Monday, November 3, 2008

BOSS GT-10

I recently added a new gadget to my sonic toybox, the BOSS GT-10 multi-effects guitar processor. It's a sweet ride, a universe of atmospheric sounds, and for your edification I offer you a few sound files, a few little extracts of guitar-based noise files I conjured up of late. Yes, they are rough, but they sound sweet. At least I enjoy them. I dedicate this mp3 playlist to Barack Obama and his campaign.

Here it is click right here - DON'T BE SHY



Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

As the new school year approaches . . .

I prepare myself mentally for the mental landscapes before me. The teenagers I work with have great potential to create interesting cultural artifacts, now I need to ensure that each day is spent learning new things and reinforcing old things. The house building metaphor becomes relevant: start with grading the area clean (make connections with existing knowledge schemata), start a foundation (steady exposure to target stimuli), reinforce foundation (practice new content in meaningful contexts), and so forth. Here is a website that examines planning a curriculum that works toward the acquisition of new knowledge and skill sets.

curriculumindex - Planning a curriculum - resources, etc.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dancing!


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

What are these humans doing? Dancing. Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society. Above, Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, started dancing, and filmed the result. The video is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious -- few people are able to watch the above video without smiling.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Summertime!

Snakes are back in my front yard and that means that summer is nigh. Carolina summers are a treat: sultry, sunny, muggy in the evening, perfect sitting on the porch weather and getting in touch with neighbors, friends and family. So enjoy the summer, close to home preferably.

Summer also means that school is finishing up, and my first year at Enloe High School was a thoroughly enjoyable one. The second high school I have served since beginning in this hallowed profession 15 years ago, William G. Enloe offered me a challenging and rewarding atmosphere of high end academics. Very nice change of scenery, it was, but my former high school Southern High School, still calls, for instance yesterday, when I went to a graduation party of a student, Brendan S., whom I taught at Spartanland last year. It was fun to drive back to East Durham and visit with some memorable kids, and I appreciated their warm welcome in the hot Carolina afternoon. One student I did teach at Southern, a certain Jeremy R., finally graduated - well, tomorrow is graduation - with zero absences in his entire 13 year stint in the Durham Public Schools, an awesome achievement. You can see his picture at the Durham Herald Sun newspaper from today, and a nice article written about him and several other DPS students whose attendance was also 100% durable. Better yet, I'll just share the picture on this blog of this fine group of students; Jeremy is the fellow in red standing at the left.

Yesterday was a day of student appreciations. A trio of terrific talents from my Advanced Placement German class invited me to a little dinner at restaurant in Raleigh. I gratefully accepted and had a wonderful evening with these ├╝bercool students. They offered me up as a further token of their appreciation a CD, Rockin' the Rhein with Grateful Dead, an appropriate disc, given our time together in German class and my admission that classic rock and roll is my first preference when I reach for the music dial. Great to be honored by students, nice to know that I make impacts on these kids.

What else? Too much. Politics could very well take up some space, but the sheer depressive quality of the events that I care most about, events that I have recently expounded upon here, only angers me and throws me into some despair. So I'll avoid rambling on about the Middle East, but there is one article that might be interesting, by a columnist I read at antiwar.com, Charley Reese: Middle East Pop Quiz. Pretty interesting. Anyone notice how the price of gas spiked after some dipshit in the Israeli government squawked about the inevitability of attaching Iran? Even after American intelligence assessments about Iran's WMD programs concluded that Iran currently has no weapons program underway that would any time soon threaten American interests. Beware the warmongers in Washington and Israel. Call your Congressman or Congresswoman now and tell them to back off threatening Iran.

