Archive for ‘Pen to Paper’

June 2, 2011

No Privacy For You

by Vince Giordano

That is, Sarah Palin:

The state is about to release more than 24,000 pages of Sarah Palin’s emails from her time as governor. But officials are also going to withhold another 2,415 pages the state deems privileged, personal or otherwise exempt from Alaska’s disclosure laws.

News organizations and individuals requested the Palin emails under Alaska’s public records law more than two years ago when she was running for vice president.

The messages are finally now about to be released as the former governor contemplates a bid for the presidency. State officials expect to send the emails to a commercial printer to be copied this week, a process that is estimated to take about four days.

June 2, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by Vince Giordano

From fairportfan2: to quote from Leonard Wibberley’s The Mouse That Roared:

While the pen is indeed, in the long run, mightier than the sword, at any given moment the sword speaks more loudly and convincingly.

May 28, 2011

Saturday Afternoon Video: One of the Last hand-Written Newspapers in the World

by Vince Giordano


The Musalman: Preservation of a Dream tells the story of a small Urdu-language broadsheet based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, which distinguishes itself from other dailies by being (possibly) the world’s last handwritten newspaper.

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May 27, 2011

Long Read of the Day

by Vince Giordano

OutdoorLife magazine has an exclusive interview with Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

May 24, 2011

Long Overdue For The NYT?

by Vince Giordano

They just now brought on their first openly-gay op-ed writer. I would have thought this would have happened before now with the NYT. Anyway, good news for them!

February 14, 2011

Cultural Power Names Reality

by Vince Giordano

I don’t really ever agree with Maggie Gallagher but she pins the media on this one:

For instance, what was the big news about gay marriage this week? Historic new victories in Wyoming and Indiana? Huge new crowds turning out against same-sex marriage in Rhode Island and Maryland? Legislators getting slammed with phone calls from constituents opposing SSM?No. The big story was that one Maryland senator changed his vote to favor gay marriage. Gay-marriage advocates are still several votes shy of what they need, even though Maryland is one of the bluest states in the nation, but never mind the facts: “Big victory inevitable” is always the message you hear, no matter what the facts are.

James Davison Hunter is right: Cultural power is the power to name reality. They have far more cultural power than we do, and they name our realities.

I don’t agree with Gallagher’s overall take on the issue of SSM but I believe she is on to something when it comes to our media and what is reported.

January 6, 2011

Creative Destruction Meets Bookstores

by Vince Giordano

Megan McArdle’s reflection on Borders’ withering has me thinking. I consider myself a newbie when it comes to books, bookstores, and libraries. Its only been a few years since I have valued having books and reading them frequently. Recently, I have spent some painstaking time thinking about the positive impact buying a book at an actual real life book store has compared to simply finding it on Amazon and having it delivered to my villa in 4-6 business days.

In today’s frugal times, Amazon is quite tempting. However, when I run numbers through my head, I can sometimes only spend another dollar or 2 at a bookstore for the same book found on Amazon. Go look for a book on Amazon and you can see what I am talking about. Unless you are looking for a very common book, which in that case at best it could be sold for 1 cent plus $3.95 S&H, you may pay just about the same price at a bookstore. As McArdle mentions, bookstores don’t come with the same environmental impacts as ordering a book online (shipping costs, cardboard, etc).

As for creative destruction, libraries are amazing. I get to volunteer once a week at one. I assisted a lady the other night on the phone who was looking for books and interactive DVDs for parenting and teaching sign to your child. She had the light bulb moment that I had a few months back: why do I need to go out and spend money on these books or DVDs when they are at the library, most of them free for me to use? I have gone on my Netflix and Amazon list and found a lot of movies and books that I want to check out and then seen that they are available at my local library. My point is this: will the avalanche known as creative destruction one day wipe out our free libraries?

November 13, 2010

Some Reflections on the Past 1,000 Posts

by Vince Giordano

I was sort of watching as my post count climbed through the 900’s. I think back to mid summer when I started this blog. I vowed to myself before I started it that I would never blog. For some reason, I started and used it to share my thoughts, opinions, and videos that I come up with or find.

If you have been following since its inception, you can see how it has evolved. It has gone through about 4 theme changes, added on a few other writers, and its readership has expanded a bit.

My own writing, I feel, has improved a bit. In a sense, I have picked up a type of “shit detector”, as Ernest Hemingway puts it, when reading my own work. I look mainly for ways to edit my writing for the sake of publishing pieces that imbue clarity and brevity. I would like to grow in self-analyzing my own viewpoints and not solely those of whom I disagree with. I know that my views can be checkered at times and are not fully thought through or connected.

