13 August 2013

The Political Testing Of Our Children

The latest batch of state test scores have come out in New York.  The howling from the political educational establishment has started, “See, we told you.  We need more testing, more testing and more testing.”  Never mind there is absolutely no transparency and the test are written and scored by a company that messed up 2,500 Gifted & Talented tests last year (that would be you, Pearson).  Never mind that the tests were based on a curriculum that is not being taught because it hasn’t even been written.  Never mind that the political education establishment in New York demands all children take these patently skewed tests in violation of federal law that says parents have the right to opt their children out of such blatantly political testing.  Well, Tisch, King, Walcott and especially Bloomberg (nearly a two digit midget now, that’s Army speak for lame duck), here’s my reply.  My daughter will not take anymore of your rigged “standardized” tests until my wife (her mother) and I (her father) are satisfied that these tests are being used for educational rather than political purposes.  You don’t like that?  Too bad.

12 December 2012

A Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree

My wife, the incredibly talented lyric soprano Ruth Ann Cunningham, and I set out on a search for a Christmas Tree last week for the annual PEO Chapter R Christmas party.  Not just any Christmas Tree.  A Christmas Tree in the spirit of the one Charlie Brown found in the classic Christmas TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas."  Our search took us to a Family Dollar store, where we found a rather humble four foot artificial Christmas Tree, which was purchased.  Today, I went to a Walgreens on 2nd Avenue and 70th Street to rent a movie from Redbox.  Since the kiosk was in the store's vestibule, I had no need to go inside.  Yet, something told me to do so.  Once I went inside the door, a startling sight presented itself.  There, in all their glory, were boxes of marvelous artificial tree named A Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree, scraggly branches of sparse needles, a single red ornament ball and all.  Unable to supress my shock, I broke out in maniacal laughter and promptly purchased this wonderful expression of the true spirit of Christmas for the incredible price of $9.99 (Herman Cain would be proud, according to The Capitol Steps).  I brought this wonderful tree home and Ruth Ann and my stupendously intelligent daughter Erin both expressed amazement and joy at this tree, which represents all that is right and true about this holiday that not only celebrates the birth of a great religious figure, but a spirit that is also expessed joyously in the story of "Yes, Virginia."  Our Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree is proudly standing on a shelf above the computer I am writing this tale.  Long may it do so, bringing joy to us and to the world.  May it know the peace and fellowship that Jesus taught us, not the rancor, violence and personal agendas that fundamentalism in any guise would have us believe. 

01 December 2012

Huge day in sports

Today is a huge sports day for me.  I have been invited to the Christmas at Fenway event today in Boston, so I'm presently on Amtrak's red eye to Back Bay.  Meanwhile, at Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace resumes its march to the Premiership against the hated Brighton & Hove Seaweed.  We need to stuff that bunch so they understand that they are not in our class.  Meanwhile, at Fenway, it's time to find out what lessons were learned in our annus horribilous 2012.  I also hope to get a press notice concerning the death of Carl Beane so that I have more ammo with my mother-in law.  She thinks that after a broken right hip and a diagnosis of atrial fibrilation she will drive her car again.  Carl Beane was killed this year when he had a heart attack while driving.  Maybe that will make an impression on her.  The fact that that overgrown boat she calls a car needs to be junked is ywt another matter.  I never had an automatic that has clutch problems.  This one does and the cost to repair it is more than the car is worth.  Back to the Red Sox, wouldn't it be great if they announced the re-signing of one K. Youkilis, first baseman extrodiaire.  That would bring a whole lot of Christmascheer to Red Sox Nation.  Dawn is breaking as we approach Providence, RI.  Perhaps it symbolizes a new dawn for the Red Sox and the beginning of yet another march to a World Series title.  Worst, to first, that's the Red Sox way.

