Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Musings - State Fair '10 Edition

Hopefully, you are not at the fair today. It's too hot right now to buy chicken. Let's muse...

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I damn near witnessed a miracle at the Miracle of Birth coliseum. A substantial throng had gathered around the featured cow pen, so I followed suit. Featured cow had a large pink nodule, akin to giant salmon roe, hanging, miraculously, from it's vagina.

It was like a car crash; horrible, visceral and enticing all at once. Would I finally witness the miracle of birth? After five minutes of staring at dangly pink thing, it occurred to me that this process could take hours. I could invest my entire morning staring at pink mucous, only to be jilted at the proverbial alter.

Screw that. Tacos instead.

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Per my food post, it looks like I missed a one of a kind treat in the peach parfait from Salty Tart. They're the type to switch it up every year, so you might want to get your hands on one. The wine ice cream, honey sundaes, and dairy barn malts are in for the long haul.

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You know why I obsess about the fair? After approximately 150 hours spent at the event, I still unfurl random nuggets. Did you know about the news museum, tucked away in the NW corner of Frontierland (is that what it's called? It's across from the cream puff stand) A vintage printing press provides souvenir bookmarks in real time, for free. Brilliant.

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Speaking of Frontierland (Heritage Park? Does that sound right?), I caught wind of some excellent music coming from the stage, in the mode of Bon Iver. Turns out it was an Iowa band cum Arizona band called The Pines, who, as it turns out, have opened for Bon Iver.

Weird, I thought the fair specialized in ironic retro band and strum & fiddle dance troupes. Now I have to pay more attention.

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I didn't even look to see if the fire-eating midget was there. If he were not, I would have to assume he has passed on, and either outcome was just too depressing to fathom.

That said, the midway rides have notably progressed from "that looks boring" to "what kind of lunatic would pay to ride that thing?" Way to cut out the middle-road, state fair ride engineers.

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Did not know until this year that there was a second floor to the grandstand junk pavillion. You cannot fault the fair for not economizing their space, but... Why?

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You have not visited the fair until you've visited the crafts building. Seriously, there are wars over the pickle competition, people are knitting hamburgers on a regular basis, and the poster montage is not yet a dead art form.

Besides, there is something quaint about the knitting club sitting quietly, doing their thing, waiting for someone to ask for more information. It harkens back to a simpler time, before Murphy Brown ruined everything.

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That said, the paper-mache (or whatever) animals on top of the craft display cases are just creepy. Seriously, what the hell is that about?

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I'll give the art exhibit a hearty thumbs up. The art is more accessible this year, with a feature for art related to the fair itself. There were fewer esoteric pieces with political titles, almost no wintery landscapes (a State Fair staple), and no red blobs. Seriously, red blobs are decor, not art.

Instead, there was art with originality and a point of view. The bridge collapse photo will be most discussed (rightly so), but the darkly hilarious Easter Bunny Milieu was our personal winner. Among the State Fair works, the child biting the apple was about perfect.

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I could go on and on about the food at Giggles. They take this stuff seriously, and each of their offerings has earned universal acclaim. The chicken fried bacon is just another trophy for their case.

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Did you know Dan Patch was a horse? The city of Savage was named for its owner. Perhaps this explains why it is the most meaningless place on Earth.

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Boyz II Men apparently still has a following. People were lined up down the street just to catch a glimpse of the performance. It was like one of those music videos where a band does an impromptu show in the middle of a city.

They actually performed quite well, despite being down a member (filled in by what sounded like a pre-recorded octavized bass). Good for them.

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I could not locate Fox 9 storm prophet Keith Marler. I wanted desperately to hear his assuring voice, but apparently he was about the fair, injuring himself. Still, I believe.

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The Faces of Meth exhibit is gone, replaced by a courtyard for the corn bastard shack. Apparently, meth is okay to use again. Good to know.

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Why did the skateboarders stop performing before 8pm? That is precisely when I want to see skateboarders. Lousy illiterates.

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Have you been? What are you favorite memories? Share them with me, and we will become one!

Friday, August 27, 2010

State Fair Food Reviews

Listen all, for I have eaten. I've got the goods on what is delish at the Minnesota State Fair, and soon you will too. It is time.

