Thursday, December 22, 2011

Putting the Fun in Disfunction

When it comes to sports, the major professional sports leagues that interested me the most were the order of interest...
1.) Major League Baseball
2.) The NFL
3.) Major League Soccer
4.) The NBA
5.) The NHL
Some years, one or two would move up or down a spot depending on what was going on with my rooting interests in a particular year.
But I have to say that as screwed up and as dysfunctional as the National Basketball Association is, it has moved up to number one on my list. The Association became firmly ensconsed in the number one spot when the Mavs played the evil Heat in the finals. The Mavericks won the title and then it seemed that we were doomed to David Stern's "nuclear winter." The lockout should have soured me as a fan. I should have been disgusted by the greed and idiocy of both players and owners.
But then something weird happened. I found myself entranced by the drama of it all. There were bad guys (Stern, Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher and of course, always Kobe). There were good guys (Kevin Durant at Rucker Park, Dirk throwing a World Series first pitch, Delonte West working at Home Depot). Everything was on, then it was off and then they were all going to court to decertify unions, sue each other and then BOOM! The season's back on! And it's starting Christmas Day. And the season starts with the Mavs playing the Heat on Christmas Day at home. And Lebron, DWade and Bosh (RuPaul) get to watch Dirk and Co. get their rings and raise the banner.
A Chris Paul trade to the Lakers gets voided by Stern in an obvious conflict of interest by the Association since they currently own the Hornets. The Mavs benefit by picking up an angry Lamar Odom (and a Kardashian to boot!) for next to nothing. Kobe, Fisher and the rest are highly ticked their management gave Odom to their divisional rival which makes the whole thing sweeter. Anything that makes Kobe cry and whine is a beautiful thing.
CP3 eventually gets traded to the Clippers to play with my favorite non-Mav and Sooner legend Blake Griffin. You think Gary Payton to Shawn Kemp or Chris Paul to Tyson Chandler (back in the OKC Hornet days) was awesome? Paul to Griffin will be EPIC! Backboards will shatter across the nation.
Speaking of Tyson Chandler, it does really stink for the Mavs to lose him along with Caron Butler and JJ Barea (The Little Rican). But I'm over it now and the Mavs made some great gets to take the sting off a little. JJ has been more then replaced by Delonte West. If West stays on his bi-polar meds and keeps his guns locked up he will actually be step up. If Carlisle can make Vince Carter care than we may see "Vinsanity" once again. No one replaces Chandler, but Odom will be a monster force if his reality show doesn't distract too much and Khloe Kardashian is happy in Big D. Plus, with the financial flexibility we might be able to make a run at Dwight Howard next off-season.
So the NBA may be rigged. It may be a soap opera run by a mafia don. The players may all be tattooed drama queens. But it's better than any "reality" show. And for sheer entertainment value no other league comes close to this semi-pro league pretending to be a major league. I'm all in this year. GO MAVS!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fried Flamingo in Detroit

I was assigned to write a story with these five words: flamingo/Detroit/fried/astrophysicist/quarrel. Here's what I came up with...

I was eating fried flamingo down in Detroit on 8 Mile Road when suddenly an astrophysicist came crashing down through the ceiling and on to my table. She began to raise a ruckus and quite a quarrel about why my table was in her way.

"Way to what?" I queried.

"The floor. I supposed to hit the floor."

"Um, am I being filmed? Is this on YouTube?"

"YouTube? Much more important than that. If things go well or as I envisioned then I may have solved the secret to the universe."

"The secret to the universe is going to be found in Detroit?"

"Sir, Detroit is the secret of the universe."

"Really. I woulda figured Kansas City."

"You're obviously not an astrophysicist."

"How'd you tell?"

"You don't have a moustache."

"Ma'am, you don't have one either."

"That's cause I wax."

"Then how do your peers tell you're an astro..."

"My white coat is a dead giveaway."

"And falling from ceilings in soul food restaraunts."

"Hazards of the job."

"So what, you were time traveling and got off track and ended up on my flamingo sandwhich?"

"The Delorean took a wrong turn."

"Detroit never liked Deloreans."

"That's why Detroit is stuck in the past."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reflections while reading F. Scott Fitzgerald

Dick Diver. Freakin' Dick Diver and his easy F. Scott Fitzgerald charm. The full evolution of his race? I knew Dick Diver in 7th grade. His name was Craig Palmer and he was a drummer who was too cool to play in the band. He went to school dances with 8th grade girls and played in a garage band called Public Interest. His band was a band of Rick Perry frat boys and could only cover cheesy 60's songs like Woolly Bully. His hair was never messed up and he had a Tom Cruise "grinning like an idiot" smile. He wore Izod and Polo golf shirts with the collar up and never wrinkled khakis. He looked like a yachting instructor or a Young Republican. Craig Freaking Palmer never spoke to me or hassled me or even knew I existed. He was too busy hanging Union Jack flags in his room thinking that made him edgy between golf lessons and lacrosse practice.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We Will Crush Them!

Standardized testing should be used as a prejorative in the English language. It is the bane of education.

Standardized testing stifles the humanity of students everywhere. It quashes the creativity of our youth. It crushes the human spirit of individuality.

While the Chinese teach their students quantum mechanics and string theory we teach our students test taking strategies.

Yes. This is how we will be victorious. We will crush them with our test taking strategies!

I'll put my multiple choice test takers against your multiple choice test takers anytime and anywhere.

Our nation will have the greatest multiple choice test takers in the world!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs. I learned how to use a computer on an Apple II E back in elementary school. Your iPod has allowed me to listen to music anywhere. Your vision of minimalism and artistic integration with technology was inspiring. Thanks...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pecha Kucha Night

So last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend my first Pecha Kucha (roughly pronounced puh CHA chuh). Pecha Kucha originated with an architectural firm in Tokyo that grew weary of long-winded design presentations. Their remedy was to create a presentation format that emphasized speed, clarity and cohesiveness. Each speaker or presenter in a Pecha Kucha gathering is allowed to use a maximum of twenty powerpoint slides. Each powerpoint slide rotates after a maximum of twenty seconds. The result is that each speaker has only six minutes and forty seconds to get their idea across to the audience.

The main emphasis of Pecha Kucha is the open exchange of ideas in a casual forum. Creating time limitations forces speakers to be creative and inventive in the way they organize their information. Some Pecha Kucha's have a guiding theme. The theme of the PK I attended was education. Other PK's are a smorgasbord of new ideas from architecture, graphic design, music, art, politics, etc...

A classmate of mine at SMU, Sarah Jane Semrad, is the co-organizer of the Dallas Pecha Kucha. The PK they hosted last night was the seventh edition. There are over 300 PK chapters around the world and has become a true global phenomenon.

The setting for Thursday's Pecha Kucha was interesting in and of itself. The Texas Theatre is notorious in the annals of Dallas history for being the location where Lee Harvey Oswald was nabbed by police after the JFK assassination. The seats have been replaced but theater employees can show the geopgraphical location where Oswald was found slumped down in his seat as he tried to avoid arrest.

The Texas Theatre shut down for many years until recently when it was renovated and reopened. Today it shows both classic and arthouse films. It also hosts all kinds of local events. This next weekend they will be hosting an OU-texas (mainly Sooners) watch party. The restored interior stuco design is undulating and organic. They truly do not make theaters the way they used to.

