Thursday, November 29, 2007

Greg Cruz acting like a sore loser

It's not a lot of people and agencies that clearly stand out for their competence, trustworthiness and going above and beyond in the CNMI government. From what I saw over the last few months, Election Commission Executive Director Gregorio Sablan is one of those rare people. He managed the circus that was the CNMI election with great aplomb as supporters tried to violate the polling place space rules. He communicated extremely well with the public about the complicated district changes and the no means yes Casino Initiative disinformation campaign, as well as other matters. He provided useful information on the blogs as well. Tao Tao Tano Greg Cruz got trounced in the election, is acting like a sore loser, and he is out trying to malign this man. Cruz is wrong. This seems like a fair story and it is obvious that there is no issue here. Sablan is doing a great job.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Torres resolution not a hit with white people

This might be a record. There are three letters in the Variety today blasting that lame "go home Ron Hodges" resolution. The most well written one is from Jane Mack. All three I believe are from us disrespectful outsiders.

Today's Variety also had the predictable headline of the century: Taotao Tano slams CUC

Other candidates for predictable headline of the year:

Angelo Villagomez runs out of hair gel

Brad Ruszala compared to boonie dog

Blogger doesn't agree with Lil Monkey Picture, accused of being sell out in spawn with Satan

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The schools need help, MV 13

By Jeffrey C. Turbitt

At the beginning of the school year, results are released detailing the performance of schools, principals, teachers and students via the SAT 10 scores. The infamous No Child Left Behind Act, and school rivalries, puts everyone under a lot of pressure to achieve higher scores. Apparently deficiencies in scores on this test are a result of "bad proctoring" by the teachers if comments from the associate commissioner and a tirade from my own vice principal at a recent, testy staff meeting are to be believed.

I've proctored these tests for four years, and there are many problems with education in these islands and these tests in particular. Proctoring is the least of the problems. First, the test is exceedingly long. It's a three day plus affair. It doesn't affect the students' grade or their ability to graduate. They know that.

Regular student attendance is always an issue in the best of times. I found it astonishing to see this quote in the paper from the associate commissioner. “Across all schools, we have a good attendance rate. Among the high schools, two recorded a 98 and 95 percent rate." There is that old saying about lies, damned lies and statistics. Here is the reality I've seen for five years now: Students disappear for weeks at a time in the high school for vague and I'm sure usually not very good reasons. To achieve that rate, these habitually absent students must be removed from the rosters to achieve that inflated attendance number. The students tend to come back later as if nothing happened with little or no explanation. One of the better reasons for absence, a death in the family, can mean twenty days of student absences. That's not something that can be easily overcome, and with large island families, there can be quite a few deaths in the family. The never ending war on betel nut on campuses leads to suspensions, as do other violations of school rules.

The SAT 10 tests are on grade level and the material more rigorous than students are used to, so they can be overwhelmed. Very few students take the even more difficult, and even more important SAT college admissions test, either. PSS classes, especially in the high school for the non-honors students, are not taught on grade level because so few students are actually on grade level. In four years I saw a staggering number of seniors, the near finished product, write essays lacking capital letters, punctuation, subject/verb agreement or using multiple paragraphs. That isn't something that can be glossed over, so I had to incorporate this largely grade two or three materials into grade twelve, which is not the type of thing that helps to prepare for SAT 10, but it does help in being educated on a basic level.

The SAT 10 test is also late in the school year when motivation decreases anyway. Beyond that, the SAT 10 test and the Standards Based Testing come within weeks of each other, and it leads to test fatigue. I’ve made this point to PSS leadership before. Some students simply just fill in answers at random or draw a picture of Bob Marley. I personally give stern admonitions on this issue. I've seen the scores for students who I knew were near grade level, yet their tests indicate they were six or seven grades behind, which makes for an inaccurate assessment. When I confronted the students, they admitted not taking it seriously, so I would agree student motivation on the test is an issue, but I don’t think teachers downplayed the test, as the scores reflect on the teachers. I once saw a student close the book within minutes. I reiterated to him the seriousness of the test. He went at it a few more minutes and quickly gave up and told me he just had no idea. I later had this student in class, got to know him, and understood why the test so overwhelmed him. He was about six grade levels behind.

There are two main victims to the fact that these islands have given short shrift to education since time immemorial. The student well behind grade level who can't get the academic intensive care he or she needs in classes of thirty plus, and the non-honors student at or slightly above grade level who gets a curriculum that isn't challenging enough and becomes bored.

There are real consequences to the fact that each year more and more students enter public schools that are less and less funded. Platitudes like "bear with us" or "be creative" are what get uttered to say something in this situation. I prefer those to verbal abuse -- especially since education is a partnership between teachers, parents, students and community leaders, but all the blame gets dumped on teachers. As a parent of two and soon to be three, I hold myself as the one primarily responsible for the education and development of my boys, not their teachers.

