Archives for category: Humor

I don’t usually get enthusiastic about fictionalized portrayals of schools because they are typically sensationalized and hostile towards teachers and students. It’s easy to make a long list of such movies or TV programs, starting with “Blackboard Jungle.”

But wait!

Here’s a show you will love: “Abbott Elementary” is set in Philadelphia. The writer of the Emmy-award-winning show, Quinta Brunson, is also the star. She plays a first-year teacher in the first season. She is thrilled to be a teacher and her colleagues are helpful, funny, and the usual mix of personalities—real people. They care about the children. The children—all Black—are adorable. There’s not enough money for supplies, but everyone makes do. The spirit of the show is beautiful.

The show makes you feel like teaching is the very best job in the world. Don’t miss it!

Here is a message to you and all my friends!

Be happy!

Be kind to people of different religions as well as those who have no religious beliefs!

Welcome the stranger!

Open your hearts!

Banish cruelty, hatred, and bigotry!

Save some time to laugh every day, even to laugh at yourself!

Happy New Year!

Dana Milbank knows that the Republican Party is morphing into an authoritarian stance, but they prefer not to called fascists. No, he says, their brand of authoritarianism goes back about two thousand years.

He writes:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears: They have come to resurrect Caesar.

MAGA Republican leaders take umbrage at being accused of “semi-fascism,” which is understandable: Twentieth-century dictators such as Mussolini and the German guy with the mustache gave fascism a bad name. But the MAGA crowd isn’t disavowing totalitarianism, per se. It’s just their taste in authoritarian figures skews toward the classics. They’re old-school — 1st century B.C. old. “Hail, Caesar” goes down so much easier than “Heil Hitler.”

J.D. Vance, the Republican Senate nominee in Ohio, is one resident of this newly platted Caesarian section, as a recent profile in the Cleveland Plain Dealer showed. It referred to a year-old interview Vance gave on a far-right podcast in which he spoke approvingly of Curtis Yarvin, a self-proclaimed monarchist who argues for an American Julius Caesar to take power.

“We are in a late republican period,” Vance said, referencing the era preceding Caesar’s dictatorship. “If we’re going to push back against it, we’re going to have to get pretty wild, and pretty far out there, and go in directions that a lot of conservatives right now are uncomfortable with.”
The podcast’s host, Jack Murphy, endorsed this sentiment, discussing possible “extra-constitutional” remedies to be taken “if we want to re-found the country.” (He told Vance he thought voting an “ineffectual” way to “rip out this leadership class.”)

Vance, who said he had been “radicalized” by the actions of “malevolent and evil” political opponents, described what “wild” actions he had in mind at another point in the podcast. He wants to “seize the institutions of the left” and purge political opponents with “de-Nazification, de-Ba’athification.”

Vance suggested that former president Donald Trump, once elected in 2024, should fire all civil servants and replace them with “our people,” defy court orders blocking such an illegal action, and then “do what Viktor Orban has done,” referring to the Hungarian dictator’s bans on certain topics from school curricula. Vance justified such “outside-the-box” authoritarian actions by reasoning that the United States is “far gone” and not “a real constitutional republic” anymore.
Hail, Caesar!

Vance is far from the only emperor-curious MAGA leader. Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro called Mike Pence a “traitor to the American Caesar of Trump” because the former vice president refused to help overturn the 2020 election. Another former Trump adviser, Michael Anton, hosted a Claremont Institute podcast with Yarvin about the desirability of an “American Caesar.”

Meanwhile, various tactics that would qualify as “extra-constitutional” have been proliferating on the MAGA right.

This week, Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee confirmed during the lame-duck Republican Congress after the 2020 election, turned the bedrock American principle of equal justice on its head. Cannon, granting Trump’s request for a “special master” to shield the government documents hoarded at his residence, said Trump’s need for protection from “stigma” was “in a league of its own” because of his “former position as president.” A judge granting extraordinary legal powers to the man who appointed her to spare him “reputational harm”? Hail, Caesar!

Last week, the House Jan. 6 committee wrote to Trump ally Newt Gingrich, outlining how the former House speaker encouraged Trump TV ads promoting false election-fraud claims, and how he suggested a “call-to-action” to intimidate election officials. “The goal is to arouse the country’s anger,” Gingrich wrote to Trump advisers, at a time when election officials desperately feared violence. Hail, Caesar!

Some MAGA Republicans have a novel solution to resolve pesky constitutional restraints: Rewrite the Constitution. As Carl Hulse reports in the New York Times, Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Tex.) introduced legislation seeking to compel Congress to call a constitutional convention — the first since the framers wrote it — to overhaul the United States’ founding document. The effort likely isn’t going anywhere, but it shows the contempt MAGA Republicans have for the constitutional order. Hail, Caesar!

