Friday, May 29, 2009

Teaching Poetry

Just returned from a wildly successful stint as a guest poetry teacher at my former high school and college, where I got to meet some of the minds of tomorrow and assist them in interpreting some of the greatest contemporary poems out there. I wish I had someone like me when I was in school--who was interested in contemporary poetry, and not the dull and/or seemingly intentionally convoluted type of poetry that so often dominates the high school poetic landscape. Here's one poem by a famous poet who died before this school was built--read their poem and pick out what the themes are. Well, poets today still use many of the same themes, but happen to say things in what high schoolers nowadays would interpret to be 'a much clearer way.'

I'll definitely incorporate as much contemporary poetry and fiction as I can into my classroom, taking a lot of materials that should otherwise never be considered and bringing them to the forefront of discussion, and allowing some of the stereotypical or cliched works that dominate our classrooms to fall (sometimes) by the wayside, which, in and of itself, might not be the most horrible thing in the world. Our ultimate intentions are comprehension, elicitation and interpretation, right? Not mere appreciation? (And I would argue appreciation falls more each year with more and more students saying "why do we have to know/read this?"

I taught some Ted Kooser, Billy Collins, Bob Hicok, Kim Addonizio, Natasha Trethewey and Bruce Weigl--a very eclectic mix to say the least. I shared a few heavily metaphorical poems and spent quite an amount of time painstaking assisting them in interpreting and analyzing them, but overall they did very well. I also used some purely imagistic pieces with metaphors that are more easy to recognize than a sale at (insert your favorite clothing/merchandise store here). We read some love poems, some hate poems, some beautiful poems and some ugly poems...we ran the gamut from sex to war to young to old to killing to birth.

I'm happy to announce that some of the kids were much more sprightly than they were in other courses (according to their teacher), while I did see some others begin to doze. I suppose that's a trade-off.

But it's also a very interesting phenomenon. If there are certain students who, even sometimes unbeknownst to them, have a strong positive feeling toward poetry and are intuitively aware of the powers and presence within poetry, shouldn't that be encouraged? I believe it should be...especially if they are reluctant in other areas of study or are much more difficult to get through to in a daily basis. Maybe poetry is a key for many students, and a lot of students you wouldn't expect.

I suppose that's one of the inherent powers of poetry: that it can reach a totally separate audience or bridge gaps in a way that nothing else can. It's an amazing thing to know that certain students can respond so well to poetry, and that you, as a teacher, never thought they would. I think that's the greatest gift of the process of teaching and discovery, for both teacher and student.

Manny Being Invincible

MLB is allowing Manny Ramirez's name to remain on the All-Star Game voting ballots, mainly because they don't want to pay for new ones and he will be reinstated by then, but also because fans are overwhelmingly supporting Manny in his absence, especially in LA where Mannywood (a section of the outfield bleachers) has been reinstated and hats with sewn-in dreadlocks are beginning to adorn vendor carts outside the stadium again.

Good or bad for the fans? Good or bad for baseball? Good or bad for regulation?

A different answer for all three. For the fans, it's a toss-up. Most fans are probably ambivalent to Manny's name on the All-Star Game ballots: he could easily produce another All-Star caliber season despite missing 50 games due to the suspension (he is THAT good), he still has a huge following that would have written him in anyway, and many were not going to vote for him either way (namely all Yankees and Red Sox fans).

For baseball it's horrible. The fans are basically sticking it to MLB by voting for Manny, essentially stating they don't care if he took performance-enhancing drugs or if he was caught taking banned or illegal substances, whether they were prescribed unknowingly to him or not, Manny is still their hero and they want to see him play. This means serious implications for MLB, which will have to rethink its policies on what it should and should not allow a player to do when they are under investigation or suspended for a period of time. Should a player receive a much harsher penalty? Should their fates lie purely in the hands of the MLB without any input from the fans? And if so, does this alienate the MLB fan? Are there enough to cause MLB to say it doesn't care?

Finally, it's horrible for regulation. Because of all the reasons listed above, I think MLB needs to seriously reconsider how it regulates its players, dolls out punishment, and appreciates its fans. You can't let this circus continue unabated and unregulated--it seems a bit like the lead-up to this recession's financial crisis--will the MLB bubble finally burst with some off-field (or on-field) antics or acts so detrimental or harmful to baseball that the fans become disinterested, or worse, unimportant?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oil and Home Prices

Borrowers with good credit are now the number one defaulters on ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage home loans) across the nation, primarily due to huge job losses, salary constrictions, credit difficulties and ballooning costs--including those costs incurred through the rising price of crude oil, which, though many economists claim is a positive thing and signals the economy is recovering, is ultimately only a purely negative thing. This makes up a HUGE concern within the housing market and is a serious detriment to those that hope the housing market is primed to bottom up in the very very near future.

Then again, home prices are back to "2002 levels," according to recent polls, while salaries are in the early 90s, the labor market is equivalent to the number of workers in 1999 and 2000 (meaning that if every high school graduate and college graduate in America since that time frame didn't need jobs, we'd have a 0.0% unemployment rate right now), and the stock market is at pre-1998/1999 levels, so perhaps we need housing prices to fall even more--maybe into the mid-late 1990s levels...probably averaging another 5-10% across the board, with more of a 10-15% drop in value and cost here in the northeast and mid-Atlantic, where prices have been the most stubborn to hold onto their high prices and values.

I suppose the only true way to reverse the economic downturn is job creation.

Going back for a moment to the previous topic--oil prices are an inflation all their own, and many economists and tv/radio pundits refuse to acknowledge the fact that gas and groceries are still being purchased in huge quantities and are recession-resistant--unlike Prada purses, people cannot just stop using/requiring them. But a rise in both will cause a swift secondary recession. Investing in stocks seems safer anyway, so many question is: why are investors swarming to oil? Do they really think it will hit $147/barrel again, and stay there long enough to produce each of them a profit? I think people are thinking too short-term as opposed to the guaranteed long-term gains of stocks and bonds.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where in the World...

Have I been?

Well, since beginning the after-school program, the majority of my time each day is now taken up with writing/reading and heading to/traveling back from/and being within the confines of the B&G Club and entertaining 50+ 6-13 year-olds for four and a half hours each day. It's an exciting experience though and definitely preparative for future teaching, even if the students I'll have in t-minus 3.5 months(!!) will be 14+.

Nevertheless, I have been able to crank through a serious number of poetry books taken out from the library, have finished re-reading Angels and Demons and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for their upcoming film releases, have skimmed Addonizio's new Ordinary Genius, which I am nearly finished with, but will ultimately end up purchasing and using as a resource I'm sure, and have been writing as much as possible to send out a huge packet of work to my new mentor soon. convoluted some of this work can be, and what a tax these hoops to jump through for the program are. Some of the program is very tedious in comparison to the unleashed creativity allowed during other parts.

This weekend we went out to a club lounge where a live band was playing, and although the band was good, the club, which was referred to as more upscale and had a distinctly more mature crowd at it, still left a lot to be desired and wasn't my cup of tea. Then there was a massive cookout with lots of delicious food and microbrews, as well as some very funny stories. Then last night K and I went to pick up a friend of ours at the airport after midnight(!), which needless to say is causing me to be a bit sleepy and scatterbrained today. It took me 15 minutes (on and off) to remember the word tedious...

In other news, Dan Brown has finally announced his new book and its release date (of course to coincide with the release of Angels & Demons to theatres, so I suppose I should have anticipated this strategic move...): The Lost Symbol will come out on September 15 of this year and will be the third book in Robert Langdon saga, no doubt giving Tom Hanks another opportunity to question his stance on religion and his unfair designation as a symbol of atheism to many in the Catholic world.

Must get back to writing and to some follow-up phone calls to ensure that I squeeze every moment from this day that I possibly can become I have to be off in kid-land.

Tomorrow I will be visiting Bacon Academy (my Alma Mater) to teach some lessons on poetry to some of the cherubs (kids), and then I will swing over to Bolton High School to see the teachers and to wish my former mentor a farewell as she heads into retirement, and then finally home for a quick dinner before driving another 85 miles back to Attleboro. Whew!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Green Day vs. Wal-Mart

Green Day is enraged that Wal-Mart, the largest retailer of its music, has refused to carry its album after they refused to censor it. They are now trying to boycott Wal-Mart and tell their fans not to get any of their music (obviously by other bands) there.

I have a question: When did Green Day sell-out? Again? I mean for the third time? I mean when did they pretend that they didn't sell-out after selling-out three times?

I don't even need to address their petty quarrel because both parties are at fault for stupidity. Wal-Mart can easily slap an advisory sticker on it, make millions and call it a day. Green Day could easily have censored it for Wal-Mart only, made millions and called it a (green) day.

Now Wal-Mart is acting like its conglomerate self: egotistical, elitist (though its stereotypical clientele represent a population otherwise...), monopolizing, and all-powerful.

Green Day is none of those things. And it's no wonder they were banned from CBGBs before it closed down. No wonder they were booed at The Warped Tour, Lalapalooza, and at Woodstock. They have confused their fans as to their true intention. Sure, they claim to be punk...but so do Good Charlotte, New Found Glory and Yellowcard. None of them are, or will ever be, punk.

So are faux-punk fans ridiculed by real punk fans as a result? I'd argue yes and no; it depends on the level of commitment, geographic area, and interaction. Wholly--no. Individually--probably, yes.

