Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What Won't Be On The Test: Evolution, For One Thing

I'll just quote Jonathan Turley on this, since I could not surpass his deft snarkiness (thoughj I might match it, with enough effort):
New York City Department of Education Bans References To Dinosaurs To Avoid Insulting Creationists
This story is so bizarre that I had to check it twice to make sure it was not an early April Fool’s joke. The New York City Department of Education has barred the use of “Dinosaur” on tests to avoid upsetting people who believe creationism. Putting aside the fact that creationists do not deny that dinosaurs existed, the decision is to bar the use of a reference to an entire species because a fact might insult religious sensibilities.

Educations (sic) in New York decided that, with such things as Halloween and dancing, the reference to dinosaurs “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.” Also banned is the word “evolution.” It is basically designing a test for Sarah Palin to pass.

Birthday” is also out because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays.

The problem with this type of self-censorship is that runs against a core value of public education. I have been a long advocate of public educations and we have kept our kids in the public schools. Public schools are a core foundation for civil society — training future citizens in a shared and pluralistic environment. A child must learn not to be “distracted” by references to evolution because it is an accepted scientific fact in the world. It is part of the learning process and is itself a measurement of educational development. The same can be said for the realities of dancing and birthdays. Political correctness is being allowed to trump intellectual content.

Here is the complete list of words that could be banned:
Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
Bodily functions
Cancer (and other diseases)
Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
Children dealing with serious issues
Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
Death and disease
Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
Gambling involving money
Homes with swimming pools
Junk food
In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
Loss of employment
Nuclear weapons
Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
Rap Music
Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
Rock-and-Roll music
Running away
Television and video games (excessive use)
Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
Vermin (rats and roaches)
War and bloodshed
Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.
Turley sources The Daily Mail.

I have little to add except that, if those words won't be on any tests in NYC's public schools, then they won't appear ANYWHERE. They will not EXIST in the curriculum either. Nothing about "evolution," no "poverty," no "slavery," etc; because if it's not on the test, it's not in the classroom.

Gay-ron-fucking-TEED, chers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dr. Woody's Fabulous, Fascinating Factoid, #4: Gladiators Died Hard.

Because I still vividly recall the epic 1960 film, starring Kirk Douglas, Olivier and the LUSCIOUS Jean Simmons (screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, for all you buffs),the recent televised emergence--or possibly the re-emergence--of the "Spartacus phenomenon" has a couple of dimensions which are interesting, to the semiotician in me.

First, there's the revolutionary spirit-thing: Spartacus, the historical person, was a gladiator who did lead a doomed, but for a time successful slave-revolt, in the army of which were MANY other former gladiators.

When finally conquered, the defeated slaves were ordered by the Romans to turn over their leader. But, instead, the story goes, they all rose, to a man, and proclaimed themselves to be "Spartacus." There is an obvious appeal to such a figure, such a story in such times as ours. They were ALL crucified by the Romans for their troubles, every 10 yards, for a couple of miles along the Via Appia, on the way back to Rome, iirc.

But their ultimate, grisly fates notwithstanding, the refrain "We Are ALL Spartacus" resonates with certain features of the Occupy movement, because we are, actually, after all, ALL Occupiers.

Then there's the homo-erotic-stimulation-thing...Peter Graves' duet with Kareem in the cockpit scene in "Airplane" was funny, because it struck, smote, clattered a familiar meme.

Plus, since it's on cable, you get plenty of "hetero" tits and ass, too. Gasping, heaving, sensual nudity has been a staple in "classical" stories on cable since the beginning of the medium.and they have returned to these pleasant waters with a certain verve...

And there's the war-pron-thing.

Computerized graphics makes it possible to animate the imagined consequences of fierce blows struck with sharp blades and other implements with unprecedented, in-the-moment detail. Hey, boys! Just in time for next X-mas: Spartacus "action" figures! They don't just bleed, THEY SPURT! THEY GUSH! THEY SPEW BLOOD!

On the reality side, it appears, from evidence exhumed from several old Roman grave-sites for deceased gladiators uncovered in recent years, the most common, death-dealing wound with which failed combatants were dispatched was a single, violent plunge of the "gladius" (the short, straight sword for which the gladiators are named) directly down the throat of the conquered opponent.

This suggests to me that the vanquished fighters were expected to submit to their conquerors, and not to merely fall to them. A last, fatal humiliation.

I think it must be an extraordinarily unpleasant way to die.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Push Rush

Woody advises: Rush gets payed handsomely to say aloud, in public, and on the radio, where anybody can hear it, what several SCORE of million mouth-breathing, troglodytic, knuckle-dragging, misogynistic creeps want to hear--but daren't themselves say, much less think, on penalty of their spouses going all Bobbit on their asses (so to speak).

They can't say it even at home any more.

But Rush can, during the day, when they're out driving, alone, in a rental or a company car, Fed-Ex or UPS truck, between cold call and hot delivery. He echoes cavernously in the fiberglass and aluminum coffins.

Push just about any button on a rental-car radio. And the dittoes POUR forth...

(I'll Be) "Willin'!"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Who Kicked Rush's Flapping Ass Better? Jon or Stephen?

It will be a sad day for me when Rush's foreskin finally is able to slip up over his bulbous, porcine, feculent snout and suffocate him.

But it won't be a fucking DAY too soon!!!

The Daily Show got on it first:

The "Repor'" followed suit: "I don't know how this man has gone through four wives."