Thursday, August 30, 2007

Two pieces of Good News

I now have a regular column in the Marianas Variety, a deal which was finalized today, so my observations will be appearing there regularly on Wednesdays starting next week. I'll have a little cross paper rivalry with Bruce and David going on.

Also, we got our notice for interview for Cynthia's green card, which will be in a few weeks in Guam. I'm going to make a long weekend out of it, and I'm soliciting opinions on places to eat, stay and see from my readers and friends. I'm going to spend at least one day diving there.

Good day today.

The civilizing influence of women

I've long believed, like many poets, in the civilizing influence of women. Boni wrote a post urging bloggers to be nicer to each other. Angelo heeded the call, and I thought it was nice to see, so I'm going to follow suit and destroy my reputation. I've gotten to know and like all these people over the last few months, which makes life here much better. This blog is called Hypercritical Thoughts, but it doesn't always have to be that way I suppose.

Boni - You're a great mom and educator providing a briliant and much needed example to the community. Plus you're part of the small, or as I call them elite, group of people who "get" me.

Brad - You argue without getting nasty to anyone and you've always been a friend since I got here.

Harry - You share your love of diving generously to others and that's the definition of an educator.

E.J. - If it doesn't already, your beauty should draw more traffic to Angelo's blog than Amy Polombo or Katie Rees ever did.

Angelo - Your passion and energy inspire the community.

Melissa - Your compassion for animals raises the character of this entire island.

Cinta - I know every vote and every decision you make is done honestly and conscientiously.

Bruce - You take strong (and wrong) positions without being a dick about it, and you handle criticism well -- plus you're entertaining as hell, which is a virtue I find to be in very short supply.

Bree - I love your willingness to say what's on your mind -- consequences be damned.

Doc Khorram - You've set a standard of professional excellence and show we can have the best here.

Bev - I admire your optimism -- something I'm often lacking.

Jane - Yeah, there should be a hard one here. Instead of doing the type of legal work that gets you the Mansion on the Hill, you focus your efforts on the poor, a demographic typically ignored. That's incredibly noble.

Cynthia - You're not a blogger, you're much more: My wife, lover, partner, better half and best friend. I love you, baby.

I'll add links later, and a much more critical post on something to start rebuilding my in tatters reputation.

Beer marketing halted in Micronesia

I suspect there will be scant beer marketing done today in Guam, as the G Man, Glen Hunter, will be dealing with one full blown, mostly ridiculous, sandblasting of Tina Sablan by Pedro DLG Pangelinan, as well as a mild tweaking from Angelo.

Here is a sample from Pangelinan's letter in the Variety:
TO the Precinct One voters, especially, the local Chamolinians and Taotao
Tano group, regardless whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or Independent.
Beware for there is an educated “mistisa” who is also running for a legislative
seat in Precinct One. This mistisa is rumored to be a liar. From her earliest
activities people have asked her whether what she was doing was the start of her
political movement to be a legislative candidate. In which she was heard to say
“no!” not once, twice but more in which my group said, “she is lying and time
will tell.” Remember she is educated, very active where those people whom she is
hanging around can influence her decision otherwise because of her

Pangelinan goes on to mostly rail against Tina's opposition to Article XII. I'll never understand why locals want their land undervalued, but this guy seems hell bent on keeping his land value meager. Like Doc Murdoch, I'm going to enjoy my cheap apartment with an ocean view and occasionally wonder why so many local people passionately insist on being treated like children who can't make their own decisions about their own property -- like Mr. Pangelinan, but please keep it up, Sir. See if you can get some kind of Article XII for gas and power, too.

I'd like to also offer one other piece of advice on slamming the candidate you want to lose. Generally speaking, being "educated" is a good thing for someone in a leadership position. A coach doesn't say, I don't want that player, he's too "athletic." An ill person doesn't say, "That damn doctor knows too much about medicine, get me that guy over there with the vacant look -- stat." Try something like, Tina Sablan is too skinny to offer a good food spread at the candidate bbq, vote for someone else. Even "Tina Sablan was seen eating tofu" would work better.

Happy typing Glen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This thrilla's not in Manila, but hopefully Porky's

I humbly request a debate, or at bare minimum a mixing up of ideas, between Glen Doutrich and Bruce Bateman on the CNMI becoming an independent state free of the U.S., which Bruce strongly favors, and Glen thinks is laughable. Both of these guys are cranky, old guys with political views that can't be easily categorized. Glen is pro-military, anti-corporate welfare and generally sympathetic to the contract workers. Glen cusses more and has lots of female asses, boobs and legs on his page, go Glen. Plus, that kind of display will keep Jane away. Bruce is kind of a libertarian anarchist who is against most everything governmental -- especially taxes. Bruce teeters on Social Darwinism, but as Bree once said, "he'd probably give you the shirt off his back." Both are irreverent and decidedly un-pc. Glen is an ex-Marine, and could definitely kick Bruce's ass in a fight, but this is all in fun, so that isn't a factor. I'm giving Bruce home bar advantage, assigning Glen a free drink, and one for me for being the promoter. Maybe another for being referee. Show up Friday at say 6:30 Glen, please. Let's get ready to RUMBLEEEEEE!

Fitial wants effective date of federalization changed to 2 years after enactment

GOVERNOR Benigno R. Fitial is asking the U.S. Congress to defer for two years the effective date of the pending federalization bills. He wants the nonimmigrant status proposal for long-term guest workers to cover only those who have been legally employed here for at least 15 years instead of just five as proposed in the bills.

TEACHER Jeffrey C. Turbitt is asking most any Porsche dealership on Planet Earth to hand over a Porsche 911 free of payments and financial obligations. He wants ideally a cherry red model and prefers not to be insulted with the non-convertible model. Turbitt insists he is too young for a midlife crisis, and notes he is happily married and won't be using the car for its usefulness in attracting women. He also promised not to loan the vehicle to Brad Ruszala, as the island is already overpopulated. Turbitt, like Fitial, has found his request to have fallen on deaf ears, as no one seems to care about either's wishes, and both are also not in a position to demand anything.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Shocking News

A two-bedroom apartment’s in As Matuis located near the former La Fiesta Mall was burglarized on Wednesday. The apartment occupants-Saipan Tribune reporter Marconi Calindas and Adam Cafege-lost two laptop computers and other items worth over $4,000.