30 October 2012

After The Storm

Now that Post Tropical Cyclone (PTC) Sandy has passed us, it is time to take stock.  For yours truly, my luck was with me.  Just as the 1989 earthquake did little to me personally but muck to others, the worst my neighborhood has suffered is a flooded subway station.  So many others suffered much worse.  So, I will be off on the bus tomorrow looking for somewhere to volunteer.  Since the NY VA Hospital had to be evacuated, perhaps that's where I'll go.  At any rate, let's spread the good fortune around and bring a smile to those who suffered.

On the political front, the normal garbage continues.  Tucker Carlson blames Obama for not lowering sea level.  Grover Norquist blames Obama for spending money on FEMA even though people died.  However, Governor Christie, no shrinking violet he, praised the President for his help and involvement in making sure federal help arrived quickly and efficiently.  Romney isn't happy about this but as the Governor said he can't be concerned with next week's election when his people are suffering.  Good on you, Gov.  Governor Cuomo got his dig in on climate change deniers, saying that we seem to be getting the once in a hundred years floods every year.  Politics and poker, the same old same old.

21 October 2012

The way forward

The following was posted on the UM Connections website.  It is in response to a seeming call for the break-away from the United Methodist Church by progressive congregations favoring full inclusion in the church.  The organization Methodists for Social Action replied that rather than breaking away we should stay within the UMC and press forward with our cause.  While I refuse to identify as a United Methodist due to the unaccsptable homophobic policies of the General Conference as expressed in the Book of Discipline, I have come to realize that separation is also a poor choice since it would not achieve the goal of a fully inclusive UMC, only a homophobic UMC with a new denomination, the Rainbow Methodist Episcopal Church, being established.  In the post, I refer to the RMEC and the LGBTQMEC.  A historical note, Bishop Richard Allen, to whom I refer in the post, led a breakaway of African Americans from the 19th Century Methodist Episcopal Church and founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  The congregation he founded, Mother Bethel AME, continues to thrive in Philadelphia, PA.

When violence is done, as it was at the 2012 General Conference, the reaction from those who are the victims of said violence can often be emotional. The pain expressed in “Bill’s” letter is real. I felt the same pain. The message MFSA responds with is also clear, we don’t run away from our problems. We confront them in a positive manner. However, they very well come a time when a LGBTQ Richard Allen rises from the pews and decries the discrimination and hate preached by the General Conference and the Book of Discipline. This “Bishop Allen” will go down the street and form the First Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual/Gender and Questioning Methodist Episcopal Church. This denomination will grow as those who believe in inclusion flock to it and as UMC congregations dis-affiliate and join the LGBTMEC. As long as the spiritual violence, as hurtful and vicious as the dogs and firehoses of Birmingham, AL continues, the cherished “unity” of the United Methodist Church will be under threat. Fortunately, there is good news here. The call of Bishop Talbert to practice biblical obedience is the one sure, best way of combatting those who would impose the apostasy of hate upon us. While the heart of General Conference remains hardened, we must do whatever is necessary to render such apostasy irrelevent. Only then, when those who refuse to see the light as God gives them that ability, will finally give up the ghost and embrace true inclusion and acceptance of God’s universal and unconditional love as expressed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God the Son and Redeemer

A second post on UM Connections reports the statement of Bishop Conyer of Indiana, who claims that the progressive movement is practicing a form of "neo-colonialism" in its call for Biblical Obedience and a rejection of the spiritual violence of the 2012 General Conference.  My post is here.

Bishop Coyner seems to want progressives to admit defeat and go quietly into that good night.  That will simply not happen.  The spiritual violence done by the 2012 General Conference cannot and will not go unanswered.  It is obvious that since the ultra-right wing, which truly does practice a form of neo-colonialism with its implied threats of economic sanctions against the Central Conferences should they vote in a way other than the oxymoronic "Good News" and IRD, we have no other choice than to render the apostasy of hate expressed there to be irrelevant.  Bishop Talbert sounded the clarion call, the Western Jurisdiction, along with others, have answered.  We will practice Biblical Obedience.  We will place the Word of God as expressed by Jesus, God the Son and Redeemer and inspired by God the Holy Spirit, ahead of imperfect human document known as the Book of Discipline.  We will lead the United Methodist Church into the land of sunshine and light known as full inclusion.  Let no one doubt this, for no progressive movement for social justice has ever failed.

