Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Chicago Has Too Many Teachers

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Chicago has more teachers looking for work then it does teaching positions. Which is frustrating to me because I’m a teacher who is looking for a teaching position (check the resume). But finding out that there is little to no demand for my elementary/middle school teaching skills is only half the frustration.

I worked on the west side for a year and a half before leaving the school. It was too stressful to teach every subject to a room of 33-38 8th grade students. I worked hard and got some great results, but paid for it with my sanity and blood pressure.

This is the other half of my frustration. I’m hearing that there are no teaching jobs available in Chicago, but I substitute teach in classrooms that can have 30+ kids in it. With all these eager, young, qualified teaching candidates wandering about the city, why are classrooms still over crowded? Why not work to drop class size to 20, and/or hire teaching assistants? I know, I know. Money. But can you imagine the future graduates of Chicago public schools if the students were in a classroom where a teacher could spend tons of time and attention on their learning?

So teachers, what are we doing for work these days? Those teach English in [insert foreign country here] ads are looking alluring, and McHammer, and Ed McMahon seem eager to give me cash 4 gold (don’t tell them I have no gold). Anybody want to go in on a teacher squatter commune?

(photo from Dequella Manera)

"The internet is a series of tubes" guy gets indicted

This is not a Chicago thing, but it is an internet thing (of which we are a part, except for that creepy guy in the back…he needs to leave).

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has been indicted for failing to report income. All of us on teh internets know and love Senator Stevens for his depiction of the internet back in 2006:

Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got… an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday [Tuesday]. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially.

[…] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material

We all know that the internet is not a series of tubes, but, rather, a series of funny cat pictures with misspelled text. And the internet might not be a dump truck, but the Steven’s house sure is:

Prosecutors say Mr. Stevens, who referred to his home as “the chalet,” accepted goods and services worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, ranging from an outdoor grill to extensive home remodeling and architectural advice. Not only did Mr. Stevens fail to report the items on his Senate financial disclosure form, as required, but he took active steps to conceal the receipt of the goods and services, the indictment says.

I’m guessing that Senator Stevens then hid the receipts in a series of tubes in his back yard.

ZING! I’ll take my net neutrality with a side of schadenfreude please.

Da Mayor and Northwestern

Well, apparently, a lot of Northwestern students are not happy about the decision to have Mayor Daley speak at Commencement this year. Go figure. You can’t please all the people all of the time. I don’t think that’s such an interesting story.

What I do think is interesting is the response the University President made to a student who wrote to complain. Senior Matthew Braslow e-mailed President Henry Bienen, in which he called the choice a “slap in the face” and that it “proved again why [Northwestern] is falling rapidly in the national rankings.” Pretty immature stuff, for a college senior. But the response from President Bienen was even worse… FTA:

“You sound like a very unhappy person,” Bienen wrote. “I am sorry for that. Hopefully things will improve for you over the years.” Bienen took this one step further, suggesting to Braslow, “By the way you think a commencement speaker has any thing to do with the national stature of Northwestern tells me we failed here in educating you.”

Is that really any way for a University President to respond to a student? Hell, to respond to anyone? Even if the student was acting like a whiny, disrespectful brat, I would have expected someone who’d risen to the level of President of a respected university to take the high road. Looks like Jerry Springer has had more of an influence on Northwestern than I would have guessed…

Salon update and headshots, etc

Okay, I went to my new stylist on Saturday, and I only have two words to describe my experience; holy hell. Not only were the salon employees awesome in general, but my new (and favorite) stylist Ken was ah-mazing!

I sat in his chair, crazy nervous, and attempted to explain to him what my ideal haircut/color was. I did a terrible job (my verbal fluency is the first thing to go when I’m nervous), and he still managed to give me the most amazing overhaul I’ve ever had! It was everything I imagined and then some! So, if you need new hair, or just a haircut/touch up, go see Ken at Salon 10 (5245 N. Clark). Tell him Nellie sent you.

Next item on the agenda – headshots. I’ve been dreading the stupid headshots for a long time, but I think I finally have to buckle down and just get it done. My friend Lindsey is going to do them, and let me just tell you, she’s amazing. She’s one of the only people I trust to take my picture, and she’s an all-around amazing artist. If you’re in need of a good headshot, or just a good piece of art, you should definitely check her out.

