Wednesday, March 30, 2005

If you are not a dream, whose reality are you?

First, I've been married for a lot of years and I am still in love with my wife. I've never cheated on her, and I never intend to. But sometimes in dreams . . . well, dreams are not real life. Things are different in dreams . . . and . . .

So anyway, I dreamt I was talking to an old girlfriend. We haven't (in real life) seen each other for almost 25 years. In the dream I was listening as she went on about how we could never get back together. Although I didn't say anything, I agreed because she just didn't look the same. She had lost her looks, but not because of age, she was as old as she was then, she just didn't look good.

As she continued talking, her looks became more masculine, until she was a boy. Then she/he confessed that he was actually the brother of my old girlfriend. (In real life she only had a sister). He was trying to decide if he should let his sister date me again. Then his sister came into the room and although she looked different than I remember, she still looked mighty fine.

She came and through her arms around me and we kissed with mouths closed, until she grazed my lips with her tongue. And then I woke up. I was in a good mood, well, because this was a good dream. But I wasn't upset at being awake, because I love my wife.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Alaskan Oil

A representative from the Sierra Club was at my door earlier today. He was explaining his petition against drilling in the Artic Wildlife Refuge when I stopped him. I didn't want him to waste his time because I think we should drill. He was seriously taken aback at my heretical view, and asked why.

After providing my objection to sending more money to Middle-Eastern terrorists and their supporters, I asked him about the drilling that's been going on for years in Prudhoe Bay. Environmentalists were up in arms over drilling there, but after all these years, I wanted to know; have there been problems, you know, environmental degradation, dead seals, polluted snow, anything like that?

At first he tried to explain about weather patterns carrying smog to California and Europe. When I asked him to slow down, because I didn't understand how oil drilling in Alaska could directly cause smog in two different parts of the world, and in different directions from Alaska, he laughed and admitted he didn't know. They're paying hime to collect signatures and that's what he's doing.

You must have to up the organizational food chain to get to the knowledgeable folk.

He was unfailingly polite, and I was able to discuss the issue with him rationally, but what has happened at Prudhoe Bay since they began drilling?


Monday, March 28, 2005

Who Are the New Nazis?

It's become all to fashionable in some circles to ask if the Israelis are the "new Nazis" and the Palestinians are the "new Jews". The answer to that question is: No, you idiot!

By using the term "idiot" to describe someone who asks that question, I'm not questioning the intelligence of those asking. I'm doubting their honesty and their knowledge of recent (since the 1930s or so) history. Let's see why. We can examine some parallels and differences between the different groups (Jews, Palestinians, and Nazis) and different time periods.

1. In the 1930s the Jews wanted to live in peace and the Nazis wanted to blame all of their problems on the Jews. The Nazis managed to murder entire Jewish communities and destroy a large portion of world Jewry.

Today the Jews want to live in peace and the Palestinians want to blame all of their problems on the Jews. The Palestinians have killed some Jews but not as many as the Nazis did. This is because they haven't been able to build a civilization that would allow them the technology needed for that kind of destruction. They are trying to buy it though.

2. In the 1930s, most of the world thought that if they only acquiesced to some of the Nazi demands, you know, give them Czechoslovakia, and maybe Austria, and oh just a piece of Poland . . . and let them kill the Jews, the Nazis wouldn't bother them any more.

Today, most of the world thinks that if they acquiesce to the Palestinians and just give them Israel and let them kill the Jews, the Palestinians won't bother them any more.

Since it didn't work with the Nazis, why do people think it will work with the Palestinians?

3. In the 1930s and 40s, the Palestinians (who weren't Palestinians yet, but that's grist for another post) actively supported the Nazis, as did most Arab nations.

Today the pathetic remnants of the Nazis support the Palestinian efforts to destroy Israel.

4. In the 1930s the Jews were defenseless and at the mercy of their anti-semitic neighbors who (except for a few brave exceptions) either actively helped the Nazi murderers or watched silently as the Nazis did their dirty work.