Others in the MAGA movement simply reinterpret the Constitution to their own liking. County law-enforcement officials self-styling as “constitutional sheriffs” have assigned themselves power to decide what the law is, according to their own politics. One such sheriff in Michigan sought warrants in July to seize vote-counting machines to try to validate Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, Reuters reported last week. Armed lawmen going rogue to undermine elections? Hail, Caesar!

A few weeks from now, the Supreme Court will open its new term, in which it will decide whether to use a North Carolina case to allow state legislatures to redraw election maps — and potentially to overturn the outcome of elections and to disregard state constitutions — without any review by state courts. The high court blessing a radical legal theory that mocks the will of the voters? For MAGA Republicans, all roads lead to Roman imperialism.

Hail, Caesar!

Better Bowers is an on-line comedian with a very funny Twitter account. In this short video, she hands out awards for the Stupidest Members of Congress.

Thanks to Ed Johnson for the link.

Dr. Michael Hynes is the Superintendent of Schools in Port Washington, Long Island, New York.

He writes:

My daughter Sadie has taught me more in her 9 years of life than I have learned in my past 52 years of existence. My wife Erin and I had no idea that our daughter had Down Syndrome when she was born. Sadie had to stay in the newborn intensive care unit for a few weeks and we met some of the most compassionate and amazing professionals in the world. Unfortunately, we also met others who were much better off keeping their thoughts to themselves.

I remember a doctor at the hospital telling me he was “sorry” after Sadie was born. On another occasion, a family member shared with my wife and I that “Mongoloids can be nice people.” She didn’t mean to upset us; it was her mental model about Down Syndrome. Initially, as parents we were surprised with the multitude of closed-minded comments we came across. As Sadie grew and we brought her to restaurants, stores or in public, people would stare at her longer than one should.

I’m sharing this with you not to complain; but doing so because we began to learn how the world can perceive others without knowing anything about them whatsoever, except through the lenses of their biases and assumptions. Little did they know our little Sadie has the best sense of humor and can read on grade level like here peers. She enjoys music and hanging out with her best friends like all children do. As parents, we began to advocate for more programs in her school and for the school districts we served in.

I probably should have started off this reflection by sharing both Erin and I are school Superintendent’s. She is an Assist Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and I have served as a Superintendent of Schools for the past 11 years. Here are the lessons we learned from our personal lives that now transcend to our professional ones.

  1. You never know what others are going through. I have a much deeper respect for parents who have children with autism, Down Syndrome, ADHD, OHI, etc. They have incredible stories to share, and we need to support them as much as their children.
  2. Never place limits on your child or students. Don’t accept what professionals say at face value all the time. If Erin and I listened to what some professionals believed Sadie would never be able to do, her life would be so much more unfulfilled. She is flourishing.
  3. In the education system I have served in for over 25 years, we need to remove the word “special education”. This word places a label on a child that never leaves them and carries a negative connotation with it. Yes, the children are “special”, but they are certainly not less than “typical children”. By the way I loath that phrase as well.
  4. Inclusion is important. Integration however is critical. It’s great to be included but to be fully integrated is where the secret sauce is. Separating and segregating children is not the answer. Teach them to become independent and watch them soar!

Sadie is now in 4th grade. She continues to surprise people with her intelligence, humor and at times stubbornness. We are so fortunate to have her in our lives. There are other “Sadie’s” in every school in America. Are we as school leaders doing everything in our power to make our school system more inclusive and integrated? That’s for you to answer and my hope is that you strive to make that a reality. Every child will benefit from it.

In case you didn’t know, TFG IS The Former Guy.

This kindergarten teacher explains to him why you must not take things home that do not belong to you.

No one can explain better than a teacher!

Michael J. Petrilli drew a lot of criticism a few months ago when he proposed to give NAEP tests to children in kindergarten, arguing that fourth grade was too late to start assessing student skills.

Now he has an even more radical proposal: test the babies, he says.

He writes:

Earlier this year, I took to the pages of Education Next to make the case for NAEP to test starting in kindergarten, stating that, “The rationale for testing academic skills in the early elementary grades is powerful.” Therefore, “Starting NAEP in fourth grade is much too late.”

I was wrong, and I’m sorry.

Kindergarten is much too late. We must begin a program of NAEP testing for newborns. In the hospital. Before parents take them home. Maybe before parents name them.

If we wait until age five to assess students in math and literacy skills, that leaves a half-decade of missing data. How are we to know where our infants fall on a distribution scale of academic achievement? How many of them are already proficient? How can we possibly differentiate preschool playtime with success and rigor?

Some of my critics might point to the difficulty in assessing newborns. Sure, their precious, tiny hands can grip your finger in an act of sublime yet simple affection, but can they grip a pencil? How can they fill in the bubbles on a standardized test when swaddled lovingly in a blanket? How can they deal with a keyboard if they can’t sit up? Do not be swayed by such arguments, which only reinforce the mediocre expectations endemic to America’s nurseries.