Here’s to another 1,000 posts regardless of seasons of writers block, changing seasons of life, or whatever else life brings.

November 9, 2010

Forget Politics: How I Was Assaulted By A Student Today

by Vince Giordano

I have really enjoyed my new desire to blog lately. However, as I walked in today to my sister and brother in laws house , my sis in law said that I should forget about blogging on politics and tell about what life was like to be Vince today.

I subbed today in a school district that in my opinion needs a lot of work. That is not to say that every other district is peachy and perfect, but this district, from the top down, seems to have some major flaws. I can also speak about this district because a very close relative of mine use to be employed by them for a handful of years.

Anywho, I had a tough experience at one of the middle schools in this district and I took a few week break from subbing with them. I took up todays job because 1) it was an English class which seemed somewhat do-able for me and up my ally and 2) I didn’t have a sub job lined up yet for today.

I drove in to work and chatted with my Dad on the phone about the recent mid term elections, his work, the Bush tax cuts, and our weekends. He was planning on going to his plan B for work today; it was windy out so instead of doing leaf clean ups, he would cut grass.

I parked in the assigned spot for the teacher I was covering for. I walked in a bit early, before all of the commotion and noise of a Monday high school day began. I made my way to my room and was even escorted up by a boy I will call Arman who knew I was not fully familiar with the school’s layout. He made his way along my side, saying “hey” or “what’s up?” to mostly everyone we passed. He even made little connections with teachers and other students based on the t-shirts they wore or that they packed a lunch. As we pulled up to my classroom, I thanked Arman and gave him a pound (handshake) and turned to Mr. H, the teacher I covered for. He was glad to see me and explained to me his already clearly laid out plans for the day. We were to read chapter 6 in To Kill a Mockingbird and complete a worksheet for homework. A simple day.

I had to teach 4 classes today. Each had trouble to their own degree with starting. How do you start your class up on a Monday and read To Kill a Mockingbird? How do you convey to your visual students your name when the chalk and markers are locked up by the teacher so that no one can steal them? How do you give the simple and brief instructions when some of the students are turned around and speaking street Spanish? Well, I try and take my time, pausing where I have to and waiting for at best a mostly undivided class.

Each class had a handful of students who didn’t have their books. They either had to share with one another, boringly listen, or fight off putting their heads down to sleep. The ones who did read along were often attentive and wanted to read a few paragraphs out loud. I would interject here and there, asking questions about Jem or Dill, just to check that they were following along and connecting some dots. I would even stop the reading and break into mini-lectures on racism and privilege after Dill and Jem contemplated taking a risky walk at night or delve into the definition of a cherub (description of Dill’s face).

Some classes provided more fertile grounds for discussion. I believe only one class didn’t have me throw out a cursing student. It wasn’t until 6th period, my last teaching class of the day, that things went very wrong.

This class seemed tough to get going and in order. I don’t know if they had just come back from lunch or were ready to go home. One student, who I will call David, came in to class loud as ever. His voice towered over his normal sized body and really carried a lot of disrupting power. He wore a pair of nice glasses and within 30 seconds of entering class, they were taken from him twice. As much as he may seem a victim already, he dished out jokes and cutting comments to anyone within breathing distance of him. It came to pass that he lost his glasses for the third time and thought someone was hiding them. I tried to start class regardless because I couldn’t find them. He continued to disrupt class and made that plan of me starting fruitless. I told him to take a breather outside and he just stormed out, mad and distraught that he possibly lost his expensive glasses which his grandmother had bought him.

As David was gone, I encouraged a few students to read a bit of chapter 6. Most of the time, students would read fine but would be talked over by a fellow student. David returned and knocked on the door. He knocked because I locked the door from the inside to prevent random students from disrupting the already uncohesive class. I stepped outside and he asked if he could come back in. I asked him why I should let him back in. As he and I continued on this conversation, I partly had to keep control of class as I was halfway out the door. I told David to go downstairs and get someone to come up to class and get back his glasses.