Today the Jews have their own country. They don't have to depend on the largesse of their neighbors. They are fighting back. And they're winning. And that's upsetting the current appeasers and anti-semites. The anti-semites will deny their Jew hatred and pretend they're only criticizing the policies of the Sharon government, but they allow every country on Earth the right to defend themselves except the one majority Jewish nation. Coincidence? I doubt it.

In conclusion, the Jews are still the Jews, but they're done being victimized, much to the chagrin of those anti-semitic mental midgets. The Palestinians are the new Nazis. You can see that from the photo in the previous post, which was supposed to be in this post, but I'm still learning how to do all of this.

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Here are some Palestinian Fatah terrorists saluting in the manner of a famous German political party that came to prominence in the 1930s, murdered six million Jews and millions of Catholics, Gypsies, and other undesirables in the 1940s, laid waste to Europe, and was run by a twisted psychopath with a tiny moustache. They called themselves Nazis. Posted by Hello

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Beckett, 20 Years Later

Back in my bartending days, there was an incredible independent bookstore a few doors down from the bar I tended. The owner recommended I read MALLOY, by Samuel Beckett. I ended up reading the whole trilogy and found it enjoyable but almost unbearably intense and claustrophobic.

Rereading MALLOY 20 or so years later, it's pretty darn funny. Beckett's humor totally escaped me back then. For a highbrow literature type, he's darn funny. In fact, he's as funny as Joyce.

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Friday, March 25, 2005

Who's the obstacle to peace?

There have been varioius articles over the past few days about the expansion of Israell settlements being an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. I was going to remind people that no matter the level of vicious attacks waged by the Palestinians, it's always the Israelis who get the blame for the violence and lack of peace. Then I found this article. It's about the settlements. It's on a Jewish website.

That, of course, raises the question: Why should I believe a Jewish website over a Muslim or a Palestinian website? It's simple. The Palestinians lie. Their entire argument and attempts at legitamization are founded on a constant stream of lies. How can I make this claim? How can you substantiate it?

You could check the archives of major newspapers and see that the facts of the article's explanations square with the news. That would take time, but it would increase your background knowledge of events over the past century.

You could also visit Palestinian websites. Many Muslim and Palestinian websites traffic in holocaust denial, and acceptance of the admitted Russian forgery; The Protocals of the Elders of Zion as fact. They offer bizarre conspiracy theories of Jewish/Zionist control of The Media, Hollywood, The United States, etc. They whitewash, and rewrite history. There are also claims among some Muslim groups that Israelis (and Americans in Iraq) steal body parts from dead Palestinian children. Most of the vile lies passed off as truth in the Muslim world are updated versions of old European anti-Jewish lies. Even the old blood libel is alive and well in the Muslim world. So not only are they proven liars, but they couldn't even come up with their own lies; they appropriated them from Europe. How morally and spiritually bankrupt must a society be to steal the lies of another to make them their own?

The first step to peace in the Middle East is for the Palestinians, and the entire Muslim world to take responsiblility for their actions. They have to grow up and admit that they have created a hate-filled dysfunctional society, and it would be that way even if their were no Jews. Then they have to stop spreading violence. Those Jewish settlements are neighborhoods and cities. Make peace or there will be more.

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Loud Dreams

As the dream began I was watching The Twilight Zone or the Slumberland equivalent. I dream in color, something I understand most people don't do, but since it was the original Twilight Zone, the TV was in black and white.

As the show neared its climax, a nurse was about to open a door that she shouldn't open. I, as the viewer knew that trouble was coming, and so did the guy in the show who began to scream warnings at her.

Suddenly, I was the guy screaming at her. I yelled out, "No, no!"