Fans of Black Flag, The Misfits, Iggy Pop or countless other real punk bands from long ago knew that selling out meant having your CD mass produced by a popular label, endorsing products, and appearing in everything from Superbowl Commercials to Nickelodeon award shows.

Green Day has sold out more than any other punk band in history, yet at 40+ Billie Joe is trying to regain his punk, anti-establishment and anti-censoring roots and boycott Wal-Mart.

I'm sure some Sunday punk fans (like Sunday drivers...) will jump on board, but the majority won't care or react at all. It's a victory for no one and ultimately only serves as a focal point for online bloggers (hence...) who find it either a passionate cause to support, or like me, say, "What?! Green Day. Do they think...Are they serious?"

The End. (Get it?)

RI finally shows signs of life

The first teacher job postings for RI finally came out today--2 secondary English positions for North Providence for next year, a relatively sound district in comparison to some of the others. I know I shouldn't expect to see many more postings, especially from districts like Warwick, East Providence, Woonsocket, and Providence, but it even feels better to know there are postings out there for new RI teachers. (I'm sure they'll all have postings, but very late in the summer, and I can't imagine they'll be for longer than one year if there even are postings...these districts are so far into the red right now that they are considering chopping the school year by 7 or more days, eliminating bus routes, charging for all activities and sports, and shortening the school day by 15 minutes. All in all these things, paired with the amount of teachers jobs that would be eliminated, would bridge the deficit gap and provide them with enough money for next year that they might be able to address their impending '10-'11 deficit.)


It's only 2 postings, which is minuscule compared to the 100 or so ELA education graduates who will be looking for teaching positions this coming school year. That's pretty competitive.

I wonder how many more I'll see in the coming weeks...we are, after all, still technically in the school maybe that means we could see an uptick in job postings as we get to the end of the year and into the summer. Maybe they're just waiting until the absolute last date possible to post anything for fear of the economy tail spinning even further in oblivion.

Let's keep the job postings coming for the sake of our children who deserve better than better arguments about raising out taxes by $300-$400 per year to ensure class sizes of no more than 20, rigorous programs, plenty of electives, and after-school clubs and sports to keep kids in school, learning, off the streets, and off drugs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Missing Link?

The implications are tremendous and though it has only been unveiled hours ago, Google has already created an advertisement and drawing on its homepage linking to both this article and the search pages for it, driving searches for both Creationist and Evolutionist users.

Visiting the website, I'm not surprised by it, but if I were a strict and pious internet user, I think I would probably be offended by it. I know my grandmother, who fits the description, would be angered by it.

But what if this is the missing link? The animal that bridges the gap between simians and sapiens (so to speak)...would we embrace it? Or collectively reject it? Is it too much right now to accept this as 'proof'?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Poetry Invitation

I received an invitation from a former alumni to come in and visit his current classroom and speak on some of the joys of poetry. Wow! What an honor that is! To be sought after as almost an 'expert' or go-to guy on poetry, especially when there is currently one in the school (technically) is an honor. I can understand how the students might be getting sour vibes from his monotony relating to the same pieces again and again--some of which are his--but I can also appreciate and respect the majority of his work. So there is definitely no bad blood and no loss of respect between me and my former teacher, but there is definitely an understanding about the way he can sometimes act and be perceived by others. I remember when I took a class with him: there were few tests, there was a focus on deciphering and interpreting poetry, writing our own poetry, and group discussions. I don't remember a very high level of learning in the sense that learning took place in the other English classrooms I was in. But I each teacher their own methods to success...and he definitely has proven a record of success and intelligence both in his classroom and in his own accomplishments. I can only wish to receive the same accolades and scholarly titles he has.

Nonetheless, I am excited to come in and lecture...which brings up a good point: what will I talk about? What lesson should I teach? Poets? Books? Should we write individual poems or one together as a class? Should we proceed forward assuming they understand themes and elements, or proceed with caution assuming they have previously grasped very little? Should I incorporate my own work or work I admire? More SLAM/spoken word (which is becoming more prevalent) or more classical poetry with contemporary or modern elements? Would they identify better with easier-grasped themes or poetry of experience (war, the streets, life, etc.)?

A lot of rumination is needed in the days to come as we approach the d-day of poetry back at the good ol' Academy.

Job Postings

So while I have basically secured myself a position for next year and have seen a serious decline recently in the amount of English/Language Arts postings out there in CT and MA (still 0 in RI), I received my SchoolSpring e-mail today only to find out there are 7 postings for ELA educators in Plymouth! Geez! Why couldn't they have posted this earlier or left a few of these openings unfilled for years to come? Geez (again).

I would have expected maybe one or two, but this is just crazy and unexpected. That's a lot of new ELA educators for one district in the coming school year. And while I also interpret this to be a great sign for the current economy in MA, I do have to worry a bit that it might be an ominous sign that next year there will be few to no open job postings. I think everyone that can retire is taking advantage of it this year before the huge concessions kick in that will affect their retirements. Which, of course, is the smart thing to do. But I doubt few will be retiring at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, which will leave many 2010 education graduates without jobs (and also those who unfortunately are cut due to decreased budget expectations for 2010-2011).

That's what gives me the most trepidation. If many districts admitted they'll have openings next year, but can't do it this year, that would give me confidence about the teaching market and the health of school systems, but it seems they're all going for what they can get this year knowing next year might be a tight fit and an even tighter budget.

I am extremely thankful for the luck I have gotten for this upcoming school year and hope that I can stay in this district until I retire. It seems like a town that is just beginning to boom, and will grow exponentially (both in population, houses and businesses), but also in wealth and tourism. With a hotel or two and a real promotion of the Blackstone Valley Corridor, state parks, and close proximity to these outdoor biking and hiking trails extending from north of Worcester to south of Providence (and eventually Calise, ME to Key West, FL, we could really see a boom in this town. That's what I'm hoping for. The staff seems welcoming and intelligent, the students friendly and capable, the district poised and invigorating, and the future bright--so long as the economy of the world begins to uptick again soon.

The Shape of the Recession

CNBC seems to like to promote bell-curve analysts: those analysts and portfolio/hedge fund managers who routinely advise their clients based solely on the SHAPE of the current market/stock/commodity/etc. timeline graph. It seems a sensible route to trade and invest if the market were a machine, unaffected by emotions and unaffected by humanity. It seems impossible that trades and buying/selling cycles are so linear and concrete that one can view them, interpret them, and predict them based solely on shape. That's something an astrophysicist might be able to rely on when predicted the shape of a planet to far away to see--only detect from its magnetic field--but not for a trader.

These traders like to predict what the market will do based on something they refer to as the 'head and shoulders' model, in which a stock will be essentially flat (shoulder), then will suddenly increase (neck) and more or less level off (head), and then plunge (neck) and then level off again (other shoulder). That seems...feasible, I suppose, but less reliable than I would put my money on.

Nevertheless, in using their own models, I'm making some of my own predictions about the market. From early autumn '07 to early autumn '08, the market decreased incrementally, but then plunged in September, and basically continued until March.

Alright. So now, we're seeing an upswing. I think this upswing will be akin to the plunge we saw recently (from September to March). I think we should expect 6 months or so of sharp upticks--essentially bringing us to the 10,500-11,000 level on the Dow by September/October/November '09. I think that's feasible and probably; and based on these graph and timeline models, it makes perfect sense using the upside-down head and shoulders method. What happens after that is what I predict to be another incremental upturn (akin to standard growth). That means we should expect a leveling off for standard growth to occur around the 10,500 level on the Dow (sometime in early-to-mid autumn '09), making the final quarter of '09 the technical end to the recession (say around 2 years or so). Of course, they'll label the end of the recession based on growth, so we won't know until March of April of 2010, but I think 4th quarter '09/1st quarter '10 will be the end of the recession/technical beginning to growth again and prosperity--perhaps not worldwide, but at least an emergence from recession/depression all over the world.

That means we shouldn't expect to see (based on these head and shoulders models) the 14,200 level on the Dow (which is where we topped off at in October '07) until sometime in 2012 or early 2013. So if one were to measure recovery and growth by a return to the annual growth, stock market levels, and slid 3.5% or less unemployment rate, one would have to wait until mid-to-late 2012 or early 2013. As scary a thought as this is to ponder, that is essentially three years away.

And in three years we'll see a return to the housing market, the stock markets, a return to profitability (and notoriety/trust) for banking and automotive companies, pensions and 401ks return to most of their glory, the unemployment rate drop (and this is my prediction of 10.7%...I'm calling it [almost a full 2% points higher than it is now..making it just slightly higher than in the 1980s and 1970s recessions]) from 10.7% or so all the way back down to <5% t0 3.5%, and the government begin to get control of our finances once again.

Wait! That's a bad thing? It once was, but now it's a good thing. As I've said before...there are too many untrustworthy and greedy figures out there in the financial world right now and left unregulated they're like kids in a house with no supervision: they're going to break into something, break something, light the house on fire (what has basically happened) or hurt one another. This is what we're seeing and it's about time the government got back in to regulate that and, if necessary, take a few dollars more of our taxes to make life A LOT better.

When conservatives and uber-capitalists have been in charged, life has temporarily bloomed, only to wilt and freeze in the post-unregulated winter. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone happy about what's happening in the world right now--and I think we know who we have to thank for it. Not to use the term all-encompassing though, there are many shining stars among the black holes and asteroids of our financial marketplaces.