This is shocking news, and I mean shocking.

I think Marconi might be gay!

Sorry to break your chops at a time like this Marconi, but thought it might lighten the mood.

Wednesday at 7:00 is the traditional blogger hang out at Java Joes. Brad is off island so he must be ridiculed in absentia. I'm trying to pry Middle Road out of hiding.

Teacher staffing an issue in the states also

Here is a story from the New York Times about the sorry state of teaching in the U.S. It focuses on the number of people leaving the profession, and the difficulty in staffing qualified teachers in math and science in particular, and even more so in low performing districts.
The retirement of thousands of baby boomer teachers coupled with the departure
of younger teachers frustrated by the stress of working in low-performing
schools is fueling a crisis in teacher turnover that is costing school districts
substantial amounts of money as they scramble to fill their ranks for the fall
term. Superintendents and recruiters across the nation say the challenge of
putting a qualified teacher in every classroom is heightened in subjects like
math and science and is a particular struggle in high-poverty schools, where the
turnover is highest. Thousands of classes in such schools have opened with
substitute teachers in recent years.

Teaching students interested in learning is a total joy -- the frustration of the discipline problems drives most people out of the business. Of my current crop about 3 in 4 are really there to learn within reason, and 1 in 4 are there to deprive the other 3 of that opportunity. I'm better than most at keeping that 1 in 4 on task, but it is exhausting and demoralizing to have to do so all the time.

Also, when I went into this field I was single, and I was being paid enough for me. I didn't look down the line so much. I don't have a big money complaint with things here now, but when I look at the salary guides for the states that aren't much better, and being aware how much more expensive things like housing and car insurance are there, plus all the other options that don't exist here that grab at your money, I wonder how I will be able to make it work. I could easily be one of those people who have to get out that are described in this piece.

I'd be curious to hear from my teacher readers if they expect to be in this profession 5, 10 or 15 plus years down the line.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What a weak field

The election is a little more than a year away, and I'm staggered by the lame candidate choices out there. On the right, Mitt Romney is a phoney even by political standards with his painted on hair and flipping on every issue. He's as scary as Bush. Giuliani, the co-Republican front runner, and the fact that he is the front runner blows my mind, is a bully who won't listen to anyone -- kind of like Bush but not as stupid. He is a bit more progressive on social issues, so he'd be less awful than the usual Republican candidate. He admits to saying on 9/11, "Thank God Bush is president," which alone should disqualify him from the human race let alone the presidential race. McCain should be the front runner, but he has his head in the sand on Iraq and immigration, and he's out of money and going nowhere. Who can really vote for a war backer at this point anyway? Just set $12 billion per month on fire, it would be just as productive. Take the troops out of there and let them have the Civil War they're dying to have. It will happen eventually anyway.

Hillary Clinton has improved dramatically as a candidate, but the only thing I like about her really is that she is the closest we can get to Bill's third term. I'd vote for her only if she comes right out and says Bill will be Secretary of State because you need someone of his stature to undo the mess of the last eight years. Obama has little experience, and I don't think people will vote for a guy named Barack Hussein Obama, as unfair as that is, and there can be no worse catastrophe than another Republican in that office after the nightmare of the last seven going on eight years. John Edwards is someone I like a lot, but the bullshit factor is piling high on him. He got an expensive haircut and he has a nice house, like every other single candidate, so he is a phoney for caring about the poor according to how he is being painted -- anything to screw over the poor -- bash a guy who gives a damn about them.

I don't think any other candidate is seriously in this conversation, though the marginalized candidates on each side, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, look like the best on each side to me. I think Al Gore could take this thing in a walk, so I'm surprised he hasn't gotten in the race. Maybe people just didn't enjoy those eight years of peace and prosperity and overblown non-scandals and horniness.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Porky's, Rep. Waki and some good new blogs

I went to Porky's last night, which I have to admit is becoming my favorite bar. They have some pretty good mojitos, my favorite drink, I've gotten into Chicken Kelaguen and I like it there, and Bruce Bateman draws a bunch of hypercritical malcontents, and also normal people don't get scared away, that I can relate to.

Last night there was a group of island commentators such as Ron Hodges, Doc Murdoch, Bruce Bateman, Randy Steele, myself and others having an informal chat with Rep. Absalom Waki, who had a lot to say and virtually all of it I was in agreement with. Waki was very forthright about the problems with our government such as too many bills being introduced, too much good old boy network goings on, and not enough serious work being put in by a lot of people up there. There is going to be a candidate a week for these meet ups each Friday at Porky's, and I won't be there for all of them I'm sure, but last night was fun.
Angelo's Master List of CNMI blogs is up to 112 -- quite a few blogs. One of the best recent entrants is Steele on Saipan, which comes from Randy Steele. Randy gives his own take on things said by others, or provides his own original thoughts. He has something to say, which always helps to make a blog of broad interest. Richard Sikkel has a new blog as well that describes many of the dives in Saipan, Tinian and Rota. Richard is a real pro as a dive instructor, and he is the person I dove with when I visited Saipan as a tourist many moons ago. I have links to them both, which brings me to the topic of my links. There are so many blogs that I can't link to them all, so I'm going with the blogs that I read most regularly or that have something in common with mine. If those blogs don't get updated somewhat regularly, I'm going to remove the link. If you have one post every two weeks or less, you'll never draw any interest in your blog. If I took yours down, it is for one of those two reasons, and that includes my own relatives, it isn't anything personal.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The latest attack from our Colonial Masters in D.C.