This news report also noted that elementary schools have better participation in the tests. This is hardly surprising. Parental involvement is much higher at the elementary school level. Kids tend to succumb to more negative influences as they get older. It doesn't help that the middle schools are wildly overcrowded, and Hopwood in particular is in a shocking state of disrepair. There is a large administrative and teacher turnover all around related to all kinds of reasons as the islands' economy continues to implode. My personal opinion is that many of our elementary schools are on par with decent schools in the states. Things fall apart at the middle school level, and the first two years of high school are more like middle school. Educational research shows this isn’t just a CNMI problem, either. Research shows there are problems at the middle schools as a whole, as this is the place where learning slows down. Staffing research also shows that teachers tend to prefer to work in elementary schools or high schools, and not middle schools. The New York Times had a large feature on this issue recently.

I have a child in San Vicente Elementary School, and I've always been happy with that school, and I've heard good things about other elementary schools. However, my sons would never go to public middle school on this island, and that isn't a knock on the good people who work at those schools, but a comment on the area that I believe is most harmed by the CNMI's longstanding unwillingness to fund its schools. The impact of poor facilities, overcrowded classrooms and demoralized staff doing their best with students at a precocious and vulnerable age is most evident in our middle schools, and the situation there and system wide needs attention, not excuses.

Jeffrey C. Turbitt is the language arts department chairman at Saipan Southern High School, as well as an avid scuba diver and traveler. He offers more thoughts in his blog “Hypercritical Thoughts” at: He welcomes feedback, tips and story ideas at His column appears regularly on Wednesdays.

New Rule Subway Restaurant

New Rule. Subway Restaurant must stop asking me if I want a meal with my sandwich. Your sub par sandwich is my revolting meal. I don't need to gorge myself on 24 ounces of sugar water and a cookie to complete this horrid experience. Why not just ask me if I would like my feet amputated or if I want a side order of "insulin plunger?" I guarantee Jarred wasn't making it a meal. It's upsetting enough that I eat that disgusting slop once a week because it is a bit less awful than the high school cafeteria at six times the price, but the fiftieth "do I want a meal" inquiry, like an email about an ex-girlfriend who drops twenty pounds and gets a boob job, only reminds me that I left good sandwiches 10,000 miles away in New Jersey and I'm stuck with the horror that is Saipan Subway.

New Rules are Meant to be Broken

New Rules are meant to be broken, so Hafa Adai, Si Yu'us Ma'ase and all that happy island stuff.

All the road signs were named this week

Apparently there wasn't a street to name this week, as our august legislative body is busy writing resolutions to condemn a high school teacher's letter to the editor and urge him into symbolic exile. This is still the states, right? We don't have anarchy here, we just have a lousy government. It's not just locals who recognize that. Where were the resolutions against Danny Aquino for his white people/Filipino bashing letters to the editor? I will consider any lawmaker who panders to this crap and votes for a meaningless resolution to be on my lame list.

There is precedent for this type of thing. Here was Rep. Candido Taman a few weeks ago in a kiss ass letter to Greg Cruz of Tao Tao Tano fame.
"With all due respect, please do not be obsessed with the word TRANSPARENCY
because we have nothing to hide here. Incidentally, the more you use this word
the more you contribute to the glory of those disrespectful outsiders who are
very critical of our islands, our people and our government. Mr. Cruz, I
humbly invite you to please work with us and not against us. Come sit and share
with us your ideas so that together we can start healing this painful episode in
our history."

REPRESENTATIVE Stanley T. Torres and eight other members of the House of
Representatives have pre-filed a resolution condemning a Public School Teacher for “accusing” local residents of “enslaving contract workers.” The House resolution stated that “this…type of comments should not be tolerated.” It added that Hodges
“should be held accountable in the strongest terms…(and he should) not avail
himself of island living anymore….” Although Hodges has a right to freedom of
speech, the resolution stated that his comments aim to “foment anarchy” in the
CNMI, and these comments “infringe upon the civil rights of other innocent
residents in the island community.” In the past, the Legislature has adopted
similar resolutions declaring various statesiders who were critical of CNMI
policies “persona non grata.”

Caption Contest Three

I've had two caption contests, and I haven't been happy with the entries in either. For the last contest, I'm declaring Big Sox Fan the winner. I think my entries were the best, but what can I do. The previous entry should have gotten more abuse as well. I'm declaring Brad Ruszala the winner of Caption Contest One, but I think I trumped him as well. Today I offer the latest installment. Three bloggers and tempest in a teapot/diver/PAWS spokeswoman Rose Callier.

"Hey Angelo, did Bruce pee on his mesh bag before the picture?"

"These bags will be great for collecting all of Rose's lost at sea dive gear."

"Mike, we'll need bigger bags to store Bruce's hate mail."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Moving up the Variety list

Cynthia and I made the Variety list for the third year in a row. Three years ago we were sixty something, then fifty six last year, and now we're in the 30s. I think Cynthia and I can take Pizza Hut and Diet Pepsi out next year.

I'm inspired by the Variety's List, so I'm creating my own list of things I'm thankful for.