Kimberly and I watched twelve presentations. There was a ten-minute intermission at the mid-point. Speakers included Sarah Jane's twelve-year old daughter, principals, administrators, teachers, school architects,a participant in the Special Olympics, tutors and more. The evening ended with a rousing presentation from the newest trustee on the Dallas Independent School Board.

We walked out charged up and ready to make a difference in our educational system. Fortunately Kimberly and I are in the trenches so to speak as educators. It's not hard for us to become involved since that's our actual profession. As we walked out of the Texas Theatre a rare and spectacular lightning storm was exploding over our heads. We got in the car before the downpour began. I found the metaphor obvious: lightning fast ideas sparking a downpour of innovation and achievement.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Google+ Migration

Facebook is wearing me down. FB made quite an improvement a few years ago when they simply posted status updates in realtime as they were posted. But this week they brought back "Top Stories" where they spoonfeed you updates based on what "they" think you want to see. I don't want someone else to determine what news I see. Plus they garbled up the site by adding all these other features that really muddies things up. What happened to the clean and simple Facebook? Everything is so complicated to change and adjust. It's becoming what MySpace used to be.

So I've opened up a profile on Google+ which opened up the doors to everyone this week after a two month invitation only trial period. It's cleaner and simpler. It features the elegant minimalism you see on Apple products or Google itself. I'm still testing it out and I've only been on for three days. So far only six friends have connected but I'm sure the number will increase as others ditch Facebook.

If enough of my friends ditch Facebook I'll be all in on Google+. My friend numbers on Facebook had become too bloated anyway. I've deleted 80 people in the past two weeks who I barely knew. I originally intended to just have close friends and family on Facebook. But that blew out of control as people I hadn't seen in 20 years who I didn't even like back then requested friendship.

In Google+ you create circles of people and can easily control who sees what on your profile. You can easily control where your stream of information goes. Facebook is trying to remedy this but their options are clunky. Google+ seems very intuitive and easy to figure out.

My only beef with + so far is that you can't send private messages to friends. At least I haven't figured it out yet. And to send a public post to a single friend rather than to a circle requires you to post on your own page then type in who you want it to go to. Quite a change of thinking from FB where you simply found your friend's wall and posted on it. Everything on Google+ starts with your page.

So just as + is in the beta stages, I'm in the beta stages of trying it out. If none of my friends or family shift over I guess I'll stick with FB. But I hope they try it out.

Photo: The Dynamo. JDW is second from the left

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Flickr Madness

Big update on my Flickr page. Click HERE to see recently updated photos.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Just Say No...

I'm sorry. I really don't want this site to be too political. However I have lived in Texas for fourteen years. As an educator I have seen firsthand how Rick Perry has attempted to dismantle public education in favor of private school vouchers. So many people outside of Texas are ignorant of his record. They are simply impressed by his fiery speeches and good hair. But here are several facts you should know about Rick Perry. These are not simply my interpretations or opinions. These are facts...

1.) Perry wants to repeal the 17th Amendment which calls for the direct election of senators. He believes the federal government had no right to take that power away from the state legislatures.

2.) Perry pushed for a new trans-Texas corridor highway to be built and run by a Spanish company that he was invested in. He was going to force people to give up their private property to make new right of ways for this multi-billion project in which he was personally invested in financially.

3.) Perry ran Al Gore's presidential campaign in Texas in 1988. AL GORE!

4.) Perry has raised taxes twice since being in office.

5.) Perry is in favor or eliminating the federal income tax.

6.) Perry is in favor of eliminating public education in favor of private education. He believes that universal education is not something the government should be involved with.

7.) Perry publicy supported Hillary Clinton's health care plan in the 1990's...while he was a Republican.

8.) Perry endorsed Rudolph Gulliani, a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Republican candidate for president in 2008.

9.) Perry pushed for federal bailout and stimulus funds.

10.) Perry supported welfare for illegal immigrants.

11.) Perry believed that the children of illegal immigrants should be allowed to enroll in state universities and set up a roadmap for graduates to attain full citizenship.

12.) Perry tried to force 12 year old girls to be vaccinated against the HPV virus by executive order.

13.) State debt in Texas has doubled since he became governor.

14.) Texas now has 25 billion dollar budget shortfall.

15.) Perry is cutting 4 billion dollars in education funding for the next two years...including 3 million dollars for my own school district.

16.) Perry pushed for a law allowing concealed handguns on college campuses (he made the initial statement one month after the Virginia Tech massacre).

Some of these positions I actually agree with (see 9, 10 and 11). But my point is that he's not an authentic Tea Partier. He's a hypocrite. He decried the second bailout as federal overreach but accepted the funds nonetheless. He incorrectly stated that Texas retains the right to secede ( a matter that was settled once and for all by the Civil War ). He simply follows the political winds. And if you ever saw the video of him cussing out a highway patrolman for giving him a speeding ticket you would never vote for the man. The only reason he has been elected and re-elected is because there has been no viable alternative on the Texas ballots. The Democratic Party in Texas is a joke. Perry takes vacations to the Bahamas on the taxpayer dime. Suddenly he's talking about being a Methodist. But his foul language and actions seem to belie his words.

And what does it mean when the governor prays for rain yet we get nothing but fire in Texas. Please for ANYONE...ANYONE (even that loon Bachmann would be a better choice) than Rick Perry!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jackson's Hat-trick plus one

Jackson's first ever soccer game was yesterday. Because of strep throat he had only been able to make one practice. We were just hoping he had fun. He ended up not only having fun but dominating the game with FOUR goals! The boy looked like a natural. I know I'm biased but he did lead all scorers from either team. He had a big cheering section made up of both sets of grandparents, Uncle Sam, Aunt Kristie and cousin Adia and even Great Grandma White was there from Oklahoma.

This video is one of his most spectacular goals. He grabs possession at mid-field, avoids a scrum, sweeps to the left flank and never looks back. Sweet goal!

Friday, September 09, 2011


What a blur.

Once school started, the usual chaos ensued. It has been quite a blur. Labor Day usually serves as a nice breather after three weeks of madness. Things usually hit their groove beginning the Tuesday after the holiday.

Turns out JDW has soccer practice on Wednesday evenings and I didn't want to miss them. So 48 hours before SMU's classes started I swapped my Wednesday Revolutions class for a Monday Modern Lit class. It was a class I was originally planning to take but the revolutions class intrigued me. But to make soccer practice I went with my initial choice which I think will be a great decision. The Monday class called "Americans In Paris" is about the literature and philosophy of the American literary expatriates who gravitated toward France following World War I. We'll be analyzing some of my favorite authors including Hemingway and Fitzgerald. We're also looking at Proust and James Joyce among others. I really enjoyed the first class and I am excited about the possibilities.

The Tuesday night class, Creativity: Historical and Personal, has been fascinating as well. We're studying everyone from Leonardo da Vinci to Steve Jobs. It's a writing intensive class which has been a nice chance to free-form write again.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Soccer's still acomin'

More proof that soccer is slowly creeping up on and threatening to take over hockey as the 4th major league sport in the United States came last week. NBC and MLS announced that beginning in 2012 NBC and the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) will be broadcasting MLS games for three years. This deal takes MLS away from the Fox Sports Network. ESPN will still air their slate of MLS games and the MLS Cup. But now MLS and several National Team games will be shown on a network that has twice has many households than the FSC. Plus, seeing MLS on NBC itself will be a huge boost for the game.

