Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: October 2005

Is this where I put in key words such as sex, lesbians, vampires, Christopher Lloyd and others things to which this blog do not pertain, but by putting them here, I may get hits from all the Christoper Lloyd lesbian vampire fans (and you know who you are)? This is the primarily humorous and occasionally rambling writings of Leon Tchaikovsky, humor writer. Enjoy.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Book Review: It Takes a Family

Rick Santorum, a former State Senate staffer (I’ve lost track of what he’s done since), has written a terrible book, or terribly interesting, depending on your point of view. This may well be the first book that could be sold at fund raisers for both Casey and for Santorum as it confirms what Democrats fear, and what Republicans want: Rick Santorum is a solid defender of conservative Republicanism.

Much of the book falls into philosophical name calling of political beliefs. These conservative views that are not defended on grounds of empirical evidence, although conservatives would defend these views on faith (pun intended). This book argues that liberalism (read Democrats) has infested the news media, the entertainment media, and the shapers of educational policy and, in doing so, have destroyed our societal structure and made the middle class and lower class less off, and that it will be strong families that will be needed to save our society.

The book ignores that it is Democratic policies that will create strong families: policies such as family and medical leave that allow working parents to spend more time with their children, minimum wage increases that will allow many families to even fight rising above the poverty level, and protecting labor benefits, particular health care benefits, that will allow families, even high income families, survive devastatingly high health care costs. Few will, and no one should, argue that strong families are not important. Yet, strong families do not occur, as Santorum and conservatives think, by hoping they miraculously emerge. Santorum rejects the economic policies advanced usually by Democrats that will create the economic conditions for families to thrive. Instead, the “tax and spend” Republicans (pun intended) think that throwing a little bit of money towards the issue is the solution. This book heralds spending $300 million on a public education campaign boosting marriage (gee: before people ever see those commercials, I am sure this thought never occurred to anyone). I fear it is simplistic for Rick Santorum to think that will solve society’s problems.

Some highlights from this book are arguments that liberals want the freedom to do what they want (I thought that was libertarians), strong families need capital (Republicans love to talk about capital), that over 90% of the news media and Hollywood voted for Kerry (I missed that survey), “the government in the form of the social worker communicates loud and clear that it doesn’t believe low income minority couples can maintain a marriage” (I doubt many social workers do believe that), unelected judges are making society dangerous for children (I guess he supports electing judges), liberals will make marriage “nothing more than romantic and sexual coupling”, healthy communities exist when people rely on each other (Santorum should read a book entitled “It Takes a Village”), liberals “seem to think that if you would choose to go to a NASCAR race instead of The Vagina Monologues you are a completely unenlightened soul whose existence demands government oversight” (save your soul: watch NASCAR), and that we should have Moral Impact Statements on legislation.

This book makes numerous statements designed to enrage or spark discussion, such as equating the unborn child in Roe v. Wade with the slave Dred Scott. The strength of this book is that it boldly lets readers know where Rick Santorum stands. Some advise that Democrats stand back and let Rick Santorum self-destruct with his outrageous statements. This may be a mistake. Love him or hate him, people are going to admire that he follows the courage of his convictions. Democrats need to show the courage to argue back with him. Failure to do speak out may mean that the author prevails unchallenged.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I'm So Happy I Could Kill Myself

The 4,000 year old pasta still bothers me. How, after 4,000 years do they know it was a bowl of pasta? How do they know it wasn’t originally an apple cobbler and, after 4,000, that’s what apple cobbler looks like?

Did anyone else notice this new commercial advertising an anti-depressant drug with the side effects that it increases thoughts of suicide? What possible good is that? Isn’t that really a drug that only makes things worse, and they expect you to pay money and buy it? At least people will feel better when they kill themselves?

I applied for the job as Chief of Staff to the Vice President. My skill is I can keep a secret, including the secret that I applied for the job. (Oops, I guess I blew that. Oh, well, at least that now makes me qualified for the job.)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Where Did We Put the Children We Weren't Leaving Behind?