News has just come out about housing starts and building permits--declines in multifamily, but upticks in single family homes. Building permits have also dropped off, but less than last month, which I interpret is a positive sign. You can't have tons of new buildings made, and new apartment complexes made, when so many buildings are being renovated into apartments, and so many buildings are vacant due to bankrupt businesses. It seems like a no-brainer. I'd consider both of these to be good indicators we're beginning to swing back to positivity.

I would be completely sold if we saw another drop in job losses, and maybe only a .1 or .2% increase in the unemployment rate for the end of this month, and fewer vacant homes and properties (including commercial real estate) across the country. I think those should be the gauges we're scrutinizing the most.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Optimism Shrugged

K. informed me earlier that where she works [a subsidiary of a very large company] might get sold to an outside bidder as the large company tries to raise more capital. I'm sure you know which company I'm referring to now though I won't explicitly name it.

Anyway, I did some research and found out there are a few prospective bidders, but all bids are approximately $1 billion BELOW the market value that 1) the company is worth 2) was sold for [yes, it has been sold three times over the past ten years], 3) what the government saw fit in its suggested restructuring/asset selling plans after the stress tests. Now I'm definitely sure you know which place I'm talking about.

Of the bidders, and the news I can find on the bidders, the majority of talk is just that: talk. Some have expressed interest, but the bids are low and almost bargain--and does that make good business sense to sell something for a price that is cheaper than what it is actually projected to make this year? I don't think so.

But in scouring some of the reports, I found some disturbing news, and the majority of it came from either op-eds in newspapers (including the W.S. Journal), or from investment bankers and managers familiar with the companies involved, past examples of these huge merger & acquisitions/asset sell-offs, and, of course, pundits (like my fav. kid Rick Santelli...)

The news was that any company willing to purchase this company would immediately require the company to relocate.

Apparently Boston isn't a great place to do business anymore. Philadelphia, San Jose, Oakland (CA), and Tampa are the headquarters and potential relocation sites of the company if it were sold to any of the prospective bidders.

That's extremely unsettling.

I don't even have to tell you that we probably wouldn't move. You might ask: why? To keep a job? It might be worth it. True, but all of these postings also said that 25% or more of the company's employees would be 'expended' (my favorite verb they used to describe layoffs) after the potential merger and some before the merger was finalized. That means even if one were to relocate for the position, three weeks later they could be out of work in a new and strange city, arguably in worse shape than they were before.

All in all, it could mean we're (K and I) are heading for the bottom of the bucket in terms of employment, dreams, aspirations and plans, and hope in general.

I'm queasy just pondering the implications of this seemingly ill-considered asset sell. Why sell for less than you'll make from it? Just for the instant gratification and bottom-line satiation of being able to display you now have another $3 billion (or less depending on the bid) scribbled off your list of money you need to raise?

I suppose it's time I stopped my optimism charade, as I'm still deeply concerned and filled with trepidation about the next year in America. I'm rescinding my earlier economic prediction of a recovery by this time next year: job losses decreasing, stock market much higher. I think we did just see a 'bear market rally,' and now we're going to go sideways for a long time...perhaps a decade of sideways moves and slight increases, akin to Japan's lost decade.

Just what does that mean for jobs and this generation? Our generation is likely to be 'the lost generation' because of this recession: unable to keep our houses because we've lost our jobs, and unable to repay our student loans. We'll be reminiscent of the generation lost during The Great Depression. I'm sure the economy will emerge much stronger from this, though, but during the interim it's going to be a hard, frugal, and perhaps most unexpectedly, boring: buying will plummet again soon, as will optimism, even if job losses do halt. There won't be much hiring for a long time I suspect. It will be basically sideways. Sure, we'll see months of more jobs than losses, and others of slightly more losses than jobs, and we'll sort of jostle for position for a year, I think, before beginning a gradual, vigilant and careful upturn.

Is it just me or did the world seem brighter when we knew we weren't in a recession? Didn't it seem more fun and promising when we knew we would make up in the morning and have a job to go to? And that our neighbors wouldn't come home dejected, boxes in hand, preparing for a year or more at home on the couch?

A fire began in our current town this morning. It's going to cost $500,000 to repair all the damages. The budget has already been wiped clean of the emergency funds, and our city has already called in nearly $1 million in emergency funds for things that happened last year and earlier this year. I'm thinking we're going to see either a rise in taxes or some serious layoffs coming around our town now as a result of this fire. How sad is that?

Firefighter jobs will be cut because of a fire. Seems like a backwards America right now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bio-Ready Towns

Both Attleboro and Northbridge were listed by as being 'bio-ready' communities in Massachusetts, two out of only a small and select group.

Speed-Dating, College Representatives Style...

Check out this novel idea.

A charter school in Dorchester is challenging its students to get into college and their primary catalyst for doing so in what they refer to as 'speed-dating' style. They invite about 30 colleges to come for a day and have all the graduating students who can and want to go onto college (a large portion doesn't want to go to college for various reasons, etc. etc....) set up five minute or so interviews with each of the colleges and chat back and forth, very informally, about the college's atmosphere, costs, academics, etc. What a great idea!

It's a lot better than the traditional way of shuffling packs of confused and overwhelmed seniors from table to table or inviting down some seniors, who can get fourth of fifth period off, to come and talk to representatives from a perspective college on a given day.

My ideal set-up would be a mix of the two where local area schools would come on selected, pre-scheduled days, where faculty would not teach any senior courses during the time period (and a lot of juniors could also go), and then a speed-dating round table once or twice throughout the year with representatives from schools far and wide.

For instance, here in MA, I would probably invite schools from Maine, Western CT, New York, and New Jersey to come for the day to interview the seniors. I'd also try to encourage other local area schools to participate also (especially if it were scheduled for a weekend day), that way the colleges would be more inclined to visit if they could get tons of students individually for a few minutes, and from several different schools.

Making it worth the while for both parties is critical to making the plans in general. Today's students need more information and far more encouragement to get out there, secure a spot in a (or several and then have their choosing) college, and begin their lives onto a career path that will inevitably escape this horrible downward spiral recession we're neck-deep in.


Why was I not informed that Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam bassist) was mugged in Atlanta while working on PJ's next album? Who would mug Jeff Ament?

Out of the entire couldn't go for the anorexic Stone Gossard? Nor the incoherent Mike McCredy? He has Chrohns!

So weird. Incredibly weird.

Reading and writing for the majority of the day today. Went for an hour run earlier--exhilarating and cleansing. Now I'll spend as much time as possible doing as much work as possible in preparation for next semester!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Additional MTEL Criticism

This recent article in The Boston Globe highlights some further criticism of the MTEL exams--the Massachusetts teachers' examinations required for all k-12 educators and most early childhood educators.

It's a pretty good case for some serious and sweeping changes of the types of requirements necessary. Check out the earlier blog posts for more information on how I rated these licensing exams from MA, CT, and RI and some of the criticisms I had for them.

This does raise some pretty interesting questions, does it not?

CNN Polls

The first of the two CNN polls I'd like to weigh in on are: how are you going to be affected by the closing of the Crysler/GM dealerships? The second: how do you feel about Nancy Pelosi's newest 'waterboarding' and interrogation/secrecy scandal?

While the poll on CNN came out at 90%/10% in heavy favor of 'not affected' by the dealership closings, I chose 'directly affected' for the reaons mentioned in the previous blog post; the most obvious being the community impacts and higher local unemployment rates and struggling businesses as a direct result. I'm surprised that 90% of Americans polled said they would not be affected, in fact, I would have expected it to be 75/25 in the opposite favor...but I suppose one can never gauge everything properly and completely.

The second poll asks you how you currently feel about Nancy Pelosi, given her recent battles over her knowledge of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques, her strong stance to the far-left of American politics, and her seemingly insouciant attitude to critics and calls to be replaced. 65% of Americans polled said their views of her were either the same or slightly more 'concerned' with her stances and private dealings as of late. While only 5% said they were 'dangerously' concerned about her current stances and opinions, a hefty 10% considered replacing or 'impeaching' her current House Speaker position.

While I am a liberal-leaning moderate most of the time, I do have a strong democratic stance on a lot of the issues facing us today, and though the majority of my family is conservative, I find the Republican party to be alienating and disgruntled, at best. It seems they want nothing more than to undermine some of the very best work that has occurred in our country's history by labeling it as 'taxing,' 'counterproductive' or by noting that it 'increased' the size of government, taxes, and may have caused other problems in the process. While I can agree with some of their opinions (from their perspectives, of course), I can't agree with them 100% on nearly any issue anymore, which is sad as I believe I now identify with a large portion of America who feels the conservative stances and Republican parties are just 'wrong for America' right now. They need to reboot.

Nevertheless, the far-left leaning Pelosi is not immune from my criticisms and is not in a safe ballpark because she isn't conservative. She is actually pretty radical in some of her idea(l)s and is pretty unafraid to confront any issue with a fake smile and insistence on progress akin to Doloris Umbridge from Harry Potter. And if a fictional character, which was despised and characterized in the book as the epitome of mean and vengeful, then I expect if Pelosi can be identified concurrently with this character, she has some major character flaws as well--if she hopes to properly identify with the majority of Americans.

Maybe she has prior knowledge of waterboarding, maybe she is leaning too far to the left to even be embraced by Obama, and perhaps it is time for her to step down and allow someone else to take over the position. We'll see in short and due time, I suspect. I am frightened somewhat of her and her goals without being cognizant of their consequences or repercussions, but I support the fact that she has these far-reaching and comprehensive goals she wishes to enact, which is much more than the GOP can say at this moment.

