Monday, October 17, 2011

Kids These Days

The Occupy movement continues to grow...globally!   Here in Sacramento, Cesar Chavez Park remains the center of Occupy activity, with protesters saying they will stay at the park indefinitely.

Occupy Sacramento (10/17/11) by CKM Student Izzy Gardon

A perspective I really like on the Occupy Movement is one written by Armando Llorens, also known as Big Tent Democrat, a prominent litigation attorney and blogger, who writes at Talk Left.   Big Tent Dem had been pretty ambivalent about Occupy, that is until his 17-year-old daughter became an supporter.  His interview with her is included here.

This is a thoughtful young woman as the snippet below reveals.  Her observations in many ways reflect those of many of my students.   Please read this.   And whatever you think of Occupy at this point in time, be sure that the kids these days are pretty darn impressive.  Have faith.  
Q: What do you think the goals of Occupy Are?
A: To help wake America up to the fact that the country can't go on focused on the needs of the few over the needs of the many.
Q: What do you think of politics after experiencing the Occupy movement?
A: It's clear that politics is failing and will continue to fail unless significant change occurs. Because money seems to be the prime determinant of political results, then of course politics will serve the people with the money. We need to change that and I think that's one of the big things the Occupy movement is getting out there.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sly Stone...Homeless

New York Post reports that funk legend Sly Stone is homeless and living in a white van in Los Angeles:

The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where “Boyz n the Hood” was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house. The couple’s son serves as his assistant and driver.
Don't take in this news without also reading this:  Rolling Stone's assessment of Sly and the Family Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Artist of All Time.   Amen.

Here he is is at his height (along with the great Larry Graham on bass): The Andy Williams Show (of all places), 1970:

Sleep Well Daughter of Africa, Wangari Maathai

Let us join the people of Kenya in mourning the death and celebrating the life and legacy of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner.   Maathai died Sunday after a long battle against cancer.    Through her fearless championing of environmental sustainability in Kenya, Maathai helped reveal for all the world how environmental issues are inextricably linked to women's rights, economic justice and fairness, national and international peace and security and the fundamental principles of democratic governance.  

Check out this remarkable tribute by John Vidal in the Guardian UK, which includes this quote from Maathai spoken in England in the late '80s:
The top of the pyramid is blinded by insatiable appetites backed by scientific knowledge, industrial advancement, the need to acquire, accumulate and over-consume. The rights of those at the bottom are violated every day by those at the top... the economic and political systems are designed to create more numbers, population pressures show no sign of waning, deforestation and desertification continue. The people at the top of the pyramid do not understand the limits to growth and they do not appreciate that they jeopardise the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs.
 World leaders are sending tributes of their own.  Read them here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Social Contract 2011

New statistics were released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau show that the number of Americans living in poverty has reached a 52-year high.    This is the backdrop for Economist Paul Krugman's New York Times column this week rejecting claims of "class warfare" by those who refuse to consider even the slightest increase in marginal tax rates for the wealthiest in this country.  It is a well worth reading and discussing and includes a couple of significant references to the "Social Contract," which we've been discussing in our government classes for almost two weeks now. 

Krugman includes this quote from from former financial regulator and U.S. Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren (running in Massachusetts for the seat now held by Republican Scott Brown):

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she declared, pointing out that the rich can only get rich thanks to the “social contract” that provides a decent, functioning society in which they can prosper.  
Elizabeth Warren

Paul Krugman

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Red Rabbit...Public Good? Public Bad?

We're currently talking public goods in our U.S. Government classes.   Okay, my students... what about public art?  And what about Sacramento's new giant red rabbit?

...Meanwhile, at the United Nations: Talking Libya and Palestinian Recognition

Wong-Jablonski Model UN Alum and UNer's to be pay particular attention:

Let's start with the Libyan delegation, specifically who or what should the Libyan UN delelgation be representing.   The Libyan rebel leaders who have organized the National Transitional Council have petitioned UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to represent Libya before the world body.   The Libyan seat at the UN is still held by government representatives of Moammar Gaddafi.    Particularly noteworthy, is this story on China's recent decision to recognize the National Transitional Council as the leaders of the Libya--the final member of the UN Security Council to do so.