Scuba gear - for keeping me sane

Bruce and Olive - for the poki, kelaguen and mojitos at Porkies and for having a personality

Marianas Coffee - we need little luxuries

Kuya Vikes - for everything

Living in a great diving environment -- for making all the other island bs more tolerable

The non-anonymous bloggers and commentators - for having balls

Shelby - for making me smile at least once each day for 12 years now

Katie - for your passion and for giving a damn about the animals

The Republic of Palau -- for being an escape

Zaldy, Harry, Angelo and Tina -- for telling it straight -- even if you all don't see eye to eye I appreciate you all

Dr. Norma Ada - for inspiring confidence in my and my clan's weaker moments

To my dive buddies, especially Marty Dalsaso and Rose Callier -- for looking out for me

Dave Matthew Band -- for so many times

Boni G and Betty M -- For your dedication to the craft that helps me in my darker moments in this job

My students -- those of you who get it especially make it worthwhile

Only 14 months of George Bush left -- the world can start healing

The breakfast at Wild Bill's -- been great for years

Brad Ruszala -- so I can laugh and smile at your charmed existence

Real Time With Bill Maher -- for not talking down to me and making me laugh

The people at BBQ's who don't know me who invite me anyway -- a great thing about this island

Tony Romo - for making the NFL interesting to me again

The Ipod - that I've discovered podcasts has been an upgrade in idle, down moments that make up each day

Cinta - for being a good person who cares

The internet -- for allowing me to explore my own niche interests and not be sucked the empty vacuum of pop culture.

Mom and Dad - for always being there

Cynthia, Alex, Carl and the inevitable Baby Ashley - for giving life a higher purpose

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cinta Kaipat's loss is CNMI's loss, Marianas Variety 12

By Jeffrey C. Turbitt

A few years back when the idea for the austerity holiday came about, I was more aghast than usual by the latest government scheme. I did not know many of our elected leaders personally at that time, but I got the sense though her media statements that there was something different about then newly elected Congresswoman Cinta Kaipat, so I sent her an impassioned email about my concerns on the proposal. We ultimately did not agree, as she voted for the bill, but a friendship was forged. During her two year term, I sent her at least three or four more of those emails. Sometimes she agreed with me and brought my viewpoint out into the debate, sometimes she didn't, but she always tried to at least consider my and other people’s viewpoints. She just plain stood out to me as being more honest, more forthright and just plain caring more about doing the right thing than most of our elected leaders.

A few weeks back I was talking with some people who follow local politics closely, and they were skeptical of her chances for re-election. They turned out to be right. She didn’t campaign as well as she could have, and apparently she has been a thorn in the side of enough people eager to mine pozzolan on Pagan that it hurt her in this last election. But given the choice between backing a well financed, corporate interest, and the interest of the voiceless little guys from a poor, remote island, she chose the more difficult, less career enriching path of the little guy. That's what makes her different to me.

She also has taken a bit of a hit with the recently enacted labor bill that has become law and has her name on it. Business leaders have vehemently opposed it. Contract workers are opposed to it, and everyone else seems indifferent to it at best. One thing I do know about it is that Kaipat worked in the Department of Labor long enough to have some insight into those issues. The media reports I've read on the bill make me skeptical on it as well. My point is not to say that Kaipat was right about everything, or that everyone should agree with everything she did, but that she is great for this community, and it is sad and unfortunate that she is not returning to office.

With negative headlines and an absolutely depressed mindset island wide, she helped put this island on the right path by being one of the founders of Beautify CNMI, a group that has galvanized the community by cleaning up beaches, raising environmental awareness, our real bread and butter, and getting people to learn to take charge of our island without government assistance, which is a mindset that needed to be established. Those efforts were an influence on the creation of the We Love Saipan network, a CNMI website that offers a much more balanced view of these islands than was previously available online. Said website creator Walt F.J. Goodridge, “The We Love Saipan idea was firmly in the spirit and mood of activism that was kicked off by Beautify CNMI.”

Some of that influence could also be seen this weekend when the Marianas Dive group, a private organization trying to promote and improve the CNMI's underwater world as a tourist draw, had at least thirty members cleaning up Sugar Dock above and below water. Kaipat didn't do all these things of course, but she helped set the mood and change the mindset.

Those efforts weren't lost on PAWS President Katie Busenkell, who expressed heartfelt appreciation for Kaipat's role in animal welfare. "PAWS would like to thank her for lending a sympathetic ear and taking action to improve the quality of life for humans and animals alike. More specifically, we thank her for educating herself about animal-related problems and solutions, introducing the PAWS anti-cruelty bill and lobbying for its passage, for talking with us openly and honestly about building a shelter and available funding, and for helping us find a way to help others be more responsible pet owners. Perhaps most importantly, we thank her for acting in the best interest of the people of Saipan . She is a pillar in this community."

