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Reason (February)
"Threatened by Success" and "Watching the Numbers" about San Francisco school board's attempt to take control of an Edison-run charter school
"Vanishing Valedictorians" on schools without honors
"GI Joe College" about military e-learning
"Dumb but Pretty" about the evils of graphic software

San Jose Mercury News
"Rage, not logic" on Dworkin and McElroy books

Good blogs

Tim Blair
Moira Breen
USS Clueless
The Corner
Andrew Hofer
Jeff Jarvis
Mickey Kaus
Ken Layne
James Lileks
Little Green Footballs
Frederik Norman
Damian Penny
Virginia Postrel
Jeff Sackmann
Rand Simberg
Natalie Solent
Bjorn Staerk
Andrew Sullivan
Tres Producers
Matt Welch




Read my book
“Start-up High: A Charter School's Story” will follow organizers, teachers and students at Downtown College Prep, San Jose's first charter school. Click Mail List and I'll let you know when the book's published.


Monday, June 17

No blogging till Saturday, guys. I'm leaving at dawn -- literally -- tomorrow to go to a public policy junket. I mean, seminar. I could borrow a laptop and bring it along and scare up an Internet connection when I get there, but I don't feel like it.

Fairies vs. Rainbows
Everyone's got a team name story.

David Lonborg recalls an anti-PC switch:
The bit about the Beloit Fairies called to mind the University of Hawaii's semi-renaming of its football team a couple of years ago.  UH men's teams are Rainbow Warriors, traditionally the Rainbows or 'Bows.  The football team decided that they couldn't be Rainbows any more because that symbol is associated with all kinds of politically-correct niceness and, horror of horrors, gays.  The story was that it was hurting their recruiting, among other things.  So that had to start calling themselves the Warriors, with none of that swishy Rainbow stuff, and get themselves spiffy, manly new black uniforms with none of those nasty symbols on the helmets.
They still like to pat each others' butts, though.  Go figure.

Bob Cavalli grew up on Long Island, home of the not-so-fearsome Carle Place High Frogs. As an adult, he pondered a Japanese professional baseball team, the Nippon Ham Fighters:
Did this, I wondered, refer to hams that fight, or those who fight against them? I ultimately discovered that they are the Nippon Ham.....Fighters, that is, a team with a corporate sponsor (Nippon Ham), known as the Fighters. Too bad, as I reveled in visions of fighting hams, or desparate battles against legions of them.

Isaac Meyers:
My artsy-fartsy "non-competitive" private school in Brooklyn was founded by Sixties intellectuals who hated sports like cats hate water. Even in my time (mid-Nineties,) the upper administration's attitude toward athletics ranged from condescension to abhorrence. Stanley, the headmaster, figured that every football player gained is a poet lost. This didn't have much to do with the kids' own opinions, though, and eventually the school acquired its own basketball squads, track team, etc. (I think they called them "Recreational Arts" or something.) Of course the teams were not allowed to have aggressive, "competitive" names. Officially all the teams were called Stanley's Steamers. I don't think most students got the pun, but at any rate they understood it enough to be embarrassed by it. Most teams had unofficial, cool names too, like the Sidewinders.

Cairo (Georgia) grew on sugar cane, adds Cris Simpson. Sports teams at Cairo High School are the Syrupmakers.

If the Cairo Syrupmakers played the Nippon Ham Fighters . . . Could be tasty.

Parents on special education
Most parents of special education students say the stigma is disappearing, Public Agenda reports. Most like their child's program, but they say parents have to be pushy to get information and help. Two-thirds believe "some children with behavior problems, rather than learning or physical disabilities, get misdirected into special education." Very few want their child exempted from graduation exams taken by other students.

Bearing up
I've moved up on N.Z. Bear's chart of the blogger ecosystem, but I'm still in the "large mammal" category, only a link or two away from achieving human status.

Wimpy, stupid and politically incorrect
All this talk of wimpy team names, and I only just remembered the name of the Highland Park, Illinois Recreation League team for 7th and 8th graders: "Mighty Midgets." Junior high schools weren't allowed to compete, so the recreation league was it for younger boys. (Girls couldn't compete in sports, even in high school.) Highland Park High's teams were "Little Giants." It made no sense to us then, and eventually was changed to "Giants." The Mighty Midgets are ungoogleable. The name must have fallen victim to political correctness or -- and how rarely they overlap -- common sense.

Blowing smoke
"Windtalkers" needed more drama. World War II wasn't enough. Navajo Marines using their language as an unbreakable code wasn't enough. No, the movie had to add a specious plot twist: A white Marine is ordered to guard the Navajo Marine, and kill him if he's captured by the Japanese to prevent the enemy from learning the code. In reality, some Navajo "windtalkers" had bodyguards and some didn't. There no evidence of an order to kill any who were captured. None were. Why hype it up? Well, it enables Hollywood to make a white movie star the main character instead of going with a Native American actor. And it prevents the movie from glorifying the U.S. military.

I thought of this last night when I was watching a rerun of "Independence Day." I had a hard time when the aliens were destroying New York City and Los Angeles, with towers toppling and people running for their lives from fiery clouds of destruction. But the nice part of the movie is that the enemy is wholly evil: Their goal is to annihilate mankind. The humans are wholly good, trying to make peace and then fighting bravely for survival. The only less-than-heroic human is the Defense secretary, and he's not that bad.

Good vs. evil. I like it.

Sunday, June 16

Watch out for the Beetpickers
In response to the "wimpy team names" post, George Beckwith says the Jordan Beetpickers don't belong on the list.
Picking sugar beets is backbreaking work. . . . In my "town team" baseball days in the early '50s, the tiny country crossroads of Moise, Montana . . . had a formidable baseball team called the Moise Sugarbeeters.

Anne Edelman writes:
I chuckled heartily at the list of wimpy names ("Flaming Heart" in particular, which sounds like a cardiac disease) and was crestfallen at the exclusion of my high school's team name, the Markers.  Yes, the Nerinx Hall Markers.  Supposedly the name was inspired by the idea of a "hallmark" if I recall my freshman orientation correctly, but I don't think it made any of our opponents cower with fear.  And just because this was a private all-girls school didn't mean it wasn't entitled to a more assertive designation.  Crosstown rival Rosati Kain had the Kougars, but at least our name was spelled correctly. : )

Update: One of Tim Blair's readers nominates two more wimpy team names: Beloit Fairies and Scottsdale Artichokes. I don't know about the latter: Artichokes are prickly and tough. But I had to wonder about the Fairies, a semi-pro football team. Here's how the Fairies got their name.

This is neat
Kartoo is a search engine that maps your links (via Simberg). Check it out. It's cool.