Tuesday, October 31, 2006

El Criollito 2

A follow up on the "Sounds of Sojourner" episode that featured a visit to El Criollito. I scanned the menu and broke it down into sections so that it would format better for a slide show.I combined it with a recently acquired audio gem I bought at Academy Records. It's a 1958 Everest Label re-release of a joint effort of Woody Herman and Tito Puente. This could be grist for a math integrated project, eg. how much would a salad, juice and a cuban sandwich cost? Howe much change would you get back from $20.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

True Confessions 2

Last Monday I quit one of the two part-time tech-teaching jobs I had (I've been retired 3 years after teaching 36 years. I began work at age 20) . The confession is that I didn't tell my wife. I decided I would leave the house at my previous 7AM time so she would think I was going to work. Monday I visited someone in a nursing home, Tuesday I went to a conference and Wednesday I had lunch with an old friend and did some volunteer work at a school. The issue isn't financial, but rather her annoyance that I would probably spend the whole day in bed with my laptop (This is true, I confess). Someday she might read this and I will be outed, but I'll probably fess up- I'm a pretty bad liar. Why did I quit? The school I was in was run by an incompetent and sleazy principal. I sort of knew this going in, but my desire to work and to make a difference, coupled with tons of grant won equipment to put to use and a good computer teacher to partner with clouded my decision. I also wanted to work on the Lower East Side again. The staff was mostly young, but already burnt. The kids, especially the middle schoolers, were out of control and as the year would progress get even worse. Their Teacher's College trainer was the same arrogant, condescending b... who had been tossed out of my Harlem School in an exchange for a gentler, kinder version. Most of the teachers here despised the TC trainer too, but the administration was not tuned into their feelings. There was no plan, other than how to make a flashy website, how to win more grants and then piss away more money and then how to fake doing a previous won grant in order to fulfill the previous grants' requirements. That's partly how I would fit in as a faker. When you are a low performing school your snapshot makes you more amenable to winning grants. It also helps to cozy up to the local grant funding pol for some quid pro quo job action for a constituent or two or three.

November Literacy Strands

"I don't know why I came here tonight, I got the feeling that something ain't right, I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair, And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs, Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am, Stuck in the middle with you. Yes I'm stuck in the middle with you, And I'm wondering what it is I should do, It's so hard to keep this smile from my face, Losing control, yeah, I'm all over the place, Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you."

True Confessions

As Desi said to Lucy, "I have some fessin' to do." One confession is that there are actually parts of the reading writing workshop that work very well. I just can't separate that success from the arrogance, inflexibility and haughtiness of most of the people who deliver it. More on this and other confessions later.

He's A Nazi

I'm sure everyone has heard of the latest right wing driven attack by top storm trooper Rush Limbaugh on Michael J. Fox.
I heard Randi Rhodes play this great song parody this week and combined it with a rogue's gallery of images. Internetweekly.org is a great source for them. I then youtubed it

Not Ready To Make Nice

The Dixie Chicks are certainly long overdue for a Titanium Cahones Award, although it might be anatomically difficult

from crooksandliars.com: The new documentary, Shut Up & Sing, chronicles the hostile and sometimes threatening conduct directed towards the Dixie Chicks after one of the group's members criticized the Commander-in-Chief, President George W. Bush, during a 2003 concert. The documentary is being distributed by Harvey Weinstein's film company,….According to Drudge, David Boies, presumably representing the Weinstein Co., said that "it is disappointing and troubling that NBC and the CW would refuse to accept an otherwise appropriate ad merely because it is critical of President Bush," while Weinstein himself said that “it’s a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

360 Degrees Of Digital

I attended yesterday's New York City Policy and Leadership Forum entitled 360 Degrees of Digital at Columbia: "This forum is designed to provide New York City administrators with an opportunity to experience education technology, as well as get a vision for what a digital classroom really means. This forum will offer a showcase experience of digital classrooms and technology-enhanced learning in action." A smallish crowd, a disappointing "experience." Instead of 360 degrees I'm reminded of Billy Paul's contemporary Billy Preston's song Nothing From Nothing:
"Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin' You gotta have somethin' If you wanna be with me Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin' If you wanna be with me I'm not tryin' to be your hero 'Cause that zero is too cold for me, Brrr I'm not tryin' to be your highness 'Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah."

