Archive for June 2009

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE FANTASY OF FIXING WHAT IS WRONG IN EDUCATION BEFORE IMPLEMENTING ONTARIO’S DAY CARE-KINDERGARTEN PROPOSAL

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY ANNE KOTHAWALA IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Government pretty much is incapable of correcting the serious problems of our public schools.

Only a dedicated, tough, and highly intelligent premier – an Obama type – could make anything real happen, and I sure do not see any prospect of such a politician coming to power.

The right wing tried reform and utterly failed: Mike Harris and the boys made a series of totally ineffectual changes, including that bad joke we call the literacy test, something McGuinty has kept only because it is a useful political tool manufacturing statistics that seem to show progress.

McGuinty has done nothing but literally throw money at the teachers’ union to buy peace for his government while we pay the bills. He has asked and received nothing in return, and he is too weak a character to demand anything real.

The teachers’ union is responsible for the extremely high cost of running our schools, costs which mean there are few resources for improved facilities and expanded services.

Just one tiny example of many I could cite: substitute teachers in Ontario are paid the same rates as regular teachers, a totally excessive and unnecessary cost. Further our teachers in many places are entitled to nearly a month of sick days – this on a 9-month work year – and it is a common attitude to routinely take them, leaving taxpayers paying two salaries for one poorly-taught classroom.

Even McGuinty’s weak minister has commented on the huge costs of sick days in Ontario.

The only way to improve public schools is to make teachers accountable. Accountability is a basic principle we accept in almost all our institutions except public education.

We have some wonderful, dedicated teachers, but we have a great many poor, unmotivated, even unintelligent ones, and the entire structure of administration in education, from vice-principals to superintendents, pretty well comes from these ranks.

Most have never had serious management experience, and most have no concept of accountability. That is why we have a mess.

The kindergarten/day care proposal is a sound one – the first meaningful thing McGuinty has come up with for education, but it won’t happen. The teachers’ union is already attacking it, and if it gets its way, the program will be costly and ineffectual.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: SLEAZY SARKOZY TELLS PEOPLE HOW THEY SHOULD DRESS – WITH HIS EMPHASIS ON ONE GROUP HE DISPLAYS CLEAR ANTI-MUSLIM PREJUDICE

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

What right does the president of a country have telling people how to dress? Or disparaging how they dress?

Since when in Western society is it acceptable to attack people for their religious practices?

Sarkozy is intellectual sleaze, playing up to widespread, ignorant anti-Muslim prejudice.

Would Sarkozy have opposed the French nuns who wore the most oppressive outfits only decades ago? Indeed, some still do.

Would Sarkozy oppose elaborate bridal gowns with veils?

What about the popular styles of the 1940s which included huge hats with veils, often large and elaborate veils?

Is he going to oppose Mennonite women for their backward clothing?

How about the dress of certain ultra-orthodox Jews whose outfits look like something from several centuries ago?

To see images of some of these things, here are some sites to give perspective:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_NtgXlrcvXZA/SOUVIK_Yk6I/AAAAAAAAP8Q/HjPVxlDzHbE/s1600-h/MARY+WITHOUT+WORDS.jpg v

http://www.bestweddingdresses.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/singletier-20bridal-20veil.jpg

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE END OF KODACHROME

 
JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I too loved Kodachrome.

My picture library includes about 4,000 images on Kodachrome.

While long a holdout against digital photography, I finally went over to it when I thought the quality had reached a high level.

So I made my little contribution to Kodachrome’s passing.

Still it is melancholy to see the end of such an extraordinarily fine product.

Kodachrome had a longer life in the finished slides than just about any other color film.

It was comparable to Technicolor for movies. Movies shot in Technicolor survived many decades for restoration, while other film stocks literally faded away, losing forever certain images.

Historical slides in Kodachrome from the 1930s are still good images. Other color films after only a few decades faded away.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: IGNATIEFF’S MISSING THREE DECADES NOT EVEN THE GREATEST THING HE IS MISSING

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY REX MURPHY IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Three decades in Canada is only part of what Ignatieff is missing.

Perhaps more important is his lack of any real contact or bond with people. There is something, not just aristocratic, but almost autistic about Ignatieff.

He just does not reach the emotions because he just does not feel them.

Contrast him with a wonderfully earthy and charming politician like Chretien, and you feel there is nothing there.

Even in the sphere of the intellect, supposedly Ignatieff’s great strength, I find him surprisingly wanting. Again, compare him to Trudeau whose brilliance shines in every photo and is burned into memory, and there is little there but mannered words and the indulgent remembrance of a well-connected family.

Ignatieff is altogether an unimpressive politician.

If you add his absence and long lack of interest to Canada, he becomes even more unappealing.

And if you add his past defense of torture, mass murder, and imperial brutishness, there is nothing there worth talking about.

