Archive for January, 2010

New Yorker Magazine Buries the Lede in Puff Piece on Education Secretary Duncan

January 31, 2010

Arne Duncan

New Yorker Buries the Lede in Puff Piece on Secretary Duncan

I’m glad that Carlo Rotella decided to do some actual reporting in his treacly ode to Education Secretary Arne Duncan in the February 1st edition of the New Yorker Magazine. Unfortunately, it’s buried at the end of the article. After four puffy pages wherein we learn that Duncan is a marvelous human being who loves basketball, the author finally begins to do his job as a reporter, and the results aren’t very comforting. You see, there isn’t a whole lot of evidence that the programs Duncan is spending billions of taxpayer dollars on actually work. I’ll let the quotations speak for themselves:

Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies (who describes herself as “basically in favor of Duncan’s policies”) gives this rousing endorsement of the upshot of Duncan‘s policies as head of the Chicago schools: “I don’t think there’s any real evidence that people are made worse off, and there’s limited evidence that that they’re making things better.”

Kenneth Saltman, professor of education at DePaul University, calls Duncan a “hatchet man for (Mayor) Daley” and a “militant privatizer who label(ed) schools in black communities as failures to justify opening new charters that could skim off the highest-achieving students, thereby widening the gap between winners and losers.”

Erik Hanishek of the Stanford Institution “is one of the most outspoken senior academics in the market forces camp. But even he describes the reforms that Duncan has pursued as ‘the best guesses for how to go forward’”

According to Rotella, Diane Ravitch of New York University believes that Duncan’s so-called “market forces party can offer nothing better than a vague idea that their reforms should work, rather than evidence that they actually do.” “You shouldn’t set the agenda if you’re not sure the agenda works,” argues Ravitch.

Steven Rivkin, an economist at Amherst, “worries that Duncan may be pushing too hard for policies which haven’t proven effective.”

by Richard W. Bray

What is a Crappy Little Country, Mr. Goldberg?

January 21, 2010

What did you do in the Global War on Terror, Daddy?

(Editor’s Note: I am not the person who brought Mr. Goldberg’s family into this. It was Jonah Goldberg who hid inside his own daughter’s skirt when it came time to fight in a war he so assiduously promoted)

People move into violence by a disposition to treat the world as entirely theirs.

–Alfred Kazin

Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.

Jonah Goldberg

What is a Crappy Little Country, Mr. Goldberg?

What’s a crappy little country, Mr. Goldberg?
When cluster bombs are dropped upon its conscripts
Is it fecal matter rather than blood
That drains from their bodies?
When a little girl in a crappy little country cries
Because the car transporting her family
Was shot to bits at a checkpoint
Does she cry saline tears, like your daughter?
Or does liquefied shit ooze out of her eyes?
Or am I just taking your metaphor too literally?

by Richard W. Bray

Petcipe #1 Chessie and Sadie’s Special (by Marjorie)

January 19, 2010

Sadie’s Special

This recipe is adapted from a dish prepared by a Korean-American former department secretary at an urban university.


3 packages of Ramen noodles (discard the flavor packets)

3 medium or 2 large brown onions

3 medium or 2 large bell peppers

6 medium or 4 large tomatoes

Bean sprouts equivalent in bulk to the amount of noodles

A good vegetable oil

Water (about 3 cups)

Catsup, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce to taste (a bit of teriyaki sauce can also be added)

(the amounts of the ingredients can be expanded or contracted, the proportions should
remain the same)


Cut the onions, peppers and tomatoes into half inch pieces (you can chop the peppers and tomatoes while the onions are cooking); heat the oil in a Dutch oven on the stove top (or in a large electric skillet) and brown the ramen noodles, turning when each side of the block of noodles has browned; remove and reserve the noodles; remove the oil and take out the bits of noodle that have come loose; return the oil to the kettle and add the onion; cook onions until they are limp and translucent; add the peppers, and after a bit the tomatoes and simmer for a while, but do not over cook the peppers; add the noodles and enough water to soften them; add the bean sprouts and simmer until the noodles are cooked; add the catsup and soy sauce to taste (it takes quite a lot of catsup); some worcestershire sauce and teriyaki sauce may also be used.

Note: This is a vegetarian version. The original recipe included a pound of cut up steak cooked with the onions. Alternatively a pound of cooked shrimp could be added during the final stage.

Spontaneous Western Haiku #1996 (by Wade)

January 9, 2010

(We are thrilled to announce new guest poster”> Wade, an artist who expresses himself in many media. He paints self-portraits on a variety of surfaces including toasters and other people’s artwork, and has recently turned his attention to dismantling, reconstituting, and painting discarded, often headless dolls which are then nestled together in the “basket o’babies.”

He is also a fixture at Southern California poetry readings and has published a book of poems entitled Madcap: Spontaneous Western Haiku by a Guy Named Wade. One of his first art pieces involved a doll’s head impaled on a skimmer pole, entitled “Baby Wade’s Head on a Stick.” It was utilized for emphasis during his poetry readings and lead to his self-portrait series.

He lives in Southern California with his wife and their furry children and is hard at work on the next painting in his admittedly egotistical self-portrait series.)


Dear reader, read one line of the Spontaneous
Western Haiku #1996
per day. Write the day’s line
down on a piece of paper, put the paper in your pocket
and refer to it throughout the day. On the fourth day,
read the poem in its entirety. After that, your guess is
as good as mine. Enjoy

Spontaneous Western Haiku #1996

Old places, new days

Old roles are recast

A clown (The Ghost) sits alone


Hey Kids! Want more poetic bang for your buck?
Rearrange the order of the Spontaneous Western
Haiku’s first three lines and repeat the previous

Have fun!