Monday, October 30, 2017

Illiteracy in America

As part of the BBC's America First? series, there is a three minute video about illiteracy in the U.S.

Here's the link to the video (or just click here): http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-41754308/the-americans-who-can-t-read

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Racist Gesture. Racial Gesture. Racially Offensive Gesture. Racially Charged Gesture. Inappropriate Gesture. Insensitive Gesture.

In the news is Houston Astros player Yuli Gurriel for mocking Yu Darvish, a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers. You can see what he did here:



I'm interested in the terminology various media outlets have used in reporting it so far.

Deadspin is calling it a racist gesture.

A headline in the Los Angeles Times refers to it as an offensive gesture. The first sentence describes it as a racially charged gesture.

The New York Daily News used racist gesture.

Huffpost refers to Racist ‘Slant-Eye’ Gesture in a headline. A sentence in the article reads: "Cameras caught Gurriel stretching the corners of his eyes with his fingers, a racist gesture against people of Asian descent."

USA Today reports that Gurriel will serve a 5 game suspension next season for "slurring" Darvish. The first sentence calls it an inappropriate gesture.

The Associated Press headline is: "Gurriel banned 5 games in 2018 for racist gesture at Darvish"

The AP story tells it this way: "The Cuban-born Gurriel pulled on the corners of his eyes after homering off Darvish during Houston’s 5-3 win Friday night. He also used a derogatory Spanish term in reference to Darvish, who was born in Japan. “I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible,” Gurriel said in a statement released by the Astros. “I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it. I would particularly like to apologize to Yu Darvish, a pitcher that I admire and respect. I would also like to apologize to the Dodgers organization, the Astros, Major League Baseball and to all fans across the game,” he said."

The first sentence of a New York Times story calls it a racist gesture.

Complex calls it racist gesture in a headline.

ESPN went with insensitive gesture in this report.

Newsday called it a racist gesture.

A Yahoo headline calls it a racial gesture while the first sentence calls it a racist gesture. (Writers don't always pick their own headlines.)

NESN uses racist gesture in the headline and uses "racially offensive gesture" in the story.






Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gallup Poll: 64% of Americans Say Marijuana Should Be Legal



This is the question respondents were asked:
"Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?"

Options for answering were "Yes, legal," "No, illegal," and "No Opinion"
(2% answered no opinion).

They were telephone interviews.
Click here for source.

Click here to see states where marijuana is already legal in some form.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Review of The Trump Show, Season 1

I haven't watched every episode of The Trump Show. One of the episodes is already a rerun, the one where Trump takes on NFL athletes and demands they stand for the anthem. Trump issuing Patriot Tests is hard to watch. Him barking at athletes (black athletes engaged in silent protest) is not something I find entertaining.

In another episode called "Chuck and Nancy," Trump is hailed as someone ready to cross party lines and do whatever he can to make a deal. This fits perfectly with the long-running narrative about Trump and the so-called art of the deal. Art of the deal me out of this storyline.

The episode called "My Generals" focuses on Trump's belief that generals belong to him and highlights the role of his chief of staff John Kelly. The episode featured Kelly's views of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.

Indeed, many of the episodes are about feuds with the White House. The episode "Liddle' Bob Corker" examines Trump's schoolyard bullying behavior and notes the obvious irony of FLOTUS Melania Trump heading an cyberbullying initiative.

There are also episodes about Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her engagement with the media. They show this clip which is a useful illustration of how the administration lies to the public. Her dad Mike Huckabee makes a cameo and makes really bad jokes, something he is known for.



There's the inevitable "Bromance" episode centering on the relationship between Sean Hannity and Trump. Mike Pence makes a cameo and Pence and Hannity talk awkwardly about Trump's broad shouldered leadership.

A few episodes are merely footage of his rallies where Trump belittles people and yells about The Wall. It's kinda like a lot of the election coverage we suffered through.