MINA Executive Director Angelo Villagomez was there with Kaipat from the beginning as one of the key figures in Beautify CNMI, and he had this reaction: "Cinta Kaipat IS Beautify CNMI. It was her vision, her idea, her name, and she's the one who recruited the first active members (everybody in the CNMI is a member, even if they don't know it yet). She's involved in every aspect of Beautify CNMI, from planning, to execution, and everywhere in between. She goes out every weekend and she participates. She picks up trash and she digs holes for trees. She's been a tremendous asset to the CNMI over the last two years. We've earned national recognition with the EPA and USDA under her leadership. I'm disappointed that she didn't win, but I'm sure it is just a bump in the road for her. She's still Cinta Kaipat. She was very successful when she was with labor, she was very successful in the legislature, and I'm sure she'll be successful with her next endeavor whatever it is. She'll continue to fight for the little guy, she'll continue to work with Beautify CNMI, and she'll continue to give back to the community in other ways."

Jeffrey C. Turbitt is the language arts department chairman at Saipan Southern High School, as well as an avid scuba diver and traveler. He offers more thoughts in his blog “Hypercritical Thoughts” at: He welcomes feedback, tips and story ideas at His column appears regularly on Wednesdays.

Angelo Villagomez and Bruce Bateman, the Lennon/McCartney of the Saipan Tribune

According to Middle Road, Angelo Villagomez is about to become a Saipan Tribune columnist. First he joined a secret satanic pact with the world's most evil woman, Katherine Harris, see below, then he joined a Neo-Nazi fraternity, now he is going to team up with his co-worker Bruce Bateman, sometimes referred to as the drunken face of evil or the world's worst person, to prove Ronald Reagan's adage that trees cause pollution and ketchup is a vegetable. Congratulations Angelo, and in the immortal words of non-Academy Award winning actor Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago, "I must break you!"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Quick Thoughts

Quick thoughts: "I'm addicted to placebos. I'd quit, but it wouldn't matter."
- Steven Wright

Alex, my four year old, making a pronouncement: " "I can say ketchup now. Ketchup. Also W. W. " Us: How about color yeah o? "Not yet."
Tribes has a cool decor, upscale look, very good mojitos and loud, awful pop music on an impressive tv.
Add another thing to the list I love about Filipinas. They are so short that I'm not particularly short in comparison.
Wild Bill's has some damn good Thai food. Thai food kicks ass, and I dont' eat it often enough.

Swimming with turtles, as I just did at Lau Lau, is invigorating.
Surfacing at Lau Lau at sunset after a dive is equally stunning. I don't appreciate the beauty of this island enough. I also saw a couple of big sharks at Obyan on Sunday.
Tina Sablan won. Thank God. In sports terms, this is drafting defense, not offense. The best thing Tina will be able to do is to shine a great big spotlight on all the nonsense that goes on up there. She might be able to create enough shame to stop awful things. If there are a few more draft picks like her in the next elections, then we'll have an offense. Tina alone can't be the 85 Chicago Bears, but this is a sniper like start into the battle to respectability.

Angelo Villagomez is not a tree hugging liberal. He is in a neo-Nazi fraternity.

And the warning signs were out there. We just didn't look hard enough.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The biggest waste of money since Haliburton took over the federal government

"A-Rod is in talks with the Yankees on a 10-year, $280 million deal that will keep the star slugger in pinstripes."

This is revolting on a lot of levels. I knew this guy was going to get an obscene amount of money to dominate the regular season and disappear in the playoffs year after year, but he's 32, and 10 years, $28 million per, for a player that age, is ridiculous. It was ridiculous enough the last time when he got 10 years and got $250 million, but he was at least 25 at the time. I don't think I can take ten more years of Arod stories in the New York newspapers that are required reading for a tri-state guy like me.

"Since Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS between the Yankees and the Red Sox, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Boras' guy, has come to the plate in the postseason with a total of 38 runners on base.
And with those runners on base, A-Rod is 0-for-27.
Almost perfect. Oh-for-27. A no-hitter."

A good post by Harry Blalock

Harry Blalock, who led a first class chop busting of Angelo this morning for failing to appear as scheduled on Island Issues, had a great post on obnoxious anonymous bloggers and commentators. I agree with Harry. Amazing how idiots hiding anonymously start lecturing people about courage and credibility, and always put some type of nasty, personal attack, never with their name on it, because they get to hide in the weeds. I'm not talking about people who legitimately add to the debate. I'm talking about people who say nasty personal things under a cloak on anonymity. I'm not ever letting such numbnuts piggyback on my work on this blog. I don't owe them a forum, and the gutless are not getting one here. Harry explains exactly why being open matters, and that is why people will consider his thoughts, while the anonymous seem to have a small choir of other anonymous weasels.

From Harry's post: "Telling me that I have no credibility when they don't even have the guts to sign their name to anything they have to say. Credibility is something that is tied to you as a person, to your history, to your accomplishments, to the things you've contributed to in the community. The height of the lack of credibility would be tied to someone who chooses to remain faceless and nameless. Why would anyone believe anything they had to say? They have no track record, no history, no reputation, no community involvement, no service, nothing! They are just a little spineless coward hiding in the bushes spewing their venom trying to infect as many people as they can."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Both sides wrong in guest worker fight, MV 11

By Jeffrey C. Turbitt

Last spring I attended the wedding of my sister in law in Manila . Of the five siblings in my wife's family, only one remains in the Philippines , and I don't suspect she and her new husband will stay there much longer. All happen to be bright, well educated, attractive and competent in their fields. On that same trip, I perused the help wanted section of the Manila newspapers and almost all the ads were for jobs abroad -- the brain drain on the PI is obvious and growing.