We should we change our emphasis from “no child left behind” to “advance no child until the child is ready.” Students should be allowed to work at their own rate at different subjects, allowing them to pass to higher levels when successfully completing their current level, yet allowing students to be at appropriate levels for each subject rather than at one grade level for all subjects. Then much of the problems facing students, between the boredom with subjects they’ve mastered while struggling with difficult subjects where they are falling behind, would be conquered.

This could be accomplished without additional costs to schools by scheduling classes in subjects where learning is progressive, such as Mathematics and English, at the same time. Thus, students would attend the classes at the level that is appropriate for their comprehension. All students of the same age would be in the same home room appropriate for their age, yet, for example, a grade 5 home room student may be in level 6 Mathematics, level 4 English, and level 5 Science. A student would be advanced in a subject area only when ready for advancement. Only then will students learn at rates appropriate for them, and neither passed along and promoted without knowing a subject nor held back when proficient.

Hear! Hear! We Need More Hearings! And More Cow Bells!

The outrage against the state legislature is understandable. Yet, I think the real question should be: is the public getting the legislature they are paying for? Before Republicans took control of the legislature, the state legislature held far more public hearings. Citizens were more involved in the formation of public policy. The legislature met for more session days as the legislature took more time to debate and analyze the legislation before them. Today, legislative leadership pushes controversial legislation through more quickly with less public scrutiny.
To get a legislature worth our money, we should return the legislature to one with a Democratic majority. Democrats are far more attentive to public comment, fair debate and discussion, and working on laws that protect employees and those who can not speak for themselves. Republicans are more attuned to silently passing legislation on behalf of their business supporters.
To obtain a worthy legislature, we need to vote out some stale Republican blood and bring in some new Democratic representation.

The Good Old Days Weren't

Public anger against the state legislature is understandable. Yet, I wish to warn against those seeking to channel that anger into an agenda that will make the legislature less accountable to the public. These are self-described conservative and libertarian interests who want to make the legislature weaker against business interests. This will make certain business leaders happy, but it will come at a cost to consumers, employees, and the public in general.

There are some business and libertarian interests who want to end the full time professional legislature and revert back to the days of a part-time unprofessional legislature. The legislature handles a range of subjects, from determining laws on business practices to operating oversight reviews of administrative branch functions. A part time legislature is far less capable to perform these duties. In the days of a part time legislature, administrative abuses were far more widespread because it was known the governmental checks and balances of powers were not in place. When the legislature was part time, business interests wrote, introduced, and had enacted the laws that regulated them, and business lobbyists were considered more influential than even legislators. Legislators had neither the time nor the expertise to fully analyze legislative proposals. We should strongly guard against any efforts to return to this kind of “good old days”.

We need a strong legislature that takes its oversight functions seriously and that carefully examines the laws and properly updates them as needed. Citizens should criticize their legislators when they disagree with them, and they should demand greater accountability when they find them lacking. What we should never do is destroy the ability of the legislature to effectively do their job.

Fun With Migrant Farm Labor and Pesticide Exposure

John Perzel’s comments regarding immigrant farm labor has ironically raised attention to the plight of these employees and their struggling families. Yet, it should be noted that this Republican leader has a major misconception about the realities of migrant farm labor. This may indicate why the Republican legislation leadership has paid little attention to the problems these hard working workers face.

A migrant farm laborer does not annually earn over $50,000, as Mr. Perzel seems to think. Most are fortunate to earn $18,000. Many migrant farm jobs pay $6 an hour for seasonable work without health care, dental, or other benefits. They do so in occupations experiencing above average health problems from stress to difficulties from exposure to pesticides and chemicals.

