Archive for March, 2010

I Hate Thomas Friedman

NOTE: I do not actually hate Thomas Friedman. The above title is an example of hyperbole (comic exaggeration for dramatic effect).

Thomas Friedman is a moron buttface dork-butt moron. I read his latest column during lunch today and freaked out the students playing Go in my room because I kept shouting “I hate you, Thomas!” and “Shut up, Thomas!”

Let’s break it down, piece by piece, to examine the stupid:

Underlying the latest U.S.-Israel spat over settlements is the deeper — real — problem:

First of all: What spat? You call that a spat? Whatever — we’ll come back to that later. You might naively think that he’s going to tell you what the real, deeper, really real problem is in the introduction paragraph, right? I mean, he’s all using colons and stuff. But noooooooo! He barely makes his point understood by the end of the freaking piece, and the colon is apparently just like a moustache on the sentence — it serves no purpose other than decoration.

He goes on to explain the differences between Salam Fayyad and Yasser Arafat. (Full disclosure: I helped proofread the YA article to prep it for FA status.) I’ll be honest and admit that I know very little about Fayyad’s strategy, so let’s just go with Mr. F there. But I know he’s full of crap here:

Iran’s strategy, explains Grinstein, is simple: Destroy Israel through a combination of asymmetric warfare […]  delegitimize Israel by accusing it of war crimes when it combats Hamas and Hezbollah, who fight while nested among civilians

Now I’m the first to agree that it’s horrible for Hamas and Hezbollah to fight while “nested among civilians”. But that doesn’t mean Israel isn’t guilty of war crimes! Iranians aren’t legitimately upset about war crimes. They’re just trying to “delegitimize Israel”! Nasty Iranians.

What about this crapola (again, about Iran’s supposed strategy):

“religiousize” the conflict by making it Muslims versus Jews, focusing on symbols like Jerusalem

Yeah! If only Iran would stop trying to “religiousize” the actions of a Jewish state that is building settlements on land it considers holy. Those stinking Iranians!

Or what about this:

and, finally, suck Israel into “imperial overstretch,” e.g., keep Israel occupying the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank

So that’s why Israel refuses to withdraw to pre-1967 borders! They’re being tricked by those smelly Iranians! The bastards!!

Some of Friedman’s points — about the difficulty of Israel being democratic, expansive, and Jewish all at the same time, for example — are worthwhile and not stupid. But they’re not terribly insightful or important. And then he writes this nonsense:

If we are going to fight with Israel — or better yet, work with it — let’s do so over a big U.S. strategy that we think can shape a more stable Middle East.

Oh, yeah! We’re always ready to fight with Israel. In fact, Deviant Synapse recently acquired the following exclusive transcript of a recent argument with US and Israeli negotiators:

US Official: Dude, what’s with all the settlements when Biden’s in town?

Israeli Official: Whatever, schmuck-face. We needed to let the Palestinians know that we do whatever the xxxx we want whenever the xxxx we want. Having Biden in town just gave us more confidence. What are you gonna do?

US Official: That’s it. You’re only getting $2.3 billion in aid this year.

Thank goodness there are many excellent cartoons which also point out that Thomas Friedman is a stupid moron idiot jerk-butt. (Click for full-size images.)


Here’s Logorama, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Short this year. It’s very well-done and pretty twisted. There’s some bad words, so beware!

Today I’m listening to: Sadat X!

When I Am Sad

1. I have a right to be sad. I will not rush a change in my emotions in order to make you more comfortable. I’m sorry that my sadness is causing you discomfort, but I have to take care of myself, and right now that means being sad.

2. I probably don’t want to talk about it. This is typical male behavior, and it can be problematic if habitual and/or obstinate. However, once in a while it’s okay. Perhaps I will write about my sadness, and perhaps I will let you read what I write. In the meantime, please don’t ask me probing questions.

3. Do not try to cheer me up. Don’t tell me silly jokes or tell me to look on any bright sides. The best cure for my sadness is probably just to let it run its course. (TPCQ: “You wanna be sad, Lisa, you go ahead and be sad.”)

4. Do NOT tell me to smile. This will only make me more sad and perhaps introduce unnecessary anger into the situation.

5. There’s a good chance I am also frustrated. This is probably the result of my inability to do something I feel I should be capable of doing — perhaps something I should be able to do easily. There is also a good chance that my sadness/frustration are the result of a combination of negative factors in my life. If I am then asked to verbalize my frustration, I will probably not be able to do this well, and I will feel even more frustrated.

6. If I avoid eye contact, it’s nothing personal. I probably want to be alone with my thoughts, and eye contact is a form of communication in which I do not wish to engage at the moment. Give me and my sad eyes some space and time.

7. There’s a good chance I am also tired. I devote most of my energy — physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional — to my students and my classroom. I am therefore often drained at the end of the school day, and sometimes on Saturdays too. Relaxing and/or playing video games and/or sleeping and/or being alone often help to significantly improve my mood.