As I went back into the classroom, a boy in the back of the room had a pen thrown at him by a girl sitting caddy corner to him. He threw something back at her and they then started off cursing at each other. Then then stood up to curse at each other and then pronounce the detail penalty on one another. I told them both to leave the class. I told the boy, who I will call Ephren, to go downstairs first before Shannelle (the girl he was fighting with). Ephren walked to the front of the room and sat down in a desk. I asked him to leave but he refused. I walked up front and tapped him on the shoulder and pointed towards the door. Again, he refused. I tugged on his arm and told him to get out. He spoke next, looking at the class, that I shouldn’t f*****g touch him. I equally responded by telling him to get the f*** out of the room. He got up, stood eye to eye with me, and asked me at least 5 times “what are you going to do?” He and I were about 8 feet from the door and I gently pushed him towards the direction of the door, to get him out of my face and towards the exit. He caught his balance and cocked back and swung at my face. He first connected with my cheek and I instantly grabbed him and slammed him up against the door. As I held him, I looked around to see a boy come up and neutrally break us up. I asked for someone to open the door and as it was opened, Ephren exited, swung, and connected with the side of my head. He ran out and from what I gathered left the school building.

David was just coming back up the stairs with an administrator to help find his glasses. His glasses just happened, beyond my knowing, to of been on my desk the whole time. The admin he was with took over as I talked with my neighboring teacher and had him call for assistance. Instantly, hall monitors and the principal arrived and walked me downstairs. As I was in the nurses office icing my face, the fire alarms went off and we received a report that a bomb threat was just called in to the school and administration building.

I am thinking to myself: how slim is the possibility for these circumstances to align in one single school day? I begin walking towards the exit with the principal as they evacuate the entire school. We walk by special education students who needed to be wheel chaired out into the cold. We walk up the stairs of the front of the building and into the office. The principal and fellow staff coordinated plans for tracing the call, sweeping the building, and following procedures for terroristic threats. In comes the superintendent. She sees me icing my face and apologizes for such things happening. She implores me that such things should never happen to teachers and she again apologizes.

I sit in the office for roughly an hour, sitting and listening to the rhythm of the fire alarm, watching new faces come in and out, and seeing how a school works together in the case of such a threat. I eventually make my way through the school and am all but done for the day. I contact my employer and have faxed to them a medical report. I pack up my things and get ready to head out for the day.

I walk across the busy street and head towards my cars direction. I parked in a specific spot assigned for the teacher I covered. I reach the row up against a wall and do not see my car. I wonder: do I have brain damage or is my car really not here. I double check the number and finally connect the dots: my car has either been stolen or has been towed.

I head back in to the high school, the very place I want to leave completely for the day and just head home. I ask if they have towed anyone today. I eventually realize my foolish mistake. I had parked across the street in a lot that was divided between government parking for county and city workers. I had parked there before and received a warning. This time, I was towed. I didn’t remember to not park there and just somehow forgot about that simple fact. I get the number of the towing company, call up for directions, and miraculously hitch a ride with the same admin who came up the steps with David to help find his glasses. This admin was heading in the same direction and was willing to help me out.

I arrive and am slammed with a $125 towing fee. Ouch. Thankfully, they had a handful of left over Halloween candy in a basket and I loaded up. I get my 1994 Toyota and turn the key in the ignition. I find my way back home, call up my Dad, and hear his support and comparison to having a car of his towed in 1977 that, adjusted to inflation, cost more than mine did today. He and I are very alike; we tell some stories with an overkill of detail for no reason.

I get home, finally, and am greeted by my wife and the warm house and residing family. They don’t ask how my day was because they knew from me telling them bits and pieces earlier. All they say is to forget about blogging about politics and to tell about the day in the life of Vince Giordano. And while I am at it, enjoy some light beef soup and grilled cheese. All of those ingredients – family, warmth, and food – heal my wounds.

November 7, 2010

Talking Over Each Other

by Vince Giordano

A round up from Blogging Heads.

August 25, 2010

Some more Explanation

by Vince Giordano

How ironic is it that another blogger basically has come down with the same “syndrome” as me?

Astute readers may recall that I took a family vacation last week. Merely sentient readers may note that the relative paucity of content on this blog has continued past the promised end of my vacation. The reason is that I caught a nasty virus during that vacation, and continue to feel its effects. That, combined with the extreme dearth of news, is causing the continued slowdown in blogging. I hope to be back to speed soon.

I picked up a cold/bad case of allergies while on my family vacation in Maine. I am still not back to full speed blogging wise, but I am working on it. I agree with Chait that the lack of quality news has slowed me down a bit as well.

August 15, 2010

Feels Like September

by Vince Giordano

I am in a blogging mood. I’ll see where this goes.