Chicken Fried Bacon - Giggles: Bacon is a breakfast food, right? I was the proud recipient of one of the first two orders, and I think this one has staying power. It's like the best chicken strip you've ever had. The key to this sort of dish getting the balance right between the batter and meat. They nailed it in this regard, and the cinnamon sauce that came with it was perfect. And it wasn't even greasy! The portion we got (5-6 slices) was very generous, though I saw somewhat smaller plates later in the day.

Turtle Sundae Fudge Puppy - Fudge Puppies: Wife loved this. I was hoping for it to be warmer, since we ordered it at 7:45 in the morning, and I thought the caramel sauce tasted artificial and cloying, rather than teasing out the salty notes in the waffle. I also thought $5 was a bit much for the portion.

Korean BBQ Tacos - Blue Moon Drive-In: The drive in had always intrigued me generally, as have Korean BBQ tacos. For starters, the advertised short rib and pork tacos was not available. We went with the chicken. It more or less tasted like a competent, tangy chicken taco. I was missing the complexity I would assume makes these so popular.

Jerk Chicken Roti - Harry Singh's: After hearing a customer ask for some hot sauce because there wasn't enough flavor, I decided to ask for some on the side for dipping. I was glad for the extra kick, but the plate is plenty flavorful, if savory and subtle. The bread held up very well to the nutty sauce, but you'll still want to find a table. Eating while sitting on a retaining wall under the noon sun might was not the best idea, but for $5, this would be a filling lunch for any sane person.

Honey Sunflower Ice Cream Sundae - Ag Building: If you haven't had this (and I hadn't) you must. I've had ice cream just about every which way at the fair, and this is the best I've had. The cream is a sort of dense and nougat-like, and the honey itself really shines. Mind the wait during peak hours (we waited 20 minutes for ours), but by all means endure it.

Deep Fried Bologna on a stick - Netterfield Food Court: It took us some time to find Netterfield Court. It is a "courtyard" forged of a coalition of those saccharine-colored trailers that populate the culinary ghettos near the tractors and the kids midway. This is more or less a corn dog, though I like the way the meat seems to melt in your mouth. If corn dogs and the idea of bologna melting in your mouth are unsettling to you, stay away.

Pigs Ears - Famous Dave's: Not at all what I expected. These were fried with a peppery breading, with a final product resembling clam strips in taste and texture (albeit with more inconsistency from piece to piece). I applaud them for making pigs ears into something relatable, but aside from the novelty, I'm not sure why you'd order it. The piquant BBQ sauce was an arbitrary pairing.

Cheese Curds - Mouth Trap: We went with the Mouth Trap, vs. the Original. These seemed a bit lighter on their feet, which I appreciated. Otherwise, you know what cheese curds taste like.

Sweet Potato Tots - O'Garas: A nice concept with flawed execution. Ours was a mix of perfectly fried and undercooked tots, that latter of which fell apart (evoking memories of high school lunch). There also isn't a dipping sauce. It could have benefited from one of those ubiquitous aioli/chipotle mayo scenarios.

Funnel Cakes - Food Building: I appreciate the simplicity of the funnel cake. We scored a coupon from a friend, and got these for $3. That's a bargain.

Uffda Brat - Sausage Sister and Me: I ordered "the works", which included mashed potatoes and sauerkraut wrapped in the lefse. Everything was pretty good except for the lefse itself, which was dry and floury. What happened there? The lingonberry sauce would have been apropos of the plain version, but was easy to ignore.

Thomasinas Cashew Brittle - One of the Expo Buildings: Everything I love about peanut brittle, minus everything I hate about peanut brittle (namely, the peanuts). Kinda pricy at $2 a bar, but delicious.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I love the Minnesota State Fair!

I love the state fair. I love the food, the in your face humanity, the fact that the long crowded streets look like the opening credits for movies filmed in New York from 1974-1982.

I hate that the Republican booth will almost certainly be slammed, depriving us of the quaint oasis that is the courtyard seating area, but I love how that portends for November.

I love the fact that that I can go an entire day without eating a single tomato or zucchini, which has not happened since late June.

I hate pig vaginas, but I love that my wife is so eager to see them. I am enamored of the whole sordid affair that is the miracle of birth building, what with the forearms and the stink.