Peace

Friday, May 30, 2008

Give to antiwar.com


I don't normally ask anything of my quaint base of regular readers, but in this case I feel a need. The website I have linked below, antiwar.com, has been my source of information and commentary for many years now, and it deserves your support. I am tired of mainstream media outlets giving warmongers and war profiteers a free pass as they run amok in Washington D.C. The criminals have been exposed as the cheats and liars that they are, but sadly America still gets spoonfed sugarcoated versions of world events: little if any context, no alternative viewpoints, few facts, mostly hot, irritating air. Antiwar.com twice a year asks readers to contribute to keep their small but significant operation a float. Surf on over and decide for yourself if the website piques your interest. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Politics and the American Way


I can't help but notice at my favorite politics website, antiwar.com, a plethora of articles that examine American politicians' fondness for publicly supporting Israeli security needs above all else. As if American foreign policy in that hateful region rests entirely on the premise that what is good for the Israeli political establishment is good for American interests. Let's list a slew of these articles that turn on its head this rabid dogma that is in fact harming American interests.

First, an article from Salon magazine entitled "Finding Obama guilty of insufficient devotion to Israel." The article by Glenn Greenwald speaks about Barack Obama's interview with the Atlantic Monthly's Jeffrey Goldberg, in which Mr. Goldberg asks pointedly to get to the kishke of the matter: do you swear an oath the security of the nation of Israel without condition? Barack does a yeoman's job of taking the politically expedient route of stroking Israel's massive ego. If he was honest about the situation, he wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hades of getting elected. He ducked and dove, but managed to pull off a few zingers pertaining to Israel's long history of violating the human rights of the Palestinians. Good job Mr. Obama, don't let the rabid Israel-firsters get you down, because anyone who truly cared about Israel would actively support and work towards a just peace settlement with the Palestinians and rapidly implement the peace agreement. I'll end this section with a quote from George Washington, in which he addresses the danger of hardcore bias toward any one nation to the detriment of others:

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.


Read Washington's entire address for yourself. It is time we start heeding his words.

Justin Raimondo also speaks of this "inquisition" of an interview between Goldberg and Obama, and offers the most humane quote from any of the presidential candidates on Israel's practices in the West Bank, the future heartland of a Palestinian state:

"My job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth and say if Israel is building settlements without any regard to the effects that this has on the peace process, then we're going to be stuck in the same status quo that we've been stuck in for decades now, and that won't lift that existential dread that David Grossman described in
your article."

Good Job, Obama. It's not enough, but I understand the limitations of the American political scene when speaking about Israel and the Palestinians. Justin Raimondo's article is called Obama v.s. The Lobby and it deserves your attention.

Ran HaCohen, in his regular Letter from Israel column at antiwar.com, speaks about Israel's 60th birthday. Quite the critic, he is. If only America had journalists as brave as the Israeli Ran HaCohen. It is quite astounding that Israelis themselves are more critical of their government than American politicians. Poll after poll in Israel indicate that about 60 percent and more support negotiations with Hamas in Gaza. Why can't the will of the people be expressed in a democracy? Anyways, read Ran's article; it's illuminating.

Nun - as I say in my German classes - enough is enough. Thanks for reading. And before anyone starts casting aspersions on me for calling attention to the articles linked from this humble blog, let me say this: my position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict is no different in its essence than that of American Presidents since Ronald Reagan, at least. I just get impatient about working towards implement the noble and righteous goal of two states with well defined, internationally recognized borders in the Holy Land, Israel and Palestine.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jimmy Carter gets the shaft

I guess I can't get enough of former President Jimmy Carter and his "peace mission" to the Hamas leadership in Syria. The article entitled Jimmy Carter Gets the Point by Philip Giraldi sheds some light on the abysmal treatment heaped on Mr. Carter by political elitists in America and Israel. How the media pilloried his efforts to achieve understandings between Israel and Hamas is sad testimony of the level of discourse in this country on the conflict. Israelis themselves, people on the front lines of this war of attrition, advocate for negotiations with the Hamas leadership. Israelis in general are more pragmatic about their conflict with the Palestinians than the American mainstream media outlets, as if these narrowminded opinion makers stateside are more aware of the realities of the conflict than the Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land themselves. An embarrassment. But Mr. Carter there are people who appreciate your integrity and honesty. Keep up the Great Work.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Surge

In the works is the trip to Germany next summer, in the summer of 2009. Our exchange school in Schwetzingen has decided to remain in partnership with us, despite our inability to muster a trip their town near Heidelberg this summer. So the tentative plan is to welcome them over in the Spring of 2009 and then reciprocate that summer, late June to early July. We hope to get an email/Inter exchange set up with our classes before then to prepare the groundwork for the visits. Peter Fuchs, the teacher at Hebel Gymnasium in Schwetzingen is keen on the idea. Click the picture to the left for a a view of their school. And of course the link above to see their very interesting website.

