Wednesday, February 19, 2003

There is no back button ...

Got a chuckle out of this one.

A way to talk around the problem

The Australian government is looking into ways to store carbon dioxide underground in an effort to reduce greenhouse gasses. Like the U.S., Australia has refused to sign the Kyoto treaty and now, as in the U.S., the Aussies are trying to put on the appearance that they are concerned about greenhouse gases.

Last month, President Bush proposed an ambitous program to bring hydrogen power to commercial viability and, ostensibly, replacing dirty relation, hydrocarbon power. It's a noble goal, but it sets a vision that tends to ignore what can be done in the here and now with other energy sources. The U.S. government has increased a tax deduction for the purchase of very large, expensive, fuel-inefficient SUVs, while similar proposals for hybrid and alternative vehicles languish in Congress. Rather than act in the here and now to reduce carbon emissions, we put it off until tomorrow.

It's the same with the Austrialian project. In this case, the proposal is to store it in obsolete mining facilities. What then? It just sits there until, what? What happens if it seeps out anyway, despite everyone's best analysis? Again, it's just leaving serious treatment of the real issue until some other day.

Leave them kids alone

Nathan Newman links to a couple of articles on the new testing standards that are causing many schools previously viewed as "successful" to be evaluated as "failing."

As a parent with one child in public school and the other in private, I've seen first-hand what makes a "good" school. Motivated teachers, and curricula that encourage critical thinking work. Teaching to the test doesn't.

The more cynical side of me says that this whole "national test" thing is another tool for conservatives to use to demolish public education. "Look at the scores," they'll say. "See, we told you the U.S. school system was a failure. We should completely defund the system so people can choose better schools."

Of course, there aren't enough private schools to take up the slack, and even if there were, what's the guarantee that they'll be "good" schools? The national test isn't required of any private school that I know of ... my son, who is in private school, takes the Iowa Test of Basic Skills each year, but we haven't heard word one of imposing this national test on the kids. The ITBS isn't mandated by anyone other than the parents, teachers and staff of the school. And the teachers spend very little time "teaching to the test" from what I've been able to observe.

How ironic that people who want to get away from the mediocrity that's arising from "teaching to the test" will put their kids into the private schools conservatives hold up as the paragon of educational achievement ...

Monday, February 17, 2003

To everything, turn, turn, turn

I've been branching out in my blogging lately. I'll still post my political rants here, but check out the South Austin Reviewer from time to time for arts and shit. For the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting regularly to my SXSW journal.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

People Marching in the Streets

Oh lucky Austin! This weekend marks two traffic-snarling events-on-foot.

Saturday saw some 10,000 people marching in protest of war in downtown Austin. Similar protests happened around the world, which of course both the pro-war camp and Saddam immediately took to be implicit support for the Butcher of Baghdad. Nothing could be further from the truth. While no doubt there is someone, somewhere within the "anti-war camp" who actually thinks Saddam is a good guy, the vast majority of people simply believe condemning innocents to death to get rid of him isn't a bargain they're willing to accept.

I'm really struck at how silent the pro-war crowd has been during these marches. Every story has, of course, the obligatory paragraph about "supporters of President Bush." But it seems to me that if the pro-war camp has such a solid base of "Americans" behind it, then rallying them to show their support for waging war should be no problem. I can only take the fact that so few pro-war demonstrators have shown up to mean that support for Bush's war is tepid at best. Alternately, would-be organizers might realize that such a pro-war march would draw out the most bloodthirsty, souless people that inhabit the right-wing fringes.

Oh, the other thing snarling traffic? The Motorola marathon ... I'm thinking we shoulda killed two birds with one stone and had the I'll Go To War When You Pry My Cell Phone From My Cold, Dead Hands protest/marathon. Protesting the indiscriminate killing of innocent Iraqi civilians/ensuring the survival of future Moto customers is a win-win situation, it seems to me. And of course, it was won by a European, which just ties it all together fittingly.

I'm surprised some marketing flack hasn't picked up this angle yet ... oh yeah, I forgot. Concern for innocent Iraqi civilians is treasonous these days.

Report from the field:

"Were Century of Crap reporters on sight at the local statement of foreign policy?! I sure as hell should hope so....a new younger group self-motivated, self-organized group o' youngsters were, they've come to call themselves, "Youth For Peace" their slogan, "uniting students against war, USADUBYA, or uh, USAW, i mean. Rumour has it they organized in a local junior high, they were announced at the rally, recognized to the 10,000 and asked the crowd to discuss ideas in groups of 3-5 to stagerize against war, they would be coming around with notecards, for their ideas."

New on the block

The South Austin Reviewer has a piece on MC Hawking.

Now, I thought I was pretty tuned in to the major cultural movements of fin de siecle America. But Nerdcore? New to me. Who knew that renowned physicist Stephen Hawking moonlights as a rapper/lead singer with a bone or two to pick?

I give it a 92 -- it's got a great beat, and you can laugh to it ...