Attendance is up this year for the MLS. It has more corporate sponsors than ever before. The USMNT attracts a huge following. MLS is now outdrawing the NHL in average attendance. In fact it's threatening the NBA. The big hole it has to make up is in TV ratings. MLS still lags behind the NHL and is way behind the NBA in television viewership.

But it's coming. Fox has broadcasted the UEFA Champions League Championship game two years in a row on it's regular network. Within ten years MLS will be considered a full legit major league on par with the NBA and NHL and right behind MLB and the NFL. The Beautiful Game is here and it's not going anywhere.

photo: Jackson at his first MLS game at beautiful Pizza Hut Park, home of the Western Conference Champions F.C. Dallas.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blogger Minimalism

Leo Babauta is one of my favorite bloggers. But he would not like how my blog is arranged. He would say it is too cluttered. See HERE why I believe this to be true.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Jest Not

I rarely give up on books. When it comes to books I'm task oriented. I wanted to get to the end and check it off my list. Although when a great read comes along I slow down to enjoy the ride. I'm also a bit of an optimist, especially when it comes to books of good reputation. So I figure the first part may be a bit slow but if I keep plowing through it may be well worth it by the end.

But I finally gave up on Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. My Kindle says I only made it 20% of the way through this thousand page behemoth. This book was one of the most famous fiction works of the 1990's. It's author, Wallace, a literary star. His suicide three years ago only magnified his literary reputation. Earlier this year one of his posthumous works was released to great fanfare and acclaim. Many of the authors and literary critics I admire most are big fans.

So I took the plunge a few months ago and quit after about 50 pages. A month later I began again. I made it significantly farther (or further?) but finally gave up last week. I got tired of the pretension and literary gimmicks. Some consider his numerous endnotes a fascinating literary device. I found them annoying despite the fact that the Kindle makes reviewing the endnotes a snap. I grew weary of show-offy vocabulary that seemed thrown in simply for effect. Believe me, I love obscure, polysyllabic words as much as the next guy but not when they seem arbitrary and disrupt the narrative. Of course, disrupting the narrative flow was what Wallace said the endnotes were for so maybe that was his point.

So I probably just ticked off a bunch of literary hipsters with my dismissal of their hero. Granted he's much more of a novelist/writer than I could ever hope to be. I did see real talent, amazing talent. I saw flashes of brilliance. But the story and the characters never grabbed hold of me. I'm sorry I don't dig Jest. I'm not deleting it from my Kindle. Maybe down the road I'll give it another shot. I am capable of reading difficult works. I read them all the time. I love Joyce, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Kierkegaard and whoever you want to throw at me. Just not this guy and this book. Maybe I'll check out one of his other works.

He certainly doesn't belong in the triumvirate of today's super-novelists David Mitchell, Douglas Coupland and Dave Eggers.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Race

So the GOP race is shaping up. Here's my observations so far. Of course it's early and things can change dramatically.

Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain have little support and no chance. They're out.

Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul have rabid support but it still lies on the fringes. Most Republicans know that Bachmann has no chance to beat Obama. They're out.

Pawlenty and Huntsman have no buzz although that could change with a surprise win in one of the early states. But I think neither will capture the nomination. They're out.

Palin probably won't run. She's just out for the attention (showing up when Mitt announced and in Ames on the day of the GOP debate). She has virtually no chance to capture the nomination. Her star reached it's apogee last year. She has or is about to jump the shark. She's out.

So that leaves the race to Mitt Romney or Rick Perry. I believe this is a two man race. I'm not sure about Perry's ability to raise cash outside of Texas. And he will have a tough time when he gets the type of scrutiny he has never had in Texas. Even Republicans in Texas don't like the guy. He's only won because there's not been any alternatives or the field's been split. He once won with only 39% of the electorate. But he has positioned himself as a Tea Party conservative and that may be appealing to a great many Republicans who don't know him as well as Texans.

Mitt probably stands the best chance at beating Obama but he may have a tough time getting the nomination. Most conservatives are suspicious of Romney. He does seem to flip flop on issues like abortion and health care. But he is an ATM machine and has loads of cash.

So I can't guess who the nominee will be. But at this point is sure looks like a two-man race between Romney and Perry.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Converting Youtube to iTunes

One of the best ways to preview new music without purchasing it first is by checking out the artist's youtube page. That way you won't have wasted your money with a one-hit wonder. Youtube is one of my favorite music resources. I also download documentaries, shows and interviews and upload them to my iPod to watch on trips and whenever. There's a lot of free software programs that enable you to convert youtube videos to iTunes but one that has worked well for me is DVDVideoSoft. I first read about this site on cnet so it should be safe. I've been using it for a few years now and have never had a problem.

You can download a whole suite of software for free with one click or pick and choose what you want.

Their website is HERE

video: I haven't posted a video of JDW in awhile. This is Jackson earlier this summer playing around in slick rock...a creek area in Indiana on Dram's farm.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Yes. I am offended by you.

While we were at Seaworld San Antonio I saw a middle aged  man wearing a t-shirt with a Confederate flag on it. Beneath the flag was written "if you are offended by this flag you need a history lesson."

I really wanted to go up to the man and say "Sir, I am an historian and here's a lesson for you..." But since I was there with my wife and son I ignored the ignoramus and went on with our fun.

But here's the deal and there's no getting around these facts. The Confederate flag represents a regime that supported human bondage. No if's, ands or buts about it. The Confederate flag represents a regime which betrayed the United States of America and then fought and killed to have the right to enslave other human beings.

If you are offended by that you need to go back and study your history.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Beginning of the End

Well. Today is the beginning of the end. The end of summer. This is our last week before teachers report to work. I always have mixed feelings about the end of summer. I am excited about the opportunties a new school year affords. One of the best things about being a teacher is getting a fresh start every nine months with a new school year. And I have some interesting opportunities in store for 2011-2012.

I will have two students returning who scored 5's on AP exams which is phenomenal. I'll be coaching a student who qualified for the state UIL tournament last year as a sophomore. Hopefully we'll make another run for Austin at the state tourney. There's always a great crop of students ready to tackle AP every year. I always make changes to my curriculum and syllabus so it should be a fun year.

But I also know that once summer is over the madness begins. Two nights a week I'll be in class at SMU. Jackson is starting soccer for the first time. In the spring I'll once again be calling games for KHS soccer as the PA announcer. Plus there's the usual busyness that springs up unpredictably.

I get to spend less time with the family during the school year. We are spoiled getting to spend every day together during the summer. It is hard to be away from each other during the day.

So I'm going to try to enjoy my last week. Hopefully I'll wrap up my recovery from last week's oral surgery and be ready to go!

photo: Jackson and his best friend Jack sword fighting last week.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Believer

I've subscribed to a variety of magazines during my life. Boy's Life, Golf, Golf Digest, Road & Track, National Geographic, Adventure, Backpacker, SKI, Skiing, Sierra and many more. But I find my time limited these days so all those have gone by the wayside in recent years.