I went to the PTA meeting at Saipan Southern High School the other night, and a couple folks from Public Health came and educated the parents about a program to give free vaccinations for the human papillomavirus (HPV) to all girls 18 and under in the CNMI. This is the most expensive vaccine in existence, the presenters noted at almost $400, and HPV is the cause of 100 percent of Cervical Cancer. The vaccination is obviously a sensible precaution that virtually all young women should take, and for these young women of the CNMI it is free.

I think this is very generous of our colonial masters in Washington D.C., who usually spend their time seeking to destroy the CNMI in a fit of payback and revenge through federalization. I was scratching my head wondering how they could know from 10,000 miles away that it is a good idea to prevent HPV? I was thinking we should demand an impact study on whether vaccines actually vaccinate in the CNMI? Perhaps they shouldn't have destroyed local government by this incursion into local public health. I guarantee the local government officials would gladly give up their next few junkets for the opportunity to inoculate our local girls against a deadly disease. What a bunch of bullies the Feds are! If they give us a free new power plant next, I demand we secede.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

SARS is killing this economy?

Is there some talking points site that offers all the same ridiculous reasons for the decline of the CNMI economy? Every time someone brings up the topic, here is what follows:

"The effects of September 11, 2001, the rise of oil prices, the collapse of the
Asian economy, the threat of SARS and other economic influences including our
bloated government employment practices have all contributed to our economic
The above is from a Tribune letter today. I've seen the same thing said countless times -- usually by political figures making excuses. This guy forgot to mention it was "beyond our control." Often the bloated government is left off the list as well. My favorite absurd reason is SARS. This was a media scare frenzy that lasted about two weeks more than four years ago and hasn't been heard from since. People who reason that I'm not going to Saipan because of SARS are probably too stupid to find their local airport anyway.

The Asian economy collapsed? Why not add the stock market crash of '29. There was an Asian currency crisis ten years ago that is long since over. Japan has weak growth still, largely because they actually save money, but it is hardly an economy in crisis. China is growing rapidly, as is India. Korea is also doing well. Maybe the factors of theft from tourists, the lack of a casino in a convenient location, lousy restaurants truth be told, red flagged beaches and apparently a lack of attractive shopping are the impetus for low arrivals, and of course the lack of convenient direct flights here.

The oil prices are a negative for sure, but that is probably because this government never planned for the inevitability of a dramatic rise in oil prices. That one wasn't hard to predict. We are now left with a lousy, unreliable, expensive, broken down power plant to kill both businesses and resident morale.

I don't think 9/11 much matters anymore, either. It certainly doesn't matter for Guam as people seem to go there despite 9/11 six years ago. For a brief period after the event, a bunch of ninnies were afraid to go anywhere. That hysteria seems to have subsided, despite the horrors of American airports and planes more crowded than CNMI classrooms.

There are lots of reasons why we have a lousy economy. I would note the awful credit market with the 29 percent loan sharks at Wells Fargo the main financier, the low wages for most of the population, the wildly overpriced retail items, massive monetary outflows through many activities, the outrageous power costs and an unstable government as far more telling causes for economic collapse than the drivel usually cited.

Micronesia Challenge event

Over on Angelo's blog there is a link to the Micronesia Challenge, which has a bunch of spectacular photos of Saipan. I mean really great. The winners are being announced on Friday at Grand Hotel during Happy Hour. It is a great opportunity to learn about marine preservation and coral reefs.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Get back to basics already

I suppose this is another post that might get me in trouble, but oh well, I'm honest and I'm calling it like it is, and I don't give a damn who it upsets. I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that this school system as it exists now is an abysmal failure. I'm not exempting myself from this criticism. Yes we're worlds better than other mini Pacific Islands in the region, if we look at them as the competition and I don't, but we're still not even in the vicinity of up to par in a globally competitive way. I dealt with the finished product, seniors, for four years, so I know exactly what students look like leaving the system, and it isn't pretty. I tried to fill in all the gaping holes as best I could while I was there with seniors. Now I'm with freshmen and trying to establish good habits, which is harder and much more exhausting, as there is so much more immaturity.

What is clear to me is that teachers system wide simply do not emphasize the basics enough. I would say a full half of the seniors could not write two sentences clearly differentiating plurals and possessives. I mean given instructions, and examples, and days of instruction, a student could not write two sentences such as "There are ten cats outside my house" followed by "The cat's tail is long and white" consistently if asked to do so. Forget about the wrinkle of plural possessive, that blows the situation up even worse. I suspect they were doing it the wrong way for so long it became ingrained. I wonder if the teachers in the past were correcting these things or providing any focus on basic grammar.

The English departments are decidedly from the mainland, and I believe many think they are still teaching there, as these teachers focus on traditional English areas like Shakespeare and various other pieces of classical literature. This to me is absurd given what I just described. I know for a fact many seniors can't grasp the local newspapers properly, let alone Hamlet. I talked to a long term veteran English teacher in New Jersey, one of my own teachers back in the day, and he related that grammar is hardly emphasized in the high schools there, even though instruction is needed. I've seen academic studies that diminish the importance of grammar, even though in the real world nothing screams I'm uneducated more than a lousy show of grammar. Many readers can probably recall that one board of education tried to make slang, aka Ebonics, its own language and therefore acceptable. I've got a higher degree in education, and if there is any discipline full of more absurd liberal bullshit than education, I haven't heard of it. This will be an entire post in the not so distant future. That's where things like Ebonics is a language come from.

If I had a nickel for every "his my friend" I've seen in a paper, I'd be buying Google tonight. Tense, subject/verb agreement and other mildly confusing subtle word differences like your/you're, its/it's are a train wreck. I've been working on these issues since school started this year, and a considerable number of students still can't do it consistently. Perhaps I suck as a teacher, I don't know anymore, but I'm growing weary and demoralized by this state of affairs -- already. The parents need to get involved. I've never really seen any involved, at least among the students that most need help. They seem to think that parental involvement is strictly an elementary school function. It isn't.