I also thought there would be good page six blogging material available, but it was too depressing to witness the death rattle of the NYCDOE's technology infrastructure. There was, however, a good photo op that I missed of the trio of half snoozing pseudo tech crones of CCNY. Region 4 from Queens did try to raise what's left of the "flag" as did the Podcast for Teacher folks from Fordham. Mostly there were references to how things work well in Maine, Michigan and New Jersey where technology is supported by the powers that be and where they use Macs instead of those crummy PC tablets. In New York it's strictly math and reading (aka the reading/writing workshop) and test prep. My experience is that there are pockets of unsung tech teacher heroes that survive with the of support of networks of friends and of decimated regional tech administrative staffs (that will all be gone by next year). The BIG initiative from Tweed only impacts 22 of the systems 1400 schools. And their dynamic staff development modules look like this: "Writers Workshop Feature Article Day 1 Objective: Students will explore and develop an understanding of the elements that make up a feature article.Materials:-articles for your students to use independently (be sure to have articles at appropriate reading levels for all)-chart paper-markers-colored pens, highlighters or markers for your students to use Hardware/Software:-projector-tablet ** ibook (if using the ibook you will need a smartboard) -microsoft word, used to create template for independent student work Websites: timeforkids.com -Introduce the article “Sea Turtle Trouble”, anonymous author. We are going to read this article as a class for Shared Reading.-Read the article once as a class -After reading the article once, ask the students if they think they can take the article apart and name the different pieces.-Using ink annotations, or the smartboard if you are using an ibook, begin with the title of the article. Circle the title and ask the students if they know what this is called. As someone answers write the phrase “Catchy Title” next to the title of the article. Discuss the word “catchy” with the class.-The remaining elements of a feature article are as follows:-catchy title/headline -publication date -author-subtitles-pictures with captions-bold and/or italic print-quotations Go through each of these elements. Have the students identify the elements and then label them using ink annotations, or your smartboard. Activity:Students will be instructed to go to their seats. Have a variety of articles at the student’s tables for them to choose a feature article of interest. Be sure you have articles on several reading levels so that all of your students have something to work with. The students will identify the elements of a feature article by using their markers, highlighters or colored pens. Share:The students can share their work with small groups and as you walk around and notice the work of different students, it would be good to invite 2 or 3 students to share with the entire class. Follow Up:-students will be given the home work assignment of finding a feature article and labeling the elements. After labeling the elements they must answer the following question in 5 to 10 sentences “What is this article about?”-Tomorrow’s lesson

Do you believe people actualy get paid to come up with crap like that?

On the positive note I did win a prize from what seems to be the lone functioning innovative software company for real teachers, Tech4Learning. I did get to see again nice guy Ryan Sullivan from Dell, whose sister's Lindsay's band Big City Bright Lights is performing at Union Hall (Union Street and 5th Ave, Brooklyn) tonight (I might actually leave my room and my laptop and go!) There was also my one man cheering section Mark Gura there to give my blog a plug as well as a middle school teacher named Darlynn who was, as they say, "Easy on the eyes."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

El Criollito

It's been a while for our regular Friday group to assemble for the Sounds of Sojourner. During my M-W absence a celebratory luncheon was planned for Edwin at his aunt's restaurant and we got to take our show on the road. Jody and Edwin did the picture taking for this slide show (a bigger file 8.2MB, than the usual, be patient), which includes a shot of Edwin's aunt preparing the food, an ex church friend of Mrs. Wilson enjoying her meal, my delicious "mofungo" and the obligatory baseball trophy. I emailed Edwin and Jody a template for a restautant review that they will complete later for all you literacy buffs. There will also be a scan of the menu and more audio footage. We had to get back to school so we didn't have time for an interview with the chef/owner. Maybe another time. BTW the terms derived from the word criollo (and thus the meaning of the restaurant's name), according to a wikipedia source are the following:
▪ Criollada, a deed typical of a traditional Argentine; also a collective noun for the criollo masses, as distinct from the gringada, the generality of persons of gringo origin.
▪ Criollita, a simple saltine cream cracker, in Argentina.
▪ Criollito, Spanish diminutive, a term of enderament for a typical, all-Argentine (or Uruguayan) boy or young man.
▪ Criollazo, a Spanish augmentative, meaning a real, authentic criollo. Term of endearment for a patriarchal figure.