American Conglomerations Remind Me of Fascism

A shocking yet awesome realization struck me today as I was reviewing my calendar and my to-do list: I have more to do now and am busier this week and next week than I was during any particular week that I was employed. And little to none of what is keeping me so busy actually has to do with finding a job; that's all secondary and to be done during my free time.

It makes me feel like a part of society again, though I know I'm not technically a 'productive' member at the moment. That definition does anger me though...and I know I'm not the only fit who fits beneath that label, but the debasement is still sobering.

And news came out today about the horrific closures of 800 Chrysler dealerships across the nation, as well as 1,100 GM dealerships. Granted not all of these will go under as many will revamp and turn into used car dealerships and/or will strike deals with other, foreign automakers in order to stay afloat. But the repercussions of these announcements will send shock waves through our economy, which is just beginning to bottom out. I think it will push us back by a few weeks, perhaps even a few months, and will cause a disastrous downward spiral ripple effect in job losses.

I already know of at least two people, who have nothing to do with GM or Chrysler, who have lost their jobs in the past week as a direct result of the announcements. They have jobs that are so far removed from the auto industry that it seems implausible that they could be so affected, but I digress and return to my point.

Each dealership, on average, employs about 50 people. Given the total of nearly 2000 dealerships to close across the country, that's about 100,000 jobs that can potentially be lost because of these dealerships shutdowns...and these figures do not even include the parts suppliers, gas stations and car washes, and people, who like the two people I know, depend on those employed by these dealerships for their own livelihoods. I think that the closures will result in an entire month's worth of job losses (in other words 500,000-650,000 total jobs) because of these dealership shutdowns. If these occur all in the same month, we're going to see a disastrous unemployment figure come out during that week and in the month following. It's a jump of about 1% of the nation, and this also does not include the workers in factories and assembly plants who will now lose their jobs because of decreased demand and MUCH higher inventory levels for those dealerships that remain open.

There's also going to be a huge amount of open real estate all over the country now. Whole towns are going to be affected by the closures, as many towns rely on these dealerships to employ the majority of the residents. Others will see taxes decrease and therefore funding for town works and livelihood/personnel like road repairs, police, firefighters, and, of course, teachers.

This economy is going backwards by at least one full month because of this announcement.

But we cannot be mad at the president or the government about these decisions. The companies themselves should have foreseen their own mortalities, shortfalls, and mountain losses years ago, possibly even decades ago, and realized America would eventually be satiated by the amount of cars in the country and wouldn't require millions of extra gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs be produced each year.

Toyota, Honda, and Kia have all known this, and acknowledged these facts, and have made huge strides in reversing their own futures and will come out much more successful in the end. I believe a huge shakedown in upper management is necessary at all the big-3 automakers--immediately.

They have been ignorant, pompous and too costly to remain in their positions. Strip them of their salaries and bonuses, their titles and lofty positions, and their livelihoods as they have stripped so many others. Do not allow them to cling lifeless to the side of their sinking ships while the American taxpayer tugboats drag them to shore to be repaired and sent back out into the world again weeks later.

It's deplorable to allow these sorts of egotistical and pretentious practices to keep occurring. The average worker needs a job, and should have little risk in their positions. Higher-paid executives, owners, senior players, etc. should have the most risk in their positions. They should be the first to go, not the lowly workers. Why is this the standard practice? Do we live in America or fascist Germany--where the highest control all and do as they please without consequence or worry?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

TGI Friday's

Went with K., along with her sister and her husband, to TGI Friday's tonight and had another $5 meal, which was amazing!

Am hoping tomorrow turns positive and I'm able to get some writing of the creative variety under my belt. I have been stifled again as of late, with all of the magazine writing, excess reading, health issues, job issues, and tons of paperwork, etc. It's been quite taxing and I really just want some free time to sit and read and write, and to think in general. Unfortunately, it's like trying to fit 35 hours into 16, which is why I'm sleeping fewer and fewer hours lately.

An Opposing Argument

An article in the current New York Magazine reflects the communal response to economic crises (like our current one and The Great Depression), and what should be happening now, and points out where it is happening, but as in my previous post, we're not seeing it to the needed and necessary scale that we did in times past, and we're not seeing it across the board as did in previous economic downturns.

The article is uplifting in its idealism, but its faults lie in the fact that so many people's problems are not going away because they do not have jobs. Volunteering is great, if there's a pot of gold at the end of the unselfish rainbow. But for so many, there isn't...there's a foreclosure, or a medical crisis, or a relocation into grandma and grandpa's social security-funded basement to ride out the economic storm like a hurricane. What a way for the Pepsi Generation and Generation X to go down...not in flames, but in hiding. Shame of those that careened the economy off a cliff, driving it full speed in oblivion. There perhaps will never be justice on those that caused it, and others will continue to be glorified for improvements after the downtown, though they caused the initial plunge.

Here's a link to the article:

A Santelli-Esque Rant...except it's against you, Santelli.

With headlines like "Are Politics Pounding the Markets?" and "Is Regulation Good for Wall Street?," CNBC is thrashing any decisions hat will increase taxes or stifle capitalism's rampant chomp. BUT, I think their questions deserve a single unified answer, one that will make them jovial about their first question and angered about their second question.

Politics are of course supposed to be separate from the difficult dealings of finance. But they are inextricably tied, and while some people are excited to admit it and see what it can bring, others are nonplussed. They wonder why the two are tied and actually rely on one another, and the answer is conservatism.

Conservatism is tied to Capitalism--the belief that anyone can achieve great things, become rich and prosperous with hard work, good investments, and little government intervention (whether it be through taxation or regulation.) So while we try to look at the markets as an objective indicator (something not influenced by personal opinion), it is very subjective, and the majority of those investors are looking to become true capitalists and are therefore subjective in their approach to investing (as they should be), but it causes the market, and by extension Wall Street, to become entirely subjective.

To properly reflect the liberal politics now governing the US, the markets of course are going to encounter some friction, will plummet initially before rallying on issues other than politics. Anytime there are two opposing bodies, initiatives or sides, there will always be friction/adversity. We must come to accept this and accept the market as not an indicator of the administration's benevolence or successes, but as the opinions of a group at odds with some of the core beliefs of the administration. The market and the majority of Wall Streeters (Capitalism incarnate) will always be at odds with liberalism because it, by definition, attempts to socialize and stifle rampant Capitalism.

It's all politics, but not in a political way, in an intelligence way. Therefore, we can't look at the market as something that is benevolent and the administration's work as malevolent. Instead, we must look at the market as a reflection of business, not of ideals, perceptions and approvals of the majority. Only a minority that is in opposition with the current liberal leanings of politics. So yes, CNBC, according to your first question, politics are affecting the markets, and that is why there was such a sharp decline after Obama came into office and after the stimulus bill was signed into effect. What you must also realize though, is that politics, and especially frictional politics, are essential to finding a common ground. For too long the highest-paid and most conservative of people were leading the market higher, and now that they have vacated the market, anticipating a bottom to reinvest, the market will go lower. While they fight back against the liberalism driving the market down, a bottom will eventually be reached (consensus, politically and fiscally), which will then drive the market upward again (what we've seen since March 9th). Eventually there will of course be retrenchments and bull market downtowns, but this is not a bear market rally. The prevailing politics are turning into a consensus instead of a head-to-head bull vs. bear, liberal vs. conservative, socialist vs. capitalist (not respective, of course) battle and jostle for position.

To their second question, is regulation good for the markets? I think my explanation of my answer to their first question satisfies that and is a pretty solid response. OF COURSE!

The market fluctuates in good times and bad times between a Type A and a Type B personality. Of course at times it will be free-wheeling, uncontrollable, and greedy, while other times it will be grim, pessimistic and annoyed. But one thing is for certain: it likes to know what the boundaries are so it can challenge them, bend or break them where available and appropriate without breaking the law (unless you're Madoff or Alan Stamford--IDIOTS!), and gain as much money as possible during the interim.

It's like a young child fighting back against its parents (and in a way, the market is the ID of our society: greedy, desirous, and unwavering): it needs to know the boundaries have been set and there are punishments in order for it to act accordingly. The previous administration tried to deregulate and offer up boundless possibilities to create growth and a strong economy, but the opposite eventually happened. For a few years it was easy-going freedom with endless capital and a strong feeling that nothing will ever change. Now, less than two years later, we're in the pits and the bottom of the bottom as the lack of regulation caused all these companies to defy the rules, and when the consequences came (ones that they either did not know about or disregarded), they were swift and strong.

Therefore, the market is shaped by the need for regulation and politics. It acts accordingly because it is basic, greedy, hungry and desirous.

You're welcome, CNBC.

As a side note, this link from Comedy Central, a video from The Daily Show, is pretty correct in its realizations of the Dow's true arbitrariness and capriciousness. It is not a gauge of politics necessarily, but a system set up to gauge myriad factors simultaneously both delayed and instant in order to present an overall opinion and financial outlet. Stewart puts it best in the video, and actually makes a beautiful case for what CNBC and Fox News do (and unfortunately, even CNN sometimes) when they place a stock ticker and/or Dow ticker beside or beneath Obama or a member of the financial administration (Bernanke, Paulson or Geithner) or political administration, and try to correlate the opinions and decisions expressed during their speeches with the Dow as if it were a general opinion poll or gauge or right vs. wrong. (Buzz sounds loudly...)