I told this plural/possessive story to an elementary school teacher, and she was incredulous -- probably because her fourth graders could do these tasks. I tested it on my own fourth grader and he sailed through it without any preparation. Somewhere along the line, students here lose the skill. My guess is middle school, which is wildly overcrowded and has had high turnover in teachers and administrators, not to mention an incredibly dilapidated facility full of students in the throes of puberty.

With seniors, I routinely received sentences without punctuation or capital letters -- far too many times I simply received giant uni-paragraph essays. I emphasize the correct fashion pointing out the most common problems almost daily, but it doesn't seem to matter much. I look over 120 of these displays a day, and it wears me down saying the same thing 50 times a day. Of all the classes, language arts needs a class size reduction, but it is the largest class across the board -- exactly the worst thing possible. PSS' solution a few years back was to dramatically increase instruction time in language arts, a full year 80 minutes as opposed to the required 50 or so, but that situation just taxes these understaffed departments more. A better solution would be a smaller class size going half a year and getting more individualized attention.

Grammar is hardly the only problem. World awareness is even worse. I've had students tell me that Toronto was a city in the country of "Europe," and that "Baby Ruth" was the first African-American in Major League Baseball. Students think the governor is in charge of every last detail of a civilization including the price of gas, and many can't give a ballpark time period for World War II. Others said Saipan was 60 miles long for closer to home cluelessness.

Teachers have a near impossible task here, I know this all too well, but I can say for sure they aren't ensuring mastery of the basics. It has to stop. A student at the very least upon graduation should be able to read and understand literature as simple as the Saipan Tribune and write in at least a reasonably grammatical fashion. They aren't right now, and it has to stop. Teachers need to focus on the basics first and parents need to help us.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Diving, federal jobs and Phil Rizzuto

Harry and Mike and others are putting together this Marianas Dive website, as they have a point that diving has not been properly marketed here in the CNMI. This little example hardly revitalizes the economy, but taken further, it helps just a bit. I bought Mike's Underwater World of Saipan just as soon as it came out. Of all the dives on the DVD, the one that looked the best, I thought, was Bonzai Cliff. I had never been there. Sure enough yesterday I dropped $45 and hopped on the Aquajet to head to Bonzai and Spotlight Cave, and reality is just as good as the video. There is an incredible diversity of corals at Bonzai with an amazing explosion of colors. Seeing the cliff from the water was cool all by itself. Bonzai is probably now my favorite dive in all of Saipan other than the Grotto. After the dive, I bought myself a new dive bag at a local dive shop, another $45, as I figure I'll continue to dive a lot. Two small examples, but they could go further, and I think those guys have a point on the opportunities in diving here left untouted.

This picture to the right is of the first dive, Spotlight Cave. This picture is by Dr. Mark Robertson. It wasn't as spectacular for me when I went as this day was for Mark, who says the best time to go is on a cloudless day around noon to get this type of spectacular spotlight view. This picture makes me want to do Spotlight again I must say. Great picture Mark.

To the left is the land view of Banzai Cliff of World War II infamy where mass suicides of Japanese soldiers and civilian personnel took place, including women and children. They jumped to their deaths rather than face capture by advancing American forces in 1945. The Japanese on the dive boat with me were seen praying as we passed over the spot.
SSHS has a federal grant that allows for afterschool tutoring. The pay is actually pretty meager, but I'm instituting an afterschool ESL program at SSHS, which we otherwise don't have the money to create. I took a graduate ESL course last year, and I remain in contact with the professor, had lunch with him in New York City this summer, and he has given me plenty of good advice on the most effective ways to proceed. The principal attendees based on sign ups will be Korean students, who I "supposedly" am racist against.
I talked to a friend in the business community, someway who keeps his finger on the pulse of these things, and he says federalization should be done by October, and there will be a lot of federal jobs out here soon thereafter. He also speculated it might be hard to fill them, and that these jobs would be based on merit, via education and test scores, not who you voted for or how many friends you have in government. He said CPA would be gone, as well as labor and immigration, and more jobs would be coming in to the islands.
The Yankees have a look in their eye I didn't expect to see, with a lot of young players performing well, and a lot of veterans turning it around. They are now in the thick of the pennant race.

On that subject, this week Phil Rizzuto died. He was an institution as a broadcaster, and his shtick was a staple of my Yankee obsessed teenage years. He does the play by play in Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell, which was just fantastic.

Here is a list of his greatest on air quotes. He barely paid attention to the game, and would routinely leave early, very early, to beat traffic. I met him once and got his autograph. He was great with the fans.

'And that ball is out of here. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. What

'Well, that kind of puts the damper on even a Yankee win.'
(After hearing Pope Paul VI had died in 1978)

Rizzuto: 'Reggie's home run has gone clear out of the ballpark.'
Bill White: 'Actually, Scooter, the ball landed in the seats.'
Rizzuto: 'It doesn't matter. They can't see it anyway at home.'

'If Don Mattingly isn't the American League MVP, nothing's kosher in

'Oh, deep to left center, nobody's gonna get that one. ... Holy Cow,
somebody got it.'

Rizzuto (after foul ball is hit into dugout): 'Boy, I hope that's not (Ron)
Guidry who got in the way.'
Frank Messer: 'Scooter, uh, Guidry is on the mound.'
Rizzuto: 'You know, Frank, you're right.'

'I gotta tell you what I did. You won't believe it, Bill White, but it's
something I've wanted to do my whole life and finally today I got nerve enough
to do it. I had a facial... No wonder women go. It took two and a half hours.
Oh, they massage your face with oil, and then cream, rub your eyeballs...'

'Okay, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here, two down,
nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth...' 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light'

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The wolf is coming, that's all you had to say

Last week a small army heeded my call for assistance and painted my classroom at SSHS. Since school started, the floors have been professionally waxed, I bought blinds for the windows, which are now up, and an anonymous benefactor actually volunteered to fund this painting project. I actually thought it would only be about $50 when I volunteered to pay for it myself, but I didn't realize that the price of paint had doubled since I paid about $50 bucks to do the job a few years ago. Given that dramatic increase, this benefactor who demanded I keep them unnamed, turned out to be very helpful, so thank you. Also, Rick Jones of Java Joes fame donated coffee and pastry to the volunteers of this endeavor. Thanks Rick.