Back here in Saipan , a large group of alien workers is waiting desperately for federalization legislation that will enable them the freedom of movement to work in the U.S. mainland. For reasons I don't quite get, possibly racist, possibly plain mean spiritedness or more likely just to maintain control of workers, the CNMI is fighting desperately to thwart the desires of these alien workers.

Both sides here are wrong. The PI will never turn around if it is based on the best and brightest people leaving it. While I am sympathetic to their individual plight, and speak from the privileged perch of white male American, there is something unsavory about the desperate efforts of many Filipinos to flee their own country. Even if these people here are able to go to the states, make money and send some back to keep their relatives afloat, this is still a band-aid approach that never heals the essential problems back home. It passes the buck to future generations. I do understand the individual feeling of helplessness and the overwhelming feel of the problems there, but to just leave through this or some other method to a virtual green card is running away from your problems. Eventually they must be faced or the PI will be perpetually problematic.

Even more unsavory is the effort of the CNMI government to stop them, as it fights tooth and nail to keep these people from upgrading their status. No proposal has these people suddenly gaining voting rights in our bloated, absurd government with its carnival like election and its related spoils system. The economy and wages are so poor here, these newly freed workers won't be eager to stay. If they did, there is your labor supply, only they have a little bit of freedom now and can't be so easily controlled, which is what this effort is about -- controlling alien workers. The leadership isn't exactly grateful or welcoming to the people who fix our cars, watch our kids, cook our food and help us convalesce when we are sick.

Governor Ben Fitial has made many of these unwelcoming remarks, and he in many ways reminds me of George W. Bush. Both were elected with the thinnest of margins. Both have brought disaster to their party. Both seem to care little about what the people want and seem to just do whatever they want. Both are wildly unpopular. In his defense, Fitial has done some difficult cost cutting measures that the new group of retreads recently elected either didn't do in their previous opportunities and are unlikely to do going forward. Both, so I have read and have experienced in Fitial's case, can be very charming politicians. The one stark difference is that Fitial can be extremely forthright and open about the intentions of legislation, which would be praiseworthy if the intentions weren't so awful. Speaking on the newly passed and unpopular labor bill he said the exit requirement is designed "to prevent the aliens from making the CNMI their home and making them eligible for permanent resident status [under future federal immigration law]."

Regarding his "friend," the disgraced, imprisoned, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was paid millions by the CNMI government to keep wages low and the labor supply bloated, he was equally frank: “He did what he was paid to do — which was to prevent a federal takeover of immigration in the CNMI." When confronted with guest workers clamoring for improved status and protesting outside the hearing in August, he said of them: “They are illegals. We’re processing them and they will soon be deported. They deliberately destroyed their passports.”

Both sides need to rethink what they are doing.
There was some shock among the progressive minded that Tina Sablan, at least in the preliminary stage, is in sixth place and just barely ahead for the final slot before the absentee votes are counted on Saturday. One of the anonymous bloggers had an interesting take on the befuddlement of some that Sablan did not garner more votes. Here is his explanation: She ran independent, did not run a single advertisement, did not attend the funerals, baby showers, birthday parties, etc., did not "ask" for a single vote, did not post up a single billboard, did not do a sign waving, did not have a rally or campaign party of any sort, spoke openly about the plight of non-resident workers, federalization, minimum wage, casino act, government's status quo, and all other issues the face the CNMI. She went to every forum she was invited to and spoke from her heart unscripted. She had her name on the ballot different than what is publicly known and moved to Precinct 1 the day before she filed on the last day possible. She did not align herself with anyone running, is female, 26 years old, 50 percent NMD and had 14 people with her contending for 6 seats -- the worst ratio in the election. She did not promise anyone a single job, did not give a single person a donation of any type, spent less than $700 on her entire campaign and with all that said shouldn't the question be: How the hell did she get 911 votes?

Jeffrey C. Turbitt is the language arts department chairman at Saipan Southern High School, as well as an avid scuba diver and traveler. He offers more thoughts in his blog “Hypercritical Thoughts” at: He welcomes feedback, tips and story ideas at His column appears regularly on Wednesdays.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Island Blues and Roman History

I've had the island blues, and for one of the few times, have nothing to say. What I do have to say I'm trying to save for my Wednesday column. Sometimes it is hard to expatiate on island affairs, and to focus on our lousy government, the normal domain of columns, is just too depressing to do regularly.

I'm one of those people who need to get off this rock every six months, and at month four I get real itchy about getting away. I'm there right now. Other than diving Lau Lau today, I haven't done much all long weekend. I did attend Brad Ruszala's 40th Birthday party, and he rigged the game and cost me a phone in the contest. I was in the final three at Hard Rock and my competitors had the answer before I heard Brad's question. My competitors were hot Asian chicks, so I stood no chance. EJ won. So let me say right here: Brad Ruszala sucks. He may have a hot girlfriend and has worked his charms on every hot chick on island, but he sucks, too.

