Red for Ed – I support the AZ Teacher’s Strike

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The Arizona teachers are set to strike.  It’s a wonderful thing, and long overdue.  Not just being the worst paid teacher’s in the country, but going without raises for YEARS.  I have a buddy who teaches down there, and he just has been telling me 17 years of horror stories.

Let’s hit some fundamentals before I go full on rant.  Why doesn’t Arizona fund education?  Here is a short, and only mildly informed, explanation.  You likely know that AZ is a big state for retirees.   The retirees are often on a fixed income.  They aren’t in school anymore, and neither are their kids anymore.  The idea of funding education when they literally have to count every penny is absurd to them.

And the politicians pander to the order demographic HARD?  Why?   Old people vote, and young people don’t.  Sure, it’s a sweeping generalization, but it’s also incredibly true.  You should know by now, dear reader, sweeping generalizations are my jam!  I still remember the destruction of the education system from when I lived there.  My pal, who shall remain nameless due to the vindictiveness of the right, explained to me the last ‘raise’ the were offered.  It was 4% over the next 5 years. Generally speaking, inflation rises at about 1% a year.  This is why we use terms like “that house cost $75K… but in 1980 dollars”. This means that today, same house would cost $200K.  this is why gas was 75 cents a gallon… 30 years ago.  In corporate America, where I have resided for 20 plus years… the average annual raise is 3%.  This has been at every company I worked at.

Ok, back to the mess, and how badly Arizona is handling it.  When word got back to the lifeless souls who don’t believe in public funded education anymore (ahem… Betsy Devos)… here is how they replied.

“Teachers themselves could face consequences in this right-to-work state, where unions do not collectively bargain with school districts and representation is not mandatory. The Arizona Education Association has warned its 20,000 members about a 1971 Arizona attorney general opinion saying a statewide strike would be illegal under common law and participants could lose their teaching credentials.”

that isn’t exactly what we call a veiled threat.  It’s a threat.  We will not only fire your asses, but we will make sure you never teach (for minimum wage) again.

Here is how I would have handled it.  I really enjoy writing these, and someone should hire me to do it.  Here is what they could have, and should have, said.

Teachers.  We understand this is a hard time, and we understand you deserve more money to do the work you do.  No one questions that, even at the highest levels of government.  Know that you teachers are literally the most important resource out state has.  I think can all admit that we have let you know.  The state legislature has made it difficult for us to do our jobs, and made it even worse for you.  But blew it.  We owe you a lot, and I am personally going to see that you get it.  I know you know all of this, but here is where it gets personal.

We need you.  We need teachers and buildings and books.  We need to do that better, and sooner.  And we will.  Personally, I am going to take NO pay for the next 90 days as a gesture of solidarity.  If you walk out, though… which is 100% your right, we lose our bargaining power with the legislature and voters.  The only way to fix this is from the inside, and with your help and support.  The most powerful message we can send to the capital, and to the voters is to stick this thing out and give us the chance to make it right.

Of course, that is all bullshit, and no one would have the balls to say it.  If I were in charge (and I am available for public service) that would be my press release.  Instead, these assholes said “we fucking dare you cowards to walk out.  And if you do, we will fuck your life up so hard you will NEVER teach again.”   Gee, you mean you are going to forever take away my right to work for 28K a year?

A quick google search says

The median annual Public School Teacher salary in Phoenix, AZ is $54,761, as of March 29, 2018, with a range usually between $47,805$63,221 not including bonus and benefit information and other factors that impact base pay.

Yeah, if that’s true, then Volkswagons really do get 32 MPG and only emit smiles out of their tailpipes.

I can tell you for a fact that isn’t true.  I have teachers on the inside there.   Here is one specific and very real example.  I know someone who had a masters of education, and after 17 years of teaching, he was at 47K.   with a MASTERS.  I literally made more than that on unemployment the last time I was laid off.  I am a call center guy, so I am kinda an expert at getting laid off and outsourced.   Of course, the schools expect you to get a masters.   Sure, I’ll spend another 100K of debt to one day make as much as a shift leader at Burger King.