I love that Kare 11 is so excited for us to see them at the fair, even though I fail to see how this could possible impact their ratings. I think Kare 11 just can't help itself. It's in their DNA.

I love the rank hypocrisy of sanctimonious Uptowners who scoff at the northern suburbanites for their unhip look or profligacy of children. I know you're accustomed to eating deep fried goods in the cozy confines of some pre-fab Parasole bottle service establishment with a rooftop deck, but if you're going to regard your Minnesota brethren ironically, know that they might well be doing the same to you.

I love that cookies stick to the ground like gum.

I hate that purveyors feel compelled to highlight Minnesota wine. Yes, Minnesota has wine, just as St. Paul has sexual assaults. We don't need a booth for it.

On the other hand, I love the faces of meth exhibit. There is something about the juxtaposition of meth-face against a backdrop of roasted corn that succinctly encapsulates everything that is Minnesota.

I love that there is a guy who dresses as a robot for no apparent reason.

I love that when I explain what porcupine meatballs are, it is reasonable, even necessary, to note that they do not, in fact, contain porcupine meat.

I love that a visit to the state fair would make Nancy Pelosi's brain explode.

I love that there are al pacas. Al pacas. Why the hell not?

I love that people eagerly line up for free bags, which are then used to collect other free items, all of which almost certainly duplicating items that already reside in basements.

I love the complaints of the surrounding community about the fair. If you spent $275k on a non-descript bungalow in St. Paul, look at your choices.

Did I mention I love Australian potatoes? 'Cause I do.

I hate that there is a fire-eating midget. Why is this allowed?

In short, I love the Minnesota State Fair, and if you don't, go back to Saudi Arabia!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Take your flying pony and shove it

It's hard to remember now, but at one point some people thought Obama's election heralded some great turning point in our society.

Yeah, didn't take. Whose fault is that? Everyone's but his, according to the dancing double-rainbow flying pony dreamers like Johnathan Smith.

Remember January 2009? That month, the country witnessed the historic inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th president of the United States of America.

I remember thinking he was kind of a ruse. A supposed genius who was nothing more than a doctrinaire liberal who had a poor understanding of his doctrine, but who wasn't going to be called out on account of his charm and his race. But yes, I remember the inauguration, with the millions of hippies watching it live on jumbotron. Weird.

The skinny kid with a funny name

Nobody described him this way other than himself. By the way, Johnathan Smith is one of those people who writes in hyperlink. Blogger helpfully imports them, for the edification of my readers. Enjoy.

So many of us expected that his administration would usher in a new, golden era of progressive policy and thought in Washington. No more politics as usual, we all agreed.

Yes, you did all agree about that.

Some heralded the start of a new, “post-racial“ era in American life. It was hard for even the most jaded pessimist not to get suckered in.

I am a jaded pessimist. It was very easy for me not to get suckered in. Dancing double-rainbow, flying pony dreamers? Yeah, they had a hard time not getting suckered in.

Fast-forward to the present: summer 2010. While there have been some landmark victories and accomplishments, they have been overshadowed by the plethora of watered-down compromises and outright defeats.

And also the fact that Obama's magic flying pony dreams didn't really prove real. People who sit around waiting for flying ponies are, I think, perpetually discontent, sitting cold in their pumpkin patch.

Politics has indeed departed from its usual course, but only in that the level of partisan bickering seems to have reached an all-time high.

Yes, the only change in politics is that there is now lots of partisan bickering. By the way, the term "partisan bickering", links to an article about Evan Bayh leaving congress. To which, does Johnathan actually believe that Bayh is leaving congress out of frustration with partisanship, as opposed to the fact that he was certain to lose his seat?

Like, there are people in this country who read Bayh's explanation, with accompanying false sanctimony, and swallowed it whole? That's... Wow.

Plus there’s rampant unemployment;

The golden eras of progressive policy and thought in a nutshell.

the massive national deficit

Which especially took its toll on our collective belief in flying ponies.

On top of that all, along came the Shirley Sherrod incident, eradicating any holdouts still desperately grasping onto the myth of a “post-racial” America.