My son Alex's main job was not to cause problems. He did his job for the most part until he cracked at the end.

Only one parent showed up, but this parent worked very hard. Former students of mine long since graduated showed up and helped out, and that made me feel good. Many current students were on hand, as was Angelo Villagomez. Most appreciated and most effective were the Friends of the Marianas Islands. As far as I know, none of the members have kids at SSHS, but I felt like Jules after being notified the Wolf was coming because these people were like a professional painting outfit and most effective.
I thank everyone who contributed. I haven't taken any finished job pictures yet, but I feel certain that my classroom has never looked better, and again, I thank those volunteers. This entire job was over in three hours. I'll try to post the after pictures ASAP.

Anonymous/pseudonym comments may be deleted

I'm reserving the right to delete any comment on this blog that doesn't have a name attached to it. If you have something to say, you should have the stones to put your name to it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Self Righteous Bullshit

Here is a problem I am well aware of with liberals. We cannabilize each other. I'm not liberal enough on immigration, so Jane Mack, the Saipan Writer, but really, the Fox News of the Left, basically calls me ignorant and a racist (her headline) and questions me as a teacher because I spoke out on the free English lesson scam. She's previous said Beachboy Brad was racist, and accused us both of sexism when we argued with her before on the Starlight issue. (It's on Angelo's blog, I'm trying to find it.) I find her to be full of self righteous bullshit, and said so in the comment section on her blog after her hatchet job.

Dengre dissed us liberals out here gently because we didn't bash Bruce Bateman enough during that flare up. Angelo tells a story of his words being twisted around by Wendy Doromal in an awful way, the same as Jane did to me. I hate to start thinking this on the heels of moderating a bit on Richard A. Pierce, but I'm concluding that some wings of liberalism are as dishonest as the Right Wing is in general.

Right wingers never do this stuff to each other. They hardly even argue with each other, which I hardly envy. I have no problem with liberal on liberal spats, but it would be nice to argue the issue and not be misrepresented and called various "ists" by the likes of Jane, whose tactics in polemics hardly seem worthy of her legal education. She's way too smart to misread what I wrote, so when she represents what I said as inaccurately as she did, I can only conclude she lied intentionally.

Here is what she said:

Jeff Turbitt, teacher at Saipan Southern and popular blogger, denies his own
racism but says the Korean students in his classroom are unfair to the other
students because of their poor English skills.

Nice lie Jane. Love the "denies his own racism" idea you threw out there. Very "Brutus is an honorable man" of you. Avoid the distinction that makes all the difference in your dishonest crusade. Here is my editor's note because I knew some people wouldn't see the distinction. It was in bold and was very clear in who I was directed this post toward: Not Koreans in general, but Korean parents sending their kids here alone for "free" English lessons on tourist visas.

"This is not directed at Koreans here legally operating businesses, paying taxes
and contributing to this island. I appreciate these people. This is directed at
families in Korea sending their kids alone to this island on tourist visas to
flood CNMI schools for "free" English lessons."

Jane embellished the story to generate outrage she couldn't generate with what I actually said. This here is exhibit A. No one even suggested a certain ethnicity is a problem:
"It's never smart, fair, or ethical to say students of a race or ethnicity are a
problem in the schools. Not by teachers. Not by Board members. Not by

You can get people to defend Koreans or any race, I certainly would. You can't really get people to defend tourists overstaying their visas to enroll in PSS for free English lessons. She just ignored the category I was making the point about, tourists looking for free English lessons, created a straw man, Turbitt is against Koreans, and suggested I was some ignorant racist for something I didn't say. Nice work if you are Karl Rove, but she is a lawyer working for the poor --- someone you would presume is one of the good people. Oh well.

You are a bald faced liar, Jane.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The things that we fear are a weapon to be used against us

There is this debate raging at Middle Road about federalization. Those folks are great at writing three lines and getting thirty comments. Who should be the next governor drew 112 comments -- maybe because they suggested the radical notion that Angelo Villagomez would be better than Holani Smith. Amazing and good for them. I like the way the blogs are drawing out debate. I haven't had many anonymous comments on this blog, but if it starts to happen, I'm going to end anonymous comments.

Here is what I don't get about this federalization discussion. People like my buddy Bruce Bateman are talking about the U.S. being "our colonial masters" and the dialogue out here is as if this isn't the U.S. Is this place the U.S. or is it not? I think it is. We have American law. American style schools. An American post office. An American military presence. When the tsunami comes and people here need money to rebuild, it sure is. When kids have nowhere to go and want to join the military, it sure is. When this economy implodes and the people here want somewhere else to go, it sure is. When the government is broke and wants a bailout, they didn't ask Germany. So why are we acting like federalization is Pearl Harbor, some sneak attack by a foreign power. We are one country and it's time to stop acting like the U.S. is them -- they is us. Yeah, I realize we are far away from the mainland and there are some renegade differences we've been allowed to enjoy like minimal accountability, low taxes, a bloated third world labor supply where contract workers on 1980's U.S. minimum wage outnumber residents two to one, but this is still American soil. Do you really like low taxes and minimal accountability when you have an accident and the hospital doesn't have blood or doctors, or your 15 year old is not exactly on grade level, or when the power is out every day because the power plant sucks?

Middle Road is also the hub of the anonymous comment, not mention being an anonymous blog. I find anonymity pretty awful. People are out there anonymously feeding into the hysteria about speaking up. One time when PSS was screwing over about 30 of us on our salaries on a raise we were due as per PSS' guidelines, I was at PSS professional development, and one of my colleagues asked me about it. We were in a hallway about three feet from the commissioner, so I said there is the man, go ask him. She recoiled in fear as if she woke up in the middle of the night next to Brad or something. I'd have asked in about three seconds. I did. What are people so afraid of around here?