There is a serious bid at the United Nations by the Palestinian National Authority to gain full state level member status, putting the Palestinian Authority at parity with all other fully-recognized UN member countries.  Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority is pushing a UN vote on the matter for this session...probably in the General Assembly, where no member country has veto power, but also where the action would stand as mostly symbolic.  Read here about Russia's support, the "Arab Spring Effect," Europe's likely reaction and some diplomatic implications for the Obama Administration.

Former President Jimmy Carter weighed in on the Palestinian bid, reluctantly supporting it as "an alternative to a deadlock and a stalemate now."

And speaking of Carter, the Guardian has an good profile of the 86-year-old.    Worth the read. And worth some discussion/debate of his legacy both during his term in office and the years since.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

This Land is Your Land...

Scraggly and rough...the perfect version of the perfect song at the perfect time.  Seems fitting that they need to read the lyrics off  of a stapled sheet they're passing around; Woody Guthrie wrote it on a loose-leaf piece of paper.    

Farm Aid Concert, Noblesville Indiana     September 29, 2001

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meet the Floyds: Malcolm and Malcom

Read all about Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers receiver and Malcolm Floyd, C.K. McClatchy teacher and head football coach (and former NFL receiver himself).  Confused?  Maybe this helps:
Separated by nine years and, now, by five inches in height, Malcolm and Malcom Floyd have an unusual bond. The older brother was allowed to name his sibling to discourage rivalries, and named him after himself. The spelling variation is their father’s doing.
Go read the rest.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Libyan Rebels Reach Tripoli's Central Square: Gaddafi Forces Offer Little Resistance

Gaddafi Regime Reportedly Collapsing...Al Jazeera English.  

Good thoughts to the people of Libya in creating a new government, a renewed country and a much better future.

Nothing Stops Izzy from Completing his Summer Reading!

Multi-taskers---Space Mountain, Disneyland.

The rest of my in-coming students: how's your summer reading going?   Just a little over two weeks to finish!

Monday, August 8, 2011

London Burning

I'm traveling, so offer this with little comment.

Riots escalate across London.   And the Guardian UK offers this editorial.

BBC News has live coverage here.
 Hard not to summon The Clash at this moment:

Incoming students, please follow national and international events.  Things are moving, shifting very quickly on all sorts of fronts and regarding all sorts of issues.

This is your world.  You must believe that.   Pay attention. Resolve to care.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Returning to Peacetime, Impact on the Federal Budget

As a follow-up to the post from earlier in the week, Time to End the War in Afghanistan, I offer Returning to Peacetime...a white paper* by local Sacramento policy idea guy,  Devin Lavelle.    He argues that reducing U.S. military spending to pre-9/11 levels -- a reduction of about $385 billion a year from what we spend now -- would take care of a significant piece of the U.S. budget deficit, the issue that now roils Washington D.C., global financial markets and cable televisions political talk shows.

Big bankers, heads of major corporations, Wall Street financiers and a significant number of national elected officials now claim the US deficit is the single greatest problem facing the American economy and our collective future. They are behind various plans to severely slash government spending on social services and even Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid to the tune of trillions of dollars over the next 10 years.    Others would like to see revenues (essentially, taxes) increased or earlier tax cuts for wealthier Americans rescinded, although there is little serious discussion of such options by national politicians. 

Unfortunately, the current debate over the U.S. deficit offers little hope for those concerned with the overall state of the U.S. economy, the huge program cutbacks being made by state and local governments that are harming real people all around the country (see Of  Tuition Hikes and Salary Spikes), and the lack of job prospects for millions of Americans. 

In his careful, understated way, Lavelle suggests another way to begin achieving significant deficit reduction without sacrificing the social safety net.    It is a short read. Check it out.


* note: a "white paper" is term used for a report or guide that is researched and written to help citizens, elected officials and policy makers make decisions and solve difficult problems. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, Kyle Rowland!

Kyle Rowland, proud member of the C.K. McClatchy High School class of 2011 (and the Room 8 Second Period Crew), nearly blew the roof of the legendary Sacramento Memorial Auditorium with his half-improvised Blues harmonica/slide guitar performance in memory of his late mother at June's graduation ceremony.   Kyle's been playing the Blues harmonica since his days in diapers--his father put a harmonica in his crib when he was just a tiny baby.  Kyle used it for pacifier and teething ring before he learned to make music with it, just like his dad. 

