22 September 2008

2008 Fall

It is never so much the weather as the leaves which seem to mark the transition to Fall. Though the days have been warm, sunny, and summer-like, though everyone comments on the beauty of the day, I think the seasons changed officially today (or yesterday or tomorrow). From where I now sit, the tall poplar tree out front has lost many of its leaves, and out back, the leaves remaining on the trees are yellowing and becoming thin and brittle; their hold on the trees is tenuous. And the nights and morning are filled with chill; I am continuously under and/or overdressed. School has begun in earnest, and there is no escaping that I am committed to the end of the semester.

And so, as regularly as the Summer becomes the Fall, I am succumbing to the grip of my bi-annual cold. My bones ache, I am easily fatigued, and I consume aspirin and Tylenol like M&Ms. I carry boxes of tissues about, and my nose glows like that of W.C. Fields. I look for excuses to have a lie-down. The Alan Block Death Watch officially begins, only to be concluded in March with a complete physical and a clean bill of health from the good Doctor.

I don’t dislike the change of seasons at all; I feel at one with Nature during the transition as my own physical state mirrors that of Nature. I am myself moving into Fall and shoring myself for the long Winter.

17 September 2008

A Fine Kettle of Fish You've Got Me Into, Ollie!

The financial markets seem to be in total disarray, if not fallen into chaos. The economy seems quite unsettled, to say the least, and most people are terrified about the prospects for their own future and that of their children.

I am intrigued that no one in government is willing to assume any responsibility for this mess. Ah, I know, the matter is very complex, and no single policy or person can be held totally responsible. Nevertheless, I’ll have to say that this all happened on the watch of the Bush regime, as did the unnecessary, falsely promulgated war in Iraq with the attendant thousands of deaths of United States soldiers and Iraqi civilians; the destruction of New Orleans; the abuses of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo; and the continuing violation of the rights of citizens in the country. I mean, when I look about I can’t identify one positive item which results from the administration of these smug and calloused and selfish and often, immoral government officials.

Nevertheless, I’ll have to admit that the problems are complex. Nevertheless, no one in public office is willing to step forward and assume any responsibility for our present state of national and international affairs. No one, not even our fearless leader, has the courage to admit culpability for our present crisis. Once my daughter carved her name in our window sash, and when confronted with the evidence, with her engraved name in our window, she denied culpability. The center did not hold. Neither should it for these mendacious, corrupt officials who deny responsibility.

But, it fascinates me, as indeed, it should you, that it has become common wisdom that our economic failures, our military troubles, and our moral lapses are definitely the fault of the lower test scores on standardized texts, and the incompetent teachers who cannot prepare students properly to take those tests. I mean, everything that is wrong with the United States rests at the feet of its educational system and the teachers who, it is held, incompetently service it.

Oh, please. As my daughter would say, “Get Real.”

13 September 2008


I read the following today in The New York Times. It is not the headline. An examination of Gov. Sarah Palin’s record finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics contrasts with her carefully crafted public image. This afternoon, news about Hurricane Ike is the headline, and I am certainly sympathetic to the destruction which this storm caused. But Palin and her ilk possess the potential of far greater, pervasive harm for all of our lives and that of our children who are even yet too young to vote. Oh, I know that Palin is only a vice-presidential candidate, but her place on the ticket bespeaks volumes about John McCain who chose her. Her incompetence and her abuses of power threaten the liberties we still maintain despite the Republican regime’s attempt to eliminate them. We are, as a country, in great danger; even the Republicans are disturbed by the nature of the McCain campaign. Yesterday, on the news, both David Brooke (an avowed conservative) and E.J. Dionne referred to the McCain campaign as ‘egregious.’ I am very much afraid that lies and innuendo and blind prejudice will elect a government whose incompetencies and corrupt values should make them unworthy of governing.

In the interview with Charles Gibson, Sarah Palin had no awareness of the Bush doctrine, a policy which brought us war in Iraq, and threatens war in so many other places. And this is a person who might even be President of the United States. Not on my watch, I hope.

She says she’s ready. For what I haven’t the slightest idea. And neither, I think, does she.

05 September 2008


So, tonight (4 September 2008) John McCain accepts the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States. But last night Sarah Palin accepted her anointing as the Vice-Presidential Candidate with a speech which I’m told was electrifying. I can’t say more: I would not think so little of my time as to spend it watching such static.

However, what I’ve heard from the news reports (which I would actually trust as two adders fanged) nauseates me. Here is a woman whose total experience in government reduces to a stint on the City Council, the mayoralty of a city of 6,500 citizens, and less than two years as the governor of Alaska. The mayor of my town, which boasts a population of almost 14,000, is a veritable figurehead. From her position as Governor of Alaska and mayor of some town, I wonder what interest she has paid to global issues, to global warming, and to the NATO alliance. Should she, through some travesty of Fate, become the Vice-President, my children will grow up in a world governed by an overwhelming incompetence compounded by ignorance.

Palin’s biggest claim to fame appears to be her role as ‘soccer mom.’ And I respond here to this claim: I find this argument both sexist, racist, classist, and . . . yes, stupid. My time as a soccer dad no more prepared me for my work as a teacher than her position as soccer mom prepared her for the Vice-Presidency of the United States. There is absolutely no relationship between the two positions: none whatsoever. Transporting children from school (or home, or the Mall) to the soccer field, and making certain that they have appropriate snacks and clean clothes (in case they slip in the mud!), and getting them home for dinner, hopefully to finish their homework, does not qualify anyone to be the Vice-President of the United States. There is nothing learned in the former which prepares for the latter.

Second, while this woman prepares to run on the issues of family values as a result of her role as soccer mom, she deflects the serious failure of parenting evidenced in the pregnancy of the seventeen year old daughter. Let’s be clear about this: while the soccer mom was transporting her soccer players to the soccer field, her daughter was engaged in pre-marital and unprotected sex. That activity resulted in pregnancy. Oh, these things happen all of the time, but the Republican majority has for years decried the abuses of welfare by unwed mothers. This particular unwed pregnant teen, well, because her mother is running for Vice-President, can, or must, get married. And there is family and economics to support the child--all three of them.

This election is turning into a nightmare from which I am afraid to awaken.