Some anonymous guy on Middle Road is talking about being a parent, so his concern is feeding his kids, so he can't speak up. He views the world differently because he has kids. What kind of sorry ass, middle age bullshit is that. Imagine if Martin Luther King said, "You know, I have kids, I think I'll just sell insurance. My kids have to eat. That civil rights thing isn't so important." I find that kind of selfish stance awful. Imagine all of these real examples following that model. They're rounding up Jews, I have kids. I'll shut up. They are putting Japanese in internment camps. I have kids, so what for them. They won't let that black guy use the water fountain, my kids get thirsty, screw em. How revolting!

This place is American soil -- voluntarily. Incidentally, Guam and Saipan are more prosperous than the non-American islands out here. If the government thousands of miles away can send these people here off to war, which they have and are, they can tell this government you can't bloat the labor supply with contract workers at meager wages and it isn't exactly tyranny. The federal government tells the individual states to do all kinds of things. By the way, I have kids and it hasn't stopped me from criticizing this lousy government.

The thinking award, my nominees

Angelo graciously awarded me the thinking award. Thanks Angelo. I have to nominate five people. I'm nominating two famous people, two local bloggers and a newspaper editor.

Noam Chomsky is probably the closest thing to a modern Aristotle that exists. His writing revolutionized how I view the world.

Matt Taibbi is who I would be if I stayed in journalism full time -- at least he's who I would aspire to be like. He hasn't been writing much lately, at least political stuff.

I befriended Zaldy Dandan because I really think he tells it like it is. I know he has his detractors, but I like his stuff and think he definitely inspires thought.

I nominate Harry Blalock's Food For Thought Blog, which does provide that.

While I seldom agree with him, I have to give props to Bruce Bateman for provoking thought and being intellectually consistent.

The rules are here on Angelo's page. I don't expect Noam or Matt to participate, but it would be cool if they did.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Guided by Harry Blalock's Ass

A bolt broke on the steering column on Bruce Bateman's boat. Bruce spent a lot of time trying to fix it, but the right part wasn't available, so Bruce's boat was navigated by Harry's ass. I mean this literally. The steering wheel was completely useless. It spun around without consequence. Our entire navigation system was Harry leaning his ass on the motors in one direction or another. So the two man operation was Bruce powering the motors from up front, Harry steering with his ass in the back (no pun intended), and me on the side making fun of them both. Before I commence the scorn and ridicule this situation begs for, it should be noted I knew this plan going in, and I still took this trip. I really like diving, but I love making fun of these guy even more. I'm going to offer my own best caption contest for the pics below. The winner for each gets a free drink at Porky's for the next blogger drinking session --hopefully on Bruce, aka Captain Useless. Here are my entries.

1. Q. How is your first night at Attica Prison and a trip on Bruce Bateman's boat similar? A. Both give your ass a workout?

2. And he said Gov. Babauta was the ass steering us in the wrong direction?

3. "I know I just admitted to ballroom dancing and I look like I'm really enjoying this, but I swear I'm not gay Bruce. Ask Kelli."

1. Q. What's more ineffective than the Saipan bureaucracy? A. Captain Useless and his spin wheel?

2. Harry likes it when we go full throttle. I didn't even give the order and I think he's "hard to starboard."

3. This wheel gives better spin than Richard A. Pierce.

Friday, August 10, 2007

2 =2 and more math from an English teacher

I'm not a math guy, but I'm thinking the guy in black equals the guy in red.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A scam on the CNMI taxpayer

Editor's Note: This is already being misread. This is not directed at Koreans here legally operating businesses, paying taxes and contributing to this island. I appreciate these people. This is directed at families in Korea sending their kids alone to this island on tourist visas to flood CNMI schools for "free" English lessons.

I'm happy to be a liberal in the sense that I distrust and despise all the scams and influence of corporate America. I'm certainly no fan of the religious right, either. I find that title of liberal a lot more appealing than that of conservative, despite the demonization of that word over the years. I do, however, loath the politically correct, watch what you say, be hypersensitive to all, branch of liberalism. By definition, conservative means against change, and the world I live in is way too fucked up not to want change.

Well, here is one thing I suppose I'm not so liberal about, and it probably will cost me money for saying so. There is a scam going on in this island right now. Yeah, yeah, one of the many. This one is kind of new.

South Korea has long been under the spell of English mania. There are English tutor schools, called hagwons, about every ten feet in Seoul -- along with coffee shops, karaoke rooms and computer rooms. I mean this pretty literally. Rick Vaughn is there right now and can attest to that fact. I worked at two well known hagwons before moving to Saipan and enjoyed my fun, yet going nowhere, jobs there. These hagwons are English conversation schools that all age groups attend, usually early in the morning or in the evening after work, and they are more businesses than schools. Some of the teachers at these schools are good, but most have no qualifications at all, are clueless about teaching and are there for cheap beer, Asian girls, to pay down college debt or simply just to travel. In order to practice real world conversation with, in their usual preference, "white Americans," preferably young and female, but definitely young, Koreans flock to these schools, and pay $100 to $200 per month for this talking privilege. I had a British friend/co-worker who was once instructed to teach English with an American accent.

Right now, the CNMI public schools are being flooded with Korean students. I don't believe they have family or businesses here. They are here to graduate an American high school, which gives them a better chance to get into an American college. I talked to someone who works at immigration and they said immigration is aware of this and they are looking into it.
Two years ago, given my Korean experience, I attempted to start a Korean Club at SSHS. The mere 20 Korean kids in the entire school had some kind of rift in their community, so it never happened. That community has grown enormously since then, and it seems to have exploded this year. Right now I have 20 Korean students in my class alone. You will hear more Korean spoken than Chamorro or Carolinian on our campus. Koreans are obsessed with getting an American education. Many pregnant Korean women fly to the states, or here or Guam to get American citizenship and get their male child out of required Korean military service, which is a cruel joke. The South Korean government pulls these young men out of college after their sophomore year in college to mostly stand around some military base and do little as soldiers. They give them free cigarettes, which leads to an unhealthy addiction that is hard to break. These young men don't get to start their real adult lives with their chosen career until age 26 or later, and women shy away from men in their early 20s because they'll hardly get to see them for years. I always felt bad for these men about this scenario.