We pessimistic non-holdouts dispensed with that myth when racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism...

I can't pinpoint exactly where it was, but it was somewhere in there.

And it appears despair is contagious, because progressives aren’t the only ones suffering the doldrums.

Right. So, here's the thing. Non-pony types are suffering the doldrums because they don't have jobs and they think (accurately) that the president and congress do not give a crap about what they think. It's not because they suddenly realized we don't live in a post-racial society, or whatever.

Americans of all ideological backgrounds and partisan bents seem to be in dour moods.

Dude, get out off your pony for a second. I have something to tell you. No, come closer...

BARACK OBAMA IS NOT A GOOD PRESIDENT!!!

Okay, now get back in your 1998 Saturn... Sorry, "flying pony", and go get yourself some lunch from the cheapest place you have convinced yourself is ethical.

A majority of people believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Fancy that.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle (and even those in the middle), are quaking in their boots

This is an article of faith on Team Double Rainbow Pony, the notion that there is simply a general "anti-incumbent" sentiment. It's not an anti-incumbent sentiment. Mike Pence is an incumbent. He isn't going anywhere.

It’s simply a hard time to be an optimist.

So don't be one. Why waste the effort?

For the average citizen, it is tempting for us to bury our heads in the sand.

Okay, this guy is a lawyer in New York City who pens articles for a left-wing spiritual blog. What's with the solidarity game here? Johnathan is, in no way, an "average citizen". I don't know what our mean occupation/geography is, as a nation, but it ain't New York lawyer.

To lament the sad state of affairs that has developed and to promise that we have learned our lesson. We won’t get involved, we say.

Oh, I think the average citizen plans to get quite involved. We just don't harbor any delusions (nor do we particularly care) about achieving a post-racial America.

It is in times like these that we should remember Paul’s exhortation to the Galatians. He encourages them to be persistent in their efforts and endeavors, writing: ”Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9).

Paul was probably referring to his favorite political party at the time, so this is entirely apropos.

Just as Paul urged them to persevere in their efforts despite the negativity around them, so too must we not take our hands from the plow despite what we see or what the pundits say.

For my friends who are not familiar with the text here, Johnathan has just compared pundits to judaizers who persecuted and murdered Christians out of fealty to the mosaic law. I'm not sure if he meant to do that. Like, maybe he picked up a book of inspiring bible quotes and rolled with it.

While we have been suffering through a summer (and perhaps a spring and winter) of depressing news and bleak outlooks, we must remember that a new season is just around the corner. And, lest we forget, autumn is harvest time.

When the double rainbow dreamers will reap what their flying pony has sown. We pessimists will harvest their delicious pony tears for sustenance.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Monday Musings

Fox 9 Storm Prophet Keith Marler has graced us with a beautiful day. I spend the entirety of it blogging! Let's muse, eh?

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It's rare that anyone in baseball over the age of 50 does anything that is both a) unpopular and b) right. So I just want to salute Ron Gardenhire for his decision to pull Kevin Slowey in the midst of a no-hitter last night.

Slowey was on 106 pitches, and coming off an injury. He is the third best starter in a slim rotation for a team very likely to make the playoffs.

Further, even though he is a very average pitcher, his salary makes him an extremely valuable asset for the future. For a mid-market team with a small-market fan base, which has already committed huge dollars to Joe Mauer, high production-to-contract players like Slowey and Jim Thome are essential. It would cost $3-4M to replace him on the open market.

So, hurray, Gardenhire made a great decision. He should now become the first manager to swear off bunting, codifying has genius status.

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I told you this Obama guy doesn't get it. A little over a year after needlessly wading into the Cambridge cop affair in the midst of a health care presser, Obama decided to wade into the 9/11 Mosque controversy. I like it when Obama wades, since he invariably gets swept away by the current. The guy either doesn't know a river where he sees one, or has a drowning fetish.

Many have compared 2010 to 1994, in the electoral sense. One unheralded feature of the 1994 topographical political map, largely forgotten by history, was Bill Clinton's crime bill. The bill itself was moderate for its time, a ban on assault weapons was accompanied by a pledge to put 100,000 new cops on the street. It came at a time when even many conservatives saw crime as an increasingly federal issue.