Others will assert that newborns are already assessed through the Apgar test. Again, don’t be fooled! The Apgar only measures the ultra-basics, like muscle tone and respiration. Talk about low standards. We’re going to give babies passing marks just for having normal reflexes? Give me a break.

What next? Test the fetuses? Open the link and finish the article. Always good to see people making fun of their own bad ideas on April 1!

As we all know, the President of Ukraine was a popular comedian before he ran for office and won election. He ran on the ticket of the “Servant of the People” party, which was the name of his television program.

This clip was made in 2014 or 2015. It was posted by author Cathy Young, who wrote the subtitles.

Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect reviews the Netflix movie Don’t Look Up!

“Appreciate the brilliance of the season’s most profound, category-busting movie.”

Don’t Look Up is described as a parody of Trumpism and climate denial. It is elegantly that. But more importantly, the movie is a dead-on satire of the interconnected debasement of America’s politics, pop culture, conventional media, social media, spectacle, tech and corporate elite—and of how the corruption of each element corrupts the other, feeding the general cynicism and the craving for a fascist savior, political or corporate.

Credit goes to the director, writers, and producers: Adam McKay, David Sirota, Kevin Messick, and Ron Suskind. The public seems to grasp what this movie is about more than many critics.

Don’t Look Up is the top Netflix hit, so no spoiler alert is needed: A graduate student (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers that a comet is headed directly for Earth, where it will wipe out human life. She and her professor (Leonardo DiCaprio) meet with the president (Meryl Streep), who is torn between denial and acting decisively to save the planet (Trump and vaccines?).

The president has a demented chief-of-staff son (the Trump kids). I am told that the opportunistic Streep character was intended as three parts Trump and one part the Clintons.

The president, after dithering, initially orders NASA to send a nuclear weapon to explode in space and deflect the comet. But here comes the best part of the movie.

A tech billionaire, played by Mark Rylance, realizes that the comet contains trillions of dollars’ worth of rare minerals. So he devises a rival mission, blessed by the president, to break the comet into bits that will fall into the ocean to be profitably harvested. The mission fails.

In a formidable cast, Rylance steals the show. The Rylance character is the CEO of BASH Cellular, a data-mining company that can read people’s thoughts and predict their futures.

Rylance was actually a late addition. At one point, DiCaprio was to play both the scientist and the billionaire, and the billionaire was a more conventional business thug. Rylance, soft-spoken and new-agey, has created a character who perfectly captures the creepy, messianic allure of Musk, Zuckerberg, Bezos et al., as well as their hypocrisy and willingness to sacrifice humanity.

As a Rylance obsessive, I have seen him, live, playing an astonishing range of roles from Richard III to a Minnesota ice fisherman, and this could be his most inventive and true creation of a character ever.

One of the movie’s many grace notes is the send-up of manic happy-news talk shows. Here, the co-hosts interview the scientists but want only an upbeat story. Even the good-guy scientist of the piece (DiCaprio) ends up corrupted, promoting the comet’s commercial potential and having a cheesy fling with the talk show co-host (Cate Blanchett), whose character is as cynical off camera as she is giddily upbeat on TV.

Those who have dismissed the movie as too much of a downer, or too obvious a parody of science denial, miss the point. Don’t Look Up is far richer as an excavation of the codependency of corporate and political fascism, enabled by the distraction of spectacle, social media, and tech.

The takeaway: If we are doomed, it is not mainly because of climate denial.

Andy Borowitz is a humorist who writes for The New Yorker. His jokes get their bite by being so close to reality that they are almost plausible. The magazine now labels them as humor because apparently so many people apparently believed they were true. He recently posted his best jokes of the year. Here are my favorites.

AUSTIN (The Borowitz Report)—A new bill moving swiftly through the Republican-controlled Texas legislature would institute a strict statewide dress code for women.

Governor Greg Abbott, a vehement supporter of the bill, said that the dress code would benefit women because “it will give them one less thing to think about when they get up in the morning.”

“I believe in the sanctity of human life, and the best way to protect that life, in the case of a woman, is to free her from the stress of having to choose what to wear,” Abbott said.

Abbott summarized the new dress code, which bars women from wearing skirts above the knee, sleeveless blouses, and most varieties of pants.

“Slacks are fine as long as they have cuffs,” he said. “However, if a woman is caught wearing jeans or dungarees, she will be sent home.”

Abbott dismissed comparisons between the state’s proposed dress code and that imposed by the Taliban, which has required women to wear burqas. “We are strongly opposed to masks of any kind,” he said.

In addition: ”Trump Taxes Reveal He Claimed Ted Cruz as Dependent.”

QAnon Fears that Greene’s Obsession with Jewish Space Lasers Is Distracting Her from Battling Baby-Eating Cannibals.”

“Trump Orders Kevin McCarthy to Go to Prison in His Place”