Monday, June 30, 2008


Old MacDonald Had A Farm . . .

I don't always keep up with the pictures so well, but here are a few from a local farm. If you find yourself a bit southeast from Sacramento, wandering the back roads, you can pull over by the fence and look at some of the unusual animals. Or, if not unusual, at least the sorts of animals we don't usually think of as barnyard animals.

First up, we have some cattle, plus a bit of an emu coming in on the left. Check out the one on the right, with the big horns. No, he's not digging in the ground for roots. He always looks like this. The horn is so heavy that his head just tilts over all the time.

They all started taking a walk. An ok view of the horns, unfortunately less distinct because of the cow walking behind.

And a little farther, but a little clearer.

Not your typical cow. And here's a funky pony. The thing just looks so shaggy, and unlike other horses I've seen. You'll notice sheep too, and all of these animals are sharing the same field.

Longhorn, two emus, and some creepy doglike creature. It pretty much followed the same bull (cow? mommy?) wherever it went.

I have no idea what that thing is. Maybe it is just a calf. It just kooked so strange.

This is the only guy who would come right up to the fence. look at the cute eyes and the fuzzy head.

And the fuzzy neck. You just want to reach out and pet it.

Except that this bad ass is like eight feet tall and could peck your eyes out right over the top of that fence. Maybe the ostrich is a completely docile creature, but with something that big, can you really take the chance? I mean, a horse is a pretty sweet animal, but if you're not careful giving it a carrot, it'll chomp your finger off.

I guess I never really thought about it, but I was surprised by the look of the legs. here's a closeup of some ostrich feathers and the surprisingly leathery looking leg.

So until next time, put that in your cap and call it macaroni!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Jesse Jackson Watch Out! Your Shakedown Monopoly Is In Jeopardy!

It doesn't take much of a Google search to discover that Jesse Jackson has garnered a reputation as a shakedown artist of the highest order. Whether it's Anheuser Busch, or Toyota, or major telecom firms seeking mergers, Jackson finds a way to profit. His procedure is to threaten or initiate a boycott of a company, or threaten or initiate opposition to a proposed merger. When the companies in question "donate" money to Jackson, he suddenly loves the company, or suddenly feels that such and such a merger is a great idea.

Why can't you get Toyota to promise $700 million, per year, for ten years, in business to your friends, like Jackson can do for his friends? For starters, you aren't America's number one race profiteer. Heck, you aren't even California Assemblyman Joe Coto, D-San Jose. Here's what his bill would do:
The legislation had already cleared the Assembly and would have required foundations with assets of more than $250 million to disclose the ethnic, racial and gender makeup of their boards and staffs.

It also would have required them to make public the number of grants and dollars awarded to minority organizations.

Let's check the Jackson Model so far. Go to some private group with a lot of money? Check. Insinuate that said group is not meeting appropriate quotas, said quotas being determined by the person doing the threatening, er, complaining? Check. Threaten to initiate actions to financially damage said group? Check. Suddenly be friendly and announce a win-win result if the group caves in to your demands? Check.

Ten of the largest California's largest foundations agreed Monday to a multimillion-dollar, multiyear investment in minority communities.

Assemblyman Cato threatens you with legislation, but if you agree to his demands, the legislation is withdrawn.

Not everyone agrees that the picture is so rosy:
In a letter published Monday in The Bee, Richard Atkinson, a member of the Koret Foundation and president emeritus of the University of California, derided the proposed legislation.

He called it an "intrusive attempt to redirect the distribution of charitable dollars away from legitimate nonprofits" to others "anointed as more 'worthy' by the state."

Well, Jesse Jackson should consider himself to be on notice. The government has figured out it can horn in on his territory.

The information about Assemblyman Cato was originally reported by Aurelio Rojas of the Sacramento Bee.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


The Gentleman's "D"

Every year, at the last faculty meeting, the head counselor gets up and gives teachers a lecture about grades. In our district, we have a policy that a student who does not get a comment saying "In danger of failing" on the mid-quarter progress report, cannot be given an "F" on the end of quarter report card. If a student does get an "F" without that warning comment, the student is free to protest the grade and have it changed.

The result is not difficult to imagine. All it takes is hearing one or two students say "I didn't get a progress report in math, so the lowest I can get is a 'D' this quarter." Even if a student cuts the remaining 50% of the quarter, it is impossible to fail. Of course, a teacher could get the form for a hand-written supplemental progress report, mail it at least ten days before the quarter ends, and be covered. Most teachers just give every student an "In danger of failing" comment. Yes, even "A" students. Even students who seem great can go off the rails. When it comes to credits for graduation, it's best not to take any chances.

We have a second policy for graduating seniors. Graduation is on Saturday. Seniors have no school on Friday; instead, they just come in for graduation practice. Thursday is the last day for seniors. On that Thursday, teachers have until one hour after school is out to report to the counseling office any senior who is failing a class. You are notifying them that the student has failed, and there is no way for that student to pass. The counselors then call parents to tell them that little Billy or Sally won't be graduating.

Would it surprise you to learn that on Friday, some students who got the phone call arrive to argue and protest their grade? I am fortunate that for this year, my seniors who were failing knew what their status was. Last year, for one student, I was summoned to two different AP's offices to justify the failing grade given to a certain student. It was brutal. Sitting in an office with an upset mother and a crying student who insisted that I had told her she would be passing if she did assignment x, y, and z is not a fun way to spend time. The really upsetting part is that the default mindset of the district and our school is that the parents and students must be right, and it is the part of the district and school administration to determine just what sorts of things the teacher is doing wrong to have caused this terrible problem.

I don't even think the grade book would save me. After all, the student says she turned in all her work, and if the student is always right, then the teacher must have lost the work, or didn't enter it in correctly. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I made copies of her essay final, and the essay final of the student she copied from, and highlighted at least fifteen examples of word for word copying. In some cases, it was sentence for sentence copying. Based on the two papers, it was obvious that this student was the one who did the copying.

If the teacher does not report a failing senior by the one hour after school deadline, the student cannot fail. Let's say you put together this list of failing students, and forgot one. You accidentally skipped the name. That night, at home you realize your mistake. Even if that kid had a 0.0%, you MUST give a "Gentleman's 'D'" and let the student pass.

With that in mind, riddle me this: a senior graduates, attends the ceremony, is one of the speakers at the ceremony, picks up his diploma after the ceremony. How does the school get away with calling him several days later to tell him he is missing five credits and needs to take a summer school class to graduate?

If a teacher makes a mistake and doesn't include a student on the failing list, the student must be passed and be given credits he didn't earn. If the school makes a mistake, after the graduation, after the kid has taken the diploma home, they can just ungraduate him? There seems to be some sort of disconnect here. Which I should be used to by now, since this is standard procedure for our school.

As a bonus treat, I've come into possession of some intelligence, aka notes passed by students, that could be fun. Authorship is unclear, so we'll just have to go with the nicknames the corrsespondents used for themselves. We'll get to those next time.

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