I found out today that the school system here is not allowed to ask the registering student about their immigration status. The student could be here illegally, or on a tourist visa, and PSS can't ask or find out. This is according to a counselor I talked with about this issue today. I think it is likely young school aged Koreans are coming in on tourist visas and just enrolling in the schools since these students usually make a trip to Seoul after a few months and start the CNMI Visa process again. The parents are seldom, if ever, actually living here. They are paying for a home stay program. Many of these students have little to no English ability. The high school language arts classes are wildly packed, and frankly, Korean families on this island are running a home stay program for a great profit, and they are shifting the education burden on the already overburdened and underfunded Public School System. I consider it a scam.

This English education as I see it is hardly in the interest of the Korean student. The English classes aren't ESL classes. I don't teach the class like I'm teaching a bunch of Koreans who hardly know the language, and to do so is unfair to the other 25 local kids who need me to bring them up to speed on skills they are already lacking. I have more than one student who doesn't know word one of English, has no idea what I'm saying and just looks at the sky for 80 minutes. He was ushered in like cattle by some Korean guy who announced that he's a junior, but he's really bad at English, so he's in freshmen English, as if I'm teaching at a hagwon again. There really isn't that much I could do for this person even if he was the only student I had, which he decidedly is not. In Korea, this type of student would work with a Korean bilingual teacher to bring them up to a level to be ready for a foreign teacher and more advanced English. PSS isn't about to do this.

What's happening is a scam that rips off the CNMI taxpayers. It's not good for the Korean students. It's not good for the local students. It's not good for the teachers. It's only good for Korean families getting paid a lot of money to look out for some Korean kid shipped off to a strange place for "free" English lessons on the backs of the CNMI taxpayer.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Marianas Eye very impressive

I took the family to the Doc's clinic yesterday, the Marianas Eye Institute, and I was extremely impressed. My four year old was there to get his eyes checked and he was not particularly happy about it. I was amazed by the Eye Care Technician Velma Tenorio's patience and warmness with both my children. Dr. Mark Robertson, an avid diver himself and someone I've known for a while, was of course fabulous, and he was of course really great with the kids. The technology there is state of the art. I have not had an eye exam in years, but Dr. Robertson told me it is good to get checked periodically because many eye disorders have no symptoms. Once the symptoms start it is often too late. I really have to say bravo to what David has done over there. His clinic is as good or better than any clinic I could imagine in the mainland.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Chronology rules

I appreciate the fact that Ambrose Bennett cares about island issues, but sometimes his self aggrandizement is just way too over the top. Other times his letters just don't make sense. Check this from today's missive:

"Mr. Cruz called me on 7/30/07 to ask for my HELP with drafting the testimony
for Taotao Tano and I asked him then to call me back later on in the evening to
give me time to think about it. During our conversation he “admitted I was right
about the political influence that was being put on him and the organization.”
Mr. Cruz never called back to get my answer and the next thing I see is his
offer on this page on 7/2/07 to my surprise."

I'd be surprised too since as far as I know, the time machine hasn't been invented yet, or I'd be flying back to check Hendrix at Monterrey in '67 tonight. Ambrose, proofread your own writing for crying out loud.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Jeff Turbitt and the Temple of Doom

I went to the Grotto today, where I saw nudibranch Harry doing his thing that blows all of our blogs out to Yap, and then I made my first venture to the Grotto's Temple of Doom at 137 feet deep.

It started with a surface snorkel swim outside the Grotto to get to the right spot. It was said to be calm by normal standards, but it still wasn't too much fun -- choppy and rough to my senses. The most exciting thing about this disappointing dive was that this was the first time I was narced. The buzz didn't last too long, and it wasn't too hard to handle. I kind of liked the buzz to be honest. Being aware that you were narced helped. There were very few fish there today -- I mean shockingly few. Fewer than I've ever seen. I love the Grotto, but I have to say, it's too taxing between the steps and getting across, I really fret a lot about getting in and out of there, and then there is the fear of having a hose bust scraping something in those little caves you go explore. To me, it is dangerous and I seriously thought I was going to die there once when I got knocked into the wash machine. My dive buddy Marty Dalsaso, who took the picture below, helps with that considerably, as he knows the place like the back of his hand, so I'm very confident in his guidance. The guy is Aquaman for real. I have three days of leg pain after every trip from climbing up those steps at the end. This pic below tells you why people do it and put themselves through that effort. Fan corals are cool.
I've had a few unpleasant experiences with shore dives here. I had one difficult experience at Wing Beach, with someone who didn't quite explain to me what I was getting into with that current pulling you out, nothing bad happened but it was taxing as hell, and I got coral scraped a bit at Lau Lau once as well. Unlike most everyone on the island, I would much rather pay and do a boat dive, which I find much more fun and relaxing, and where I've never had any of the unpleasantness I just described.

I like Bruce Bateman's boat in particular. I'm learning about boating from Bruce. I didn't know anything about it before, and it is always cool to learn something new. I've got the anchoring down pat now I think. Bruce and I went to the B-29 Saturday and that was pretty damn cool. Bruce is now claiming on his blog it is not a B-29. See what he says. I don't have a clue myself on that one. That propeller under the water is quite a site, as is the whole plane. These pictures are courtesy of Mike Tripp, who has a great DVD out on Saipan Diving. The plane looks way bigger underwater. I should make the investment in an underwater camera. Not only could I get some great pics, I could make some headway on Harry.