Other things occupying my headspace include President Jimmy Carter's trip to meet Hamas leaders in Syria. I mentioned this in an earlier post, but he did it, that grande homme of peace and justice. Pity his efforts to communicate with enemies, well, Israel's enemy really, are being ridiculed by American politicos. Secretary of State Rice says she fails to see any benefit to meeting with Khaled Meshal, while an Israeli minister passes along a message for Carter to the Hamas leadership concerning mutual issues. This is a tacit agreement that Israel is open to negotiating with the intransigent Palestinian group, while America squwaks endlessly our failed policy of isolating Hamas and forcing it to her knees by intense diplomatic and financial pressure. I can't think of any other example in recent human history of how an occupied, impoverished people who voted fairly for their leaders are subjected to the horrifying sanctions spearheaded by American chickenhawks in their zeal to support Israel. The United Nations is impotent, the EU is disinterested, the Arab Gulf States have other priorities, namely earning oil revenues and keeping their monarchies intact, and Palestinians in Gaza suffer, and the ones in the West Bank are forgotten in a fog of weak-willed "peace negotiations."

Another pity is that on the day of Carter's meeting with Hamas, Gaza erupted in border violence, starting with Hamas operations to infiltrate the Israel-Gaza border and kill and maim, and the typical hyperviolent Israeli response resulting in chaos and death. You'd think that if Hamas wanted to attain some respectability in the formalized world of international diplomacy, it would exercise restraint. But then again, I don't live under the rules of the Gaza-Israeli dispute, which is comprised of low-level Palestinian actions and heavy Israeli reprisals, or ulta-violent Israeli operations and low-level Palestinian reprisals. After the dust briefly settles, people are pointing fingers at one another, with the Arabs spending way more time burying their dead.

Let's hope that President Carter can coax Hamas into accepting a unilateral ceasefire and more flexibility. If he fails, we return to the status quo. A lazy world seems satisfied with that.

My wife says I should stop listening to the news because it makes my cynical and on edge. She's probably correct.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April Fools


"Been a Long Time since I rock and Rolled!" I shake my head whenever I reference a rock band as decadent as the Led Zeppelin. Their glory days of wanton English Rock Blues wanderings across America in the 1970s combined immoral excess and soaring, anthemic rock music into a potent brew that remains with every Zep fan of that age. That is, if you were into their sound then, you're into their sound now; it sticks to your memory banks and continues to entertain. So I plead guilty to subscribing to the Zeppeling-line of thought. By the way, the picture to your right came from the "official Led Zeppelin Website, http://www.ledzeppelin.com/." Visit the website for the multimedia scoop on this legendary band.

The verse I quote above, of course, comes from their song Rock and Roll, and the lyric describes the attention I have been giving this website for the last two months, when in fact much has occurred. Like what you may ask? Well, like BASEBALL SEASON! With Detroit Tigers attempting another run to the playoffs. They missed it last year, and the year before lost in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, and now, Good Grief, they begin the season losing game after game. Their record currently is 3-10, but their looking to sweep the Minnesota Twins for their first sweep of the season. Come on Tigers!

