Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Short takes on various themes

  • Check out this week’s Dallas Observer for a new story about yet another young ID-forger, Jeremy Johnson, arrested near campus (last fall). Students at OU ratted out the 23-year-old student when they were caught by the cops with the fakes he'd sold them. Story says Johnson shipped thousands of IDs out of his $1500-a-month apartment at The Phoenix on Mockingbird Lane (about half a mile from school). He pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony and was sentenced to seven years' probation and fined $2,000. According to reporter Andrea Grimes' story, he also was ordered into drug rehab in Utah. Not sure why Utah, as he's a Colleyville (TX) HS grad (class of 2001). On his page, he says his greatest weakness AND his greatest fear are "hookers." Also says he's on a "break" from the university, "but not by choice." This junior gangster says he wants to die "in a hailstorm of bullets." Guy looks like a load.
  • More middle and high schools are eliminating art, music, drama, journalism, phys-ed, social studies, world history (!) and other “electives” to drill students longer and harder on math and verbal skills. It’s all about raising the standardized test scores, while saving budget money on these "extras." In Florida Gov. Jeb Bush--and we know what friends to education the Bush boys are--has introduced a 107-page bill aimed at molding Florida schools into a tougher, more career-oriented system that gives children "relevant learning opportunities" (Orlando Sentinel). Yeah, good idea. Make school more boring. That will keep ’em in their seats for 12 years. American education takes another 40 giant steps backward. And college profs everywhere shake their heads at the prospect of explaining to future undergrads even more basic stuff they should have learned before.
  • Meanwhile, several state legislatures, including Florida, Georgia, Kansas and Utah, are trying to declare the Bible a textbook in public schools. No art, world history or PE, but Jesus? You betcha!
  • Elsewhere, a scientist from U-Conn has predicted human time travel possible in the next 94 years. If we could move people back and forth in time, I say let’s zap Thomas Jefferson forward and have him tell these yahoos a few things about what he really intended in the First Amendment. “Yes, I really did mean freedom FROM religion, too,” I can hear him saying. “And could you introduce me to Halle Berry?”
  • Will they have to make the school desks bigger, too? Baby-seat manufacturers are having to super-size car seats and carriers because tots are getting fatter earlier. And Maury Povich smiles, knowing that his “fat baby day” theme-shows will have no trouble finding new 200-lb toddlers to waddle onto his stage for years to come. And because schools won't be teaching PE...well, you can extrapolate the results. From fat babies to fat and stupid adults. I don't want to time-travel to that part of the future where Homer Simpson is regarded as an intellectual icon.
  • Best case for not letting pretty kids drop out of high school and enter the world of modeling: MTV’s 8th & Ocean series. It follows a group of dumb but incredibly beautiful teen-agers living in group apartments in Miami, obsessing over their weight, their boob size and the one zit that could get them fired from the agency. There haven’t been this many vacant looks in big eyes since Farrah Fawcett last gazed in a mirror. Horrifying and compelling.
  • Want to wake up a sleepy college class? Just mention the latest episode of 8th & Ocean. They watch it. They worship it.
  • This weekend in Acuna, Mexico, they’ll be hosting the annual “Running of the Cows” (their version of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls). Made me think that on campus, they could hold a “Running of the Ashleys” to commemorate the official post-Easter switch to white pants and white sandals. Or Highland Park (our version of Beverly Hills) could organize a “Running of the Poodles.” What are your suggestions for location-specific “Running of…” events? Post them in Comments here and the best three (decided by moi) will receive fabulous prizes. From the over-stuffed gimme closet, I’ve just pulled a very fine “Phantom of the Opera” black canvas tote bag. Have fun and I’ll post more later. After seeing and reviewing 12 plays in three weeks, I’m still recuperating from keyboard-cramp.


Anonymous gpo said...

Well, the obvious companion event would be the "Running of the Brads".
Place two kegs at the bottom of Fraternity Row then yell as loud as you can, "Dude! Free Beer!"
Step back and watch the fun...
Come to think of it you could do the same thing at the Majestic and call it the "Running of the Stagehands".

