’s severe lack of impulse control. Bundy’s contempt for the law can be applied to his all around attitude toward women and social norms altogether. He desperately needed immediate gratification. As claimed in Bundy’s A&E Biography, the constant shoplifting made Bundy feel narcissistic because he could outwit the police and get away with it. This same feeling of entitlement would remain during his murders.
Besides the fact that Ted Bundy was introduced to pornography at a young age, there were other earlier warning signs of his obsession with the other sex. During his teen years, Bundy was said to have been a Peeping Tom, taking great pleasure in spying on various girls and women he found attractive.
The most disturbing “warning sign” is the theory that Ted Bundy may have begun his killing at age fifteen. Though, there is no actual evidence to support this, in hindsight, after knowing what crimes Bundy would later commit, it seems very plausible. During Bundy’s paper route days, there was an eight year old girl that he delivered the papers to and one day she was missing; she was never found. Various analysts, including Ann Rule, believe she was Bundy’s first victim.
For much of his youth, Bundy was very awkward and shy around women, but by the time he reached college, this would all change. He began creating a new façade in which he was confident, well-spoken, and cool. With Bundy’s natural charm it worked. In college he began his first sexual relationship with Stephanie Brooks. Brooks represented everything he wanted: an attractive, well-rounded, wealthy, female. To Brooks, the two were merely college sweethearts, but to Bundy this was everything, he found someone he fell in love with for the first time in his life. When the couple broke up, Bundy was left devastated. She evidently ended their relationship because she felt that he was immature and unmotivated. It can be surmised that this is why Bundy maintained an accomplished career in psychology and law (as ironic as it seems). Along with this incident, he also discovered his “older sister” Louise was actually his biological mother. It appears that these two seriously traumatic events strongly damaged what was left of an already fragile psyche. Within the next few years he would have relationships with other women and he would go back and forth with Brooks, in fact he eventually dumped her. Following this he began his murderous rampage in 1973 which lasted until 1978, when he was finally imprisoned. His trials were infamous and devoured by the media. Bundy was treated like a rock star, where court rooms were filled with adoring fans (all women, oddly enough). Archive footage displays a giggling Bundy, grinning as if he was the homecoming queen trying to decide who will go to the prom with her. He remained on Death Row until January 24, 1989, when he was executed by the electric chair to cheering families of victims, celebrating the announcement of his death, outside the prison.
In conclusion, as the film Ted Bundy asks, who was Ted Bundy? Or more importantly, who is Ted Bundy? The answer to this question as well as the question I posed before: how can someone so seemingly pleasant commit such unspeakable crimes? is still not simple and it turns out we could spend every waking hour studying Ted Bundy’s life and we still would be unsatisfied. If I’ve learned anything from Bundy’s story is that we need to be more honest about ourselves to our families, our friends, and most importantly to ourselves. Bundy desperately needed to discuss his impulse control or lack thereof with someone. He deserved to know who is real mother was as soon as possible. He needed to accept his self-identity. We, as a society can no longer discriminate and realize that anyone could be a serial killer, no matter what they look like.

The Congress

The political system of the United States is divided into several branches of power. The most powerful branch is the Congress. Congress can independently execute many powers and thus satisfy the people they represent. Alas, this is not always the case, and often Congress does not act in accordance to public opinion. There are two ways to analyze Congress: in theory and in practice. In theory, the Congress represents Americans and in practice they often represent their special interests.
Congress, as granted by Article I of the United States Constitution, has more power than any other branch in the American Government. The Constitution states that Congress shall “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States.” In theory, Congress appears to satisfy our representative democracy. Legislators are supposed to determine their votes on laws by how their constituents feel on the issues. Congresspersons are elected to represent the people and make decisions that the people allegedly cannot make themselves. Since, both major parties (Republicans and Democrats) our in Congress, Americans of various ideological views are supposed to be satisfied, to an extent. It is also key to note that, party leadership is fairly divided in Congress. Each party has a Majority Leader, Minority Leader, Majority Whip, Minority Whip, Chairman of the Conference, and various committees. Both public and private bills are introduced in Congress.
Unfortunately, Congress’ power and service to the American people is merely limited to theory in most instances. In practice, Congress do not represent Americans’ views and are actually subjected to the highest level of criticism amongst governmental bodies, with approval ratings often below ten percent. Well, there certainly is a reason for this. American citizens feel that Congress serve private and special interests rather than the majority of Americans’ interests. There are various examples that demonstrate why this statement is accurate. Mostly it is because members of Congress feel they have to vote the same as the other members or vote party line; there are few challenging personalities. For example, Congressman Ron Paul, a challenger, can testify to this when he voted against the War in Iraq and voted against the Patriot Act. Paul was one of the few Congresspersons to vote against these measures, and he suggests that other members of Congress may have voted for them to avoid being unpopular and therefore unelectable. In more recent examples, the gigantic $700 Billion (many say it is actually in the trillions) Wall Street bailout was an action the majority of the American public did not favor and yet Congress passed it anyway. Another example is President Barack Obama’s Stimulus Package, which once again most Americans do not want. The people feel this package does not satisfy their needs, but rather special interests and certain constituents. This all brings in the factor of party domination, which currently is the Democrats. So, the Democrats can use this package to spend money on their special, political interests, such as research for Global Warming. If you asked most Americans, even after viewing An Inconvenient Truth, they would not support spending millions on such an issue that does not stimulate the economy.
In closing, the Congress is the center of the United States Government because it is granted the most powers in the Constitution, but unfortunately it does not execute its powers as it should in theory to represent the people that elect them.

Random Short Story

Two Wild and Crazy Guys

At 4:32 A.M. Village Street, Fife Alabama our tale begins. Village Street contained various, heart warming, sweet inhabitants, but this story isn’t about those people. Rather, it revolves around two country bumpkin hicks named Harley and Davidson. Village Street was a quiet, tranquil neighborhood until this dynamic duo arrived.
Harley and Davidson do not live in a house. Ohh no, they share a nice, cozy, trailer park home. And of course they are always accompanied by their fiery wolverine, Wolvy. All cuked up together in this small space, they have loads of fun!
“Hey Harley, where’s my pants, I have a hot date tonight and I want teh look good?” hollered the belligerent Davidson.
“How the hell should I know?” his Neanderthal counterpart fired back at him. The trailer constantly rocked back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, creating a creaking noise that creped up on your ears. There were no bathrooms, the pair simply did their filthy business outdoors (sometimes in front of neighbors), like most animals do.
Their pad was basically empty. No real possessions. They hunted for food and cooked their prey with a grill they stole from a naïve neighbor. They slept in Ghost Busters sleeping bags, and in fact there is a wicked story behind these bags. Our heroes had purchased these sleeping bags from some junior high boy scouts in exchange for beer. Unfortunately, it was unbeknownst to the boys that O’Dools was non-alcoholic beer. Of course, not the kind they knock back daily. Which brings us to their next item, the fridge, their most prized possession for it stores all of their beer, whiskey, and just some food.
“So, what ugly, misshapen toad you dating tonight Davey?” inquired Harley
“Err, that chick Agnes, with the gold teeth and that long beautiful beard,” Davidson replied. “But, she’s not as hideous as you think. In fact, she’s far prettier than any other lady I’ve had the pleasure to date”
“I can believe that.”