How does AZ compare to other states?

When all state salaries are adjusted in this way, Arizona ranks 50th in the nation for elementary teacher salaries, and 49th for high school teacher salaries. Oklahoma ranked 50th for high school teachers. 

And that data comes from the Arizona Republic.   Arizona’s primary newspaper, and leading right wing pander mongers

The data quoted by Hart is an accurate reflection of where Arizona teacher pay stands relative to other states. When the median pay for elementary school teachers — not including special education — in each state is adjusted for the cost of living, Arizona ranks 50th nationwide.

Arizona is no different. In 2015, the state spent $3,573 per K-12 pupil and $23,441 per inmate.

Why do I care, and what business is it of mine?  I don’t even have kids.  and I no longer live in AZ.   Well, this bullshit was a VERY big part of why I left Arizona.  Remember, this is the land of Sherriff Joe… who got re-elected every term, despite being indicted and charged by both local and Federal agencies.  He’d be in jail if Trump hadn’t pardoned him.  And is Sheriff Joe sufficient shamed?  No.  He is running for Governor.  Since 3 of the last 4 AZ governors ended up being booted from office for criminal convictions… sheriff Joe’s odds look pretty good.

Because ‘a rising tide’ lifts all boats.  If kids get a better education, they can get better jobs.  This means they can pay more in taxes… the kind of taxes that pay for benefits for older and retired Arizonans.  A better educated kid is less likely to cause crime.

Though we have no kids, my wife and I have NEVER once voted down ANY initiative that asks for school money.  Never have, never will.

As for the great threat of firing all their asses… the subtext of that is this.

“don’t strike, you will may be forced to go teach in another state that pays better.   Every single state pays better.  You can not possibly lose.

Call to action – what can you do to help?  Well, first vote out every single Republican in office.  Then support these wonderful folks.  This is kind of the official org of the movement – ‘Red for Ed’.   Here they are on Facebook, and here they are on Twitter – tag your comments with #RedforEd   Here is the info for the Governor’s office.  Here is his webpage where you can contact him.  You need not even be AZ citizen.

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Friday Fives – fill in the blanks

as always, from my wonderful editor.

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I’m mad about  _____people who don’t use turn signals.  Not a ticket.  Should have car taken away.  Also, people who don’t have their lights on in really bad weather.  I am especially looking at you… people in white sedans driving in white out conditions with no lights.  You are invisible.

 

I’m sad about  ______ the state of the presidency.  How newer and worse scandals appear every day and he seems to skate every time.  He said during a rally, “I could walk down 5th avenue in New York City and shoot someone… and it would get me more votes.”  First off, who the fuck talks light that… especially running for president.  Secondly?  He is right.

I’m numb to  ______ most of the news of the criminality of the current presidency.  I realize the really bad news will NEVER trickle down to the people who need to know it… those who voted for him.  They will be told, and believe, that everything is fine and that they are now winning at life

I’m looking forward to _______ the midterms, when he loses controls of congress and the senate.  We can begin to slowly Mitch McConnell everything he does.  Mitch McConnell?  FUCK that guy.  He is a congressman who spent 8 years blocking everything Obama did… out of principle.  He is the one who has worked his life off to block everything about the affordable health care act, but never ONCE offered a solution or improvement.  Just bitched about what was in place.  He is a monster who hates democracy and doesn’t deserve to serve… or even live.  He may be the biggest piece of shit in the history of Congress, with due respect to Strom Thurmond.

Just look at this guy.  This isn’t photoshopped.  When you think of the GOP being the iold guard of rich white people trying to keep everyone down… this is that face.

I always stop to look when ______ there is a public safety situation.  That’s my jam.  I am no courageous first responder.  But I am Emergency County operations team, Red Cross, CERT certified, and a ton of other stuff.  All volunteer stuff, around my regular corporate office job.