I'm only subscribing to one magazine nowadays...The Believer. The Believer is a literary journal from McSweeney's Publishing run by Dave Eggers and his wife Vendela Vida. It features short works of fiction, poetry, micro-interviews and social commentary from the best and brightest in the literary world. I always find it inspiring me to open up my moleskine and start writing. It will take you away from much of the insipidness that exists in today's journalism and writing.

Good stuff and you can check it out HERE.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Microlending in Tajikistan

I've been microlending to Kiva for several years. It's a great organization. Lend $25 to help an third-world entrepreneur get out of poverty. It's easy to set up. Try it! Here's my current loan...

Inoyat Ayubova: Istaravshan, Tajikistan. She sells clothing. Take a look at her story HERE.

Friday, August 05, 2011

One for One

Tom's has been around for awhile. They donate one pair of shoes to someone in need for every new pair you buy. I'm finally diving in. The next pair of shoes I buy will be from Tom's.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Trip Advisor Reviews

I always check out before heading out on trips. They have comprehensive reviews and info about hotels, restaurants and attractions. I have found it an invaluable resource. I now take the time to write my own reviews for trip advisor after I have visited a place. You can find all my reviews on the trip advisor link to the right.

photo: Kimberly with the Dallas skyline in the background during our recent stay at the Belmont Hotel in Oak Cliff.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

SMU - Comparative Revolutions

This is the class I will be taking on Wednesday evenings this fall at Southern Methodist University. The photo is a picture of Dallas Hall (the oldest building on campus) where the class is held.

Comparative Revolutions: An Historical Perspective (AMS) (GLO) (HRJ)
SOSC 6367
Class # 5023
3 Credit Hours

What is the nature of modern political revolutions?What are the conditions which tend to produce a revolutionary explosion? What are the characteristics of revolutionary leaders? Why do people follow them? By considering answers to these and other related questions, this course attempts to provide interdisciplinary perspectives on a topic of special interest in our age of monumental upheaval and rapid societal change. Drawing especially on the American, French, Russian, and Chinese revolutions as case studies, a comparative analysis underscores the common denominators of the revolutionary experience.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

SMU: Creativity - Historical and Personal

It's shaping up to be a busy fall. This is the class I will be taking at SMU on Tuesday evenings. I took the professor, Dr. Gary Swaim, last semester and he was great. This course counts as a writing intensive requirement. The building pictured is the new Simmons Hall where many of my classes are located at SMU.

Creativity: Historical and Personal (WI)HUMN 7336
Class # 5036
3 Credit Hours

This seminar will focus, in particular, on two periods in history: the Renaissance and our current moments in time. The two time periods are bound together in unique ways by creativity. Through a historical analysis of aspects of the Renaissance (among the most creative of Western cultural times), we will explore methods for advancing our own personal creativity. Materials for the seminar will be highly interdisciplinary, and we will aim to apply the ideas of creativity to each student's current interests.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Dog Days

Supposed to be near 110 degrees in Dallas today. DFW is now in the midst of the second longest consecutive triple digit heat day streak in Dallas history. In two weeks we could break the infamous 1980 summer streak.

It's the first of August and we now only have two weeks left until teachers report.

Congratulations to my Uncle Richard for the release of his new novel, POX. Check out his author website and excerpts from the novel HERE.

Photo: Me hanging out in Austin on the corner of Congress and Willie Nelson Blvd with our hotel in the background.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stoved Up

A few years ago I learned that in Texas when one is incapacitated due to sickness or injury you are "stoved up." I am definitely stoved up. The third day after my surgery (today) has been the worst. Half my face looked like Richard Nixon's...all jowly and swollen. The pain isn't bad because I'm on serious pain meds for the next few days. Which basically renders me useless. I get dizzy when I attempt to walk around. So I am pretty bored. But the doctor says everything is going according to plan and I should be back to normal in a few days.

You can see that in my forced free time I finally have made some updates to the old Internet Lounge. I've added my twitter feed to the front page. Yes, I finally broke down. Once I had internet access on my phone I decided to tweet. You can also see a few pics from my flickr site to the right without having to actually go to the site. I'm sure more changes will be in order depending on how long I'm laid low by hydrocodone. It's about time. I haven't made any changes to the template and design to my blog since I started it five years ago.

I have also been able to keep minute by minute tabs on the debt ceiling crisis. What idiocy on both sides. I want to vote them all, Democrats and Republicans, outta there. Ridiculous posturing that jeopardized my savings bonds! I emailed and tweeted all my reps with groggy exhortations to man up and get something done. I'm sure my pain med fueled rants made the difference.

Photo: Me and JDW lobbying at the Texas State Capitol in Austin

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Orcas, Bats and more...

Been a busy three weeks. First, the annual family reunion trek to Indiana. Then we were back in DFW for a few days before we headed south to San Antonio. We spent two and a half days in San Antone where we spent all our time either at Seaworld or the hotel. We fed dolphins, sea lions and exotic birds. We rode rides and saw all the shows including two different Shamu shows. I had never seen an orca show and it was spectacular.

Then we drove to Austin and spent two nights watching the famous evening bat migrations at the Congress Avenue Bridge. Our hotel, the Radisson was right next to the bridge and was the perfect place for bat viewing. The first night we watched from a hillside beneath the hotel. The second night (pictured above) we watched from the bridge itself. It's an amazing sight to behold. As soon as the sun ducks down behind the horizon millions of bats fly out looking for their evening meal of insects. Hundreds of people watch the event from the bridge, river bank and in all sorts of watercraft.

We also spent time in Austin tooling around Congress Avenue. We visited the state capitol building, went to the ArtHouse at the Jones Center ( a new modern art gallery) and ate at many great restaurants including The Shady Grove ( a former RV park), The Green Mesquite BBQ, Berry Austin (for yogurt), Hey Cupcake! (best cupcakes in the world) down in SoCo, Annie's Cafe and a small pizza joint next to of my favorite stores. On they way back to DFW we stopped at the massive outlet mall in Round Rock to shop.

Then we got back to DFW in time for me to have my fourth oral surgery in two years. This time they harvested a small part of my jawbone and grafted it to the upper left gum line to shore up for two future tooth implants. I've had no pain but the meds have pretty much left me useless save for blogging, tweeting and facebooking. I should be back up and around in a few days. This should be the last of the surgeries. Once I have the two implants done my former British style teeth will be distant memory.
Pictures of our trip can be found on my Flickr site HERE.

BTW, I am on twitter now. You can find me at @DavidWhite007.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Flickr Update

Major photo dump on Flickr. Highlights include our trip to Indiana, Austin and Seaworld San Antonio.

Click HERE

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Analog Sunday

This is my goal for Sundays. I wrote and set this to post automatically so I wouldn't violate my analog goals...

Saturday, July 02, 2011


Dude One: Sorry I'm late.

Dude Two: That's okay. Time doesn't exist.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Oak Cliff Experience

When I first moved to Dallas back in October of 1997 I was warned not to wander south of I-30 and the Trinity River. I was told that Oak Cliff was to be avoided if you valued your life. The story was that Oak Cliff, once a separate town from Dallas, had been a beautiful enclave for the upper middle class back in the day. But beginning in the late 1960's it had become a drug infested ghetto. The story had a ring of tragedy about it since everyone admitted that to this day Oak Cliff by far possesses the prettiest topography in the city. Too bad you can't go down there without risking your life.