But it was vilified by opponents on the basis of one thing. Midnight basketball.

The bill provided $40 million (a lot of money back then) for a then-private initiative to get poor kids to play basketball, ostensibly instead of shooting each other. To critics, it was emblematic of the sort of ham-fisted, doctrinaire approach to crime that was failing our larger cities, and it had the embarrassing smell of pork to boot. Seeking to placate the liberal base, especially black voters who were leery of a brigade of federal police forces, Clinton highlighted the midnight basketball program.

Clinton keyed in on a relatively inconsequential issue that allowed his opponents to frame his party culturally liberal in the fall of an election year. But he did so in defense of a moderate bill addressing a major problem. Obama came out in favor of the mosque for no damn reason at all.

If ever there is a book entitled Profiles in Frivolous Courage, it will certainly feature Obama. Maybe he can co-author the foreword with Ron Paul.

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One more on the mosque thing. One of the talking points cum arguments that is circulating is that Timothy McVeigh bombed the OKC federal building, out of fealty to the Christian religion, and so those who oppose the construction of the mosque must also oppose the construction of churches near the locale of the OKC bombing.

Setting aside the efficacy of this argument, its premise is incorrect. McVeigh was not a Christian. He was raised Catholic and then became, explicitly, agnostic. Yet people are repeating the spiel verbatim as a sort of gotcha argument. Dumb.

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People are starting to lay into Lenny Gibbs pretty hard. Rep. Grayson described him as Bozo the Spokesperson. To which, is he going to be the sacrificial lamb after the 2010 elections? Is that what the administration is saving him for? Dude, casting off an incompetent spokesperson who has been compared to a clown by your party's court jester is not going to persuade anyone that you are changing direction.

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On a personal note, my good friend and fellow blogger Adam Omelianchuk (who I interviewed here in 2005) has taken off for California to pursue... Well, I forget. I think he's going to be a screenwriter. Anyway, everyone wish him a good flight!

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Had the chance to go to Travail, the newly opened gastropub from the former chefs of Victory 44. The concept is similar (wildly inventive small plates with a couple of larger staples). Downtown Robbinsdale is a nice locale, and it's great that it finally has a restaurant worthy of its charm. The kohlrabi soup was excellent. I'm sure I'll become duly fantarded about the place.




















California

Gibbs
Travail

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Teacher's Union Continue to Whine

Karen Aronowitz is president of a local teachers union. You will be shocked to learn that she finds teachers unions to improve schools. Usually, people like Karen do not bother to defend their existence, so this deserves a look, eh?

It is with dismay that I listen to the relentless attacks against public school teachers and their unions. Let's set the record straight.

Only one side is guilty of relentless attacks. Let us, at long last, hear the voice of the teachers and their unions, whose influence heretofore has been unseen.

Teachers' unions lead the way in educational reform initiatives, fighting for our teachers to have the resources, materials and support necessary to deliver high quality instruction to America's students.

Okay, but they suck at it. If the goal of teachers' unions is to provide teachers with the resources to deliver high quality instruction, then they have failed.

Also, if they want to lead the way, they should do something about hanging apostrophes. They make sentences appear as though written in a southern dialect. No more hanging apostrophes on my blog.

I am proud of the work United Teachers of Dade has done to mobilize the public to vote for and support Florida's Class Size Amendment.

Who cares? Your pride means nothing to taxpayers.

Charter and private schools brag about their small class sizes because of the individualized attention their students receive. We are forced to fight for appropriate class sizes for the students in our public schools.

So, you are fighting for that which others have already achieved at a lower cost per pupil. Please explain why this is a source of pride.

I am proud of our members who organized with parents to insist that our schools maintain physical education, the arts, music, world languages and bilingual education.

The last of these, of course, is the most controversial, least effective, and, therefore, most important to teacher's unions. So, basically, private and charter schools save a lot of money by getting rid of programs nobody wants to pay for. They use that money to reduce class sizes. There is no lesson to be learned, of course.

I am proud that our School Board took a position opposing Senate Bill 6 after the members of United Teachers of Dade made them aware of the destructive measures of this piece of legislation, an assault against the teachers and students in our public schools.