Friday Fives – whip out your discs edition

Joyous Spin by Linda S. Gribko | Nature Mandala | Spiritual Art | Meditation Art | Greeting Card  | Green Mandala | Energy of Exuberance and Celebration | Mandala Art | Mandala Card | Mandala Greeting Card

What 5 albums define your choice in music?  Discuss

Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan (1975)

Steely Dan – Aja (1977)

Metallica – Kill em All (1983)

Guns & Roses – Appetite for Destruction (1985)

Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (1993)

Grateful Dead – One from the Vault (1975)

I feel I have discussed these albums near death, already.  Especially the Dylan.  They are all brilliant to perfection.  Sorta like Alice In Wonderland… the answers are everywhere hidden like puzzles.  That was short, though.  Feels like a cop out.   So, here is some more content, stolen (as I oft do) from Live Journal.

 

What is the most important lesson you have learned from your love life?

You want me to talk about my sex life?  Sorry, repressed American male, here.  No dish for you.  I can tell you I have been married for over 20 years.  I am lucky, loved, and in love.  Plus, I saw her boobs once.  It was pretty sweet!  That’s all you get, pervs!

For love, I am an optimist.  I have seen it, I have it, it’s wonderful.  For people, though… I am no so optimistic.  I don’t much believe in integrity out there.  I fear apathy wins the day at every time.  Here is your proof, oft recited by me.  Over 90% of Americans disapprove of the ‘work’ Congress does.  Yet, they are re-elected every two years at a rate of over 92%.   How the fuck can you CARE to bitch about our democracy when you put them same fuckers in there over and over?   If you feel Congress sucks, it is 100% YOUR fault.  Stop re-electing these guys.  Do not assume everyone in Congress is a criminal drop when you are the one who keeps re-hiring them?  Congress isn’t the problem, you are.

 you see a long lost ex walking down the street. Are you more likely to approach him/her or just keep walking?

Having been with the wifey for about 22 years, I don’t have a stack of lovers in my back pocket running the earth.  For the most part, though, I would absolutely greet them and catch up.  Unless I was with my wife, of course.  I am not a damn fool!

Do you believe in the idea of a soul mate?

Not sure.  If there is such a thing, I sure have it.  How about dem apples?

Care to share any relationship stories?

Nothing I can think of off hand.  Tell you what I have learned.  All marriages are about the same.  I have traveled the world and know all my friends well.  The dynamics between men and women in a relationship feel absolutely timeless… regardless of culture or age or time in history.  It assumes me to no end.

 

stop releasing 911 calls, damnit! a three parter

Mind, a UK mental health charity, has noticed a sharp increase in those calling their infoline for help. The amount of people ringing with 'complex and acute' problems had increased more specifically

911 calls should not be released to the public.  Even if this involves a death.  The public does not need to know.  That is for law enforcement, and family.  I think it is a gross invasion of privacy (say it like the Brits… its more fun.  Pri-va-see… accent on first syllable).  Not to mention a violation of their HIPPA rights.

It’s going to get someone killed, if it hasn’t already.  I am thinking of people in the public eye.  Let’s say they are having an overdose.  Let’s say an assistant has to call 911.  It happens… a lot.  The assistant knows that call will be released.  So, maybe they are going to say ‘she collapsed, I think it is exhaustion’ as you look at the starlet with a needle in her arm.  Well, the response to that call will be wildly different than ‘possible overdose’.  I say exhaustion because that is a BIG hit with the celebs.  All the time stars suffer from ‘exhaustion’.   Remember Martin Lawrence running around naked in traffic?  They called that exhaustion.

“the doctor has found Mr. Lawrence to be suffering from a case of complete exhaustion and dehydration,” the statement said.

Luckily, and amusingly, Martin Lawrence addressed this himself.  Years later, he was doing a stand up special and mused “I was a high as fuck.  That’s what it was.”   Don’t worry, Martin… we knew.

What happened to him, though, isn’t our business.  Of course, I too am curious and as amused as anyone.  What happened to him, even though it was public, is between him and his family and some doctors and (very) likely the police.

In closing, this is going to get someone killed.  When that inevitably happens, they will change the laws.  Until then, I told you so.