I can't stay hostile against Sand, though. He and I got the band back together for one night at Porky's on Friday. I was once a budding bass player, but could never live up to my hopes and Brad and I had a band, but it did not last beyond a day. Friday was day two. Brad sang Johnnie Be Good, and I did my best on bass. The only time I touch the fabled instrument is when the folks in bars drag me up. Jerry calls me up at Round Two on occasion. I could never quite live up to my own lofty ambitions as a four string axe man, so those days are over.

In this bored and tired funk of late I've been watching the HBO series Rome, which I've always figured I'd like, I'm a Roman history buff, and it has been great. When I was in the states I got a bunch of DVD series of renowned shows I've never seen. Some I'm taking to, some I haven't and others I need more time. I'm not seeing the reputed brilliance of "The Wire" just yet, but I'm only halfway through or less season one. I've not given up yet, but I don't get the fuss so far.

I've caught almost all four years of Entourage over the last couple months. Love the show. I read a quote that says, "Washington is Hollywood for ugly people," and it certainly fits. Hollywood, like Washington, gives the people what they most demand: mind numbing pablum. The folks who make the most sense are marginalized. This is a great show that captures how people are sometimes over rewarded in Hollywood.

I'm about halfway through season one of Rome. Love it. Casesar was a fascinating character. Shakespeare plays a big part in his renown, but his military prowess was obvious. To the right is a picture of where his body was cremated in the Roman Forum. Dead bodies never came there for fear of disease, but Caesar's was. If you look closely, you can see that 2,000 years later, some people are putting flowers at Caesar's grave site.

One thing that is interesting that people might not get. The Romans had been crucifying people for years. Jesus was not the first or anything. One Crucifixion artifact was actually found. The nails went through the heel bone and the wrist, which is not what those Renaissance pictures suggest. There is a picture of the bone to the left.

"The remains were found accidentally in an ossuary with the crucified man’s name on it, 'Yehohanan, the son of Hagakol'. The ossuary contained a heel with a nail driven through its side, indicating that the heels may have been nailed to the sides of the tree (one on the left side, one on the right side, and not with both feet together in front). The nail had olive wood on it indicating that he was crucified on a cross made of olivewood or on an olive tree. Since olive trees are not very tall, this would suggest that the condemned was crucified at eye level. Additionally, the piece of olive wood was located between the heel and the head of the nail, presumably to keep the condemned from freeing his foot by sliding it over the nail. His legs were found broken. (This is consistent with accounts of the execution of two thieves in the Gospel of St. John 19:31.) It is thought that since in Roman times iron was expensive, the nails were removed from the dead body to cut the costs, which would help to explain why only one has been found, as the back of the nail was bent in such a way that it couldn't be removed."

Also, there is also one piece of archaeological evidence for Pontius Pilate. This limestone block discovered in 1961 with Pilate's tribute in Latin to Emperor Tiberius, who was emperor at the time of the crucifixtion The words [...]TIVS PILATV[...] can be seen on the second line. This piece was discovered in 1961 in the Roman theatre at Caesarea Maritima, the capital of the province of Iudaea, bearing a damaged dedication by Pilate of a Tiberieum.[5] This dedication states that he was [...]ECTVS IUDA[...] (usually read as praefectus iudaeae), that is, prefect/governor of Iudaea. The early governors of Iudaea were of prefect rank, the later were of procurator rank, beginning with Cuspius Fadus in 44. The inscription is currently housed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where its Inventory number is AE 1963 no. 104. Dated to 26–37, it was discovered in Caesarea (Israel) by a group led by Antonio Frova.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Rules for the CNMI, MV 10

By Jeffrey C. Turbitt

Each Friday comedian Bill Maher offers a segment called New Rules on his brilliant show Real Time. I offer my own CNMI version of New Rules.

New Rule. Instead of seats, Wallace Theaters must put igloos into their Arctic like movie theaters. The power rates are at an all time high, yet for unexplained reasons, the A/C is cranked so high people need to bundle up as if prepping to watch the Alaskan Iditarod. People go to the movies for whatever unimaginative sequel Hollywood has pumped out this week, not to feel like they’re on an expedition to the Arctic Circle . I shouldn't feel like I'm on the March of the Penguins just because I'm watching the March of the Penguins.

New Rule. Elections have to be about something other than signs and waving. With all these signs, the CNMI wastes more “good wood” than a night club in the Middle East . To get a vote, you should have to prove you have an original thought on the issues. A picture of you dressed in island regalia accomplishes nothing, which is usually symbolic of most candidates’ stance on the issues. If island regalia is all that is needed to be elected, I can just vote for the folks from the hotel dinner shows.

New Rule. Online businesses must stop acting like the CNMI doesn't exist. These islands aren't philosophy classes, so we shouldn’t have to prove we exist. I have the sunburn to prove it. I've often tried to order something online, and when it comes time to order, a list of countries pops up, and while something called New Caldonia makes the cut, the CNMI is often harder to find than Osama Bin Laden.