Visit their Official Major League Website at http://detroit.tigers.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=det


President Jimmy Carter is visiting the Middle East in his capacity as diplomat, peacemaker, gadfly. He plans to talk to Khaled Meshal, the exiled leader of Hamas in Syria. President Carter says that not negotiating with your enemy is counterproductive. I would have have to agree. As much as I dislike Hamas and their style of governance, and their public rhetoric against Israel and support for low-level resistance against Israel's violent occupation, there is value in talking to them and persuading them to lay off the anti-Israel rhetoric, and publicly state their acceptance of a two-state solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict. Of course, it would also help if Israeli actions were in sync with its public statements of the need to erect and support a democratic Palestine in the West Bank. It is shameful that Israel has shunned President Carter's visit to Israel and Palestine because of his political philosophy. After all, his efforts in the 1970s secured a peace treaty with Egypt, which in turn allowed Israel to focus her attention on its colonization of the West Bank and Gaza. President Carter has devoted his life to peace and justice throughout the world for everyone. Treating him with diplomatic disdain like this is a truly classless act for which Israel should be embarrassed and ashamed. I hope President Carter can knock some sense into Hamas.

I ran across an interesting article, keeping the subject focused on the Middle East, and this article concerns Israel's purchase of oil from Iran. Israel enjoys calling attention to Iran's purported nuclear weapons program, and scolding people who do business with Iran, but it happily purchases oil from the country, know full well where the oil comes from. I bet America gets lots of oil from Iran also. And Iran also, while calling for Israel's dismantling, has no problem selling oil to her. All this talk about boycotting Iran and shunning Israel appears to be a sham when money and energy needs are involved.

Article from commentisfree.guardian.co.uk - Israel's Tehran connection

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In the Words of Noam Chomsky


I have always enjoyed Noam Chomsky's droll, but heavily researched writings on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He speaks with an eloquence and authority that is virtually unmatched in the world of talking heads that dominate mainstream American commentary on this tortured war between two Semitic tribes. Unfortunately, his brilliance and commanding knowledge of chains of events that precede dramatic and violent acts rarely makes it to the dominant airwaves, and we are left with an abysmally superficial, one-sided narrative of the war between Jews and Arabs.

Mr. Chomsky, world-renowned linguist and first-rate critic of American foreign policy now writes about the recent assassination of a certain Imad Moughniyeh, a senior commander
of Hezbollah,in Damascus, Syria. American State Department officials hailed it as a triumph in our war on terror. But who was this man? And how is his death a blow to terrorism? And what does the word mean anyways? Is the word terrorism a useful term or one so laden with political, prejudicial bias that it is rendered meaningless to a more discerning public? Read the article by Professor Chomsky and decide for yourself. His writings are really required reading for folks interested in the Middle East Wars.


The World's Most Wanted - by Noam Chomsky

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Let's See . . . . What's New?


Tons of things, like tonight a Lunar Eclipse entertaining Earthlings in the Western Hemisphere. Always a nice show for terrestrial sentients, if anything to pry people away from the gadgets and gizmos for a second to look up into the heavens. Check out the Astronet, a Dutch-based website on all things astronomical, for a preview of this celestial event.

My favorite website for world affairs, antiwar.com, is having their regular fundraiser. I would encourage all armchair foreign ministers who care about war and are angered at those who advance it to support this important web-based portal to alternative viewpoints on the state of the world today.

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a certain Hans Schlegel, a German astronaut, doing a spacewalk and working on the Columbus Laboratory which is now a part of the International Space Station. Note the German flag on his sleeve.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Upcoming and beyond



By the end of the week I'll be in New York, NY for a couple of days, getting acquainted with the GAPP Exchange Program that I inherited from the former German teacher at Enloe High. She worked hard to create the exchange with a school in Schwetzingen, German, who are looking forward to a visit this summer from a group of German students at Enloe. At their website, linked above, the Hebel Gymnasium has a nice log of their time spent in Raleigh North Carolina. It's in German, but any translator could render it in readable English for you, if interested. I'd recommend freentranslation.com. I am working hard to get things in place for this monumental visit. International travel I am familiar with, but carting and supervisors teenagers overseas I am not; regardless I am moving ahead. The kids who've expressed an interest in spending three weeks in Schwetzingen and German are excellent students, however, so I forsee no problems at all. The picture to your left is one I took the last time I was in New York, in 2004. Looking forward to another visit to that grand city.