Kyle first appeared on stage with Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee when he was just ten years old.   Lessons with Mick followed and in the years since, Kyle has played with Blues greats at music festivals and in clubs throughout Northern California.  Kyle was named "Blues Harmonica Player of the Year" at the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame Award Show in 2009.   He also fronts his own band, the Kyle Rowland Band.

In June, Kyle played the famous three-day Monterey Blues Festival and as this incredible review in Guitar International notes he proved the highlight of Saturday's line-up: 
Kyle commands the stage like an experienced bandleader. He cues the band, perfectly, banters with the audience, makes sure a well-played solo gets acknowledged, and tells historical stories about the band members (all of whom are at least three times his age!) All this between playing the hell out of his harp. As bass player Henry Oden told the crowd, “This is the future of the blues, y’all – give it up!”

Here he is in Monterey (Kyle shows up at about 4:45 into the video).   Enjoy.  We love ya, Kyle!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Time to End the War in Afghanistan

Ten years ago in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, Rory Stewart, now a Conservative Party member of the British Parliament,  walked across Afghanistan.   That journey produced a book called The Places in Between.    Stewart spoke at this month's TEDGlobal2011, the annual global conference in Edinburgh, UK by the nonprofit, TED (Technology Entertainment Design) an organization dedicated to "spreading good ideas."  Stewart's TED talk was titled, "Time to End the War in Afghanistan."  He speaks boldly and compellingly.  This is certainly 20 minutes worthy of your time. 

For more on Stewart, you can check out his MP (member of Parliament) website here.  Interesting site; interesting guy --even if one doesn't necessarily agree with everything he has to say. 

With a nod to my incoming geography students, I've included below a map of Afghanistan, a map of the United Kingdom (see Edinburgh in Scotland) and a map of Southern Europe indicating Bosnia, which Stewart references prominently in his talk.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wedding Season

That's the title of this week's New Yorker Magazine cover by Barry Blitt.    This Sunday, same sex marriage will be official in New York state.    New York is the sixth state, and the largest, to legalize same sex marriage.   It joins Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont, along with Washington D.C.   The New York Daily News has a short profile of the first gay couple set to wed in New York City, Mimi Brown and Carol Anastasio, who have been together for 20 years. 

Our government classes look at this issue from many angles: reserved powers of the states; states rights; congressional action; Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution; 14th Amendment Equal Protection guarantee in the Constitution; mainstream and not-so-mainstream party politics.    Stay tuned.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where in the world is Moldova?

In east-central Europe, silly, between Ukraine and Romania.   People in Moldova, speak Moldovan, but there are several other languages spoken too, including Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian and Polish, owing to Moldova's location at the confluence of historic European and Asian empires.

Moldova also happens to the be place where C.K. McClatchy High alum, Elizabeth Scheff (class of '04 and UC Santa Cruz grad), currently serves with the Peace Corps.    Elizabeth contacted us recently with news of her work in the village of Chiscareni, where she teaches health classes to 1st-7th graders at the local school and presents seminars at the village medical center.   She and her teaching partner are reaching out beyond Chiscareni to seek money for a project they've launched to replace the school's decrepit outdoor toilets with hygienic indoor facilities.   The Peace Corps has provided a nice link and the ability to donate in any amount to this worthy project.   Check it out here.

Also, any in-coming McClatchy senior interested in creating and implementing a "marketing" and fundraising effort for this as your senior project, please let Ms. Wong or me know.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

What Are You Reading?

The best thing I've read all year is Just Kids, rocker legend Patti Smith's lovely memoir of her deep friendship with iconic and controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.   The two met in New York City in 1967, when both were unformed and drifting seekers--still "just kids"-- who were nevertheless determined to define themselves somehow as artists, but who in the meantime had to cope with the external struggle of day-to-day survival and the internal one of coming to terms with their own identities.   Their love for and support of each endured hunger, rejection, drug abuse, recklessness, thoughtlessness and Mapplethorpe's realization that he was gay (he died of AIDS).  Smith handles this all with exquisite clarity and tenderness.