Pt two

why do we get to find out how someone died?  Again, I am thinking of celebs.  When one dies, everything is released to the public.  When Tom Petty died, I knew exactly what it was.  EXACTLY.  Here is what I wrote to a friend.  The day he died, I wrote this to a friend.  Here, I am giving you everything (ironically, as I write about privacy).

From: Kevin of Parker <iamcorrect@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 8:28 PM
Subject: mark my words

they will run a tox screen on Tom Petty.  Heroin/ or a heroin analog/ will come back in his blood.

sadly, I am an expert in this stuff.

First off, that is my real name and email address.  I don’t even put my last name on my email, and neither should you.  Everyting indented is verbatim what I sent.  The story didn’t come out for a about 6 months… but I was correctHere is the proof, in case you missed the recent headline.  To show you exactly how much I know about the human condition of rock stars and how they die… I wrote this half an hour later.

From: Kevin of Parker <iamcorrect@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 9:01 PM
Subject: Re: mark my words

In fact, here is exactly how it will go… exactly as it has gone too many times

Just got home from a brutal tour.  Tired, in pain, and needing to shake the road and rest for a bit.  Was a heroin addict, but is mostly clean now.  He figured if he just took a little bit… just enough to ‘take the edge off’, he would be fine.  Have a good rest and a 12 hour sleep and get back to real life tomorrow.

Happened to Jimi Hendrix, Bradley Nowell (sublime), Dave Brockie (from Gwar), and Janis Joplin.

“just enough to take the edge off”.  I wouldn’t be surprised if those were the last words he said to his wife.

Why do I tell you that?  Well… I guess just to brag about my sad gift. Also, though, it helps make a point.  Had he lived, we wouldn’t have known about it.  HIPPA and his rights to privacy dictate that this was between him and doctor.   Since he died, though, its public. It shouldn’t be.  Mind your own business!

Pt three

                     jesus, man… call the police FIRST

if I go down, please call the police.  Not TMZ, not a radio station, and definitely not Mary Kate Olson.  When Kurt Cobain was found dead, the first call was to the radio station.  Yeah, the guy who found him called the radio station and chatted with them for a bit.  As a result, his own family heard about it from the radio… not from someone who is trained to have these discussions.

When the maid found Heath Ledger unconscious, she called Mary Kate Olson (or… maybe the other one.  What’s the difference?) like 9 times.  When she finally reached Mary Kate, she asked what should she do?  Mary Kate, to her serious credit, said ‘call an ambulance, NOW!’   At least with Cobain, it was clear he was dead.  Maybe that 3 minutes wasted calling Mary Kate could have saved dude’s life.  Maybe she was afraid to call knowing it was likely an OD.

When any other celeb dies… the first call goes to TMZ.  What is wrong with people?  I don’t even much care if you call TMZ… but call them SECOND.

Btw, has anyone else noticed that TMZ is probably the most reliable news source out there?  Seriously.  When I hear a celeb died, I don’t go to CNN (like I would have 5 or more years ago)… I go to TMZ.  They will have all the scoop.  Again, I don’t think it is right that they broadcast this sensitive info… but they are just doing their job.  Until laws are in place to protect privacy.  Not that anyone would call TMZ about me, but I think you get my point.

 

Friday Fives – every answer is United Airlines

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What is a filthy business tactic you know that everyone should be aware of?

This is one you may not know about – airplane tickets, websites, and cookies.  I learned this from my brother, who flies for a living.  If you go to a website and look up fares for a destination… then leave… and come back to that site… the rates go up!  Basically, they know you have shopped and around and still came back to them.  They know they have you.  Scary, isn’t it?  Also… brilliant.  To get around it, he’ll change browsers, or clear his cookies.

What is unethical as fuck, but is extremely common practice in the business world?