1:59 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Didn't that Sisters describe two versions of an already-existing "Running of the Ashleys?"

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Hillary said...

the "Running of the Eyeliner". Welcome back, the sweat of summer.

PS, Professor... you didn't happen to catch the play 'I Am My Own Wife' did you?

2:29 PM  
Anonymous SMU 75275 said...

If we had been able to set this up sooner we could have had a "Rolling of the Wheelchairs" as we packed up all the elderly residents of University Gardens and rolled them across the Mockingbird Blvd. overpass to the other side of Central Expressway. Where they go from there would have been up to them as it is not up to SMU anymore.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

I vote for the the "Running of the Hummers"...let all the assholes, spoiled frat boys and HP soccer moms driving Hummers line up on 75, and put a cheap gas station at the finish line. Watch them all drive like idiots (much like rush hour traffic!) to get the cheapest gas possible for their environmentally unsound, standard-issue Yuppie Army-mobiles. With any luck, the majority of them will destroy each other in their haste and my commute to work each day will be a lot easier.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Doug & Dara said...

Here in Austin, it could be:
Running of the Bevos
Running of the Longhorns
Running of the margaritas (or mojitos, or mexican martinis)
Running of the techies
Or running of the legislature -- no wait, make that running from the legislature, they truly are fools

3:26 PM  
Blogger theprofessor said...

To answer Hillary: Yes, I saw "I Am My Own Wife." You can find my review at, click on "Culture," then go back about three or four weeks. It bored the crap outta me. One actor, 34 roles and no plot. Zzzzz. Sometimes these choices for Pulitzers puzzzzzzle me lotzzzz.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Yvette said...

Running of the Experiment

Ok sorry, that was just my excuse of an attention grabber because I know few people will start reading about physics independently. ;-) In short, Prof, I am very skeptical of the time travel article you posted for a variety of reasons. Here are a few without getting into too much physics-speak:
~ What he's proposing to measure is such a small fluctuation that you would never be able to measure this unless you had several kilometers or so at your disposal. Light does have a small amount of mass, but even Earth only deflects light about a centimeter across a large lecture hall (and think of how much more massive the Earth is!).
~ Even if the experiment worked and you got a result supporting time travel, as of right now the theory is based on several other theories that have yet to be verified in experiment. So you would have a really hard time trying to convince anyone that the measured anomaly was due to this and not to a myraid of other potential things.
In short, I don't see us having conversations with Jefferson anytime soon (my personal idea on time travel is it's nearly if not completely impossible else we would have had visitors from the future already). I guess we get to ponder what he would have thought of our society on our own!

4:15 PM  
Blogger Angel, librarian and educator said...

Now there is an idea, having the time machine to bring Jefferson back to explain that it does mean freedom FROM religion as well. Bring Thomas Paine back too for some updated _Common Sense_. I mention because I recently read it, and it does seem at times very relevant to our times, too bad the yahoos running things would not read it given their apparent aversion to education. Hmm, thinking about it, we may have to explain the concept of the alusion and what a yahoo actually is (other than a Web Directory). Best, and keep on blogging.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous :) said...

D&D in Austin left out the most appropriate "Running of the queers and steers" or "Running of the cow-lovers" and for those football fans, the one that Ricky initiated, "Rolling of the Doobies".

12:34 AM  
Blogger Cold Potato said...

The runs in in the stockings.

The running of the toilet (die you stinking piece of porcelean!).

The running of the Diarrhea Association (Chigago, local chapter).

The running of the people running away from bulls in Pampolona.

The running of the turtles.

2:09 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

I've got a question for you.

What is your take on the idea of a 9-10th grade education for those NOT going to college (I think the European education model does this).

"And could you introduce me to Halle Berry?"

I'm sending you a bill for a new keyboard. My has my Diet coke all in the keys.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Jeff the Baptist said...

I have to disagree with you on the back to basics approach in education. A lot of educators think that this is very good thing.