Reach The World 1

I had some brief time to work with Ms. J's third graders while they were awaiting pickup from the library during a prolonged TC staff develoment session (no comment). They are involved with the reachtheworld project and I wanted them to get a direct look at where the Makulu's boat's crew was at present (Palermo). Movies on Sicily and Palermo are not readily available from the usual sources but I found some film clips on the google video site. Here's the slide show combining our discussion with pics from the reachtheworld site and other helpful images I found

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Neighborhood Explorations

I have to get away from the La Dolce Bello posts for a while, otherwise folks might think this is Page 6 of the NYPost. But, mark my words, someday it will be revealed that a certain DOE Region has its own version of "Pagegate." Anyway, I've been struggling with a way to integrate technology with the defining concepts of neighborhoods and communities and how that relates to geography and other larger abstractions. Forget about trying to use textbooks with kids in special need classes, and adding insult to injury, forget about utilizing this month's TC verbiage (garbiage) like "small moments," "reading with your mind on fire," and "improving volume and quality." The big neighborhood map of Harlem worked somewhat, but what I needed were more local images to illustrate in a concrete way things like transportation, jobs, housing etc. and the elusive geographic factor. I didn't want to spend a day taking pics. I finally remembered the A9 map site, but that's gone. Finally I remembered the excellent NYC Bridge and Tunnel site. In this slide show I extracted images from the 145th Hamilton Heights page and the Marcus Garvey page. It helped to explain why certain neighborhoods differed because of geography. The hills in Hamilton Heights vs. the open spaces of Marcus Garvey Park. I also explained that the kind of geography that exists in Marcus Garvey Park is what is underneath Hamilton Heights, except under Hamilton Heights, and more so in Washington Heights, there are more hills. I added too, samples the excellent work that Ms. Asis is doing with special needs first and second graders using neighborhood mapping. Ms. Asis is truly Aces

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Podcast Gold

As Kenny Bania would say.....On Friday Ms. Pacheco's kids were diligently working on a geography assignment I gave them and all of a sudden Ms. Pacheco's yells out, "Oh, my god!" No, it wasn't because Joel Klein or Lucy Calkins came into the classroom. It was because she discovered a picture from her childhood (Farmacia Santos) in a Puerto Rican slideshow. This opened the floodgates into a discussion that I taped that brought into it every imaginable aspect of accountable talk.
Here's a relink to a posting from 8/30 with the slide show that Ms. Pacheco watched

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Podcasting Intervention

I missed my usual Friday date with the first graders due to the an extended stay with some 4th graders. When I arrived at the scene I found my pal Princston very upset about something. As soon as talk out my mp3 recorder and gave him a chance to tell some story and do an interview he was fine. They had the Marshall version of the book read to them and the librarians and I had planned a neat text to text activity with Red Riding Hood. Attached is the Venn diagram I made for some future occasion. Here's a podcast about their Goldilocks' drawings. For filler I added some misc Goldilocks images

Jim Leyland For President

Forget about that Robin Williams' "comedian as president film." Wouldn't it be something to have guys like Leyland running our country instead of those in the sick closeted GOP . Now I have a good excuse to renege on my mantra "We're all New Yorkers and we should support our teams" and root against the Mets if they get into the series. (But I'll still hope that delgado and Green do well)

Here's a link to an article that gives an insight into the character of Leyland.