New Rule. Betelnut chewers must stop opening their car doors while driving 30 miles an hour and dangling them at passing traffic like a matador tweaking a bull. There are inevitable pauses in driving called traffic lights and stop signs. Those stops are the places to put those two fingers together and shoot that frozen rope of reddish brown spit at a passing car with the laser guided precision of a smart bomb.

New Rule. The Saipan Municipal Councilmen must change their title from Councilman Tudela, Camacho or Atalig to Appendix Tudela, Camacho or Atalig. There were three candidates running for three useless positions – perhaps because everyone else had a sense of shame and wouldn’t run for an office like this. I refused to vote for this office in this election as the municipal council seems about as necessary as a civil defense system against spaghetti monsters.

New Rule Redux. White people in Saipan can't say Hafa Adai, Si Yu'us Ma'ase or wear a mwar. There are some things that just don't go together. Karl Rove and rap, dogs and walking on their two hind legs and the CNMI government and competence. When pasty white folks in Saipan say Hafa Adai while wearing a mwar, you're not doing as the Romans, you're trying too hard -- straining like you're having a stubborn bowel movement. You're white and in Saipan , hit the golf course, have a beer at Hamilton 's or bitch about the government at Bobby Cadillacs. Leave the indigenous culture to the people who really understand indigenous culture -- the Chamorro and Carolinian teenagers in ski hats, baggy jeans and the Tupac Shakur shirts.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Another teacher salary cut out there

The election is over, and all the candidates claimed to be "pro" education, so the day after the election, here is what I see. The government borrowed money from PSS, won't pay it back, so now PSS leadership wants to cut teacher salaries rather than put up a fight. On top of that, the choice of words is both wrong and misleading. Let's see if our new BOE members will have something to say about this. "Guidance" is being sought.
EDUCATION Commissioner David M. Borja on Friday said that without “clear guidance” from the Board of Education regarding the Public School System’s budget shortfall, PSS management will have no choice but to enforce a “salary
reclassification” to cope with their limited personnel funding. Borja said the
move to suspend this pay increase is in line with the PSS budgetary shortfall
this fiscal year as a result of their budget of only $35 million and the
administration’s failure to return the $2 million it “borrowed” from the school

This phrase "pay hikes" is extremely misleading, and from a PSS public relations standpoint is a disaster. PSS has a basic salary guide that some people were not participating in largely because they didn't meet the original Praxis deadline. For a while, they were getting $100 a day as substitutes, and some were upgraded to still much less than their peers. Now they've completed the tests and wanted to be on the normal salary scale when they passed, as PSS once promised when these people were ticked. PSS didn't comply in many cases. These also aren't bonuses or increases, this is the basic salary guide that's been in existence for a year and a half with Praxis as a qualifications requirement.

There are many things teachers put up with, but reclassifying their salaries lower and then not paying them for holidays midyear is not one of them. A lot of peple will walk mid-year, and it will be extremely justifiable. I am so tired of having my basic paycheck threatened every other week there isn't words. It's bad for morale. I'm so tired of this BS. Scores of people come to this blog to find out about teaching in Saipan. Here is my new answer: Don't do it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Results - Some good some bad -- Updated

These are the highlights from the Commonwealth Election Commision and right now it looks like Tina Sablan just made it in the sixth slot. Cinta Kaipat lost, which is quite sad. Absalom Waki is narrowly losing, which is unfortunate. Fred Deleon Guerrero won, which is great. The Casino didn't even win the popular vote in Saipan. Luis Crisostimo is winning a narrow victory over Andrew Salas and Clyde Norita, which is horrible. Nice work Brad. Where was your song? Roman Benavente lost for Board of Education. Galvin won, which is great, as did Marylou Ada.

I talked to Greg Sablan at the election commision and here is what he said: "We sent out close to 1,500 absentee ballots, about 866 for Saipan . Absentee ballots that are returned on time will be picked up, processed, and counted on 11/17. The results are unofficial until the absentees are counted and, barring no problem, are certified. Recounts are done by the Superior Court if a difference of 5 or less separates one who wins and the first loser."

In District One Ralph Torres, no surprise with the money dumped in there, was the top vote getter. David Apatang and Diego Benavente are back. Hey this election is about change. Joseph Guerrero and Joseph Reyes won. Tina won for now, but did so barely, 13 votes ahead of Janet Maratita, so this won't be certain until an inevitable recount/absentee counting.

Precinct Two has Oscar Babauta and Raymond Palacious barely ahead of Manuel Tenorio. If this stays official Tenorio loses by six votes. Danny Aquino got trounced here, a blow to racism.

District Three Heinz Hofschneider, Arnold Palacious, Ramon Tebuteb, Ray Yumul, Stanley Torres and Francisco Dela Cruz. Waki is losing by eight votes.

District Four. Joseph Camacho and Justo Quitugua won -- Camacho by a wide margin.

District Five. In this overcrowded field Rosemary Santos and Fred Deleon Guerrero won. Edward Salas lost by thirteen votes. Taotao Tano Greg Cruz was trounced, which surprises me a bit.