Smith also writes evocatively of a New York City that really no longer exists.  A place where penniless artists, writers and musicians could manage to survive (barely) amid the squalor and grittiness of the lower East Side or (if one was really talented and lucky) a legendarily bohemian place like the Chelsea Hotel, where Dylan Thomas, Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller, Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin lived or hung out.  Smith and Mapplethorpe were courting homelessness when she heard that it was sometimes possible to barter art for rent with the Chelsea's manager, Stanley Bard; unfortunately, Bard was uninterested in what Mapplethorpe and Smith had to offer.  But Smith did have a steady job, something many of the famous Chelsea residents lacked.   He rented them a tiny room for $55 a week (Smith earned $65 working at a bookstore).  This was in 1969.  Today, a room with a shared bath at the Chelsea will run you at least $200 a night.

Check out this podcast of Smith reading two terrific passages from Just Kids.  The first describes walking to Times Square on Christmas Eve in '69 to view the famous Lennon/Ono billboard, "War is Over (If You Want It)...Happy Christmas, John and Yoko."  The second is Smith's delightful account of her introduction to the poet Alan Ginsberg, who at the time was trying to pick her up...he had mistaken her for a "very pretty boy"


Justin Montez and Jonah Gevercer  (CKM, 2011) both recommended to me the book What is the What by Dave Eggers in the wake of discussions/focus on recent developments in Sudan.   Justin was kind enough to pass along a copy to me.  I'm reading it now.  Wow. 

So, what are you reading?  What have read? What do you recommend?  Summer time is reading time.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Listen to Ms. Wong!

Ellen Wong, C.K. McClatchy teacher extraordinaire and HISP program coordinator (and my teaching partner!),  in a letter to the Sac Bee admonishes our state leaders for abandoning higher education.  Here's the text of her letter (with links supplied by the Bee):

Higher Ed Legacy Abandoned

Re "Cuts to higher education pose a threat to the state's future" (Viewpoints, July 10): Pat Brown must be turning over in his grave. His master plan for higher education, his legacy designed to make college accessible to every young person who had achieved admission, has been abandoned by his son and the Legislature. How shortsighted our elected officials have become. It's an embarrassment.
And those legislators who refused to allow California voters to decide for themselves if they want to invest in the future of this state by extending taxes have no right to look in the rearview mirror and ask what happened to California. Connie Conway, who never earned a college degree, apparently doesn't care if others earn them either. Ted Gaines, who went to a private university out of state, also fails to understand the value of a premier public university system.
– Ellen Wong, Sacramento

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Good Fortune"

Here is a link to a new documentary on international development efforts to reduce poverty and the serious and important issues raised when the goals of development experts clash with those living in the communities they are trying to help.   The film was previewed tonight on PBS News Hour

I had a student last year call these type of issues and films, "HISPic" referring of course to McClatchy's Humanities and International Studies true and so wonderful, don't you think?

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Of Tuition Hikes and Salary Spikes...

The national and state economic collapse--and the way in which our lawmakers at both levels of government have responded-- has wreaked havoc on California's higher education system, once considered the state's crown jewel and an achievement that led the world in expanding college access to all citizens.   This week, California State University trustees and UC regents are voting on hefty tuition hikes that will see CSU tuition raised by an additional 12% on top of the 10% that was voted on last November and UC tuition likely increased by 9.6% in addition to the 8% that took effect this summer.   UC tuition was raised 32% last year.  CSU tuition is also up by about a third over the past couple of years.   The Sacramento Bee reported that the impact of higher tuition could be most burdensome to middle class families, who typically might not qualify for financial aid packages.  

CSU trustees gained additional attention this week when they also voted to increase the salary for San Diego State University's new president, Elliot Hirschman, by 33.3% from what his predecessor made.  Hirschman will earn $350,000 a year, receive another $50,000 from school's private fundraising arm, live in campus housing and get a $1,000 a month car allowance.

Governor Brown voiced his strong disapproval to the salary hike in a letter sent to trustees before they voted.   State Senator Ted Lieu  fired off his response today, in which he said he is mulling over introducing legislation to cap such salaries. 

“You cannot behave like Wall Street and give unsustainable salaries to your executives,” Lieu wrote. “I flat out reject the argument that there was no one else in the world good enough at a $300,000 salary such that you had to give a $100,00 raise.”

While he is certainly looking to score political points, is Lieu on to something?    For years, corporate executives and boards have insisted that hefty salary increases and compensation packages are necessary to attract and keep good talent, even as salary and benefits for rank and file workers have declined steadily. 