Senate bill 6 would have imposed merit pay for teachers. Anyone who is familiar with the abyss that is Florida schools knows that merit pay was a desperate first step toward rendering education functional. Karen is proud of making sure that any parent with any sort of wherewithal will send his or her child to private and/or charter schools in the foreseeable future.

Florida is again a finalist for President Obama's Race to the Top grant.

This refers to grant money distributed to failing school districts, in an attempt to help them "Race to the Top". Looks like Karen is on board with the fact that we need to change...

Our state is in a much stronger position to win,

Wow. This is like bragging that you have the most food stamps of anyone on the block.

Only because teachers' unions said no to the punitive requirements of the initial state application was a positive, collaboratively developed application submitted.

Karen is trying to shoehorn so many talking points in here that here sentence just exploded. What Karen means to say is:
Due to the collaborative efforts of teacher's unions, who opposed punitive assessments in favor of real solutions, the state's application took a decidedly positive tone.
Far be it from me to demand that someone proud of their educational achievements actually possess the ability to communicate in sentence form, but...

At the national level, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten works with philanthropists such as Bill Gates to bring reform initiatives to teacher-evaluation systems. Weingarten established AFT Innovation Grants, given to local unions to bring new and creative programming to our hometowns. Teachers are the authors of these initiatives.

These grants are worth $5 million, or enough to run D.C. public schools for about five hours. That said, it looks like Ms. Weingarten has earned her $600,000 per year. What about NEA president Dennis Van Roekel?

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel has continued reform initiatives that include Read Across America, which partners with the National Football League Player's Association to make reading a joy for our students.

So, when prompted to name the teacher's union's two most prominent contributions, Karen cites a trifling aid package from Bill Gates & Friends and an NFL reading program of some sort. Shame on me for criticizing these people. In fairness, Van Roekel only makes $425,000.

Our teachers work their hearts out every day for the students they serve.

Some do, some don't. Either way, this is the old trick of conflating teachers with the unions who represent them. Again, $425,000 per year... NFL Reading program.

Teachers' salaries are the last item in the budget to see an increase, and the first to be frozen.

So, thanks to the efforts of the teacher's unions, pay for administrators, new carpeting, NFL reading programs and additional flat screen TVs come before teachers. Great work, Karen.

United Teachers of Dade makes no apologies for fighting on behalf of our teachers and educational support personnel to earn a decent living.

Nobody asked you to make apologies for fighting. Nobody asked you to make an apology at all. We simply want you to go away and or cease to be a soulless bureaucratic machine that has mad a lie of our national commitment to educate every student. Is that too much to ask.

How our teachers are treated is an object lesson to the students before us. They learn how society values education by the value that is placed on our educators.

So let's teach our students that, no matter how spectacularly one might fail, they deserve the same compensation as everyone else. This is a valuable lesson to those students who will wind up on welfare, which, for those suffering through the Miami public school system, is a rather likely outcome.

And what of the bad-teacher label applied to teachers in America's lowest performing schools? Let's be honest. The national discussion about our teachers is not about the teachers in our middle- and upper-class neighborhoods.

Huh? Here's some honesty for you. I went to Richfield High School, which is located in a decidedly middle class district. By any empirical standard, that school is simply abysmal, and it's failure derives from the (largely) poor quality of staff who work there.

That's the national discussion. Nobody gives a damn about city schools because nobody who gives a damn sends their kids to city schools. This is a tragedy, of course, and has allowed teacher's unions to exploit the poorest members of our poorest communities for their own benefit (Aronowitz makes $175k), but it has nothing to do with the valid complaints the average parent has about the quality of education in this country.

There is a groundswell building in our nation to provide equitable resources, including appropriate buildings and the capital to maintain them, for all students in our country.

Yeah, that's what people care about. Nice buildings.

Parents, civil-rights organizations and teachers' unions will not allow our public schools to be stolen under the guise of choice when there is no requirement that every child have a seat in a charter school.

Blockbuster Video executives will not allow their video stores to be stolen under the guise of choice when there is no requirement that every person be given a subscription to Netflix.

Public schools that are the heart of inner city communities are being closed.

Because nobody wants their kid to attend them and, when they have the choice, they make another choice.