So if I do go to Germany this summer, I'd probably skip again travelling to Ramallah, Palestine, which had consumed my summers of 2005 and 2006. Those were fantastic trips, but last summer of 2007 I chose to remain stateside, for various reasons. Travelling to that region, however rewarding it always has been, can be difficult for many Americans. An utter irony, given the fact that Israel, recipient of unimaginable financial and diplomatic largesse frm American taxpayers, controls the borders to the Palestinian territories. Click the picture to the right to see a short collection of photos I took of Ramallah, Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the Summer of 2005.

Speaking of that wretched part of the world, I take issue of course with our Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice pusing for a UN Security Council resolution against Iran's alleged nuclear program. Even after a National Intelligence Estimate concluding that Iran had halted its drive to acquire and develop nuclear weapons, America still wants to beat the drums of war against that Islamic Republic. All the while Israel maintains a squeeze on the open air prison that is Gaza and while Hamas hardcores continue to launch crude homemade missiles into southern Israel. I mean, how about a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to the siege of Gaza's 1.3 millions Palestinians and an immediate start to negotiations that would result in a peace treaty between Gaza, the West Bank and Israel? Resolution to that age-old conflict would do more to strengthen our security than provoking Iran into a war with us. Clicking the picture to your left will lead you to a Yahoo! Slide show of the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.

Monday, January 14, 2008

January is here, 2008


Two-thousand and eight is already shaping up to be a great year. I ushered it in after a fantastic visit to Michigan for my brother's wedding, and now I am chest-deep in teaching German at Enloe High. Which by the going great....what kinds of things are we doing in the five levels of German I teach? In German 3, we are learning key vocabulary in reminiscing, for instance, at class reunions or family reunions, and they're also studying elements of searching and securing a job. We also played a terrific game, Hansa, that purports to simulate sailing experience in the Hanseatic League of the 13th and 14th centuries. We'll continue to read about the Hansa in our class. As far as grammar goes, double infinitives with modal verbs, past tense, indicative and subjunctive, of said verbs, etc.

AP German are lampooning our current crop of American presidential candidates; they deserve to be ridiculed and also praised; their lampoons will include their platforms expressed in German key phrases and statements.

German 4 are preparing a skit between a therapist and patient who is having doubts about his current family situation. I hope to get audio recordings of their efforts online shortly.

German 1 are writing postcards describing an eating establishment in the German city of Mittenwald, learning how to order food and drinks from an ice cream parlor, and future tense.

German 2 are writing postcards about a sojourn in D├╝sseldorf while preparing a skit concerning a visit to a department store.

It's a crazy week, in that I want to finish these chapters and projects before the end of the week, which thereby ends the semester, so I am driving the kids fairly hard in class. They ar eup to the task.

More news? I ran across an article written by John Mearsheimer, who along with Stephen Walt wrote a devastating critique last year of America's relationship with Israel, and this new article by the bold Professor states eloquently what I have said all along: American politicians unwavering support, uncritical support of Israel does no party involved in the conflict any favors. Instead of coddling Israel's failed leadership while supporting its economy with billions of American dollars, we should be smartly pressuring them to make peace with the Palestinians in a two-state solution and do it NOW. American should not tolerate breaches of agreements by Israel and should assist them them in making a secure and lasting peace. It'll do the world many a favor. The name of the article is Candidates’ Unconditional Support Isn’t Right for Jewish State and is a good read about the nefarious nature of America's special relationship with this rather belligerent state in the Middle East. And if you want to read the critique they published about America and Israel, then zoom to Amazon and read about the book they created from their paper. The actual article, The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy, is also available online.

Because in the end, solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict equitably would largely deflate Muslim animus toward America and the West, despite what the pundits want to tell you.

By the Mearsheimer article was found at an interesting left-leaning website called commandreams.org - Breaking News and Views for the Progressive Community.