Thursday, April 30, 2009


Royals Update

The Kansas City Royals end the month of April alone in first place in the AL Central. They are featured on the cover of this week's SI (hope there's no jinx). They have the best pitcher in baseball. The Royals are back baby!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Oxiana is Okay

I just finished "The Road to Oxiana" by Robert Byron. Bryon's book traces his travels through Persia and Afghanistan in the early 1930's. It's considered a "sacred text" in the travel writing genre venerated by famed sojourners like Bruce Chatwin and Rory Stewart. I'll use the vague "okay" adjective to describe my feelings about it. Not quite as enjoyable as I hoped. Fine read...just not spectacular. Didn't live up to the hype.

I found Byron pretentious. His technical criticism of architecture was tediously long and over indulged in minutae. I guess if you care about the number of squinches surrounding the support frames of a dome you might find it engrossing. I found such ruminations boring and self-indulgent. When Byron's descriptions of architecture remained artistic and aesthetic...I enjoyed it. When scientific and engineering-centric...I nodded off.

Byron favored architectural importance over historical importance. As a historian I prefer the history. He was very dismissive of the Bamiyan Buddhas, (above left) those ancient and massive monoliths so callously destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. He rejected any notion of their artistic value. The Taliban could have used Byron as a reference to further legitimize their barbaric destruction of these treasures.

He slights the giant Buddhas but raves about the tower of Kabus (above right). The tower has an interesting history...once containing a glass coffin suspended from the ceiling holding the remains of a revered leader. Architecturally I may be fairly ignorant...but this tower that Byron posits as one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of rather plain and simple. Elegant in its simplity, yes...but nothing to get worked up about.

Good book. Interesting read but only of iconic status due to the fact it was the first of its kind in the travel genre. Witty, sarcastic, caustic and funny but I'll take Chatwin and Stewart any day.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Amping Up

Getting amped up for the AP grading in Fort Collins in six weeks. I'm poring over bike trails, paths and routes. Got my maps printed out. Got my bike reserved from a bike shop. Got some music and community events noted. Working out to get my lungs ready for the higher altitude. Biking Forney to get ready for riding in wild traffic. Making runs on the trails at the new Forney Community Park to get my quads in shape. Jumping curbs and tackling hillocks to get ready for mountain obstacles.

Oh yeah, there will be actual essay grading during the day. Got word that iPods and music devices are not allowed any more during grading. Doesn't bum me out too much. I only listened to music during the "hitting the wall" periods (twenty minutes before the morning break, twenty minutes before lunch, twenty minutes before the afternoon break and twenty minutes before the end of the day). That's when your brain was fried from reading too many lousy essays by students who had no clue what to write. It was okay to listen to tunes if your neighbors couldn't hear it. So I kept the volume down real low. But in the more crowded rooms I guess graders were squeezed in closer to one another and the iPods were disturbing the luddites.

My room was big and spacious last year and I could indulge in a little Arcade Fire to keep my mind from going totally numb. Guess I'll have to do without this year. I actually didn't have the buds in most of the time. Did better reading in silence.

Most of my crew from last year is coming back. "Fury" from Keller, "KC" from Stillwater, "Chaz" from Saipan, "Mr. 1400" from Bethany, "Freakin' Redwings" from somewhere in Michigan, and more all making a return visit to Colorado State. Some are also renting bikes. Getting the laptop all fired up to send reports via the Internet Lounge and Flickr.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Say it ain't so Joe!

U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus says he has a secret list of 17 socialists in the House but so far can only name one. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has called on the media to investigate her Congressional colleagues to "find out if they are pro-America or anti-America." Anyone who refuses to fall in line with right wing dogma is called a "lib."
Hmmmm. Secret lists. Calls to examine people's patriotism. Name calling of dissenters. There is a name for this. It's called McCarthyism. You remember old Joe McCarthy don't you? And how about the old HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee)? Let's bring back that lovely institution why we're at it. The teabaggers would party like it's 1999.

Reminds me of an old quote...

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Hélder Câmara

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You kiddin' me?

As a proud American I am shocked and appalled that my governor would ever make the treasonous suggestion that my state secede from the United States of America.

Two possibilities here...

1.) Rick Perry is an idiotic loon who truly does not understand that the American Civil War closed Texas's loophole in having the option to bail out of the Union. That he doesn't understand the catastrophic effect that secession would have on the Texas economy.

2.) Rick Perry is a lying demogogue, doesn't really believe in secession and is cynically pandering to the extreme right wing in Texas before he faces off against Kay Bailey Hutchinson in a nasty gubenatorial Rebublican Primary coming this November. Perry is trying to paint Hutchinson as a Washington insider and hopes to gain traction with the militia-gun show crowd.

He's smelling desperate. He knows he won the last election with only 32% of the vote. Most registered Republicans actually voted for independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn. If Kinky hadn't have run and Chris Bell not gained some Obama tailwind...Perry would have lost...and lost badly. Who wins an election with only 32% of the vote? Only in such a divided field could a moron like Perry win office. He gives Aggies a bad name.

Even most Republicans can't stand the guy. Every teacher in Texas (conservative or liberal) want him run out of the state on a rail.

With these recent statements I think he should brought up for impeachment for treason against the United States. Please believe me fellow Americans...not all of us living in Texas hate the U.S.A.. Please ignore the crazed ramblings of our deranged fool of a governor! At this rate I'd bring Duyba back as guv in a heartbeat.

I think the Gettysburg Address pretty much covered the idea of did Dwight Eisenhower when he sent the Guard into Little Rock. And Perry didn't complain when the feds gave him $65 Million in hurricane assistance. Hmmmm....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Change your Name!

Well, Kaufman (where I reside) and Henderson Counties should be very proud of our Representative to the Texas House of Representatives Betty Brown.

Betty Brown has made national headlines for stating in the Texas Legislature that Asian-Americans should adopt names that are easier for Americans to understand for voter identification purposes. Here are some of the exact quotes...

“Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”


“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?”

The full story in the Houston Chronicle can be found HERE.

Wow. Time for a disclaimer. Betty Brown has long been an enemy of educators in our state. Even Republican teachers came out in droves to try to vote her out of office the past two elections...unsuccessfully...unfortunately.

The past two election cycles I placed the sign of her Republican primary challenger (A Kaufman High School Grad) in my yard. When he lost both times I put the Democratic challenger's sign (and a fellow Kaufman ISD teacher) in my yard during the general election.

Please believe me...not all of us living in Kaufman County are as ignorant and backwards as our Representative to the Texas state house.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Nazarene Historians

Glad to see a sister school of my alma mater, Southern Nazarene University, make mention on an academic blog the other day. The Professor, a history/academic blog managed by my friend Eddie Carson, featured a post about Dr. Randell Stephens, a historian at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass.

Stephens graduated from Mid-America Nazarene University, got a Masters from Nazarene Theological Seminary, a Masters from Emporia State University (where I studied trumpet in high school) and his Doctorate from the University of Florida.

You can read Eddie's post HERE and access Stephens' blog HERE.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Wind and Solar Capital of America

Glad to see that Texas is trying to become the nation's leader in renewable energy. As our oil reserves decline it is an economic and enviromental necessity to move in other directions. I'm glad to see that both Republicans and Democrats are working together to make Texas the "wind and solar" capital of United States. There are over 69 bills going before the Texas legislature regarding moving toward renewables. Some are calling this the solar session. Economically this could make Texas even more of a powerhouse. Environmentally Texas could serve as a model for the rest of the country. Who would have thunk?

Here are two articles about the Texas Legislature's move toward solar and wind power. One if from the New York Times. The other from the respected environmental website