This sad situation is made sadder still by the utterly soulless Harper, a robot with no personality and no sense of ethics, giving us nowhere to place a comforting vote of trust.

__________________________

“Whether Canada ends up as one national government or two national governments or several national governments, or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion.”

– Stephen Harper

Many thanks to the person above for posting this. Of course, we must also rememmber Harper supported America’s mass murder in Iraq, and wanted us to join in the slaughter.

CHUCKMAN - HARPER - FLAG - IF IT'S SUCH A GREAT IDEA

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: NETANYAHU HAS SOFTENED HIS STANCE ON TWO STATES? I DON’T THINK SO

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

“Softens his stance” is inaccurate.

Obama has backed Netanyahu into something of a corner. Those who want genuine peace have always believed it can only come when the U.S. makes demands of Israel for all the immense subsidies it has poured into that state and all the unpleasant risk it has assumed in doing so.

Netanyahu’s response is to say, “Okay, I’ll mouth your phrases, but I’ll make them meaningless.”

It’s a nasty game various governments of Israel have played a long time. The decades-long “peace process” has been only a way to gain time to absorb more Palestinian homes and farms and water minus the Palestinians. It really is a ploy which covers what may fairly be characterized as slow-motion ethnic-cleansing.

Netanyahu’s conditions are ridiculous to any fair-minded person.

First, you cannot speak of negotiation when you set a precondition like recognizing Israel.

Withholding recognition is one of the only bargaining chips the poor Palestinians have: it is a perfectly ordinary tactic in international affairs.

You cannot tell Palestinians they must give it up before negotiations.

Or rather, you can tell them that, but it amounts merely to another way of saying you don’t accept a two-state solution, another way of buying time to grind away at the poor Palestinians and what little they have.

Besides, how do you recognize Israel when its borders change almost weekly? Where is Israel?

It certainly is not the Israel of the various 20th century agreements underlying Israel’s birth, all documents showing two roughly equal states. Nor is it the Israel of the Green Line.

Perhaps most important, how do you recognize Israel as “the Jewish state” when nearly 20% of its population is not Jewish?

It is an absurd demand, and deliberately meant to be absurd.

To all fair-minded thinkers, the genuine barrier to peace just could not be clearer.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ONTARIO’S PROPOSED SYSTEM OF COMBINING DAY CARE WITH KINDERGARDEN IN SCHOOLS

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is a great idea, but it won’t happen.

First, for now, Dalton the Magnificent has spent Ontario silly on GM and Chrysler.

Second, and more important for the long term, the teachers’ union will never let this happen on its turf.

Already, the head of the teachers’ union has spoken against it.

The burdens the teachers’ union would place on a program like this would make its costs impossibly high.

Until a politician is ready to take on our Public Teachers’ Guild, education can show no growth and imagination, precisely what this program promises.

____________________________

“…let them be with their moms (or dads).”

Comments like this show no understanding outside the writer’s very limited life experience.

You might think it was 1954, and Ozzie and Harriet were hanging around the house all day, just waiting to make Kool-Aid and help with homework.

Seventy percent of women work today.

We also have “families” where children are almost things tolerated rather than precious objects, mothers who’ve had children with three or four men and are not prepared to devote themselves to mothering. This is a major problem in neighborhoods like Jane and Finch where so much hideous violence has happened.

A program like this would help them all.

__________________________

“I’m stunned…..”

Yes, Mike, you are.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ON OBAMA’S NEED TO LEVEL WITH AMERICANS ABOUT THE ECONOMIC CRISIS

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Jeffrey Simpson,

This is one fine piece of writing.

You have stated the situation with remarkable clarity.

Were I to sum the American situation up, I would say it is necessary for that tired old political bromide, the centerpiece of so many bloated speeches by local Congressmen at Fourth of July picnics, the American Dream, to be put into a well-earned retirement.

I think it safe to say, problems so long in their creation, with habits of thinking so deeply ingrained, are not going to be solved in a brief period.

The so-called green shoots we see may be nothing more than fragile plants, force-fed with fertilizer, destined to shrivel.

We may well be in for a long, dark period of adjustment.

Unfortunately, as with its many pointless bloody wars, the U.S., owing to its sheer mass, necessarily drags the whole world into the mess it has created for itself.

Any solution pumping countless billions into the economy and pushing banks and others to make credit available is just more of the same decades-long behavior.

Rather than taking the hit necessary to wring out the economy, a huge platter of more of the same is being served up.

I’m not sure this is the right thing to do, but the right thing is too painful for any politician to make policy.

In a sense, I think this points to an even larger issue, and that is the question over the very ability of a people like Americans to govern themselves sensibly, rather than a constant lurching this way and that, both in domestic and foreign affairs.