Wild Cougars Might Roam Chicago, and Trib Commenters Explode in Pointless Rage

Lions and tigers (but probably not bears)!

According to the Chicago Tribune, a “very big cat” is on the loose in North Chicago. If it is, as has been speculated, a wild cougar, then keep an eye on your kids and pets. Cougars are thought to need the meat equivalent of one deer every day. One deer or seven or eight pugs, if you will.

On a side note, 78 people, so far, have decided to take time from their busy days to comment on the situation on the Trib’s website, kicking things off with random short jokes and obligatory John Cougar Mellencamp references. Impressively, it only took 22 posts for someone to explode in pointless, misdirected, anonymous anger. “You sir, are a **** You know absolutely nothinmg (sic) about cats and have the audacity to post here.”

Indeed! The audacity to post a comment on the internet armed with less than all the facts! In a less-than-academic manner! This is the internet, and we are all noble and enlightened communicators, expressing ideas with only the most philanthropic of motivations!

The insulted poster, his hackles then also raised, responded with a lengthy cut-and-pasted quote from an Illinois Department of Natural Resources document, once again restoring justice and balance in the blogiverse.

So, yeah, watch out for wild predators — in Northern Chicago parks and forests, as well as on the wild and wooly internets.

Top Chef Chicago: Bye Bye, Good Riddance. (SPOILERS)

I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Erik leave… Considering Frontera and Topolobampo are two of my favorite restaurants in Chicago and that I love Rick Bayless, Erik’s attitude had me hating him from the top of the show. Good editing, Bravo.

Mexican can’t be fine dining? B.S. Topolobampo is a perfect example of how Mexican can be new, exciting, fine dining, all while retaining a sense of tradition and without pretense. Erik just showed no class and I was glad to see him go.

Besides, if you cook corndogs in your restaurant all the time, then you should have known they wouldn’t have traveled well–loser.

PBR Light? WTF…..light

I found this in my local grocers beer section. I guess Pabst is trying to help Chicago lose its title of fifth fattest city in America.

Spotted at Northwestern Today…

Do you have stomach problems?

Many people have stomach discomfort, stomach pain, feel full after eating and other troubles with meals.

Math and Politics

As someone who teaches math, I’m always on the lookout for math related news items. As a teacher, I am always on the look out for political news (since my job is tied to political decisions). Two weeks ago this interesting article popped up on Newsweek about the math of voting. Turns out, as mathematician Donald Saari says, “Election outcomes can more accurately reflect the choice of an election rule than the voters’ wishes.” This is most clearly reflected in the presidential outcomes in 2000.

The article directs readers to a website that gives the online community three methods of voting: 1) selecting your top candidate 2) selecting all candidates you think are acceptable for president and 3) ranking the candidates. As of right now, the top vote getter for all three methods is local boy done good Barack Obama.

However, with the complexity and oddness of the leviathan we call the primaries, the nominations are still up in the air. For the democrats, it looks like it might come down to the super mysterious super delegates. They are getting lots of chocolate and flowers this week from the Obama and Clinton camps.

I have to be honest. I understand the flawed BCS system for choosing a college football champion better then I understand the American primary system. However, I understand it enough to find primary outcomes decided by a cabal of political insiders a bit unfair.

And that’s not just me saying that it would be unfair; that is math saying it would be unfair. Of course, math has been saying that No Child Left Behind is unfair, but, politically, few have listened to that noise.

Everyone, please listen to math (5000 years of history can’t be wrong). Also, go celebrate Pi Day on March 14.

Automated Crime Detection?

It sounds pretty futuristic–entrusting law enforcement to the machines–but the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) is working with IBM to spruce up Operation Virtual Shield which is the ominous name for the network of video cameras being deployed around the city to fight crime. Apparently, IBM is going to be developing some software to analyze the video footage and automatically detect “suspicious behavior”.

I’m sure that will give peace of mind to those paranoid about crime in the city, in spite of the fact that recent studies have suggested that London’s extensive camera network doesn’t really help solve crime. Phew, that’s a relief… I mean, I sure would hate to give up my civil liberties for a costly and ineffective system! Er…

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