Stokking The Salami

Proud and gay Air America radio commentator Rachel Maddow clued me to an article in the Washington Post about the Foley cover-up in the G(Gay)OP. That's Mike Stokkes, one of Hastart's chief staffers
in the same pose that Dennis took a few posts ago (10/10/06). There's nothing wrong with being gay (ala Seinfeld), but there's something about those closeted gays who need to work out their hostility and need to dominate a world that has hurt them. Of course, the same can be said for any despised group that has a need to get revenge on their despisers. Hetrosexual pedophiles also have something in their life histories that have made them angry, sick SOB's seeking revenge. The unfortunate situation arises is when these sickos control our government (as well as a certain NYC school region). Here's Dr. Justin Frank's book about the mind on our president.
Here's an excerpt from the Washington Post article (note Van Dr Meid's arguing about a shade of carpeting): With House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert denying personal knowledge of former representative Mark Foley's activities, investigators for the House ethics committee are bearing down on three senior members of Hastert's staff to determine when they learned of Foley's actions and whether they passed on their knowledge to the speaker.The three -- chief of staff Scott Palmer, deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke and counsel Ted Van Der Meid -- have formed a palace guard around Hastert (R-Ill.) for years, attaining great degrees of power and unusual autonomy to deal with matters of politics, policy and House operations. They are also remarkably close. Palmer and Stokke have been with Hastert for decades. They live together in a Capitol Hill townhouse and commute back to Illinois on weekends. It is that relationship that has made investigators so interested in their knowledge of Foley's contacts with teenage male congressional pages, especially allegations that his chief of staff personally appealed to Palmer in 2003 to confront the Florida Republican.....Van Der Meid is the relative newcomer -- he came to the speaker's office after guiding the ethics committee's probe of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Known by some as the mayor of the House, Van Der Meid has the institutional knowledge of the chamber's customs. He handles legal matters but has been known to intervene angrily on a shade of carpet or which paintings to hang on the Capitol's walls.

Who's On First

After watching the Mets in the playoffs and, being a Yankee fan, not knowing all their names, I was planning on using this as a seque way into a combination literacy/language interpretation lesson with the 8th graders. I was wondering if they would get A & C's humor, but the schedule was changed. A group of teachers had to go to Columbia Teacher's College. I doubt anyone there would ever think of using Abbott and Costello. (Not unless they could make money off of it)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lavatory Classrooms

Some really innovative stuff is going on in one NYC public school:
"There are many visible signs of growth at Anna Silver-PS 20M. Some of this growth is evident in our staff’s commitment to learning and disseminating best instructional practices and exemplary programs. As a faculty, we have participated in many workshops and programs to enhance our ability to deliver reading, writing and mathematics instruction. Our school is creating lavatory classrooms where teachers can observe and learn from experts in the field and each other. We are a community of learners – children, teachers, and parents."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Youtube Yugioh

This send up of a yugioh card match is a good accompaniment to "Yugioh Live"

Yankee Postscript

I still stand my thoughts about Joe Torre. A-Rod batting 8th was an unnecessary cruel blow to an already shattered ego. The SI article could have waited until the season was over. Torre should have been screaming and yelling over the bad call at 3rd base when A-Rod clearly tagged a man out. Lou Piniella-we don't need him. He's horrible also as a color man on Fox. How about these prophetic thoughts about Cory Lidle (pictured above): "After being traded by the Phillies in July 2006 at the trade deadline Lidle called out his former team. "On the days I'm pitching, it's almost a coin flip as to know if the guys behind me are going to be there to play 100 percent." He noted he was joining a Yankees team that expects to win all the time.
"That's why I'm most excited about it," Lidle said. "Sometimes I felt I got caught up kind of going into the clubhouse nonchalantly sometimes, because all of the other guys in the clubhouse didn't go there with one goal in mind."
In response former teammate Arthur Rhodes said, "He is a scab. When he started, he would go 5 1/3 innings and (the bullpen) would have to win the game for him. The only thing Cory Lidle wants to do is fly around in his airplane and gamble. He doesn't have a work ethic. After every start, he didn't run or lift weights. He would sit in the clubhouse and eat ice cream. ... He shouldn't say that, he shouldn't say anything like that because he is a scab. He crossed the line when guys like me, Flash (Tom Gordon) and (Mike) Lieberthal were playing. He is a replacement player." Cory on Torre:"Cory Lidle said Sunday that the Yankees may not have been as prepared as the Tigers for the Division Series, but both Wright and Villone disagreed with their teammate."

Live Like Crazy, I'm Out

I played Billy's Yugiog podcast rant from last week for him. He really liked the way he sounded. Billy has a podcast career waiting for him. He's been tapped to produce Chitter-Chatter Listen how naturally he brought Bernice into this recording to sing My Hero

Yugioh Live

I captured a pre-school Yugioh card duel in words and images. I also added some Yugioh card pics I found on a Yugioh card site

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Stop, Jot And Tell

"Jonezy," one of the system's great administrators (who never attended a leadership academy) saw what I was doing with quicktime movies last year and gave it a TC tag.Here I'm putting that tag to use in a follow up discussion with fourth graders in their first successful use of the long awaited laptops

La Dolce Bello V

Wishful thinking on Dennis' part. What Region's leadership has a lot in common with the leadership of the GOP (p for pervert) and who is this mysterious para named Lee that does nothing at a certain school except play his ipod.