Bruce and I talked about going out to Naftan Sunday the 12th, which sounds great to me. Mike Tripp talked about how great Naftan is yesterday.
I've gotten into podcasts, not making them, but downloading them. I was over at the Itunes site and there is a lot of cool stuff for free. It is great to have while traveling, or when I do my walk on the Oleai path. Speaking of Itunes, I can't set up an account there because the NMI isn't a credit card address option, and we aren't a "country" either. Many places aren't countries, either. Very annoying.
I read in a book full of culinary tips that cloves will keep ants away. I've tested that claim, and it's true. They won't go near them, and I have no shortage of extremely annoying ants in the house to test this out.
On Saturday the 11th at 1:30 pm I am planning to paint my classroom at SSHS if I can get some helpers. I'm funding this project, not PSS of course, but I need help in the form of painters. I won't be so glib as to call painting a party, but if you want to help the school with this project, it would be deeply appreciated by me and I'm sure a few hundred students. I'm dropping well over $100 to Beautify A-102 at SSHS, and these things get thrust upon the teachers financially. I just dropped $50 on blinds so we can use the powerpoint technology without massive glare. I can deal with that, I'm fortunate enough to be doing ok compared to a lot of people on this island, but I really need painters, and please bring rollers and trays. I have some, but will need more. I need the classroom to look right to set the right learning mood. I painted this room three years ago, but it needs it again. I had the floors professionally waxed this weekend, and painting is what needs to happen next. I've spent more time dealing with the rat droppings and classroom cleaning than lesson planning this week, but this needs to be taken care of first. We don't have custodians for the classrooms. Cleaning and maintenance is a teacher and student activity. Leave a comment if you can help, please.

Friday, August 03, 2007

No mas, Harry is the winner

Technically I set this up for two weeks, but I think this one is a rout. Hope Gomez and others have had enough and so have I. There are stupid people out there who might think Harry is actually running an identity theft racket while abusing midget pirates and more, so we've had our fun. In little league they have what's called the mercy rule, and I think in this Saipan's Best Blog poll, Harry played Reagan in 84 to our collective Mondales.

It's my poll, there were 392 votes, and I declare Harry the decisive winner -- he even has a mandate at 40. 1 percent to Boni's 16.2 for second place. Seeing my six percent to Harry's 40 each day is too depressing. The people have spoken and they believe in nudibranches and cat doors more than my bashing of our government, Brad's lashing out at CNMI judges, Angelo's pandering displays of semiclad, semifamous starlets, Bruce's distrust of most everything governmental, Boni's stressful job and everyone else. Harry, I owe you a drink over at Porky's when you're ready.

No guerilla war Angelo, lay day your arms everyone, I mean polls, the rebels are our countrymen again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Face to face with Darth Vader - and he's quite the charmer

I've had quite a day. I've spent the last two days cleaning my classroom, getting intellectually ready for the new school year, talking diving on Harry's Show this morning, and most of all having run into some people I've vilified in this blog.

Leaving the studio booth and heading toward the door I saw a face that was slightly familiar. There was no heavy breathing, so I wasn't sure. Sure enough Richard A. Pierce read my blog, saw that I said I'd be on Harry's Show this morning and wanted to meet me. I think he even made a special trip. We never met before. No chairs were thrown. There wasn't even any yelling, which was good after a pleasant live chat on diving. Richard wanted to introduce himself, show me he was human and vilify the Marianas Variety a bit.

Richard isn't just a little good at what he does, he is a master, said with a slight Jules Winnfield tone from Pulp Fiction, "I'm the foot fuckin' master." I once referred to Richard as the Nick Naylor of Saipan. Naylor is the fictional spokesman for Big Tobacco in the book/film Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley, William F's son -- who is far more impressive than his dad, who I met and corresponded with in college. In one scene in this film, Nick Naylor convinces a crowd that tobacco wants "cancer" boy to live so they can sell him more cigarettes. A plausible argument. He uses various other methods of sophistry. It's a great movie/film and it helps you understand today's media age if you are unclear at all. I have used it in class.

Richard didn't change my mind about the CNMI situation at all, and didn't much try. I certainly still think Zaldy Dandan paints a picture closer to reality than his many enemies, but Richard was successful at convincing me he isn't the Devil. He did say, "I like Darth Vader," which was pretty funny. I emailed him and told him I've been harder on him than anyone ever -- other than George W. Bush, and he is nowhere near W's class for evil and global upheaval. I also got the impression that Richard believes a lot of what he says, which I didn't think the case before. I've agreed with him in the past on his view on the drug and alcohol policy. He didn't ask for this, but I'm going to remove all my personal invective hurled at him. Things like prick, dirtball etc. I probably shouldn't have said those things. The post itself will stay, but I'm going to excise the personal name calling, which I guess I shouldn't have done. I told him we'll probably argue again one day, but it will be with less personal vitriol.

Having said this, if anyone does catch me softening on George W. Bush, I demand you tape some bowling balls to my leg and stick me in the washing machine at the Grotto. I almost bit it there once before. No cheating on this Brad and Angelo. I've got to say something like "Bush isn't all that bad," just so I'm clear on this point.

Thoughts after talking to Mike Ernest

Mike Ernest sent me a long email explaining his thoughts on the recent bill regarding the Open Government Act. It was off the record, so I'm not going to relate anything. I hope he can put something together to explain his side, as he was handcuffed before -- there was more than a bit of sense there about his legal reasoning. I think Mike was doing his job as a lawyer and not subverting democracy and open government, as it first appeared to me. I've dealt with lawyers just enough to tell that Mike is a good one, and his objections ones a typical lawyer would bring up. I think I'm bright enough to know when I'm being given a sales pitch, and I don't think Mike was offering any BS. I have come to the conclusion that I was too harsh and too rash in my criticisms of Mike in my letter and blog post.

I wasn't too harsh with the ultimate outcome of what happened with the Open Government Act that day, which was the real subject of what I wrote. What happened wasn't the best outcome for citizen oriented democracy. Ultimately the people who make the laws are the elected officials, not their lawyer. Were they using him to deflect venom from themselves? I think the answer is possibly.

I was not in attendance when this whole event went down, so I probably should have shut up and not gone around casting blame on this one. Like the 2,000 plus people who signed that petition, I do hope for maximum openness in government.