WRONG, people. It's not like the ticker presented during the presidential debates reflecting how audience members view a response (either positively or negatively). It does not reflect the general population in any way. Sorry, CNBC; try again.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
The Dow Knows All
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Free Fallin'

I found an updated tally of the number of Americans currently unemployed, and likewise, the number of current job openings. As of April 1, the number of unemployed Americans was around 14 million, while there were less than 2.7 million job openings across the US...that puts it between 5 and 6 people going after every job in the US. In March there were 3 million and last April (2008) there were a bit more than 4 million (but "only" 8 million were put everything in perspective...twice). (As a reference point, in February 2005, there were approximately 5 million job openings for 4 million unemployed Americans, meaning there was a job open for everyone, though a lot of them were part-time or required specialized degrees, as I'll note how far the economy has fallen...).

Now, if you subtract the jobs requiring specialized degrees (PhDs, terminal Master's [MSW for instance]), or specialized skills (accountant, which also qualifies under degrees, and nursing to name two), the opening is approximately 1.5 million. That means there are between 10 and 15 people for every available job in the US right now. That's incredibly unhealthy for the economy, and for our psyche.

This also means if you're a nurse or pursuing a career in nursing, it's smooth sailing for you anywhere in the US with any skill level. The same applies to accountants and certified financial analysts...companies are clamoring for you and there just aren't enough to go around. While positions for other people, who have degrees in things like psychology, communications, or liberal studies, then your options are pretty limited. There are VERY few positions open that only require a degree and any kind of previous work experience or internship.

When will it turn around is the burning question, and one I can't answer. But I can offer some optimism: the government is actively pursuing ways to bridge the gap with more jobs coming down the pipeline in the months to come, more construction projects that almost anyone can apply for, and new apartment complexes for people to live in at a cheaper rate until they can purchase their own home. That's a bit of reprieve, but if everyone loses their jobs, it's no solution whatsoever.

When the job market is stabilized, we can finally sit down and figure out what to do next, but right now, we're still free fallin'.

Can You Help a Brother Out?

Apparently not.

A new study revealed that more Americans than ever are hunkering down and holding onto a selfish and self-centered view of their lives and the world they live in, despite The Great Recession.

Sure, it seems an arbitrary study, but in today's economy, it means a lot more than the numbers suggest. First, it shows that more Americans are thinking about themselves (and granted their families) than about the families down the street, those who have been evicted or foreclosed, those who have been laid off, or those who had work and financial difficulties before all this began. That's troubling, but in an economy like this, you'd expect the opposite: a bit more sympathy, some outreach, an outpouring of support (though perhaps not financially, but emotionally), and some focus on doing what is best overall, not just for one person. Second, it's a stark cry from the mentality of The Great Depression: survival of all is pinnacle, everyone is in a bind so do what you can to help anyone else, those with families to feed are not laid off while those with no family to support them are kept employed (for those very reasons), people teaching other people basic skills like farming/gardening, sewing, and job skills (without requiring financial compensation), and those at the top of the fiscal hierarchy giving back more in donations and assistance to those at the bottom.

Sure, we glorify a few stories here and there about CEOs giving back their bonuses as individual bonuses to each of the company employees. And sure, Bill Gates did donate 57% of his earnings to charity, etc. last year. But the Waltons (of Wal-Mart) donated $2,000 each last year to charities and other nonprofit organizations, and a poll conducted by CNN shows that nonprofit organizations donations have remained constant or shrunk slightly from the middle class, while the upper class has severely cut off funding, almost completely in some cases.

And the point still stands: the upper-class still only have a 1% unemployment rate, compared to an 8.9% rate for the middle-class (and rising by the day), and a 16.9% unemployment rate for the lower-class (those who have given up looking for work or have accepted part-time jobs in lieu of no full-time employment.)

Tally all these up and we have a national unemployment (which counts underemployment and/or extended unemployment beyond the confines of the figures) of 21.2%. That's STAGGERING. And while it's not the 25% of total unemployment (which is estimated at about 14% right now) of The Great Depression, it's getting awfully close.

The point is the 8.9% figure is very misleading and far more than 7 million Americans are out of work right now, and with more than 3 million college graduates set to enter the workforce between April 1 and September 1, this rate will again be misleading by an additional 3 million (or more) workers. It's scary to think about the serious discounts of a figure like that.

Why can't the government figure out a more effective way to collect employment figures? Relying on unemployment insurance figures only works well if people are within the 53-week window of being paid unemployment benefits. After that, they are no longer counted, even if they haven't found a job. Those people who were self-employed (freelancers) or were paid under the table (nannies, handymen, etc.) are not counted, and people (mostly young people and students) who have not found their first jobs yet, but have to pay rent, student loans, and other bills, are also not counted.

This country needs a serious employment reversal immediately. We need to see job creation NOW. If we wait until September to start to see jobs perk up around here, we might be looking at an unemployment rate akin to The Great Depression.

Seriously, hiring has been at a stand-still for more than a year with only little glimmers of hope when it comes to finding a new job. It's getting rather ridiculous.

Perhaps it's because I'm liberal-leaning, but I would gladly support a second stimulus package that would completely bridge states' decimated budget shortfalls, and that would entirely spur job growth. The first stimulus package was like a blood transfusion to keep us alive, we need a second one, an IV to help us start to get better. Right now, the doctors are wishing for us to get better, but we need more. I'd rather pay higher taxes 5-10 years from now when the TRUE unemployment rate is less than 5% again. I would much rather pay more then and be guaranteed a job and the types of basic human securities that drive growth and opportunity, than remain stagnant now because of inflation and higher tax worries years from now.

This problem was too many years in the making to have one quick solution and to let the rest happen on its own. It could take another 10 years for that to happen (and we're only 6 months into that.) I don't want to see unemployment rates rise for the next 3 years before we see a downtrend. I want it to stop next month and start reversing and I know I'm not alone. Capitalism and selfishness must be seriously examined, our goals and objectives ratified, and our hearts and minds rebooted to focus on our communal well-being, happiness, and success.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oprah apologizes to James Frey

In a stunning reversal, Oprah has apologized to James Frey!


I feel more and more lil' John every time I use that, but honestly and in all seriousness, why would she rescind her evil wishes on him?

His book, A Million Little Pieces, is more than 50% fiction, but was marketed as a non-fiction book, and was one of the first non-fiction books to really gain huge exposure and traction in the literary world not as just a book that is a great read, but has a lot of classical and desirable elements in it. It would have been a huge success had it all been true, or if he had told the truth before the lie escalated so much that his world collapsed and blew apart into about a 100,000 jagged and untruthful pieces.

What's even worse is his next 'memoir,' titled My Friend Leonard, is about a man he met while in jail. The problem? He was never in jail, there is not a man named Leonard and the entirety of the book is fabrication. He has lied to the furthest extent possible and should not be given the decency of a public apology for anyone becoming angry at him for lying. He should know that by duping us, when he could have easily stopped it all from occurring, he should face literary ridicule, at least for more than 5-10 years.

If not, let's all give Pete Rose some commendations again and let him into the Hall of Fame.

A Million Little Pieces was first marketed as a fiction book, but when no one wanted it, Frey changed a handful of ideas and passages and marketed it as a non-fiction. His stories were incredible, moving, heart-wrenching and powerful. They were an instant hit and an enduring classic simultaneously--something achieved by few books (non-fiction or otherwise) today.

Oprah bashed him on the show, in the news and media, and for months afterward refused to speak his name. And now she apologizes. At least let him endure a bit more before the apology!

Obama's Poetry Night!

Why wasn't I informed about this?! The White House desperately needs some new media PR people apparently. After scouring the internet in reverse after the event happened, I finally found some cheap blurbs about the upcoming event and then a ton about GM following it.

This is something you want to publicize to bring hope to a nation both economically and literally (as in literate) challenged.

The Obama's hosted a Poetry Night last night and Michelle Obama claimed it has been her dream since she entered the White House to have some poetry and spoken word read within the walls. And while I'm still trying to find a list of performers or professional poets who were invited, I'm shocked to know that the majority of the poetry community doesn't know about this. We desperately need a poetry day at the white house, or a national creative writing day, where we can finally get the creative juices flowing back into our nation.

Am I the only one that recognizes this standardized testing is killing the creativity of a lot of our young students? They need a reprieve during the school day and during each school year and I think a perfect way to implement this is to have a national poetry/creative writing day observed by all schools, in which students will be given the opportunity to creative write, to read, and to explore the world beyond the confines of bubbles and scantron sheets.

Providence Mayor Goes Off The Deep End

The mayor of Providence is trying to pass a law that would tax every private college student in Providence $300 per semester. He estimates it would bring in about $6-$8 million annually, and would greatly reduce the city's looming deficit.

While I'm all for unique solutions to solving budget issues and deficits, taxing students for attending college is not one of them. Why would they choose to go to Providence College or The Rhode Island School of Design, two prominent private colleges that would be taxed under his plan, when they could go to The University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, The University of Connecticut, or Bridgewater State College for less money, and without having to be taxed.

His plan is one that is not forward-thinking. There is far too much assumption inherent in his argument. He assumes students will still pour in in droves to attend the already pricy, cash-strapped and too-small private college of Providence, and that in the future only more students will come. What he is doing is essentially setting up a divide between the public and the private universities in the city and offering prospective and current students the opportunity to save at least $600 a year by going to another university. While $600 doesn't seem like a lot, it does pay for books for the entire year (and possibly a bit of the next), and is the approximate cost of 2 courses at Bristol Community College.