I'm most shocked and upset at seeing Cinta lose. I'm equally staggered that Tina is on such a thin thread. How could you possibly not vote for those two and return some of the same old people? Yecch!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wait until tomorrow for the results

I just talked to Tina Sablan, and she said the votes don't start getting counted until 10:00 pm Saturday, and it doesn't sound like we'll know the winners until Sunday morning.

I did my civic duty

The first election I experienced here four years ago I was relatively new and stayed inside, so I was oblivious to it all. I was off island during the last gubernatorial election two years ago. Today I really soaked up the carnival atmosphere of a CNMI election. The signs, the honking, the waving, more signs, more waving and the candidates on the scene. Where were the balloons, cotton candy and the potato sack race? I stopped by early and it was packed. By 3:00 pm it wasn't bad at all, and I really didn't have to wait.

I cast enthusiastic votes for Tina, Cinta, Galvin, Clyde Norita and Judge Govendo, all of whom I know, like and respect as leaders and thinkers. Those were absolute "for" votes, not lesser of evils votes. I think the CNMI would have elite leadership if those people were elected, which is a sentence I never thought I would write. I refused to vote for the municipal council in protest of their existence. It doesn't matter with three names on the ballot and the ability to choose three representatives -- there was no competition for the appendix vote. I voted no for the casino because it was written so horribly. I'd like to see a casino on Saipan, just not this scheme. I had to take a deep breath to be on the same side as the obnoxious numbnuts in blogger land campaigning against it. Those people, really that person, made themselves so unlikable that I half wanted to vote yes, but of course I went no. I enthusiastically voted for the runoff. I thought Roman Benavente did well in our forum at SVES, so he got the second BOE nod, and he has always listened and tried to help when I approached him. Joseph Guerrero got my vote for House for his performance in the education roundtable. I could have voted for more house members, and there were some I kind of like, but I didn't want to diminish my votes for Tina and Cinta, whose candidacies are the two I'm most hopeful about. If either lost by one vote, I'd have to open a vein, and after seeing Bush steal two elections, I know sometimes the vote totals are close. I think there really were candidates worth voting "for" this year, and that is a positive.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Judges and the austerity holiday

I listen to a small bit of Harry Blalock's radio show on my 10-15 minute drive to work each day, and given that tomorrow is election day, today's show was especially entertaining.

Harry is generally the voice of reason, but I disagreed with two things today regarding austerity and the role of judges in austerity. Harry said a listener urged him to inveigh against judges who didn't submit to the ten percent cut, and he wasn't harsh or anything, but he obliged the caller. Last week Harry very appropriately railed on the legislators who didn't accept the cut with some rightfully pointed commentary involving Luis Crisostimo, who I've come to feel is about the worst law maker of the entire bunch, which is saying something for this place. Crisostomo is a poker millionaire, yet wouldn't take the cut, and even takes the gratuitious Rota and Tinian subsistence allowance. Dreadful in every way. Crisostomo is also the only Senate candidate who didn't attend the education roundtable at SVES. Crisostimo has also incurred the wrath of Brad Ruszala -- probably because Luis is not a hot Asian chick. Anyway, today Harry pointed the fingers on judges who didn't take the cut nothing that none of them did.

I feel that judges are different in several ways. First of all, judges have real jobs and real educations. They need to exist, unlike the abundance of elected officials we have here. They are also in demand people with career options, again unlike the elected officials. They also haven't been the people mismanaging this place for years. They also didn't come up with this half assed austerity scheme. I wouldn't take it either if I were a judge. The argument is that the island is suffering, everyone needs to share in that burden. If this place were being run without any waste, or even without the grotesque waste we have, I would pitch in myself, but when someone is paid $4,000 per month for writing pro-administration letters to the editor, and an entire delegation went to Hawaii for a fruitless business conference, other lawmakers spent funds for the needless federalization fight in Washington, a lobbyist was hired again to keep poor people poor after the millions spent on Abramoff, and a public relations firm was hired to spew BS, we have a useless entity like municipal councils collecting checks, non-essential agencies like the various "Affairs" offices, and $150,000 is given to lawmakers for who the hell knows what, the system is wrong and hardly thrifty. There are lots of ways to cut down spending, yet the tone has been that austerity is the only way.

There is talk about all the money the government is losing by not cheating people by not paying them on holidays. I don't want doctors, prosecutors, police officers and teachers to be docked because the government refuses to give up the patronage jobs that help their re-election chances, and I wouldn't expect a judge to give up his or her money either given the wasteful excesses described.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Scenes from Halloween

Somewhere in that picture is an edgy young lady, we hope don't know yet, just dying to get out and ridicule the Right Wing.
Here is Rose in the clutches of Glen D having flashbacks to that triggerfish attack.
The Boycott of Porky's isn't going well with several bloggers out opposing the forces of douchebaggery, but Bruce Bateman says bring it on regarding something that women the world over have been boycotting since time immemorial.

Daniel LaRusso was hiding out from Kobra Kai at Porky's bar.

Angelo Villagomez, sans EJ, was out at Porky's last night. A little picture on picture action with the Saipan blogger doing a clean up of Porky's

A couple of pretty cute monsters in Alex and Carl.