The Spirit Of The Game

It was great seeing the Tiger players celebrate with the fans-shades of Wade Boggs on horseback. Somehow I don't picture A-Rod doing that-or Jeter. A-Rod didn't even protest on that obvious out call when he tagged the runner at third. And why didn't Joe squawk ? Joe's a mensch, but his best days are behind him. I hope they hire Girardi and not Piniella. Here's some spirited byplay of the bleacher creatures in their "roll call" that helps humanize the Yanks

Give It Back To The Indians

The "They all Laughed" and "Mister Christopher Columbus" karaoke slide shows went over well with kids and adults. I "posterized" them for display in the library. I thought they would provide historical reference as well as a source for figurative language interpretation. The karaoke thread lead to the next century of New York History and with the Yankees losing and despair in the air my thoughts ran to the song Give It (A-Rod) Back To The Indians. Instead of searching all over the web for images I limited my search to within the NYPL Digital collection. Here's the result. Here's another Lorenz Hart lyric masterpiece:
Old Peter Minuet had nothing to lose when he bought the isle of Manhattan
For twenty-six dollars and a bottle of booze and they threw in the Bronx and Staten
Pete thought that he had the best of the bargain but the poor red man just grinned,
And he grunted "ugh!" meaning okay in his jargon for he knew poor Pete was skinned.
We've tried to run the city....but the city ran away...
And now Peter Minuet We can't continue it...Broadway's turning into Coney,
Champagne Charlie's drinking gin, Old New York is new and phony
Give it back to the Indians! Two cents more to smoke a Lucky,
Dodging busses keep you thin,Now New York is simply ducky,
Give it back to the Indians! Take all the reds, on the boxes made for soap
Whites on Fifth Avenue Blues down in Wall Street losing hope..
Big bargain today...Chief take it away! Come you busted city slickers,
Better take it on the chin. Father Nick has lost his knickers Give it back to the Indians!

Does anyone know what the reds on the boxes of soap are?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My Favorite Met