What isn’t?  To me, business ethics is like ‘compassionate conservative’.  Does it really exist?  Here is a great point.  My brother is a HUGE Wal Mart advocate.  I don’t shop there, personally.  I am fortunate that I can shop places that pay living wages and benefits (like Costco).  He points out that Wal Mart’s job is NOT to be ethical, or even to take care of their employees.  In the strictest since, they are a business.  That means it is their job to make as much money as possible without breaking any laws.  Business isn’t about morals, and neither is capitalism.  If you are ‘public’ company (which means you have shareholders)… your responsibility is singular:  to make as much money for your stockholders as possible.

What has been the best corporate Darwin Award? A decision made by a company that basically killed the business.

Oh man, United Airlines tends to win this award every week.  The best would be ‘United Breaks Guitars’.  The story in short:  guy sitting on plane looks out window and watches guys abusing his guitar case as they load it in the belly.  When he next sees his guitar (a Taylor, NOT cheap)… it is busted.  He told United, and they basically told him to eat a bag of dicks.   Being a musician, he made a song and video about it, called ‘United Breaks Guitars’.  It went viral, and the publicity cost United millions.  Someone did the math, and pinned it around 180 Million.  Please, enjoy these links.  It is very very well documented.  I am MORE than happy to spread the humiliation further.   I wrote a piece called ‘United Airlines Sucks’ about a decade ago.  Don’t even remember what I was bitching about.  But, that post is one of my most popular, and has thousands of hits.

Yeah, this story has it’s own Wiki page.

Really, any time you read a story about gerbils being forcibly flushed down airplane toilets (a child’s pet, for god’s sake!) or doctors being dragged off planes and beaten, or dogs jammed in overhead bins left to die… you just know it will be United.  Funny thing is, even if it isn’t United… that is the first thing we all think.  So, the damage is done.

It seems people google the term ‘United Airlines Sucks’ pretty darn often.  Let’s just stop and enjoy the song.  Oh, and this incident changed the goddamn laws of the United States of America.  A bill was passed that mandates guitars are to be allowed on board the plane (as opposed to below, in cargo)

Ok, full disclosure.  Maybe they aren’t the worse people on Earth.  They did deny a lady from boarding with an ‘emotional support peacock’.  Thank god, those birds are assholes.  So is anyone who needs one, and thinks they should fly with one.  Obviously, this whole emotional support _____ thing is out of control.  I guess I could see the ducks and pigs and dogs… but someone had to draw the line.

 What companies make you wonder ‘how are they still in business’?

 Well, United.  I’ll have to get back to you on that.  The thing that bothers me most about business is apathy.  I am not even surprised by malice.  Apathy, though… confounds me.

 What company has forever won your business?

 I can’t think of any.  This isn’t to say there aren’t any.  Costco is one I am pretty loyal to.  Not just great prices and free samples all the time, but they are notorious as a good and fair employer.  Being the liberal that I am, that stuff means a lot to me.  In our society, you vote with your dollar.  It is more powerful the letters or rants or blogs.

 

the cat product magic barometer

Look at this amazing product!  It’s the self cleaning litter box
cat thing

  • What if I told you we have a system that scoops kitty litter for you?
  • What if I told you that you never had to scoop cat poop again?
  • What if I told you that you never had to even look at cat poop again?
  • What if I told you this product eliminates any need for you to deal with your cat’s eliminations?

OR…  what if I told you that if you are so terrified of litter and can’t poop…

Maybe a cat isn’t for you, jackass. If you have, or need, this, it means you get NO cats

conversely

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about this one, the litter robot.

I wish to god I could tell you that photo above is photoshopped, or from the Onion.  It ain’t.  Oh, and as far as the Onion goes?  This is their actual tagline.  Go ahead and click away if you don’t believe me (and you shouldn’t)

The future called.
It said your litter box is full

this which emails you when that cat poops?   You can pull up the ‘health’ of your shitter box on Bluetooth?  I am SO tired of NEVER knowing that status of the litter?   It’s like I have been walking downstairs to feed and clean up after the cat like an idiot for years?

This one tells me you are a little too into cats.  Maybe you don’t need all 17, lady.  Maybe that is why you are alone in your apartment.  I am reminded of Janene’s Garafalo’s character’s line in that movie “it’s ok to love your pets, just don’t louuuvveee your pets.”