If you lack basic reading and writing skills then teaching "drama, journalism, social studies, world history" are a waste of the kid's time. It isn't "fun" or productive because either the kids can't learn what they is required for understanding or dumb all the lessons down so much it isn't productive. The same thing goes with math skills in the sciences. Math is the foundation of science and reading/writing is the foundation of the humanities. Art, Music, and Phys-Ed are something else though.

If you look at schools dedicated to turning under-achievers into over-achievers, they all take this back to basics approach. And they succeed where the public schools have failed again and again.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Henry said...

In re, point number four's suggestion that Jefferson would support the freedom from religion. If I take the meaning correctly, which I may not, this suggests that Jefferson would support an individual's right to never have to experience the profession of another's religious belief (billboards, hearing prayer, seeing the words in print, etc.) I'd offer the following to suggest that such a take is a serious misreading of Jefferson's previous writing.

Section II of "A Bill For Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia" (the model for the US' eventual amendment):

"Section II. We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, or shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil liberties."

The bolded part, as it was explained to me, has been read to say that the right of the individual to profess religious beliefs is paramount so long as it doesn't infringe on the functioning of another person. A personal desire to never encounter religious messages doesn't rise to the level of an individual right that could be read to restrict another person from making public professions of faith. No, that's not to condone the Ten Commandments in front of a public building, but rather the ability for people to be able to express religious beliefs, even while serving in office.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the diva:

I would think that the stereotypical opinion of the spoiled frat boys and HP soccer moms in their Hummers is that they don't need to be bothered with the details like where the gas comes from, how much it is or how environmentally destructive their SUV is, because as long as they can put it on Daddy's platinum card it doesn't really matter.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"From fat babies to fat and stupid adults." What a nuanced view of the problem of obesity in American society. People with weight problems are stupid and lazy ala Homer Simpson? I'm dissapointed in you prof.


1:27 PM  
Anonymous lauren said...

I think the stupid remark was an attack on removing the electives from schools, not an implication about obesity.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Garnigal said...

Running of the Toothless Rednecks in any small town in North America. Cheap, fun, and non-gender specific, like those anto-feminist bulls in Pamplona.

I have some cousins I'd gladly volunteer for the cause.

5:05 PM  
Blogger DVE said...

Here in Eugene, Oregon, we could hold a "Running of the Hippies" to commemorate the Spring Equinox. Pass around conga drums and homemade flutes to the audience, tie-dye uniforms to the participants, and weed for everyone at the finish line.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On this side of the pond, there has been a concerted effort in recent years to teach for the test. The result? test scores have gone up every year for over a decade. The reaction? Constant accusations from the tabloid press that the tests must be easier (as there is no way students today could be doing better than, for instance, the typical tabloid hack and his peers).

There is no way to win this.

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Runnung (up) of the charge card !

Dave Avery

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doggone spell check-

The Running (up) of the charge card.

7:10 AM  
Blogger The Calvinator said...

In the Dallas City Council Chambers, they have the Running of the Bullsh*t

9:22 AM  
Blogger The Calvinator said...

In Boca Raton, they have the Running of the Hoverounds.

9:31 AM  
Blogger The Calvinator said...

On the set of ABC's "The View," you will find The Running of the Mouths.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Running of the tourists.

I live across the street from part of Ye Olde Ivory Tower and it is getting to be the time of year where it is regularly wall-to-wall tourists.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i do wish you'd stop flogging the sinking ship. we're not all like that, you know.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Morgaine said...

I'd say "running of the red-necks" for Kentucky, but they already have an annual Hilbilly Days festival every year that brings them from all over the country. I don't want to encourage that kind of behavior. The ones we have are more than I can handle.

Kids are getting fatter because we are feeding them animal foods full of growth hormones, pesticides, chemicals and arsenic. They get bigger earlier, experience precoscious puberty, horrid acne, uncontrollable sex drives and eventually, infertility problems.Then they die of cancer.