The last few days have felt like September to me. Lately, I have had this feeling of excitement in my stomach; the school year is on the horizon, MJ and I are moving, the weather is cooler, fresher, and feels as if it is curling up around my body. It is perfect for wearing jeans, maybe a flannel, and hanging out with a good book and some coffee. Maybe one day we will live in Maine or Washington state. Watching the Twilight movies makes us think more about that possibility! I have the feeling though that MJ and I would feel similar to my Dad when he lived in Portland, Oregon: homesickness and missing loved ones back east.

This dreary day was capped off by some rain in the a.m. It feels as if the persistent heat zaps my energy from my body. I don’t like how it can make me want to stay in doors where it is cool. This I have learned is all just part of the seasons. It even includes putting up with sweating after getting out of the shower from the humidity outside. In the end, it feels like a nice balance. When I have had enough of one season, I am excited for the next (or the polar opposite).

The liturgical and cultural seasons seem to inter-mesh. Today’s liturgy reading speaks to the commonalities of life. The below are some excerpts of mine from the readings.

2 Samuel 18:24-33

32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”

33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Psalm 102:1-12

7 I lie awake; I have become
like a bird alone on a roof.

9 For I eat ashes as my food
and mingle my drink with tears

12 But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.

Ephesians 5:15-20

17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 6:51-58

58 This is the bread that came down from heaven.

The theme of grief, to the point of being shaken, with loneliness and lowliness is coupled with gifts from heaven in the dual form of a loyal G-d and His bread. I have found all of the above helpful as I have ventured through the ordinary struggles of life. News can bring life and sadness. Many days have my drinks been mixed with frustrations and wondering over the unknown. In the midst of that storm, bread for my day is provided to me. Each morning, a warm cup of coffee accompanies me as I delve into silent reading. I explore what solitude is all about. Even though I am a youth director, I am alongside the youth in learning the personal meaning behind this spiritual practice. The liturgy grants me an ecumenical community that is at rhythm with me through the written Word. Someday’s this is all I have that I enjoy. Thankfully that is not always so. I may not remember the exact words each day but I look to my day in a way similar to Davids’ Psalms: “your renown endures through all generations”, a thankful song in the midst of life.

August 14, 2010

Confidence in Newspapers and TV News

by Vince Giordano

Gallup put together a poll:

I found it sad that TV news, which in my opinion on many platforms is sagging, is only three percentage points below in confidence from newspapers. I feel it is easier to be sucked in to the partisan politics of TV; just turn on the tube and be washed over by a partisan platform. I may be naive but I hope that reading in any form (magazine, newspaper, et al) can lead you to more critical thinking. I acknowledge though that in many cases it is far from true. As Andrew Sullivan once noted about online reading, it isn’t the same to your brain as a book. Books take time for you to read and your brain wanders as each page turns. Spending an hour on the same webpage is almost unheard of today.

The first chart caught my eye: the 18-29 crowd is more trusting in newspapers than the 65+ group. I have to catch myself and not think that this then means more young adults read the paper than older adults but this pool of data found that they trust newspapers half the time. The rest of the data follows nearly normal: conservatives seem to trust TV news and newspapers (the dang main stream media as they would call it, maybe?) less than liberals.

August 13, 2010

On a Rainy Day

by Vince Giordano

The last two days have been a bit rainy. Two nights ago I woke up to a big thunderstorm. It was a bit scary but awesome. The flashing lights of the lightning and the rumble against the window proved how powerful the skies can be.  It was nice knowing I was in a protected home. Thank you L*RD for that.

As I sit this morning with coffee to my left, a smoothie to my right, and candles lit throughout this floor to spread some nice scents, I am enjoying this cool summer morning. This is a beautiful moment. MJ is teaching a lesson right now. I am so glad she has found an opportunity for her passion with horses to live out. I am excited for the future with us both living out our passions to teach – in two very different contexts.

I am growing to be ever so grateful of the place I am in life. The home we have surrounds and wraps itself around us in warmth, peace, and solitude. We open it up to others with home made bread, pizza, endless coffee, sometimes Smirnoff, and outgoing hearts. I am in the happiest season of my life; my wife is beautiful in so many ways and layers, my life is moving in a new and purposeful direction, and I benched my own weight last night and some (the last one is a funny extra I thought I would interject into a serious blog post!)

As we plan on saying goodbye to this home and this area, we enjoy the moments here in this home and anticipate our future home.

August 12, 2010

TheAtlantic: September 2010

by Vince Giordano

I am excited to get my copy in the mail any day now. Check out the articles and dispatches all here. It looks to have some interesting articles and pieces, as usual.