$400.  Buy one now, assuming your cat seeks to shit in a space helmet going forward.  And if he does… maybe Mr Mittens has some other underlying issues regarding space travel for cats.

If you have, or need, this… it means no more cats.

Fives – with God on our side

 What is the worst state in the United States and why?

I kinda hate to throw my home state under the bus… but there is a reason I am gone.  Arizona.  Quick brush strokes on my disdain… the hopeless right wing nature of the state.  Why hopeless?  Well, it is ok to be right wing if it works for you, but it does not for AZ.  Teachers are paid the worst/lowest, which is unacceptable to me.  Though their republican governors get arrested and indicted, they keep getting re-elected.  When my arch enemy Fife Symington ran for re-election (back in early 90s)… he was under 23 indictments for every money mess you can think of.  Timeline… he gets this indictments, and the general election is shortly after.  We are post indictment, but pre-trial when the election come around.  He is re-elected.

Spoiler alert, a year later he was convicted and had to step down.  Bonus, he knew the indictments were coming, he moved all his assets to his wife’s name… so they could be protected.  It’s brilliant, actually.  I never said he was dumb.  I said he was evil and corrupt, and the people of AZ knew that and re-elected him anyway.

You can see, the venom I had for him (still have?) matches my hatred of misogyny and apathy and Ticketmaster combined.  I was at a state university during his reign, and I watched him strip the state of all school funds, and the impact it had.  STILL has.  That is probably why he kept getting re-elected.

Also… the heat.

What is the best state? 

To visit, or to live?  Here are my top two cities (not states.  I think in cities, not states) and I think I would live in either in a heartbeat if I could.  Seattle and San Francisco.  I have been around the world a bit, and those are two world class cities.

 What state is your favorite to visit? 

Probably California, as it has the most to offer.  Beaches, and San Diego, and Santa Barbara and San Francisco.  I should also mention this.  I doubt any state in the US has more natural beauty than Utah.

What state have you never been to? 

Several, of course.  Most notably Kansas.  It is notable as I have lived Kansas adjacent for 21 years and never stepped foot in there.  I intend to keep that as long as possible.  Keep in mind, this is a state FAR right of AZ.  This state genuinely believes natural disasters (like the tornadoes and climate change induced crop blight) is caused by gays.

What state(s) could be eliminated and no one would notice?

Can we just talk about my liberal fantasies?  Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi.  All racist and anti science and anti progress and anti gay and safe to assume wildly misogynist.  Though, I think Texas officially wins the misogyny title with their abortion laws… where a gal has to drive 6 to 8 hours to get an abortion.   What if she is poor, and under-employed and can’t just take a few days off to disappear.  What if she doesn’t have a car that could safely go that far?  Are you going to say ‘well, then she shouldn’t have having sex!’… you have to make it that way for men, too.

unnecessary side rant (big surprise.   I welcome your comments and feedback below, though)

It’s ok to be ‘conservative’.  You don’t think the Govt is the solution to everything, and you feel you deserve to keep more money that you work for.  I fully get that.  The thing is, it doesn’t even manifests that way.  Of course, I also fully get that my liberal values don’t always manifest in a practical way.  In fact, everyone hates liberals now because we bitch about EVERYTHING with intense outrage.  We are as upset with the state of our democracy in an exactly equal manner as we were upset that someone shot a lion.  A dead lion is sad, but not as sad as systematic destruction of an historic democracy through allowing Russia to have their way with every level of our government.  Dylan has a great song about this… how quick we are ready to make good with people who were arch enemies a decade ago.  Of course, too much of this comes from the military and weapons.   How did we know Iraq had Sarin?  Because Dick Cheney sold it to them 20 years before when we were backing Iraq against Iran.  Same thing with Afghanistan.  We knew how incredibly tough and well trained the Taliban were there because we were the ones who trained them.  This was 20 years before when we were backing Afghanistan against Russia.

Really, read these lyrics. There is a reason this guy is the only musician to win the most prestigious literary prize