The Bush family is evil. They are preparing our children to be drones in a serfdom. Sophistication of the type created by social sciences and the arts only makes them hard to control and adds nothing to profits for the ruling class. The irony is that studying music improves math scores, social studies class creates empathy and drama improves reading skills.

8:53 PM  
Anonymous highschoolkid07 said...

Haha! HIllary's was really good! I hope she wins, hehe!

"Running of the common sense" - It seems to happen a lot right before and during the summer time for kids at my school.

"Running of the Freshmen" - I know. Lame. But you'll seriously see it in our halls. They are wandering all over the place. The halls are PACKED with kids who will eventually drop out of school.

Anyway, I wanted to comment on the bible thing. I've always thought it would be a good idea in some advanced English class that reading the bible be required. Not because we are converting children, but because when you read and analyze literature, familiarity with the bible makes it SOOO much easier to do. I'm telling you, Catholicism has given me some good English BSing abilities. For Srs. in AP English and IB students, they should be studying Old and New testaments, Qu'ran, and acclaimed works of other religions. I mean, whether you like it or not, religion has a BIG role in societies and cultures! Of course, my idea will never go because everyone sees it as conversion. *sigh*

11:28 PM  
Blogger War Bride said...

To quote one a member of one of the school boards I cover:

"We're spending so much time on reading and math, and in a year or two they're going to start adding science to the [standardized tests]. I know we need to make the state requirements for proficiency, but what's going to happen to history? Social studies? Any of the social sciences? We're narrowing our curriculum year by year, and it's going to hurt our kids."

And it's true.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Ok, so we're saying that kids should do nothing but study reading and math for an entire 7-hour school day? Especially in elementary school, the kids get burned out really quickly. Trust me, I know this. The school I'm at spent the past 2 months leading up the the PSSAs (PA Standardized Assessment) doing reading from 8:45 a.m. until 11:15 a.m. and math from 1:00 p.m. until 3:15 p.m. every day. My third graders absolutely hated it. It got to the point that it was damn near impossible to hold their attention because it was the same drill and practice stuff all day. this is *not* the way to encourage students to enjoy learning. Okay, so people think we should dispose of science and social studies and such, and go "back to the basics". That's not going to help if the students absolutely hate the idea of learning and think school is stupid because they never do anything interesting.
Not to mention the fact that getting rid of science and social studies in early elementary school is a fast track to seriously crippling the fields... Kids are more receptive to science at an early age than they are once they get to high school, and if we give them the impression that science isn't important, because we don't teach it at all unil 6th or 7th grade (or even later), what's that going to do to the number of people who go into the science and medical fields? Something that I doubt most legislators (who have probably never even seen a classroom of students) have even considered.

12:57 AM  
Anonymous lucille said...

When I did daycare in Boston, January always brought The Running of the Noses.

At Oberlin, the smell of hamburger often brought The Running of the Vegetarians (anemics in Birkenstocks with white-person dreadlocks streaming behind them, all usually racing toward the guilty pleasure)

Now that I have a kid, I daily witness The Running of the Washing Machines.

But I still vote for Hillary.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flogging a sinking ship?

That mixture (running?) of metaphors is worthy of its own prize.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:53 PM  
Blogger ElizabethDemeusy said...

"I say let’s zap Thomas Jefferson forward and have him tell these yahoos a few things about what he really intended in the First Amendment."

Good idea! Except... James Madison wrote the first and second amendments (and the Constitution too). I think you might be thinking of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which TJ wrote and was the basis for the First Amendment.

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Heels said...

First, I love this blog.

Second, my scientist friend explained to me (in necessarily simple terms for this English major) that parents are healthier/bigger now, which means that babies are healthier/bigger now--I call it vitamin-enhanced, turbo-charged superbabies.

(Of course the sad, sad Maury Povich cases don't count.)

Normal bigger babies = good = healthier, usually.

Finally, we're gearing up for election time in my troubled southern state. It's the Running of the Mouths or the Running of the Spin all the time here. If you count the lobbyists, you could call what goes on 'round here the Running of the Bull.

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