17 October 2012

Why the Bronx Bums will not dublicate the 2004 Red Sox!

Well, the Yankees are down 0-3 and the likelyhood they will do to the Tigers what the Red Sox did to them in 2004 is highly remote.  Why, does one ask, since my belief in Yogi Berra's First Law of Baseball is absolute?  By the way, for the baseball ignorant, that would be, "It ain't over 'till it's over."  My reason is the attitude of the team.  Right now, their highest paid and statistically best available player, Alex Rodriguez (A-Fraud as he is known around here), is benched and rumors that he has played his last game in pinstripes.  Who would pick up his humongous salary is anyone's guess.  The point is that he had a broken hand earlier this year and was disabled from July to September.  When he came back, he slumped badly at the plate.  That's understandable since the hands are probably the most important body part for a hitter.  We Red Sox fans remember when Big Papi, David Ortiz, came back from breaking his wrist.  It took him quite a while to regain his hitting stroke.  Did Terry Francoma, St. Tito of Boston, bench him?  NO.  He trusted Papi and let him play his way back into shape.  That's why the Bronx Bums may win a game or two (hopefully, since I want Erin to be able to ride the IRT Low V train on Saturday).  However, this team, with its budget busting payroll and underachieving brats, will not duplicate the historic comeback of the 2004 World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox.  They simply haven't got the cahones for it.

27 June 2011

Operatic Dinner Theatre, or, How to Destroy The People's Opera

In the early 1940s, during the darker days of World War II, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and philanthropist Newbold Morris decided what was needed for morale was an opera company that catered to plain, old fashioned people. To that end, they founded New York City Opera. Since that time, NYCO provided a rich mix of familiar operas along with contemporary works. It developoed quite a roster of world class talent: Beverly Sills, Norman Treigle, a young Placido Domingo and many others honed their craft first at City Center and then the New York State Theatre at Lincoln Center. Ticket prices were affordable. NYCO's leadership, from Julius Rudel through Beverly Sills and Christopher Keene to Paul Kellogg, insured the company lived up to its mission as The People's Opera.
Then, a dark day. Board chair Susan Baker decided NYCO's wheel needed reinvention. She decided to hire as Paul Kellogg's successor a man who never lead an American company or a company that didn't recieve at least 60% of its revenue from government subsidy. She promised him a production budget of 63% more than NYCO had ever spent, albeit in the face of a budget shortfall of $8 million. She even let him wait three years before taking over full time. During those three years, NYCO went dark for one year while renovations were performed on the theatre, including changing its name to the David Koch (yes, that David Koch). When the three years was up, this new, revolutionary, wheel changing manager, Gerard Mortier, decided not to come. He had discovered that NYCO had a pittance in subsidy, a large deficit and no chance of providing $60 million for productions.
Not deterred by this failure, our intrepid Ms Baker hired one George Steele, who had never managed a major opera company before. He decides to cut NYCO's season down and try to break its contracts with singers and musicians. Last month, he announced that NYCO will leave its newly renovated theatre for venues as yet unknown performing operas as yet unknown. At a time when subscribers should be renewing, NYCO is stuck in a holding pattern.
When pressed by the company as to his plans, Mr. Steele replied with a blueprint that is little better than operatic dinner theatre. Once again, he said that all contracts must be re-negotiated and singers/musicians must take a lot less. My wife sang for this company. She will probably never sing there again. In fact, if one reads between the lines, the next announcement from NYCO may very well be Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Therefore, all that is left for me to say is, "Wanted, for the murder of The People's Opera; Susan Baker, Gerard Mortier, George Steele and the New York City Opera Board of Directors.