What a load of crap that was.

First of all, what defines Oak Cliff has long been in dispute. Most white north Dallasites pretty much describe everything south of I-30 stretching to I-20 as belonging to Oak Cliff. But most of what is described as Oak Cliff (including South Oak Cliff High School) actually lies outside the boundaries of the original OC. And most people who warn you about the Cliff haven't ever been there except for a quick trip to the Dallas Zoo or Methodist Hospital. The amount of ignorance regarding Oak Cliff is staggering.

Well, I finally met some people who live in Oak Cliff. As part of an SMU class project back in May I attended a community gathering of activists and organizers in the beautiful Kessler Theater on Davis Street. Besides trips to the aforementioned zoo and Methodist Hospital it was my first visit to Oak Cliff. As soon as I exited Sylvan and crossed underneath the I-30 overpass I was amazed at the beauty of the drive. Rolling hills, live oaks and beautiful classic homes greeted me.

I was inspired by the community gathering. These people are fighting to make their community a vibrant and colorful place. One described Oak Cliff as playing the same role to Dallas as Brooklyn plays to Manhattan. It's full of artists, entrepreneurs and activists. Sure there are sketchy areas that you might want to avoid at 2 am. But things are getting better and the citizens of Oak Cliff are fighting hard to make their neighborhood a better place. They were quite passionate and I left inspired and encouraged about local grassroot movements.

So to celebrate our anniversary my wife and I headed south of town. We stayed at the newly renovated Belmont Hotel which is quickly becoming the hippest boutique hotel in Dallas. The Belmont was built decades ago on a hill overlooking Dallas. It was rescued and completely renovated a few years ago. It is a true destination hotel in Big D. It has retained the flavor of a 1950's art deco motor court while upgrading every room to near upscale status. The pool has stunning views of the Dallas skyline. The Belmont has become one of the anchors in the restoration of Oak Cliff.

We visited the Bishop Arts District a couple of times. We ate at Tillman's Roadhouse for dinner and had pie at Norma's Cafe. We ate lunch the next day at Bolsa. We shopped at the specialty stores which all seemed much more authentic and supportive of local artists and business than the West Village or Stonebriar Mall. We had a wonderful time and we will return. We even got to drive by (embarassingly for the first time) the school where my Mom teaches kindergarten (the Tyler Street Christian Academy) right around the corner from the Bishop Arts District.

Yet, when I told people about our sojourn into Oak Cliff many of the same ignorant prejudices came to the surface. Some people had been down there and shared our appreciation of the area. In a city that likes to tear down and build everything new it was nice to find an authentic neighborhood where history and uniqueness is celebrated. So get on down there. Cross the bridge and visit The Cliff.

Photo: me at the Belmont

Friday, June 03, 2011

The FoCo Wolfpack

One of the things I like best about traveling to Fort Collins is reuniting with the crew...or the Wolfpack. We come from all over. In this photo is (starting top row and going right to left, then bottom row right to left): James (McLovin') from L.A., Chas from Saipan, Jerry from Stillwater, OK, Wes from Keller, TX, Curtis from Chicago, Eric from Detroit, me from Forney and Corey from Hurst, TX. Ernie from Denver was out somewhere and didn't make the pic.

There are other guys we hang with but this is the crew that hangs out the most and commandeers the same corner table at the cafeteria every evening. Good group of guys who understand all the World History jokes.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

67 in FoCo

Nice to beat the Texas heat by flying off to Fort Collins, Colorado to grade AP World History exams.

Speaking of Heat...did you see the Mavs amazing comeback? Amazing! Watched the game at the legendary FoCo establishment Woody's which you can see here is closing. This is a very popular and historic joint, yet they're closing it to build apartments. Ridiculous.

Supposed to get down to the fifties tonight. Mid-70's for a high tomorrow.

Things going well so far. The whole crew is accounted for and ready to roll. Started grading essays today. Got the dreaded Document Based Question (DBQ) this year. But it's not so bad. Assigned the legendarily ghetto Corbett Dorm. But its not too bad, actually has new carpet. It was my turn after lodging in the Taj Mahal of Summit Dorm for two of the past three years.

Last year we're grading in Ft. C. Next year we're heading to Salt Lake City. Since we're not going to be in a dorm situation we'll have to share hotel rooms with a roomate. Got mine lined up.

Okay...beat the Heat!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Keep Austin Weird

Last week I spent a couple of days in Austin, Texas. Love Austin.

That might surprise some people because I'm a big Sooner fan.

I even love hanging out on the campus of the University of Texas. I can seperate athletics from academics. I can hate the Longhorns on the field but dig what goes on in the lecture hall.

I like Austin because it's weird. Yes, I know that's an old slogan down there, "Keep Austin Weird." But it really is weird. Weird in both bad ways and good ways. I like how people are not afraid to be who they want to be.

Who wants to eat the same bowl of cheerios every day? Throw in some Apple Jacks or Cinnamon Toast Crunch! Variety is the spice of life.

Ate at The Shady Grove, The Green Mesquite and The Oasis. All great eateries. I think the fam and I will have to make a quick trip down there this summer.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Arcade Fire in Dallas

Last Saturday's Arcade Fire was transcendent (am I overusing that word?). Lead singer Win Butler started the set by saying "We're gonna give you all we got. We just ask you to meet us halfway." Then the eight-piece band whirled and bashed and soared, running to different instruments between songs. In evidence were concertinas, accordians, hurdy gurdys, double basses, pipe organs, megaphones, two full time violinists plus the usual guitars, keys and drums. Butler ended the show with an exhortation to "take care of each other." Unbelievable musicianship and showmanship. It is truly inspiring to see such creativity in action. Much better than the usual hum drum pop garbage.

Arcade Fire Setlist Dallas 2011:

Ready To Start
Keep The Car Running
Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
Sprawl I (Flatland)
Month of May
Rebellion (Lies)
No Cars Go
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
We Used To Wait
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)


Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Wake Up

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Arcade Fire vs. Weezer

Weezer and Arcade Fire are in Dallas on the same night. Choices choices choices.

So an insightful student asked me how could I possibly choose Arcade Fire over Weezer? After all, I am a Weezermanic.

Nice question.

The Dallas Observer even made a handy venn diagram to help people choose which show they should go to.

First (or firstly?), I’ve seen Weezer in concert twice. I’ve never seen Arcade Fire live.

Second, the last two Weezer albums (Hurley and Death to False Metal) have not been among my favorites in their discography. They’re fine, better than most bands. They’re just not quite as good as past releases. So I wasn’t bent on seeing them perform songs from these last two records.

Third, Arcade Fire is phenomenal. Their music is magisterial. Their three albums are transcendent. I don’t say that about a lot of bands. When I saw they were coming to Dallas I snapped up tickets as fast as I could.

And finally, Weezer is performing at Edgefest. They were the only band performing at Edgefest that I cared about. I’m not a huge fan of music festivals unless there’s going to be a lot of acts worth seeing. A lot of the bands on the undercard are sure to draw some real freak shows to Pizza Hut Park.