It's hard for me to root for the Mets, but I don't want to be accused of "hating" on them. Delgado is one guy, though, that I definitely root for (4 for 5 today with a 470 foot non-steroid homer) Sadly he has squelched his outspokenness since coming to New York. From the December 2005 Nation: "Sometimes sports mirrors politics with such morbid accuracy you don't know whether to laugh, cry or hide in the basement. Just as the Bush Administration shows its commitment to democracy by operating secret offshore gulags and buying favorable news coverage in Iraq, the New York Mets have made it clear to new player Carlos Delgado that freedom of speech stops once the blue and orange uniform--their brand--is affixed to his body. For the last two years, Delgado chose to follow the steps of his personal hero, Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates great and the first Latino elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and use his athletic platform to speak out for social justice. Clemente blazed a trail for generations of Latino ball players by standing up for the poor of Latin America and never accepting being treated as anything less than human. Delgado's contribution to this tradition of pride in the face of conformity was to refuse to stand for the singing of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch. This was his act of resistance to the war in Iraq. "I think it's the stupidest war ever. Who are you fighting against? You're just getting ambushed now," Delgado told the Toronto Star in 2004. "We have more people dead now, after the war, than during the war. You've been looking for weapons of mass destruction. Where are they at? You've been looking for over a year. Can't find them. I don't support that. I don't support what they do. I think it's just stupid."
Delgado's anti-militarist convictions grew from spending time and money to help clean up the small island of Vieques in his native Puerto Rico. The US Navy had used Vieques for decades as a bombing-practice target, with disastrous results for the people and environment.When asked by the Star if he was concerned about taking such a public stance, Delgado, then a player for the Toronto Bluejays, responded, "Sometimes, you've just got to break the mold. You've got to push it a little bit or else you can't get anything done."But now, Mets' management is pushing Delgado back into the mold. The shame of this is that despite a guaranteed contract and support in the streets, Delgado isn't pushing back. He said at the November 28 press conference announcing his trade to the Mets from the Florida Marlins, "The Mets have a policy that everybody should stand for 'God Bless America' and I will be there. I will not cause any distractions to the ballclub.... Just call me Employee Number 21." And we saw him grin and bear it when Jeff Wilpon, son of Mets CEO and owner Fred Wilpon, said, "He's going to have his own personal views, which he's going to keep to himself." If opposition to the war were a stock, Delgado bought high and is selling low. There couldn't be a better time than now, a better place than New York City, or a better team than the Mets for Delgado to make his stand. Instead, he has to hear baby-boy Wilpon say to reporters, "Fred has asked and I've asked him to respect what the country wants to do." One has to wonder what country the Wilpons are talking about. The latest polls show Bush and his war meeting with subterranean levels of support. Delgado could be an important voice in the effort to end it once and for all. He also might have received significant organizational support from Mets General Manager Omar Minaya, the first Latino GM in Major League history, and from Willie Randolph, the first African-American manager of the Mets. Randolph even told reporters, "I'd rather have a man who's going to stand up and say what he believes. We have a right as Americans to voice that opinion." But Minaya merely commented curtly, with an artic chill, "This is from ownership." But Delgado still caved.
The frustrating fallout of all this is evident in media attacks on Delgado for refusing to continue his act of protest. At first glance, it would be welcome to see, for example, Newsday's Wallace Matthews's writing, "Even if you disagree with his politics, Delgado's willingness to break out of the mold corporate America loves to jam us in set him apart from the thousands of interchangeable young men who thrive athletically and financially in our sports-crazed culture...But no. One of the few pro athletes who had the guts to say no is now a yes man. And the silencing of his voice, whether you agree with it or not, is not a victory for democracy but a defeat." But where were the critics when the then-protesting Delgado was being booed as a visiting player in New York? And where were they when radio commentators suggested he "just shut up and play"? For those of us who amplified his views, and used his stance to speak not only about the war but also the plight of Vieques, his silence is bursting our eardrums. Ironically, one of the parts of the press conference that was genuinely touching was Delgado's thrill at finally being able to wear a jersey with the number 21 of his hero, the great Roberto Clemente. When it came to political principle, Clemente was a giant who never backed down in the face of bigotry: He lost his life in a 1972 plane crash as he was delivering aid to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua. To Clemente, the Wilpons of the world were little more than mosquitos buzzing in his ears. Delgado could have been our Clemente. Instead, to use his own words, he is just Employee Number 21."

My Space vs.Yugioh

An 8th grade podcast response to the Yugioh craze

You Go Yugioh

A podcast about Yugioh cards

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

They All Laughed At Christopher Columbus 2

They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round. They all laughed when Edison recorded sound. They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother when they said that man could fly. They told Marconi wireless was a phony, it's the same old cry. They laughed at me wanting you, said I was reaching for the moon. But oh, you came through, now they'll have to change their tune. They all said we never could be happy, they laughed at us and how! But ho, ho, ho! Who's got the last laugh now? They all laughed at Rockefeller Center, now they're fighting to get in. They all laughed at Whitney and his cotton gin. They all laughed Fulton and his steamboat, Hershey and his chocolate bar. Ford and his Lizzie, kept the laughers busy, that's how people are. They laughed at me wanting you, said it would be, "Hello, Goodbye." But oh, you came through, now they're eating humble pie. They all said we'd never get together, darling, let's take a bow. For ho, ho, ho! Who's got the last laugh? Hee, hee, hee! Let's at the past laugh, Ha, ha, ha! Who's got the last laugh now?
Here's the they all laughed slide show. A Gershwin song, version by Stacey Kent