8. Please don’t make me listen to your woes. I need time to cleanse my own sadness, and I am quite incapable of helping anyone else cleanse their sadness. Perhaps we can discuss your woes later.

9. What should you do? Ask me if there’s anything you can do to help, then leave me alone or let’s talk about something else. Chances are when you ask, I will say “No, but thanks for asking.” I mean this sincerely — I know you’re trying to help, and I appreciate your concern. But when I say no, I mean NO. And when I say “talk about something else”, I mean something that we might talk about if I were in better spirits — do not contrive some asinine conversation designed to cheer me up (see #3 above), because it will just frustrate or sadden me further.


JaySmooth from NilDoctrine discusses Chris Matthews’ racial amnesia. JaySmooth makes me happy.

Today I’m listening to: Tegan and Sara!

Evil Clowns And Their Hideous Games

Do not play Heavy Rain. That game is atrocious! I vomited for twenty minutes after finishing it in less than 24 hours. There are plot holes the size of lunar craters, controlling the people is very difficult, and some of the dialogue is completely ludicrous.

And look at this Satanic Creature! Come away, Jason. He’s clearly evil. (Oh, wait. Jason’s deaf. I forgot!) You’ll get that joke if you played the game. (For more of me ranting about this stupid game, listen to next week’s podcast.)

Take Off, Eh, Sarah

Okay, let’s talk about evil clowns. Thanks to my buddy Matt (who flatteringly called me “The Palintologist”), I learned that America’s favorite living joke Sarah Palin recently gave a talk in Canada, where she dropped this bombshell about her early days in Alaska:

We used to hustle over the border for health care we received in Canada. And I think now, isn’t that ironic?

Yeah! (giggle) It is ironic. Some would prefer to call it a pathetic example of blatant hypocrisy, but “ironic” works too.

I also love this excerpt from and about a starstruck fan:

Stephanie Hansen, 18, who wore a pin with Ms. Palin’s face, could barely contain her excitement. […] “I love it, I’m really glad that I came. It was really enlightening.”

She admitted she didn’t know a lot about Ms. Palin’s politics, but she said she loves her nonetheless.

“I admire how she can have a family and still be able to work as much as she does and everything she does.”

I mean, wow. To quote a classic lyric from Audio Two: What more can I say?

Goats and Corrosion and Beasties, Oh My!

Thanks also to my brother Mark for linking us to Exiled in the Land of the Free, an album you can download gratis to raise awareness about Oglala Sioux political prisoner Leonard Peltier. It features The Goats (a truly excellent rap group that only put out two albums, the first of which — Tricks of the Shade — rivals any Public Enemy or Paris or Coup disc for Best Political Rap Album Ever) and Corrosion of Conformity and The Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine and Helmet and many other cool bands.


If you’d like to know Leonard P’s story, you can watch the documentary film Incident at Oglala (91 minutes) right here via Google Video:

Today I’m listening to: Audio Two!

First, The Pain

Sarah Palin recently went on The Tonight Show and performed a stand-up routine. It may be the most painful thing I’ve watched since The Office on the BBC. “Enjoy!”

Positive Pedagogy & Politics

Okay, quick — let’s get to some good things to counteract that evil. I was very pleased recently to hear on NPR this story about former No Child Left Behind shill Diane Ravitch, who has written a new book slamming that stupid piece of legislation.

“The basic strategy is measuring and punishing,” she said. “And it turns out as a result of putting so much emphasis on the test scores, there’s a lot of cheating going on, there’s a lot of gaming the system. Instead of raising standards it’s actually lowered standards because many states have ‘dumbed down’ their tests or changed the scoring of their tests to say that more kids are passing than actually are.”

Gee, I seem to remember quoting Audrey Amrein and David Berliner on this exact same point seven years ago. Why doesn’t NPR do an interview with me? (Or with teachers who have been saying this same stuff for five years.)

Ravitch has been doing good work lately, so I can’t be upset. She even points out that Obama’s education chief Arne Duncan has designed a really dumb “Race to the Top” plan that mostly benefits education software companies like the one run by George W. Bush’s white-collar-criminal* brother Neil.

* He was never indicted on criminal charges for his role in the apocalyptic failure of an S&L in Denver, but he did settle a civil action out of court with the FDIC by forking over $50,000.

Okay, Break It Up

Speaking of generally conservative people making refreshing policy arguments, check out Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, calling for banks that are “too big to fail” to get all broken up:

“Big banks and many of their creditors assume the Fed and other government agencies will cushion the fall and assume the damages even if their troubles stem from negligence or trickery,” he said.

“They have only to look at recent experience to confirm that assumption. My preference is for a more prophylactic approach, an international accord to break up these institutions into ones of more manage-able size.”

Amen, brother.

You Ever Been In A Turkish Prison?

And finally: JFK tower allowed kids to direct air traffic.

“JetBlue 171 cleared for takeoff,” the boy says in his first call. […] In his last call, the youngster signs off, “Adios, amigo.” The pilot responds in kind.

Joey, do you like to hang around the gymnasium?


You suck, McBain!

Today I’m listening to: Phantogram!