Then I woke up. My wife was awake. Her look told me that it was my yelling in my sleep that woke her. My son had also been awakened. My daughter sleeps through anything. She missed the fun. I apologized and managed to hold in my laughter as I described the dream to my wife and son. We all went back to sleep, but my wife may have been a bit shaken. I apologized again in the morning.

This reminds me of once about 10 years ago, when my son was around five or six. He talked in his sleep a lot. One night he yelled out, "Dad, come here!"

Being awakened from a sound sleep like this was startling so I ran to his room. "What's the matter?" I asked.

"What's an animal that jumps?" he asked me.


"What's an animal that jumps?"

"I don't-"

"Just tell me a kangaroo."

"OK, a kangaroo."

"Thanks, Dad."

"You're welcome."

Of course he was asleep during this entire conversation, and when I asked him about it in the morning, he didn't remember a thing.

According to my mother, my father talks in his sleep sometimes. Heredity or coincidence? You decide!


Saturday, March 19, 2005

MAD Poetry

Like most Americans, I went through the public schools. And like most Americans, my public school education (in the 60s and early 70s) was sadly bereft of poetry. My Kindergarten teacher probably read us nursery rhyme, or maybe my parents did, I don't remember. The only public school exposure I remember was Junior High. My seventh grade English teacher had us find a poem to read and explain to the class. Those being my lazy days, I, along with some other classmates "borrowed" the poetry book one classmate had actually gone to the library to get. Being the last one in line, all of the short poems were taken. I ended up having to read many stanzas of verse. I remember stopping at one point and asking if I should continue reading the entire thing. I probably didn't get a very good grade. In eighth grade, we were encouraged to use a rock or pop tune as our poetic presentation. I chose War Pigs, from Black Sabbath's second album, Paranoid. I felt so radical, man!

Fortunately for me, I was an avid reader of MAD Magazine. It was there I received my childhood poetry education. For years I read and laughed at poetic parodies of formerly famous poems by Frank Jacobs. Over time I read the poems he's parodied and I still chuckle reading them, because I remember the parodies. I think my favorites were his rewriting well known poems as if another famous poet had written them. He redid Casey at the Bat numerous times. He toyed with Poe, Kipling, Kilmer, Longfellow, and others I should have been reading in school. I think MAD ran The Rime of the Ancienct Mariner as written, but it was illustrated by Don Martin

I was thrilled when I saw PITILESS PARODIES, and Other Outrageous Verse, by Frank Jacobs, the purveyer of MAD poetry for all those years. Even more exciting was that it's put out by Dover books so it's cheap. I have a fantasy of one day meeting Frank Jacobs and thanking him for helping me learn a little about and appreciate poetry, although probably not in the way the poets intended.

I have a theory that you can trace the decline in American culture by the decline in the quality of MAD targets of satire. But that's another post.

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Too sensitive for my own good?

Last Saturday The Detroit News ran a commentary by Iman Mohammed Ali Elahi. He's a regular whose occasional Saturday column rotates with those of religious leaders from other faiths. A regular theme of his columns is the alleged rise in anti-Muslim bigotry. He never mentions the government sponsored anti-semitism being taught to school children in Muslim countries though.

His other main theme is that although there are Muslim "extremists", there are also Christian and Jewish extremists. Never mind that there are no Christian or Jewish extremists hijacking airplanes to fly them into buildings. Neither are they bombing nightclubs, trains, busses, police stations, random crowds of innocent bystanders; invading elementary schools, training their children to become "martyrs" by strapping bombs to their bodies to kill "infidel" children, stabbing film makers . . . uh-oh, am I demonstrating an anti-Muslim bias? Sorry, just trying to reinforce a point that's been made innumerable times.

In this last column the Iman claims: "There are Jewish extremists who believe those do not confess the Torah must be killed". As Jews do not "confess the Torah", I wondered where the Iman got this wacky quote. On a google search I found my answer at the website for the National Socialist Movement, an American Nazi organization. It's
number 26 of their phony Talmudic Quotations from their Phony Talmudic Quotations page.