Rethinking Columbus Day

The evil of colonialism in all its forms. By PATRICK W. GAVIN From Counterpunch.org 2004: It's not easy to score a federal holiday. There are only ten of them, and only two are named for a specific individual: Martin Luther King, Jr. and today's celebrant, Christopher Columbus. (Although the holiday "Washington's Birthday" still remains on the federal books, it is more commonly referred to as "President's Day," since it symbolizes the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln.).Given this high honor bestowed upon Columbus, today is a fitting time to explore both Columbus's legacy and our own commemoration of the late explorer. A deeper look reveals that it may be time to reassess this annual celebration. Most everyone knows why it is that we honor Columbus: He "discovered" America. But this claim only holds water if we don't count the natives already on American soil at the time. The claim also fails to pass muster in light of research and scholarship that casts doubt on Columbus being the first European to smack into America, and which also suggests that others outside of Europe may have beaten Columbus to the punch. Evidence suggests that Europeans may have made it over to the Americans in the early 15th century (which is to say nothing of Leif Eriksson's journey in the 11th century). Gavin Menzies, in his book, 1421: The Year the Chinese Discovered America, argues-albeit imperfectly-that the Chinese made their way to America 72 years before Columbus. Although the evidence isn't conclusive (understandably), it is at least as strong as it is weak, and historians ought to know better than to stake such ground on such shaky data. The truth of the matter is that we don't know who discovered America, and we should resist the temptation of historical certainty, and exchange opt for the truth by conveying the evidence of other discoverers that we do have, and what conclusions we can, or cannot, draw from that evidence.
What makes Columbus's voyage unique isn't that he was the first to bump into America, but that he was the first (thanks to the powerful and wealthy monarchy backing him) to be able to take advantage of his trip by colonizing the new land for imperial gain. He wasn't the first to discover it, but he was the first to discover it for the people that mattered at the time: Europe. If the case for Columbus's discovery isn't water-tight, then, are there other reasons to honor him? Probably not. Columbus's behavior (and that of his subordinates) upon landing on shore sticks out as some of the most repulsive and vile in all of American history. This isn't revisionist history: we have Columbus's own journal to tell the tale. He describes the overwhelmingly hospitable greeting he received from the natives upon his arrival. "They are the best people in the world and above all the gentlest-without knowledge of what is evil-nor do they murder or steal...they love their neighbors as themselves and they have the sweetest talk in the world...always laughing." But in a letter he later wrote to a friend back in Spain, Columbus revealed his true feelings during the first encounters with the natives. "With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want." And so he did. So appalling were the exploits that Bartolome de las Casas, a Spanish priest who accompanied Columbus on his voyages, later wrote, "What we have committed in the Indies stands out among the most unpardonable offenses ever committed against God and mankind and this trade [Indian slavery] as one of the most unjust, evil and cruel among them." Natives who did not deliver enough gold had their hands cut off. Those who ran away were hunted down by dogs. Prisoners were burned to death. Las Casas wrote that his countrymen "thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades." To avoid such treatment, many natives committed suicide, and mothers killed their children to spare them from such an abject life. Within a very short period of time, virtually the entire native population of Hispaniola had been decimated. Las Casas said, in 1508, "There were 60,000 people living on this island, including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this?" History, as always, has two sides. Columbus was certainly under enormous pressure to bring back-at any costs-wealth, gold, and imperial conquests to the King and Queen. Failure to do so would have cost him his head. Yes, his journey was a bold and dangerous one (but on the other hand, should federal holidays be dispensed like Fear Factor trophies?) And, true, Columbus can't be blamed for killing millions of Native Americans simply because he and his crew brought diseases with them from Europe from which the natives had no immunity (how could he have known?) Lastly, history is plump with imperfect icons and examples of the high and tragic price of humanity's march.In the final analysis, however, Columbus's disputed discovery claims, his horrific behavior towards the natives, and our increasingly enlightened and embracing culture suggests that we may be doing more harm than good in our praise of him. A nation's soul can be seen in whom it chooses to revere. By celebrating Columbus-with our nation's highest possible gesture-we honor the history of some at the expense of others, and we bestow praise on a man who never possessed, what we like to consider, traditional American values. Indeed, a closer examination of the evidence, Columbus's life, and his heritage, proves that the annual celebration is outdated, unjustified, and un-American. On Columbus Day, we shouldn't discard Mr. Columbus and his voyage, but we should be honest with ourselves and our children about the true happenings of 1492 and use this holiday to celebrate not just Columbus, but all of our early visitors. Call it, "Explorer's Day." Patrick Gavin taught history for three years in Princeton, New Jersey. Currently, he is a writer living in Washington, DC. He can be reached at: pwgavin@yahoo.com

Here Comes Christopher Columbus

I did this slideshow two years ago for Columbus Day. Sung by the late, great and highly underrated Maxine Sullivan. According to an online biography Maxine and her then husband, bandleader John Kirby, were the first black stars to have their own syndicated radio program in 1941. After a long hiatus in which she pursued a nursing career, she was rediscovered in the 70's. Here's a slideshow second version of the song with the lyrics karaoke style

They All Laughed At Christopher Columbus