Hopefully this attention to the migrant farm workers is providing greater recognition of the need to support and bolster inspections to see that migrant farm laborers are provided with decent working conditions, housing, and proper pay. I hope Mr. Perzel and his colleagues are now better aware of this and will act to protect migrant laborers.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

More Noodles to Get Steamed About

The fact that a bowl of noodles can sit around for 4,000 years continues to bother me. Maybe they were passed down from generation to generation as a family heirloom. And, if so, what kind of family heirloom does that make? An uneaten bowl of noodles (and believe me, you wouldn’t want to eat it after it’s more than a week old, much less more than a week old) doesn’t exactly serve as anything of much use. I suspect it would be the gift that comes after the oldest getting the property, the second oldest geting the jewelry, all the way down to the youngest getting the bowl of noodles. The fact that it survived all this time without the people inheriting it throwing it at siblings in itself is an amazing thing.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Never Spoon a Fork in the Road, and Other Lack of Intelligence Advice

The Central Intelligence Agency yesterday announced the formation of a secret National Clandestine Service. When informed that telling people they’ve formed a secret unit no longer makes it a secret, a CIA spokesperson responded by declaring, “Damn.”

It’s not over until it over, as Yogi Berra noted. We note, even then, it isn’t always over. How about that Angels-White Sox game where the umpire called a third out third strike and the catcher threw the ball to the pitcher’s mound for the next inning's opposition pitcher? Turns out the umpires ruled the inning wasn’t over as the batter ran to first and they ruled him safe at first as the ball supposedly hit the ground before the catcher caught it. Yet, it appears it did not really hit the ground, so what was the catcher supposed to do, especially after the umpire called the batter out?

Do any of these above news items make sense to anyone? Are these signs of the decline of Western Civilization? By the way, how’s that looking for Osama Bin Laden and those weapons of mass destruction coming along?

Archeologists found a 4,000 year old bowl of noodles in China. What I want to know is: who lets a bowl of noodles sit out that long? Were there numerous generations of husbands telling wives: I’ll throw it in the trash tomorrow? Wouldn’t it begin to smell badly, say after 1,000 or 2,000 years or so, and wouldn’t guests mention something about the odor? How do things like that happen?

Someone sent me a Jewish Scottish strudel. I guess if you a Scottish Jew, you’re only hope against being beaten up is to hand over a unique strudel.

I got this weird premonition that Pat Cooper is in trouble. If he ever uses any of these jokes, then we know he’s doomed.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Maybe a Clown Killed Jimmy Hoffa

A study has found that clowns can help relax children before surgery. Unless, of course, the child is terrified of clowns, in which case the clown will just become the beginning of one long traumatic event.

I was a failure as an astronaut. Right at launch, I’d suddenly remember I left the keys to the space shuttle in my other pants.

I continue to observe differences between dining on the East Coast and the West Coast. On the East Coast, I was dining in an eloquent restaurant that overlooked a statue of Christopher Columbus, when I overheard a fellow diner look at the statute and proclaim “that doesn’t look anything like Peter Falk.” On the West Coast, I’d see Peter Falk in a restaurant, and diners proclaim “my, he’s aged. He looks as old as Christopher Columbus.”

On the East Coast, when I order something, the wait server says something like “the gentleman has made an excellent choice.” When I order something on the West Coast, the wait server usually says something like “ewww, you actually eat that?”

I don’t understand people who wonder where Jimmy Hoffa is buried. I saw him on the news yesterday, and he’s still Teamsters President. How dumb can people get?

Speaking of food (and I’m ignoring the rumors that Jimmy Hoffa may have been ground into food: hey, when they sell Italian and Polish sausages at some places, the ingredients are actually as advertised), here is a joke we can analyze, because different people can hear two different jokes depending on their perceptions. The first person proclaims “When I was in Nam, we had to eat bugs in the forest, and we were glad to have them.” The second person states “I never knew you were in Viet Nam.” The first person responds with “worse vacation I ever had.” Now, some people see the joke as meaning the first person served in the military during the Viet Nam War, and he is jokingly calling his military service as a bad vacation. Other people see the first person as a tourist visiting Viet Nam, and that his vacation consisted of eating bugs. Which way did you see it? OK, I know: you didn’t get the joke at all. Well, then, there are three ways to perceive that joke.

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