In my outrage, I emailed the News, my rabbi, some friends, and various Jewish outlets with bigger voices than I have. My rabbi expressed concern as did some of my friends, but the bigger voices haven't responded at all. That makes me wonder, am I becoming too sensitive to a poorly hidden anti-semitic libel? Is my life turning into an old Woody Allen movie? Am I becoming one those types I learned to make fun of back in the 60s and 70s; the ones who were constantly warning us of the Communist Menace and the dangers of the UN?

If I am, I'm certainly going to make the best of it! My children are not going to grow up to be second class citizens in a Muslim dominated world!

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Phonics Instruction

I was looking over some flyers today from a local college. They're trying to gather students for their Summer Literacy Institute, or what ever it's called. I looked over their offerings to see what the competition was like. Yes, besides my day job as an elementary school teacher, I'm also a reading tutor.

Their program is broken up by grade levels, but they offer phonics in all grades up to third grade. If you look at phonics books, you also see them written for all grade levels up to fifth grade. All of the big educational publishers have their own phonics program. Unfortunately they're all worthless. You should not be teaching phonics in fifth grade. It should be done in Kindergarten or first grade. Then students can use their phonetic knowledge for the rest of their school careers.

The thing about these programs is their written by people who have no understanding of an effective phonics program. They're sold mainly to teachers who have been taught that either phonics doesn't work, or that a "balanced" reading curriculum should include a bit of phonics, but not too much. They don't know what an effective phonics program consists of becuase they've been taught by instructors who also have no understanding of an effective phonics program.

Parents buy these books, because teachers can't steer them in the right direction, so they buy what they see displayed.

There are effective programs out there. See my previous posts about how to teach children to read for more information.

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Who built America?

I have no patience with music on the radio. Having been slowly turning into a curmudgeon over the years, I can't tolerate radio commercials or stupid DJs while I'm driving. There isn't nearly enough jazz, (real jazz, not the musical abomination, smooth jazz) and classic rock stations rarely dig deep enough to get to the good stuff. So I spend my drive flipping through stations hoping for an occasional good tune, but mostly bouncing around both sides of AM talk radio.

The other day, on the liberal side, Ed Schultz claimed that three things built the United States: Medicare, Medicade, and Social Security. I may be young and naive, but didn't American industry, free markets, a strong work ethic, and the promise of upward mobility have anything to do with creating this country? Did he really mean it, or was this Rush-wanna-be filling time with whatever foolish thoughts jumped out of his mouth? Some of us have to work to pay those Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security bills. With any luck we still have enough money to put food on our table and clothe our children. Beyond that, we'd also like to be able to spend a bit on ourselves, if that doesn't take too much out of the hands of M, M, and S.S.

If that's all his side has to offer, they're going to continue to be on the outs.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Dave Douglas

This past weekend I took my wife to see my favorite trumpet player,
Dave Douglas at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor. We sat in the front row, which was so close, we could rest our feet on the stage. We could have shaken hands with Dave and the other musicians, but they were busy.

They played tunes from Dave's latest CD, Mountain Passages, with his latest band, which features: reeds, cello, tuba, and drums. He also featured songs that haven't been recorded yet. It was a great concert. I hate trying to describe music, because especially in the case of Mr. Douglas, it's so abstract. Yes, this dynamite band created moods, painted tonal pictures, but they also swung like crazy, something any self-respecting jazz musician had better be able to do.

I constantly marvel at what Douglas can do with the unusual ensembles he creates. The first Dave Douglas CD I ever bought was The Tiny Bell Trio, Live in Europe. I was amazed at the music and the beauty he created with a trumpet, electric guitar and drums. I suppose it's all in the compositions. Duke Ellington wrote with specific musicians in mind. Dave might do the same thing. Whatever he does, it works.

After the show, he was peddling the new release, so I bought one, which he graciously signed. Buy it. It's great.

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