So Arcade Fire it is and I’m stoked about it. I’ll let you know how it goes

Friday, April 22, 2011

recent events

Tonight Jackson and I just got back from his first major league baseball game. My beloved Royals were in town to face Jackson's beloved Texas Rangers. The stadium was sold out. 45,700 people. I've never been to a sold out Rangers game. But it's five dollar Friday parking and free fireworks after the game. $10 special for the cheap seats. Beautiful weather and the Rangers are the AL champs. Makes for a sell out. JDW had a great time. Pics are on the flickr site.

Recent Events (written last Thurs):

Last Friday the spring broke on my garage door trapping both our vehicles and only modes of transportation to work inside. Kim caught a ride while Jackson and I elected to stay home and wait for the garage door repairman to come and replace the spring. However, they weren't able to make it until 4:00 pm so JDW and I were trapped at home all day. But we made the video below and had sword fights in the living room. I ponied up $40 extra for an additional spring so now our garage door is equipped with the ultra delux dual spring system. Smooth, brother.

God has His own fan page on Facebook. A lot of my friends (including Kimberly) have clicked the "like" button on it. I haven't yet because I'm not sure that God is actually administrating the page.

Stupid Real Madrid! Fascists!

Stupid Portland Timbers!

Oh yeah, one more thing about the expansion Timbers. They have a guy named Joey the Lumberjack who after each Portland goal saws off a piece of an old growth tree with a chain saw. He then holds up the disc of wood like a trophy and then passes it into the stands. So yeah! What a way to celebrate! Destroy the Earth! I read an interesting suggestion on how they could spruce (no pun intended although it's quite awesome on second thought...spruce heh heh) up their goal celebration. Cut down an old growth tree with endangered owls living in it. Then burn the tree and use the fire to grill the owl meat to sell in the concession area of JB/WELD stadium or whatever they call that dump. And FC Dallas should be ashamed of themselves for allowing Joey to cut that tree three times last week! You not only lost the game you got a tree killed!

Two tornadoes in Forney in a week! What is this? Oklahoma? Kansas? I moved south to avoid these funnels of death after living all my life in Tornado Alley. They are following me. I blame climate change. And Sarah Palin. I like to blame Sarah Palin for everything. It's a fun game. Sirens didn't go off either time! Two dispatchers fired for negligence. At least on the second tornado they got the reverse 911 call out to our phones.

What is Rory Stewart doing today?

What is Dave Eggers doing today?

What am I doing today? Nothing. Writing a stupid blog. I've used the word stupid a lot in this blog. Jackson would not be happy with me. Plus it infers that I'm in a foul mood. But I'm not. I'm happy today. Early release day.

Found a new band: Tennis. Album: Cape Dory. Good stuff. Check out their stuff on youtube for free. Has nothing to do with tennis as a sport.

Tomorrow is Friday! Which means I will be playing the Rebecca Black video "Friday" on the big screen in my classroom during passing periods...just because it really annoys my students. Although the more they listen to the song the more they see the genius inherent in it's awful-ness. I see that this video has over 100 million hits. It is quite possibly the worst song and video ever produced. But strangely, like a trainwreck, it's hard to look away. BTW, someone produced a fake Bob Dylan cover of the song. Fake Bob Dylan can make anything sound deep. Plus the comments on the video are genius. Apparently people actually believed that the vid was legit and talked about how they first heard it back in 1984 and stuff.

Which reminds me of Dred Zeppelin, a band back from my high school days that covered all Zeppelin songs using Elvis impersonators. Genius! You should hear "Rock and Roll" and "Heartbreaker" covered by Elvis in a reggae tinge. Love it!


Saturday, April 09, 2011

Talking without yelling

Interesting day today. Went to SMU for a free public lecture by Brian McLaren. TIME magazine ranks McClaren as one of the fifty most influential evangelicals in America. He's often considered one of the founding voices of the emergent movement. Many, especially fundamentalists, find his orthodoxy a bit too generous (playing off the title of one his books "A Generous Orthodoxy"). They describe him as an open theist, heretic and denier of Biblical literalism.

I found him very generous with his time. I couldn't have him sign his book because I have it on Kindle. He spoke for an hour and a half and took 30 minutes of questions. I found him compassionate and concerned about our society. Whatever one might say about his theology I do not find him disingenuous. And I believe his message is important for the church.

Later this evening I was washing dishes when I got a call from my state representative Lance Gooden. I was shocked. He wanted to talk about an email I had sent him. I had (respectfully) disagreed with his voting for HB 1 which calls for massive cuts in education. He explained his position in great length and indicated that the cuts in a final bill would not be as drastic since new sources of revenue are expected. I'm amazed a state rep took the time to call and elucidate on his position. Our conversation was a nice example of democratic civil discourse. I'm afraid others who have emailed him have not been so polite and respectful.

Personally I do believe there is waste in our educational system. Quite a bit of it in fact. Standardized testing costs billions. We have too many administrators and curriculum specialists. We do need to trim the fat. Unfortunately what gets trimmed are essential things like arts and the humanities. These should be as valued as athletics or core studies.

Also, I pointed out that I wouldn't mind a tax increase if I really felt we were truly broke. But America and Texas is not broke. Corporations and the wealthiest of the wealthy are reaping record profits, yes even in the economic downturn. I told Gooden that we need to shut down tax loopholes and eliminate many corporate tax breaks and make the wealthy actually pay their fair share of taxes. It was a good conversation.

Last night, Kimberly and I went to the FC Dallas soccer match against the hated Colorado Rapids. Those thugs stole the MLS championship from us last year. Last night FCD beat them down 3-0. Perfect weather in a beautful stadium. Pizza Hut Park is great. We ate across the street at Lochrane's Irish Pub. Sorry Dallasers, but Frisco is a much better site than the old Cotton Bowl.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Peasant Revolt Theory Analysis for SMU

Okay...something more to bore you all. At least this one is a summary and analysis of a controversial theory. Made an A on it. Included a pic of Jackson and Adia to amuse you a bit if you don't like the paper. This is a rough draft...

David C. White

Dr. Anthony Mansueto - SMU

Silk Roads and Silicon Superhighways

March 28, 2011

Analysis Paper Two The Origins of Israel: Judges Chapter Five

For centuries the origins of the nation of Israel were rarely in dispute. The Old Testament was read and studied from a literal viewpoint. According to the accounts of the Pentateuch the Israelites were descended from Abraham who migrated to Palestine from his homeland of Ur in Mesopotamia. A few generations later the descendants of Abraham, called Israelites after the Hebrew patriarch Israel, were forced, due to famine, to relocate to Egypt. The Israelites, or Hebrews, were given sanctuary in Egypt due to the fortuitous relationship one of their Hebrew brethren had with the Egyptian Pharaoh. According to the Book of Genesis the Hebrews prospered in the Egyptian delta region of Goshen for centuries.

Eventually the dynasty that sheltered the Hebrews was replaced by a new dynasty that was hostile to the Hebrews living in Goshen. Just exactly which dynasty this was in Egyptian history has long been the subject of debate. Everyone from the invading Hyksos, the Middle Kingdom Dynasties, the New Kingdom Dynasties and every pharaoh in between have been identified as possible suspects as the dynasty that turned against the Hebrews and forced them into slavery. According to the ancient Hebrew book of Exodus the people of Israel would remain in bondage for four-hundred years until led to freedom by a Hebrew leader named Moses.