Is this indeed true?    And should this practice be embraced and emulated in the public sector (that part of our economy where services are provided for by the government and paid for by taxpayers)?   Are there potentially destructive consequences to the economy and society from an ever-widening income gap between boss and worker and public servant and the people he/she serves?   If so, what are they?   What is the message this action sends to the students and their families struggling to secure and pay for a spot in California's public colleges and universities?    Or is this mostly an unwarranted distraction from the issue at had, the severe underfunding of higher education in a state that claims as it public education mission to prepare all students for college?  

Just a hint of the questions we take on in class.      Discuss.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Live Twitter from Juba, South Sudan

Former Congressman Tom Andrews and Dan Sullivan both of Save Darfur/Genocide Intervention Network are live tweeting from Juba, South Sudan on this independence day.

Thanks to C.K. McClatchy High alum and frequent East Africa resident, Rachel Santos for the link.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Welcome South Sudan!

South Sudan becomes the world's newest nation on Saturday, July 9th.

Great photos from the New York Times here. has an excellent round-up of stories from around the African continent.

What is the Function of a Criminal Trial?

 The Criminal Trial is Not About Justice for the Victim

In the wake of the Casey Anthony verdict, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz offers a perspective on the American criminal justice system not likely to be presented on HLN or Fox.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tabloid* Media Rot

 Rupert Murdoch Shutting Down News of the World Amid Growing Scandal


Rupert Murdoch, who owns worldwide media conglomerate, NewsCorp (which includes Fox Broadcasting and Fox Television), will close down his flagship paper, News of the World, this coming Sunday.   The paper, which began publishing 168 years ago, has been the subject of a screaming scandal in the United Kingdom in which journalists and at least one private investigator working for the company hacked into the phone messages of subjects they were covering, including celebrities, politicians and family members of murder victims.   Allegations also are flying that reporters bribed police officers for information. 

* A tabloid is a newspaper with a style dominated by large headlines, photos and sensationalistic stories and writing.

Legislature Debating Future of California Death Penalty

Is It Time to Abolish the Death Penalty?

Bill to allow California voters to decide advances in the California Legislature.

An issue we will be learning about and discussing when school resumes...Time to pay attention.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

AP US Government Summer Reading (AP and HISP AP Classes)

1).  THE PRINCE, by Niccolo Machiavelli
You will be required to annotate* both books as you read.
I    For  The Prince, please annotate by highlighting what you believe to be the 10 most important lessons Machiavelli is providing “the prince.”   (Also note the reasons for your choices.)
II    For Contempt of Court, annotate (using three different color highlighters or post-it notes for each category as follows): 
a).  the legal problems/constitutional violations associated with Ed Johnson’s arrest, trial, conviction and punishment.
b).  the basis for Noah Pardon appealing Johnson’s case to the Supreme Court
c).  the Supreme Court’s actions and reasons for its actions from the time of Pardon’s appeal forward.

*For our purposes, annotate means to mark and briefly summarize (note) important passages from the book, according to the criteria described above.
If you own the book, you may annotate by writing directly on the page.   If you don’t own the book, or if you prefer, you may use post it notes.   Keep in mind, if you are writing directly in the book, everything that is underlined must have a comment in the margin to explain why it is underlined.  If you are using post-it notes, every note must be written on explaining the significance of the passage you are marking.    

Both books can be bought at AVID Reader book store at 1600 Broadway (near the corner of Broadway and Land Park Drive).  Avid Reader will have a “summer reading” table set up and the books should be there.  If not, they will be able to order for you.  You may also order each on-line through or

Kua Bay


One of my favorite spots in the world:
Kua Bay, or Manini'owali Beach.  North Kona Coast, Big Island

Once Again...

...trying to make this class blogging thing work.   My goal: a one-stop place for class assignments, agendas, readings, comments, discussion and whatever else catches the fancy of my students, their parents and me.   I've tried different web/blog hosting services over the past couple of years and have returned to blogger for the simple reason that I am most comfortable with it and because of that am more likely to keep up with this endeavor as the school year heats up. 

My teaching schedule for the 2011-2012 school year includes 2 AP US Government classes ; 2 HISP AP US Government classes and 1 Geography class.  I've taught seniors only for the past few years, so adding a class of freshmen Geography students (at the end of the day no less) will!  (Thank you, Mr. Guevara!)

Any in-coming students stumbling onto this site before school begins, you might want to check back periodically for postings related to our classes and information regarding the new school year.

As for now, enjoy your summer and much Aloha.  Ms J