If anything, the plan will shrink enrollment and offer up colleges a new set a problems. And while the city may inheret some money, they will be shelling out plenty of it in the years to come when all the institutions and its students begin trying to sue the city. As a result of this, I fear that the tax-exempt status of these institutions will begin to be stripped, and the price will only skyrocket further.

Providence needs to invest in some new initiatives, mainly high-speed rail lines extending into Connecticut and Massachusetts, new fuel technologies, and plenty of oceanography (they are the Ocean State after all). It might cost a bit more now, but within a few years it's going to pay off tenfold. And if they show the plans to the Obama administration, they will surely receive a sizeable grant amount and possibly more stimulus funds as they are trying to promote green technology, science, math, and will be creating plenty of new jobs.

Don't tax the few who still have jobs or are attending school. Make more jobs and collect the addition taxes needed from those who pay income and state taxes on their salaries.

Am I the only one saying, "Duh!" ?

Financial Analysts and Accountants

As a new English teacher, I want to encourage all my students to pursue a career in English, Education or something of the like..after all, math is evil.

But in this world, we need more and more people ready to meet the challenges of a society that relies upon math and science. The basis for all of these jobs and needs is math, of course, and the two jobs that pop up everywhere seem to be Number (Financial, etc.) Analysts and Accountants.

To prove my point, and to make this post short. General Motors, CitiBank, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and Circuit City (yes, the bankrupt Circuit City) all have JOB POSTINGS up looking for both Financial Analysts and Accountants. In other words, even if a company is laying off thousands and thousands of employees, there is still such a strong need for these types of careers that even as the ship is sinking, they still need people to jump on board.

$70k a year to use twitter and facebook

A public relations friend of mine recently posted a link on his twitter account to a job posting in Portland, Oregon. The job is for a Twitter/Facebook guru to work for the county to enliven its social media reach and to spur growth and a younger incoming population. The job will pay approximately $70,000 a year, which in Oregon, is about the equivalent to $85,000 a year in Massachusetts.

So why pay someone so much money for doing a job like this? To write press releases, to shoot videos, conduct stories, set up accounts, tweet, interact with groups and program constituents all across the country, and to social interact both in-person and virally seems pretty standard to most of us who have grown up in the digital age. I've recorded my own songs on my computer, set up accounts across various social media sites, and have a blog (ahem), yet I couldn't see myself doing it as a job. Why? Because it almost doesn't seem fair. To have a job paying about $30,000 would make it fair, as this is the sort of once-in-a-lifetime position offering work that is entertaining at worst and jovial and exciting at best, that pays through the roof, and that offers the type of job security and growth that every industry is severely lacking right now.

Is this county the first in a long line that will eventually go this route? Is this a bucking trend we'll see blossoming across the country? Counties and towns virally publicizing themselves to show off their amazing qualities and lessen any of their potential drawbacks? Seems a no-brainer for most communities. So yes, I agree with it totally, but at a cost that large? I don't necessarily agree with that. The newspapers and TV stations in the area that broke the story also commented on the seeming lack of fiscal control the county is using when offering up a position like this, stating that with crumbling roads and 50 teachers recently laid off, the time to offer $70,000 for someone just to virally promote the county might be too out of line.

What do you think?

The Republic of Texas

The New Yorker recently wrote a satirical op-ed piece about the likelihood of Texas seceding from the US to become its own republic...again.

The foundation for the move is of course the liberal leanings of the rest of the country (or so they interpret...) and the 'over-taxation' of the Obama administration, which will raise approximately 1 in 15 (amount of Texans earning $250,000 or more annually) Texans' tax rates from 35-39.6, or the equivalent of about $34 per week.

While some lawmakers and citizens of Texas claim that part of the agreement of joining the US was that Texas could choose to break off from the US if desired, it is actually false. The decree from the mid-1800s, when Texas joined the US, actually stated that Texas could leave the US if it could be passed by lawmakers around the country, and if Texas was granted secession status, it would then have to break up into 5 separate states and figure out its path from there, without financial obligations from the US.

The article goes on to explain that roughly 1 in 3 Texans actually approve of or desire any sort of discussion about secession, and of those, a smaller percentage would enjoy or benefit from a secession. Which leads me to my question: why would Texas honestly consider this? Are they so far right-winged that they cannot tolerate even the most modest of tax increases, liberal brethren, and alternative fuel initiatives?

A state seceding from the US. It seems the stuff of fantasy or the stuff of 19th century America...not the stuff of civilized, intelligent and respectful 21st century America. It's stunning that this could actually be on the minds of lawmakers and high-ranking citizens in Texas and not just a handful of disgruntled wealthy citizens who want to hoard as much of their money as possible and develop it into a trust fund akin to the Bush's. We'll see, I suppose, but the beauty in the satirical piece is really one to make your head spin because it's more reality than fantastical...and some of the spoofs could become actual initiatives if they do somehow break away. Scary.

A New Buzzphrase!

And one that I am oh, so excited about! Now the world is abuzz with "The Worst Has Already Happened."

Of course, it's a pun on "What's the worst that could happen?" And is cleverly being used by job seekers all around the nation at job fairs and social gatherings alike, but there's a clear message being sent as an undertone in the phrase, and one that is mildly optimistic.

The worst has already happened makes it seem like we have already entered the next Great Depression, or even worse! But the phrase continues to urge people to take chances and to surpass their expectations, something that is optimistic in its pessimism of "nothing can happen that's going to make anything worse." If it can't get worse, it can only get better, right?

Isn't that the pure definition of forced optimism? If it is, does that mean this is the worst that the economy is going to get? In Great Depression terms, it's not too bad, but in recession terms, it's horrible. So maybe if this does go down as The Great Recession or a very mild depression sandwiched between two 9 month recessions, it seems about right. Which is optimistic even in its gloom and doom. If nothing can/will get worse, everything can only get better from here...but of course, it will take time.

But back to the buzzphrase. If more people are taking chances, trying something new, and going beyond their comfort zones, can all those actually be BENEFITS of this recession? Stay with me...Could the recession have reignited the entrepreneurial spirits in those who were sidelined due to having to moonlight as an inventor? Perhaps all this addition time off for many will lead to a plethora of inventions and betterment for the world emerging from The Great Recession.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fox Sports Blog Post

Above is the link to Ken Rosenthal's latest posts, basically outlining how easy it would be for the Red Sox to replace David Ortiz (the Ortiz of 2009 he is quick to distinguish, not the one of 2003-2007).

Replace him? My immediate reaction was to scream, disprove him, and to write a retort. But after reviewing his post I have to both agree and strongly disagree with him. Within his post he makes reference to the potential trade options for Ortiz, how he may break out of the funk eventually, and how he may be finally finished, i.e. needs to retire soon.

So I can agree with Rosenthal that Papi's power has diminished, his numbers are sinking faster than Fox's reputation, and that the Sox have to do something about him, and that trades are a viable option for any player in his situation. But not Papi. Papi is not a baseball player on a good team. And if Rosenthal were a Sox fan, he would understand what Papi represents. Papi is the answer to the Bambino--one of the greatest players ever whose departure cursed the Red Sox. When the Twins let Papi go (and through a number of trades we got a lot of other great players who also helped), and he came to Boston, we helped another amazing hitter who had carelessly been tossed to the curb. We've done the same for Mike Lowell, John Smoltz, and countless others over the years as well. And the two biggest things the Sox never got: A-Rod and Teixeira, both of whom could have been the undoing of the end of the curse.

The article makes no mention about how disastrous a Big Papi trade would be to Boston--the fans, the stadium, the merchandising, and the team psyche. This isn't Manny Ramirez with antics up the wazoo...neither is it a case of needing to trade the perennial fan favorite Nomar Garciaparra in order to have a real shot at a world championship. The Sox has proven they have what it takes (04 and 07) to take the world championship, but both times Ortiz was healthy.

This is the same case of Jason Varitek, and before him, Jason Bellhorn. Neither one of these hitters was superb, nor were they very liked for a long period of time. Bellhorn would be booed when he struck or popped out in crucial situations, and his average was never above .250 and he never hit any more often than Dougie goin' deep tonight! Mirabelli, whom the Sox stuck with and even resigned (at 40!) to another year on the squad. Varitek has a deplorable season last year, but began to rebound at the end of the season and has so far tried to prove himself this season. The secret weapon for the Sox is of course the young talent they have in Youkilis and Pedroia (both benched at the moment with injuries) and the promise held in Jason Bay. The aging stars Mike Lowell and JD Drew will eventually have to be replaced like old car parts when they finally clunker to a stop (as anyone can see right now.) However, there is no replacing Big Papi.

He is not a dime-a-dozen personality. Notice I referred to him as a personality, not a hitter. For years it was the Papi show and the Manny sidekick, but with Ed McMahon involved in scandals and a hatred beginning to brew for him, can Sullivan really be ousted from The Tonight Show because of some low ratings?

Absolutely not. The answer at the very worst is to demote him to sitting on the bench and resting, or to spending more time working on hitting and coordination, which he is obviously rusty on since all his injuries have occurred. Getting him trim, refocused and well-oiled is the key to Papi's comeback and the Red Sox know it. In no way will they ever trade away David Ortiz.