In an episode called “Trump Voters,” they talk mostly to white older men who voted for Trump and why they tend to like Trump, no matter what. 17 out of 20 people who were interviewed said Trump should stop tweeting. I wish they had included white older men who didn’t vote for Trump because they exist too.

There's an episode called "Moderating Influences" and thankfully one of my kids deleted it from our DVR recordings before I could watch it. It's probably about Jared and Ivanka and I doubt it was worth watching anyway.

I'll check in on future episodes but it's definitely not appointment TV.

Song of the Day - Don't Wake Daddy by The Tragically Hip


Sled dogs after dinner
Close their eyes on the howlin' wastes
Kurt Cobain, reincarnated, sighs and licks his face...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Not Knowing What Our Students Don't Know

I was sitting in my office yesterday morning during office hours when I found out that Gord Downie died. Gord was lead singer of The Tragically Hip, a band that I love and is important to me, and that's something that is true for a lot of other people who live in Buffalo. I was sad, still am sad, still bummed, and I've been playing a lot of Hip songs in the last 24 hours.

Back to yesterday -- I was listening to the Hip in my office, sad, waiting for a student to arrive for an appointment. I knew she was coming to talk about career paths. She's a student in one of my Sociology classes. She doesn't major in Sociology but wanted my help in exploring careers.

During our meeting, I asked if she had an internship yet, and I talked with her about the process of pursuing an internship, and how she could earn three credits for completing one. This was new information to her, a junior student. It surprised me in the moment that she didn't already know what I told her. I guess I assumed that what I told her was the kind of well-known information that students possess these days. But, still thinking about our conversation, I don't know why I was surprised. I didn't know anything about internships when I was a college student. I never had an internship. I went to class, did my work, went to the library, partied, played rugby, rinse and repeat. It wasn't until my junior year when a professor asked me if I wanted to be a research assistant that I realized there was something more than my normal college routine. It was from there that I began to look beyond my day-to-day college life and began to think seriously about career possibilities. I'm not saying my conversation with my student was anywhere near that significant or important. I'm saying I'm glad I was reminded that the things we might think are common knowledge aren't necessarily so.

I've been in university communities for so long that my conception of common knowledge has changed. I have to remember what it's like to be a busy young person who might not have access to valuable information. I need to be more mindful about sharing this kind of information. As one of the first people in my extended family to go to college, I know what it feels like to navigate the unfamiliar world of higher education.

Song of the Day - Courage (For Hugh MacLennan) by the Tragically Hip




Thank you, Gord Downie, for your creativity, your songwriting, your humanity.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gord Downie, Rest in Peace

The talented and charismatic Gord Downie has passed away after a battle with brain cancer.

Another time I'll write about how Gord ushered me through my angst-ridden twenties.

For now, I'll leave with you with the beautiful Bobcaygeon from The Tragically Hip.

Could have been the Willie Nelson, could have been the wine.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Thoughts of the Day from Morrissey

Here, Morrissey dispenses some good advice, especially the part about staying in bed.

But "Spent the Day in Bed" is not only about staying in bed.

There's a Marx sounding line about worker exploitation:

"I spent the day in bed as the workers stay enslaved"

There's media criticism too:

"Stop watching the news
Because the news contrives to frighten you
To make you feel small and alone
To make you feel that your mind isn't your own"

And some good old fashioned existentialism "Life ends in death" that transitions to encouraging self-care:

"So, there's nothing wrong with
Being good to yourself
Be good to yourself for once"


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tossing Paper Towels Like a Giveaway at a Minor League Baseball Game

When I'm at Buffalo Bisons baseball games during the summer, it's fun when the workers throw objects into the crowd. You hope to get a t-shirt or some other freebie. This is Donald Trump, president of the United States, shooting paper towels into a crowd during his visit to Puerto Rico. I find this a bizarre way to interact with people during a humanitarian crisis. I am at a loss for more words.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Pain and Suffering

Seriously and sincerely
we need a day to grieve
the pain and suffering

It seems unrelenting
No relief
No let up

Fear and anxiety it will happen again and again
How do we cope?
How do we go on?