Our public schools take all children, regardless of circumstance. Public schools do not cherry pick students and throw back the ones that can't or won't comply with their regulations.

Well, unless they live in a different district, are white, and did not win a lottery. But that only applies to the very few public schools anyone would like their children to attend. Also, cherry picking has nothing to do with unions. This is turning into one of those whiny educationist rants. I deserve better.

We deserve better.

The teacher's union mantra. You have an NFL reading program, Karen. What more could you want?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

New Minnesota State Fair Food

The time has arrived! The Minnesota State Fair has announced it's lineup of new foods to try. Here are some highlights, and where to find them.

Deep fried eel on a stick: Peterson's Joy-Joy stand

Donchos - Doughnut holes stuffed with nacho cheese: Mama Mi Casa's (food building)

Deep fried beets: Vegetables r' us

"Hog Tied" - Boiled eggs wrapped in pig rectums and served with a whiskey chocolate sauce: O'Murphys Irish Stand

Donchoritos - Donchos wrapped with sausage in a corn tortilla and deepfried: Mama Mi Casa's

Lutefisk n' Berries: Anders' Heritage Stand

Deep fried skin shavings: The Faces of Meth Exhibit

Sri Racha Root Beer: International Bazaar

Chirping Crickets (free): Minnesota DFL

Doncho-Donchos - A donchorito smothered in caramel and topped with donchos: Mama Mi Casa's

The Weatherman - Vanilla Soft Serve floating in a jar of Keith Marler's tears: Fox 9 Booth

TWO pickles on a stick: The Pickle Stand

Potatos fried to hell: Everywhere

Hyundai full of cookies: Sweet Martha's

Placenta on a stick: The Miracle of Birth building

Grapes: The Why Do We Bother? Stand

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Monday Musings - August edition



This is month is totally going to kill it. It's time, people. Let's muse...

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From Kare11.com, I'm not exactly sure what sort of image I would associate with the tragic act of drowning, but I'm pretty sure it isn't this...


...isn't it. I know there have been budget cuts, but having Ron Schara do your design work is probably a mistake.

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We can all breathe a sigh of relief, folks. Our lawmakers saw the problem, and acted boldly and bravely. The scourge of Salvia, aka "Sally-D", is ended.

We are saved. No longer will we be treated to bizarre YouTube videos with teenagers pretending that they are getting high off this lovely perennial. Also, starvation is probably solved.

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Don't worry though, there are plenty of other non-drugs masquerading as drugs. Next on the list? K-2, a synthetic marijuana knockoff. As was the case with Salvia, K-2 was brought to the attention of lawmakers by a mother of an Iowa teenager who offed himself at some point after having used the drug.

To which, and I'm going to sound like a grue, why are my rights and responsibilities dictated by the incoherently emotional reaction of distraught parents?

Some bimbo teen gets drunk and starts texting while driving 105 mph plows into a tree, and I can't use a cell phone while driving. Some clod gaffer tapes his newborn to the dashboard, gets into an accident that sets off the airbag, and parents have to keep kids in car seats until they're 14 years old. Somebody's kid likes the taste of paint, and suddenly basic home renovations cost an extra $10k.

Why? Because casual cell phone use and lead paint and seven year olds outside of car seats are resulting in thousands of deaths? No. It's because the wisdom of aggrieved parents is considered unassailable. They project their inherent culpability onto us, and our lawmakers respond in kind.

Buckle your kids in the back seat? Cancel the texting plan for your half-literate daughter? Clean the paint chips on the floor? Listen to your kid when he tells you he wants to kill himself?

Impossible. Such suggestions hold parents (gasp!) accountable for the deaths of their own kids. Which they are, and that's why we call them parents. I'm certainly not, and I have no interest in comporting my behavior to the lowest common denominator.

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Caught Inception, the buzz movie du jour, over the weekend. I'm not quite so enamored of the film as others seem to be (it presently ranks #3 on the IMDB top 250). The exposition was too raw, a consistent weakness in Nolan's work, and he borrowed too much equity from the actors themselves (Michael Caine in particular) in sketching the characters.

Still, it's a beautiful film, and especially fun to look at against the backdrop of the Heights theater on Central. That place is gorgeous, and they have free refills on small popcorn. Go see.