It would be far too damaging to a city that is so wrapped up in Papi fever that even if he were to retire at the end of this year, his legacy would be remember as fondly, if not more, than Ted Williams or any other Sox great that has withstood the tests of time and occasional failure.

One if by land, two if by sea refers to the classic tale about the lanterns to-be-hung in the church when the British were to be spotted. But it can dually serve as a metaphor here. Ortiz is going down, whether it be by old age, a lack of productivity, or a trade, but either way he is being 'invaded' by an evil force that has the potential to annihilate him. Our options are either to hang one lantern and trade him, give him up with a young pitcher (most likely Lester), for another JD Drew who will be good, but not superb like the old Papi. Or to hang two lanterns and really dig in for the long haul with him. Really evaluate him and put him on a specialized program to get his hitting and focus back together.

So much of what he is going through is mental, and sports writers citing that the Sox could easily replace him are not going to help him break this funk and psyche himself back up. He needs to relax, have some time to work on his strengths, and reemerge as a hitter who does not necessarily need to be constantly clutch, but that can consistently hit between .250 and .300 and who hits at least 30-50 home runs each season.

Trading Papi would destroy what the Red Sox have fought for nearly 100 years to reverse. He symbolizes what Sox fans have yearned for for all this time, and his trade would be almost a relinquishing of the dream of a team that has the chance to really win and make a city happy. And in this economy, every city needs someone it can root for, and though the Celtics, the Bruins and the Patriots are all doing well, the Red Sox are to Boston what reversing is to cursing.

Save The Music Programs

I find the commercial to reinstate music classes in schools to be very offensive. Not the idea of it, by any means, but the way in which many of these music-promotion organizations donate money. In order to qualify, a school must be ready to cut their music programs or must have already cut the programs. Usually, a school which is about to cut its music programs has already stripped away the school district of all less experienced teachers and staff (those without the protection of tenure and/or those not at the top of the totem pole). In addition, the cut or to-be-cut program must be reinstated according to certain obligations. There can only be a certain number of students playing each instrument, and among those played, there cannot be more than a few drummers, trumpeters, and guitar players (usually 2 or 3 at most). I don't know about most schools, but in my school of 800-900, there were 9 drummers. That means the competition to play an instrument also goes by seniority, which seems unfair at best. Choral programs and jazz band are also not encouraged through program donations.

So while I support the implementation of more music programs in school, I don't support cutting other things, especially more subject and special education teachers. For the sake of our future, we need to boost funding in ALL aspects of schooling--if we ever hope to become an intelligent, literate nation. The Department of Education's budget needs to be doubled EVERY year from its current amount, and it needs frequent stimulus infusions to create reserve funds for specific districts that may run into financial difficulties on their own, never mind the circumstances everyone is under now that The Great Recession has hit hard.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Strange Dichotomy...

So while I like to think I'm intelligent/cognizant enough to be above such things, I found myself watching WWE again...yes, I know it's an ugly addiction, but it has been since childhood.

I remember watching it religiously every Saturday morning, though ironically I didn't visit church religiously every Sunday..egad! And I can recite to you countless facts and figures from the past two decades of wrestling. And while I can easily file this under my "to be used only when playing Trivial Pursuit or talking with someone even more obsessed with early 1990s wrestling than you"...I feel a certain guilt in continuing to watch it.

Is it that I have an addiction to wrestling, stemming from childhood, and even perhaps an addiction to simple debasement? Or is it that wrestling, as it did when I was a bored and lonely young kid, an outlet and an escape from the troubles of the world. I'm sure it's not hard to argue in my own mind that Anderson Cooper 360 is a bit more upbeat these days, and that our economy itself may be beginning to turn the corner, but everywhere I look there is one word painted across the sky: recession. And with it comes panic, hoarding, questions, and fear. And while it would be nice for all of it to go away immediately, it's going to be quite difficult. But soap operas, especially a two-hour one that rolls on from week to week, can be beneficial in trying to escape the depressing monotony of our world.

So should I feel guilty for watching WWE when I could listen to NPR or check on the current state of our economy? Or even turn on CNBC for a capitalist/conservative opinion on our economy? I could, but it's nice to escape for a while. Especially since a lot of my writing now reflects the economy and the depression. And when reading, I'm often thinking about it.

A continuation...

...of the previous blog posting.

So while I consider myself inadequate, I wonder what the qualifications, certifications and abilities of the other candidates are. Am I attractive and capable on paper? In person? Or solely through demonstration? I would hope that I am all three, but I suppose most districts would go for the last option; though I am inclined to believe they would skip over this expectation with other candidates. Is this a naive and false belief? Or is this some sort of state-to-state bias or preference? Is it a doubt because I have a lot of success and experience as a writer and a journalist/editor? And is that intimidating or demeaning to my successes as an educator? Do I come off as someone who is looking to switch careers and happens to have some education experience?

Perhaps that's the greatest downfall about my experiences. When I took the job for my former company, I knew it would only be a temporary position. They seemed keen on getting someone quickly, who could do the job, and who could 'fill a seat' until they found someone better. While that makes them seem pretty awful, it was a pleasant place to work during the interim. I find it funny that my contract ended exactly one year after my hiring date, my position was moved to the West Coast, and a search was already underway before I was given any warning or notice of my impending involuntary departure.

Yes, fishy I suppose would be a better word. But none of this translates onto paper, does it? So I suppose I do look like "an editor trying to be a teacher" on paper, or at best, someone who could be a teacher, but has been out of the classroom for the past two years. I suppose each of these are red flags. Glaring red flags. And perhaps that's why a lot of places may believe I'm something I'm not. A lesson learned: there is a self in paper, in person, and through experience. And a lot of people still do judge a book by it's cover, or by only reading the opening paragraphs.

And in truth the metaphor still does work. My summary is extensive and expansive, though there is a breadth of areas and expertises in there, so perhaps that's a disadvantage. And in person, there is only so much I can demonstrate, especially when trying to answer cookie-cutter questions or when trying to differentiate my answers from the answers of the other 50 people (or more!) vying for the same position, while simultaneously trying to answer the questions the way the interviewer wants them to be answered, to keep them truthful to myself, and to show hints of my promise as an educator (what comes in the following chapters.)

Is my first year or my first success my climax? Or am I a book still being written? Is my climax my entire time teaching? Optimistic yet confused. That's how I would categorize that.

Nevertheless, I am optimistic and prepared for a future as a high school English teacher and I cannot wait to begin. A taste of the office life is nice (as a slice), but anything more, in the words of Hulk Hogan's Old Spice commercial, would be uncivilized.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


So while I have doubted myself for the past three months about my qualifications, my intelligence, my appeal and likability, my passion, and even my creativity, it seems I was just very preemptive.

I all but convinced myself that I wasn't of the caliber and wasn't dedicated enough to become an English teacher. I applied everywhere. I searched voraciously. I scoured far and wide, cold-calling schools, filling out applications in districts in which I knew there were no openings, and called two or three times to make sure that a school did receive my application.

When I was laid off, there were no openings. Within 4 weeks of being laid off, there was one opening at a tough school in Worcester. Another 4 weeks later and two more openings appeared. One at another tough urban school, and one at a suburban school that seemed pretty nice. Needless to say, I jumped on all of them and pestered the districts to the point where I doubt any of them will give me return calls/interviews. I suppose there is a difference between pestering and checking in.

Nevertheless, I never assumed there would be as many openings as there are (especially in this economy, which is what makes me worried for next year...if there are a ton of openings this year and a district where I happen to get a job lays off some teachers, including me, at the end of this school year, will I then face a job market constricted by both the surplus of teachers for this year and by the economy?).

I applied for 59 jobs, and there are still some posted now that I am considering applying for. There are an additional 21 jobs that are either 60-70 miles away, are at tough, inner-city Boston charter schools, or require hellacious commutes.

Of the ones I applied to, I first journeyed on an interview at a district that was 63.2 miles away. I loved the school: it seemed warm and friendly, had diligent, thoughtful kids, and a relatively funny and welcoming staff. It was immaculate inside and included kids from five different towns, so one knew there would be ample student enrollment for years to come. But the commute overwhelmed me, and when the superintendent's secretary refused to return my call or to reschedule (after scheduling a time herself and asking if I could make it, which I could not), I felt that maybe it would be best if I decided against this particular district.

Next came an interview at a school that politely mailed me a 'we have recommended another applicant' the same day as the interview. Then a school district, which I have a feeling may be 'the one,' called me and things have begun rolling and I feel incredible strongly about it, and I feel it is mutual. I can't wait to find out definitively and to breathe a sigh of relief.

But now there is a school that called me last week to set up an interview, which I politely declined. I sent a message to the department head who contacted me. And tonight I find an e-mail asking for me to come in for an interview at another district. It seems I might be a bit more attractive, as a candidate of course, not in my receding-hairline looks, than I originally thought. And so while I feel that I was preemptive and negative in my confidence levels when applying for these jobs and believing in myself as a candidate. However, I feel that puts me at both a disadvantage and an advantage. I played myself down so much that I played myself up so much, making myself a much hungrier and passionate candidate, and making myself a more attractive candidate simultaneously. So while that works to my advantage I have to ensure that I fulfill my 'prophecy,' err...rather my promise, I suppose.

And while that seems relatively easy, and I am very thankful for 'hopefully' having a job, it is a bit scary still to think of being laid off because of the 'economy' come the end of this year. Fewer jobs guaranteed, in a market that is already strained to its maximum. All I can hope for now is a second round of stimulus to save the state and local jobs, or for the district to decide to hunker down and ride out the storm, with me in tow.