The Hebrew people exit Egypt in miraculous fashion and then wander the Sinai Peninsula for forty years before moving into the Trans-Jordan region of Palestine. Led by Moses’ successor, a military commander named Joshua and related in the ancient Hebrew text of the same name, the Hebrews invade Palestine then referred to as Canaan. Canaan is successfully conquered and divided up between the twelve tribes of Israel. This was the standard understanding of the origins of Israel which was virtually unquestioned for centuries.

But archeologists, anthropologists and historians of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries began to have doubts about the credibility of this origin narrative. First, there is little or no physical evidence that supports most facets of the Biblical account of the Israelite exodus. There is also no evidence of a large scale Israelite habitation within Egypt. There is scant evidence of a mass migration of 600,000 people out of Egypt by the Israelites and subsequent wanderings in the Sinai wilderness. The evidence of a mass Hebrew conquest of Canaan is often contradictory even within the written Hebrew accounts themselves.

One of the prominent theories, postulated by social historian G.E. Mendenhall, about the origins of the nation of Israel is known as the Peasant Revolt Thesis. Through his comparative studies of Canaanite society and pre-monarchial Israel, Mendenhall began to reject the literal narrative of the conquest theory of Canaan by the Hebrews. Mendenhall became convinced that Israel was not created by a mass invasion and conquest. He did not completely rule out elements of the Exodus story as being accurate. He theorized that a small remnant of Israelite slaves did indeed escape Israel and played a central role in the formalizing and adoption of the worship of YHWH, the monotheistic God of Judaism. The worship of an egalitarian God would serve as an attractive and unifying force for Israelite and Canaanite peasants. However, Mendenhall believed the numbers of the Hebrews escaping Egypt to be greatly exaggerated by the Exodus accounts and that they did not invade Canaan but participated in a political struggle already in process.

Much of Mendenhall’s Peasant Revolt Theory comes from his analysis of the first several chapters of the Hebrew Book of Judges. The “Song of Deborah,” found in Judges Chapter five, particularly provides insight to understanding pre-monarchial Israelite/Canaanite society. The Song of Deborah is an account of a successful Israelite military victory over the oppressive Canaanites elites. Many scholars believe The Song of Deborah to be one of the oldest texts and one of the earliest examples of Hebrew poetry in the Bible, dating back to the 12 century BCE. There are several themes that emerge in The Song of Deborah that lead toward a theory supporting a peasant revolt rather than an outside conquest.

Verse Six of the Song of Deborah indicates the land of Israel was an unsafe place to travel most likely due to banditry. Centralized authority seems to have been on the wane as the regular trade routes and highways could not be effectively policed. We are entering the story as the elites are losing their grip on power. The heavily populated valley regions are besieged by Israelite bandits coming down from the hills and attacking points of economic interest. Verse Thirteen describes the Israelite people descending from the hills into the valleys of Canaan. Mendenhall speculates that the Israelites were peasants who originally escaped into the hills to avoid the heavy tributary burdens placed on them by the valley elites. Now these Israelite peasants are coming back down in to the valley in full-scale revolt.

Verse Fourteen describes the role each of the tribes played in the battle against Sisera. However, not all the tribes seemed willing to take part in the conflict. The tribe of Reuben seemed to waffle regarding their involvement. Gilead, Dan and Asher decide against active participation and stayed in their home territories. It’s clear in the Judges account that the Israelite tribes had a great deal of political autonomy and independence. This contradicts the idea that the Israelite people were a cohesive and unified invading force.

The type of warfare described in Judges seems based on independent militia groups using guerrilla style tactics. Several leaders are named including women. Most cotemporary ancient accounts of war focus on one leader. Secondary leaders are not typically credited for their role in military victory. Disparate areas are targeted which do not seem to point to a coordinated strategy of conquest. This runs counter to the idea of a unified military command led by a unified hierarchy of generals. Plundering and banditry of camel caravans and villages are mentioned which also seems to preclude an organized conquest of cities by a heavily armed and trained military force.

There are some problems with the Peasant Revolt Theory. First, historians and scholars must resist the urge to view ancient societies through the prism of modern social theory. We cannot reliably place our conception of revolution and social stratification onto the societies of pre-modern peoples. Modern value systems, ideas of morality and ethics do not translate elegantly to the systemic structures of the Bronze Age.

Finally, although the Song of Deborah does provide valuable insight into pre-monarchial Israel it must be viewed within the context of the Hebrew poetical tradition. One cannot argue that the Exodus account is an exaggeration without Judges receiving the same critique of possible exaggeration. Hebrew poetry often was used to describe the relationship of people with their creator. It is very unlikely the Hebrew poets meant to discuss political, economic or social theory in their works of poetry. Deborah’s Song is a work of art and worship first and foremost and not necessarily an historical account.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Foreground Music

Transcendent albums that must be listened to in whole and not as mere background music. (in no particular order)

A Love Supreme - John Coltrane

Kid A - Radiohead

Kind of Blue - Miles Davis

Neon Bible - Arcade Fire

Amnesiac - Radiohead

Teatro - Willie Nelson

The Suburbs - Arcade Fire

Majesty of the Blues - Wynton Marsalis

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - The Flaming Lips

Mystery White Boy - Jeff Buckley

Funeral - Arcade Fire

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Une Annee Sans Lumiere

Group - Arcade Fire

Album - Funeral

Track - #3. Une Annee Sans Lumiere

Exact Moment - 2:16 through 2:38

22 seconds of mind-blowing brilliance that seriously, seriously brings tears due to sheer aural beauty.

Seriously now. Stop the freakin' car and close your eyes because it is worthy of your full and complete attention. ("You couldn't handle my full attention" - Dwight Shrute - The Office). At home light a candle and lay on the floor and imagine galaxies of stars exploding and the light particles showering your soul with ethereal warmth.

P.S.. I just scored tix to the Arcade Fire show in Dallas this April.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Don't call me mean! I'm above average!

We always think political rhetoric gets worse as the years go by. Huckabee last week had to back track when he hinted that Obama had grown up in Kenya. But THIS article humorously takes a look at the bi-partisan acrimony that has existed sense the beginning of the American Republic. Some interesting blurbs...

Chester Arthur was accused of being born in Canada therefore being ineligible to run. (sound familiar?)
Andrew Jackson accused John Quincy Adams of being a pimp for the Russian Tsar.
Adams supporters accused Jackson of being a murderer, a polygamist and son of a prostitute.
Martin Van Buren accused William Harrison of being being a drunk.
Thomas Jefferson alluded to John Adams being a secret monarchist.
Alexander Hamilton accused James Monroe of being an adulterer.
Aaron Burr murdered Hamilton in a duel.
Grover Cleveland was accused of fathering an illegitimate child with a prostitute.
LBJ said Goldwater would nuke the world.
JFK was taking orders from the Pope.

And there's more. Nice to know that we've always been viscious in our political debates and that it's not a new thing.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Don't Let the Door...