So I suppose I was just impatient and anxious when it came to the interviews, and took 'no news' as a negative instead of 'too early.' Either way I intend to be the best and to dwarf the accomplishments and promise of the other applicants given jobs this year. I intend to be the teacher of the year some year.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Final Poem for Last Submission Finally Done!

I just finished a piece this afternoon of which I am pretty proud of. It's a poem called The World As Oz and, just as you would expect, it's about our world and The Wonderful World of Oz, sort of commingled and mashed up. It's a pretty fast-paced and imaginative piece, and as of right now I'm very proud of it and the minor accomplishments I've made in jumping out onto a limb in each of these new ways. But I bet Janet will shoot it down with some comment, but we'll see!

Off to dinner with K. and some friends now.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Anticipation Reading

In anticipation for Angels and Demons coming to theatres next week, and with magazine writing coming to an end, I finally have enough time to split between reading/writing poetry and other creative writing endeavours, and rereading Angels and Demons and A Confederacy of Dunces. I'd say it's about time that I stepped up my game when it comes to the breadth of novels I've read (and more importantly, remembered).

Last week during one of my interviews, the interviewer knew the main characters from Rats Saw God, another one of my favorite books, though one that for years I've considered to be relatively obscure to completely unknown when it came to schools other than Bacon/NFA. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case any longer.

Now the interviewers know all of the 'reserve' books that for years have been recommended to me to know when being interviewed for a teaching job. I have a lot of reading to do, which may seem more recreational than anything else, but it's actually a lot of work....though fun work!

Craig Arnold Search Called Off

Wyoming professor of English and poet Craig Arnold, who I previously blogged about the other day, is still missing 10 days later on a small island off the coast of Japan. And now the search for him will end today, Friday, after the small team of search and rescue from America will return home and the rescue squad from Japan will return to the mainland. I hope one day we do find out what happened to Craig Arnold. I did research some of his poetry after, and while I'm not a huge fan of all of it, I do like the majority of what I have read.

Economical Things

The jobless rate is at a scary and intimidating 8.9%, which leaves me wondering just how high it will get. Economists say it's better than what they expected, since "only" 539,000 jobs were cut, which is a huge decrease from the previous few months, and the least since October. But previous months payroll numbers, unemployment figures, and layoff numbers continue to be revised to the negative end, and that is what really pushed the 8.9% rate to where it stands as of right now. So, without the drop of nearly 100,000 maintained jobs last month, the rate would probably be 9% or closer to 9% anyway. It's the highest unemployment rate in 25 years.

25 years? Well, that actually doesn't sound as bad, does it? Not with all the talk of "the greatest since The Great Depression."

It does seem with spring that a turnaround has started to blossom. (More puns to come, I promise.) And now that we're seeing these 'green chutes' (told you...) it seems that the suddenly optimistic and steadfast mood that began to prevail in American citizens as soon as the temperature rose and the snow melted, might signal the recovery is beginning.

We're still in the recession, though, and they still expect the unemployment number to rise higher from where it is right now. With that in mind, you have to wonder how high it will go and if it will become worse than "in the past 25 years." That's the early-to-mid 1980s recession that was pretty serious, but there was also a pretty serious recession, and one with a more protracted recovery, in the mid-1970s. Is that what we're looking at now?

In the 1980s, the unemployment rate rose to more than 10%, I think 10.3% is the highest it registered, which is the highest since WWII, but there was a sharper decline of jobs in the 1970s, and a slower rebound.

If our economy can stabilize later this year, jobs can be added much quicker than economists expect (mirroring the rapid-fire job hirings after the end of the 1990s and early 2000s recessions), and the unemployment rate can stay below 10.3% (and hopefully 10% though that looks further away from reality now...) then perhaps America can come out of this recession without having to label it as "The Great Recession," or to continually refer to it as the worst since The Great Depression. Perhaps we can call it the 'boom, bust, boom recession' in which riches went to rags and suddenly back to riches again in only a four-five year period. Obviously that would be ideal, and probably too optimistic.

But it's suddenly a different tune for me...I remember in late January and early February when the blogosphere was rampant with panic and depression. I remember reading one blog in particular saying job losses and the unemployment rate would continue upwards for all of 2009 and most of 2010, bottoming out somewhere close to the 25% in The Great Depression, and possibly surpassing it. A lot of these incredibly intelligent economists said with the hoarding, horrible downward revisions in orders and activity, the rampant bankruptcies and uncertainties surrounding huge institutions, banks and manufacturers, that we should expect nearly every large company in the US to fail and a trickle effect would take place with most of the small businesses that rely on the large businesses. Eventually we would not be able to borrow money from other countries to finance things like unemployment insurance, food stamps, and reinvestments into our economy, and the mood of the nation would dissolve into pure depression.

It seemed we would only be seeing cloudy and rainy days from now on and that the sun would never shine again. Some suggested we understand that this recession will be mankind's catastrophe (around the time Iceland went bankrupt), and that there is no recovery from it for a generation, at least. They expected many to return to simpler lifestyles of farming in remote locations, cities to become outlaw towns of disease and pestilence, and for our governments and leaders to begin massive wars and efforts that would ultimately lead nowhere and eventually plunge the world off one of its own cliffs.

Seems the mood of a nation had changed dramatically in less than five months. If we can change this quickly in five months, can we change completely, and go back to our happy, more secure lifestyles in double this time? I want to see where we are 10 months from now. That's the beginning of March in 2010. By then, I want to see jobs added far outpace jobs lost (the unemployment rate shrink by a percentage every month instead of increase), a return of many Americans to frivolity, and the fear and trepidation of an economy on the brink of widespread depression and dissolution to be only a nightmare.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Darwinian Socialism

Or Socialistic Darwinism. Either way you write it, the phrase seems perfect for our current times.

"Too big to fail" is the buzz phrase of the recession and will likely outlive the recession and become a part of our national consciousness. It is no doubt the reason for the majority of the troubles of this recession and should serve as a lesson for the future. We learned a great deal from The Great Depression, and with the precautions we took afterward, may have averted the full-blown second one, but in the meantime, we have created a lengthy, prolonged, deep, and slow-to-rebound recession, coined colloquially as The Great Recession. No doubt we stand to learn a lot from The Great Recession, mainly how 'too big to fail' is 'too big to be any good.'

Bailouts, TARP, stress tests, etc. etc. etc. The list goes on, perhaps infinitely, as we continue onward in the restructuring of the American economy, and therefore the world economy, and begin to unravel the thick web of deceit, greed, and uncontrolled/unchecked capitalism that spurred the catastrophes we witness daily. All of it caused by companies becoming too big to fail. The too big portion is easy to solve: break off portions of each too-big company and spur new investments in off-shoots of the company--less fundamental portions (for instance Countrywide could stand again on its own should BofA want to rid itself of it) that will be profitable on their own. The 'fail' part is a bit trickier.

The blog title and phrase is extremely funny, and did appear in the New Yorker, but besides the glib and humor, there is a resounding ring of truth to it.

In Darwinism, the fittest survive, and the weakest (no matter how large) will perish. That is more or less how capitalism would like to believe it is run, but the evidence is always pointed to the contrary as merger & acquisition, layoffs, and huge severances prevent the sort of 'eradication' or 'extinction' you would expect to see if capitalism were working wholly and faithfully. Instead it seems the common man, the less influential portion of the 'too big' always seems to be the one that fails. That would be the equivalent of the ticks dying instead of the T-Rex. (Stick with me here, I know the analogy is convoluted, but I promise I'm not referring to entry-level workers and blue-collar workers as 'ticks' for no reason.)

When a company the size of CitiGroup implodes and needs billions of dollars to stay afloat, never mind return a potential profit again in the end, there should be a few things in 'true' capitalism that would occur. The causes of the meltdown would become extinct. That means any upper management, executives, board members, presidents, etc. would be ousted and fired--without severances and without bonuses. Everyone on the lower end of the totem pole would be promoted and would restart the company, minus the dead weight or those with negative influence who drove the company into oblivion. Sounds more fair, but that will never happen.

So, we get socialism, in which the company (and the government) attempts to do what is best for everyone, not just the lowly workers and not just the highly paid executives. It attempts to plug the leak quickly and keep the sinking ship afloat (even if it means draining the water from the ocean instead of letting the ship go down--see, I told you the metaphor would work!!). The majority is saved, which is socialism, as opposed to Darwinism. But only certain companies are saved: Bye Bye Bear Stearns. Who will buy Merrill Lynch?! Anyone?! The aforementioned others saw worse fates. And what is doubly troubling is that the majority of executives who did lose their jobs were either hired by different companies or have so much money that working for them is an option for the time being.

Now the lowly workers, AKA me and anyone else making less than $100,000 year (including their bonuses), who should have been promoted and should never have been fired under any circumstances, are let go and the company continues with the same damaged portions that caused its downfall to begin in the first place.

Seems backwards, doesn't it? Well that's Darwinian socialism. Survival of what's best for everyone, but only what is more or less arbitrarily chosen to be the fittest of what's best for everyone. Yes, seems odd. Now social Darwinism is a bit different: that means there are certain species that should become extinct, but we artificially repopulate these species until their numbers are great enough to survive on their own again.

Too Big To Fail. Socialism and Darwinism mixed.

Oh, what a wonderful world...