I know this may sound like sour grapes but I really hope the Royals show Zack Greinke he made a big mistake bailing on them by becoming a winning club. I know Royals fans are focusing on 2012. Everyone says 2011 could be a rough one for the young Royals. No one disputes they have the best young talent in baseball. But I don't want to wait until 2012 (because the Mayans say the world will end in 2012?), I want the Royals to start winning now. And I hope the Brewers suffer in mediocrity while the Royals win the weak Central. Sour grapes? Yeah. But I don't feel too sorry for a multi-millionare who admitted he "checked out' at times last season. I wish I could check out as a teacher and get paid millions for it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Car Dunk

Just in case you missed it here's a supercool slow mo vid of former Sooner Blake Griffin and his amazing dunk over a car that won him the All-Star Slam Dunk contest. Watch for the ball being thrown from inside the car through the sunroof then slammed home by Griffin. Amazing!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bye Ronaldo

Ronaldo retired this past week. The real Ronaldo. The Ronaldo who currently holds the record for most World Cup goals, the Ronaldo who starred for PSV Eindhoven, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, A.C. Milan, Corinthians and unfortunately the evil Real Madrid.

I hold a special tie in my memories with Ronaldo. I was living in Barcelona the one and only year he played for the blaugrana. It was a flukey thing that I happened to be in Catalunya during the 1996-1997 futbol season to see the greatest individual season in history. Ronaldo was only 19 years old and destroyed all the competition in Spain. La Liga was the perfect stage for his type of skills and Barca the perfect team.

But his greedy agents orchestrated a transfer and Ronaldo, crying when the manipulation finally came to light, was gone to Italy. He blew out his knee three times. He was still a great player but never quite the player he was that one extra-ordinary year in Camp Nou.

I was extremely fortunate to see him play in person. I saw him score a hat trick against the reigning League champions Atletico Madrid. Barca came back from a 0-3 deficit to shockingly win 5-4. I never been in a more electric atmosphere. 90,000 fans experiencing true collective effervescence.

Goodbye Ronaldo. You were one of the greatest. Every time I remember you I remember my own special year in Catalunya.

Video: This video is one of the most stunning goals of all time versus Compostela. They played this on the news over and over and over again for a week after it happened.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kindle Creep Out.

I love my Kindle. However there's one feature that creeps me out.

When you turn the Kindle off a screensaver pops on the display. There are twenty-three of these screensavers and you see a different version each time you turn off the Kindle. I like most of them. But there's one that creeps me out...the Emily Dickinson screensaver. This particular image (seen above) makes her look like a psychotic zombie. Many times I'll turn the Kindle back on and then off again simply to move along to another less menacing picture.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Analysis of Emile Durkheim for SMU

And now, something to bore you all...

David C. White
Dr. Anthony Mansueto
Silk Roads and Silicon Superhighways
February 14, 2010

Analysis Paper One
Elementary Forms of Religious Life by Emile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim began his work during a particularly tumultuous time in French history although it might be difficult to find a time in French history that was not particularly tumultuous. However, the 1870’s, when Durkheim was writing, saw extraordinary change sweep over French society. The French had just suffered a humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War at the hands of the rapidly coalescing German Second Reich. The working classes of Paris had revolted against the newly instituted Third Republic and briefly attempted the creation of a radically socialist government known as the Paris Commune. This experiment in radical socialism was short-lived before the Third Republic successfully stamped out the revolt.

Durkheim was a supporter of the Third Republic, the first truly secular democracy in France. As a French Jew he knew the difficult relationship French society had had with religion and with religious minorities in particular. The sixteenth century had seen the nation torn asunder by the French Wars of Religion. The minority Protestant Huguenots, after achieving control of the French throne had established the precedent of religious tolerance with the Edict of Nantes. The French Revolution of 1789 and the cult of reason that followed attempted to decisively secularize French society even going so far as renaming the Cathedral of Notre Dame the Temple of Reason and persecuting the Catholic Church. The pendulum swung the other way when Napoleon Bonaparte restored the Catholic faith for both political expediency and social cohesion.

Durkheim himself witnessed the anti-Semitic frenzy that surrounded the Dreyfus Affair in the 1890’s when a prominent Jewish military officer was falsely accused of betraying military secrets to Germany. Durkheim, a committed secularist and supporter of the Third Republic had seen firsthand the troubled relationship France had had with organized religion and with religious minorities. It was in this context that Durkheim began to study the problem of how to define a moral philosophy in a secular society.

Moral philosophies throughout human history had most often originated from cultural religious traditions. Durkheim, in his 1911 work Elementary Forms of Religious Life, began a thorough study of religion in order to answer a couple of perplexing questions. One, what was the cause of the growing suicide rate in France? Secondly, in a truly secular society how does one attain transcendental meaning? And finally, why does cultural effervescence happen when and the way it does?

Durkheim began his study by researching the traditions of some of the oldest religious traditions on Earth, especially the totemic rituals of Australia’s native aborigines. It was Durkheim’s contention that the fundamental truths about the nature of totemic religion would be consistent with the fundamental truths of all religions. Durkheim found that aboriginal religion was totemic in nature meaning that the belief construct was a collective representation of society. Totemic religion is highly liturgical and ritualistic. These rituals sought to recreate a phenomenon Durkheim termed cultural effervescence. Cultural effervescence are moments in history when society seems to act as a unified whole toward one goal in one accord yet in a way that is spontaneous and often non-hierarchical in structure.

In attempting to discover why cultural effervescence happened when and where it does many sociologists had attempted a rational approach to the question. Durkheim believed this approach to studying religion and cultural effervescence was flawed. His argument was that religion could not be analyzed scientifically because religion itself is not about thought or conceptions of knowledge. Religion is an organic structure of action and in his words something “to aid us to live.” Durkheim, despite being a committed secularist, presupposed a transcendental aspect to religion that could not be explained through logical analysis. Durkheim held that in attempting to study the basics of any religion one must give great attention to the metaphysical properties of ideas.

Durkheim paid great respect to the legitimacy of cultural effervescence. His thesis rested on the principle that “the unanimous sentiment of the believers of all times cannot be purely illusory.” The tie between religion and society was a reciprocal. Society must always be in action and to be in action society must act in common and religion was the conduit, in Durkheim’s view, that allowed society to work in common to gain consciousness of itself. He believed that all areas of human thought, including scientific thought originated in religion. Durkheim even went as far as to say that all the great social institutions of society originated in religious institutions. In Durkheim’s words “the idea of society is the soul of religion.”

Despite being a rational sociologist Durkheim left plenty of room for mysticism in his analysis of religion’s role in society. He called this “mystic mechanics.” Durkheim warned social theorists not to discount transcendentalism and mysticism in the study of religion. In his view there were some aspects of religion that could never be explained away with logical syllogisms and rational diagrams.
Durkheim also believed it was helpful to study religion because society is made in religion’s image. These reflections were holistic. Both positive and negative characteristics of religion were reflected in society. Religion clarifies and systemizes the goals and dreams of society at large. Religion presents an avenue for men to come into contact with the sacred which Durkheim defined as “something added to and above the real.” Without contact with the sacred men’s lives become meaningless leading to nihilism, self-annihilation and ultimately self-destruction in the form of suicide. With the death of the individual comes the death of the society because Durkheim says all societies need an ideal that helps form its idea of itself.
Religion, in Durkheim’s view, is therefore essential to the survival of society. It is not something to be swept away into the dust bin of history or mythology. Religion is the origin of collective effervescence and allows societies to act in common. It allows men to act. Durkheim was certainly aware of the destructive forces of religion in society. But he believed that the state could harness the positive benefits of religion to bring meaning to civilization and serve as a support for progress.